Garry Gilliam & The Left Tackle Position

I try to stay away from the whole Mock Draft scene.  Not that I necessarily have an aversion to pointless sports-related thought experiments or anything; I mean, is there any other reason to have your own blog in the first place?  But, they tend to make me upset, because they come from a place of complete ignorance.  You can work for ESPN or Fox Sports or CBS Sports or Yahoo Sports or SB Nation or WHATEVER, and you can sit around and devote your entire life, 366 days a year on leap years, exclusively to the NFL draft process.  You can watch all the tape on all the college players, rank them from best to worst, and try your mightiest to anticipate where those players will fit the best, but in the end, if you’re not also following each and every NFL team like it’s your FAVORITE NFL team, you’re not going to know your head from your ass, and that’s just a fact.

So, as I said up top, I try to stay away from the whole Mock Draft scene.  Because I’m a Seahawks fan.  And most everyone who does a mock draft … isn’t.  I know you can be this person from afar, and you have a sense of where the needs are for a team like the Seahawks.  Obviously, in 2015, the offensive line was a problem.  And I also know you can be this person from afar, and you have a sense of what the Seahawks have done to rectify that problem in free agency.  Obviously, not much.  The Seahawks let their right guard go, and appear to be promoting from within, with an unproven 2nd year player.  The Seahawks signed a mediocre free agent and gave him the keys to the right tackle position.  THEN, the Seahawks flipped last year’s right tackle over to left tackle, signed a non-entity to be his competition, and here we are.

From afar, assuming you’re not a Seahawks fan, your initial instinct – when it comes to mocking up the Seahawks’ first round draft pick – is to say, “Hey!  The Seahawks have a definite need at left tackle!”  And then they look to see who the next available left tackle is on their mock draft boards, and they stick the guy there at #26.  That was easy.  Done.  NEXT!

But, is that smart?  I doubt it.  Do the Seahawks, under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, REALLY strike you as the type of team that’s going to want to draft the 4th-best, 5th-best, or even 6th-best left tackle with their first round draft pick?  The smarter analysis comes from the guys who are projecting center Ryan Kelly to go to the Seahawks, because he’s the consensus top center prospect in this draft, and that’s really something the Seahawks could use.

Best center in the draft vs. 5th best offensive tackle?  I think that’s a no-brainer, but that’s not totally my point.

I think the team really likes Garry Gilliam, and likes his potential to be a left tackle in this league.  It’s where he started out, as a rookie, when he was backing up Okung (and the side he played on when blocking for field goals – remember the touchdown against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game?).  He also made it through last season healthy, and has used this offseason to workout his body into a frenzy.  With a full offseason, a full series of camps, and a full pre-season to get acclimated to the left side, I think the Seahawks will be perfectly happy with what he’s going to bring to the table next season.

The question from here is:  SHOULD they be?

Is it smart to put all your eggs in the Gilliam basket?  That’s a real Wait & See type of deal there, isn’t it?  We won’t know, until he gets thrown into the fire.  Until he’s gotta tangle with the defensive ends of the Dolphins and Rams the first two weeks of the regular season.  You shouldn’t worry about his quickness, because he’s got plenty of that.  But, does he have the size?  He’s a little thin.  And, more importantly, does he have the instincts?  That comes with experience and/or it comes naturally with some of the greatest to ever play the game.  Gilliam really doesn’t have much in the way of experience.  He made it through last year, but he did struggle at times.  Now, you figure, he won’t have the tight end to help out as much, what with being on the left side.

I know we all long to have the next Walter Jones over there, but at this point, I’d settle for the next Russell Okung.  If Gilliam can come in, step up to the challenge, and make it so I don’t have to worry about the left side of the line, it will be a boon to this team.

And, just because I don’t think the Seahawks should draft a left tackle with their first round pick, doesn’t mean I think the team should neglect the position in the draft altogether.  Go ahead and find a project in the later rounds!  The team is always going to need depth (probably now more than ever, since Alvin Bailey is gone), and for as much as I like Gilliam personally, I have to be realistic.  He could be a total washout as a left tackle!  At which point, this team would be in trouble, because Bradley Sowell SUU-UUUCKS!

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