Three-Horse Race Emerging in Seattle Seahawks Right Guard Competition

After the Seahawks drafted Christian Haynes, the rookie and Anthony Bradford were expected to compete for a starting job. But don't discount McClendon Curtis.
Seahawks guard McClendon Curtis looks on during a blocking drill at mandatory minicamp.
Seahawks guard McClendon Curtis looks on during a blocking drill at mandatory minicamp. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks
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Since pads have yet to come out with training camp still almost six weeks away, the Seattle Seahawks have yet to have much of a real opportunity to truly evaluate their offensive line, most notably in the interior where they will have three new starters at center and both guard spots.

Keeping that in mind, it would be easy to overreact to Seattle's current situation at right guard, where second-year blocker McClendon Curtis received all of the first-team reps during OTAs and mandatory minicamp instead of returning starter Anthony Bradford and third-round pick Christian Haynes. The fact Bradford missed most of the offseason program obviously impacted those rotations as well and if healthy, he's probably getting all of those reps.

Even with him being the most seasoned candidate and the incumbent after starting 10 games as a rookie, however, Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald didn't commit to Bradford in his closing press conference after the team's final minicamp practice, making it clear a "great competition" awaits once training camp opens in late July.

"He's right there. Just good to see him out there. Missed a little bit of time there throughout some of the OTAs. He's right in the mix. Got a great competition, especially on the right side of the line, and he's right there. He's got a great opportunity to go earn himself a job. "

From a positional battle standpoint, Seattle won't open camp with many question marks in regard to starters on either side of the football. That includes left guard and center, where veteran Laken Tomlinson and second-year blocker Olu Oluwatimi look to have a strong grip on their respective positions and barring an unexpected surprise or injury, they should be in the starting lineup against Denver in Week 1.

On defense, the most notable competitions for the Seahawks will be for reserve or rotational roles with much of the starting lineup already etched in stone.

But as Macdonald acknowledged, the same cannot be said for the right guard spot, as Bradford's injury only created more uncertainty heading towards camp. And, maybe most importantly, his absence opened the door for a third viable option in Curtis to jump into the competition this spring.

Starring at Chattanooga, Curtis developed into an NFL prospect playing multiple positions for the Mocs, starting 30 games at right guard and seven games at left tackle in six seasons with the program. Along with being named All-SoCon First-Team three times to close out his college career, he earned FCS All American distinction in 2022 and participated in the Reese's Senior Bowl.

Standing 6-6 and weighing 328 pounds, Curtis looks more like an NFL tackle with a tall, athletic frame. But he delivers powerful blows to the frame of opposing defenders with bricks for hands and uses excellent length to create push in the run game as well as keeping hands on pass rushers, possessing the skill set to excel in the interior despite his height.

Viewed as a bit of a tweener by NFL evaluators, Curtis went undrafted and signed with the Raiders, ultimately landing on the practice squad after failing to make the team out of training camp. Once the Seahawks lost tackles Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross to injury in the season opener, they promptly signed him and fellow undrafted rookie Raiqwon O'Neal to the 53-man roster as developmental insurance policies.

Though he only played a handful of special teams snaps in one game as a rookie, general manager John Schneider name dropped Curtis as a player to watch during the NFL annual meetings in March, clearly impressing behind the scenes. Drafting Haynes, a two-time All American at UConn, seemed to suggest he wouldn't be in the hunt for a starting job.

Yet, with Haynes exclusively working with Seattle's second-team offense throughout the spring program and Bradford sidelined, Curtis benefitted as much as anyone on the roster from extensive practice reps over the past month, positioning himself to be major player in an already intriguing competition come July.

"He knows multiple spots, so if you know what to do it's easy to move you around," Macdonald said of Curtis during OTAs in late May. "I think the whole offensive line -- it's always one big puzzle piece as you trying to find the best five and the backup plan if someone can't go and making sure you have enough depth so you're not looking in the middle of the season and you have really no options. He's doing a great job. Had a great offseason."

Seahawks guard McClendon Curtis communicates with an assistant coach during a run fit drill at OTAs.
Seahawks guard McClendon Curtis communicates with an assistant coach during a run fit drill at OTAs. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks

Looking towards the 2024 season, based on experience alone, Bradford likely remains the favorite to win Seattle's starting job after getting his feet wet last year with Haynes being the biggest threat to usurp him from the lineup. With both players being recent mid-round draft picks for Seattle, the team has made significant investments in them and in an ideal scenario, at least one of those young blockers will develop into a foundational long-term starter under the tutelage of new line coach Scott Huff.

At the same time, while he had plenty of positive things to say after the final minicamp practice, Macdonald and his staff don't have any allegiance to Bradford and as a rookie without any NFL experience, Haynes won't be given a starting job by default either. Huff will be ramping up the evaluation process when the pads come on and the real bullets start flying in August, and based on how things have transpired so far, it looks to be anyone's race coming out of the offseason program.

Once viewed as little more than a curiosity, Curtis very much has emerged as a horse worth potentially betting on to go the distance. Considering both he and Haynes are the same age (24) and each have Senior Bowl pedigree with quality physical traits for playing inside, even if he's still an underdog at this stage, it would be unwise to rule out the former as a legitimate contender to hold onto the starting job and fend off his counterparts in camp and the preseason.


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Corbin K. Smith

CORBIN K. SMITH

Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.