The Seahawks Drafted Their Left Tackle Of The Future In Charles Cross

I’ll admit, I was much more excited about this last night than I am today.

“Excited” might be a strong word. I was pleased. I was vehemently against drafting a quarterback, and it didn’t seem like we were set up well to get an elite defensive end. The top two cornerbacks were off the board, and the NFL seems adamantly against drafting a run-stuffing DT in the top 10, so I wasn’t going to get Jordan Davis in here (he fell to the Eagles at 13).

So, we got Charles Cross from Mississippi State. He was a two year starter and is leaving college after his redshirt sophomore season. He’s only 21 years old, and is widely regarded as one of the best – if not THE best – pass protecting left tackles in the entire draft.

That’s great, right? Sure, it was an Air Raid offense, but that just further bolsters his pass protecting bona fides.

Now, obviously, that means his run blocking is probably a little lacking. But, people are saying it’s not horrible. In my book, I’d rather have a left tackle who’s great at pass blocking, and coach him up into being a competent run blocker.

I know what you’re thinking: these are the Seahawks we’re talking about. They value running more than most teams. He’s going to have his work cut out for him if this is going to work. I would say that even if we reach some mythical 50/50 split of run/pass, that still means he’s going to need to keep the quarterback upright half the time, especially on all-important third downs.

Here’s what’s giving me pause: for starters, this guy at Field Gulls doesn’t sound very high at all on Cross. Also, I can’t help but be at least a little skeptical when the consensus all agrees that this was the best and safest option for the Seahawks; what the hell do they know? Really, how inspired can you be when you know the consensus ALSO says that we got the third-best left tackle in the draft. What remains to be seen is whether this was a true Top 3 situation, and then there was a cliff before #4 and the rest … or if this was actually a Top 2 situation, and Cross is in a significantly lower tier.

It got me to wondering: what’s the history in the NFL look like for the third left tackle taken?

Russell Okung is the lazy comp, because he was the last left tackle the Seahawks drafted in the first round. He also represents the start of that generation of Seahawks football, so we’re all projecting this onto Cross. The Seahawks brought in Okung, and four seasons later we were in the Super Bowl! Well, when is anything ever that simple?

Russell Okung, if you’ll recall, was the second LT in the 2010 draft. Trent Williams went two picks earlier, and he was the consensus #1 (who was the better talent and had the better career). The third LT? Anthony Davis, who the 49ers took at 11. He was … okay, but not an elite tackle in this league.

2011 was a poor year for left tackles. Tyron Smith was the first one taken at 9 and he was great. Nate Solder was the next one drafted at 17; he’s been competent. After that? Anthony Castonzo for the Colts at 22. He was a competent starter who earned a second contract, but injuries derailed him at the end.

I now realize I went back too far in my sample size, so I’ll be quick with the rest.

The third left tackle in 2012 was fine; the third LT in 2013 (Lane Johnson) was arguably the best of the entire draft that year; the third LT in 2014 (Taylor Lewan) was also arguably the best of the entire draft; the third LT taken in 2015 is better left unsaid; the third LT in 2016 was Laremy Tunsil but that was a weird gas mask weed situation involving the best talent in the draft; 2017 was another bad year for tackles, the first not taken until 20; 2018 was another terrible year for tackles; and 2019 has yet to bear any fruit at the position. It’s probably too soon to look at the last couple of drafts with any certainty.

So, I dunno. We’ll wait and see, I guess.

What I will say is that the Seahawks can’t fuck this up. It’s not a matter of whether or not they made the right choice. I would argue the Seahawks HAD no other choice. Failing a trade down and drafting Jordan Davis, the Seahawks were stuck with Cross. Cross was the clear-cut best LT available, which – other than quarterback – was our biggest need.

There’s nothing wrong with the Cross pick. There’s nothing wrong with Cross the prospect. He has all the tools and all the athleticism and all the body type you need for a good left tackle in this league. Now, it’s up to the coaching staff. They need to get the best out of him. They need to build up his pass protection skills, while at the same time significantly bolstering his run blocking skills. He’s not going to be the next Walter Jones; that man doesn’t exist. But, they need to develop Cross into AT LEAST the next Russell Okung. If they don’t do that, then this rebuild is totally fucked.

Left tackle is the first and most important domino in this whole thing. Cross solidifies the offensive line. With that out of the way, we continue to tinker with the skill position players. Simultaneously, we go H.A.M. on the defense to get it back to where it can carry this team.

With all that in place, THEN we get the quarterback of the future. But, that only works if the O-Line is there to keep the quarterback from getting killed.

Sign O-KUNG! Already!

UPDATE:  Demand and I shall receive.  Behold the power of Seattle Sports Hell!  29 mil guaranteed; not too shabby …

Look man, those defensive linemen and linebackers aren’t going to pancake themselves!

I’m more than a little irritated that the Seahawks have one of the two last remaining unsigned draft picks.  I’m even MORE irritated that it’s looking like C.J. Spiller’s deal will get completed today, whereas Okung’s deal is nowhere in sight.

It’s just, so fucking, AGGRAVATING!  We don’t have TIME for this shit!  Let’s face it, in the slim slim SLIM chance the Seahawks are going to do ANYTHING this season regarding contention for a division title and/or a playoff birth, we are going to need absolutely everything to go right.  I’m talking injuries, I’m talking old players not falling off the table, I’m talking everyone playing up to career norms and some to play above their heads … and I’m talking rookie players signed and in fucking training camp!

He’s already at a disadvantage because he’s a fucking rookie.  Now we’re going to tack on a bunch of missed training camp days – days that would do nothing but be to his benefit.

By the way, what’s the deal with there being a contentious holdout with every new regime?  Granted, Aaron Curry wasn’t out much more than a week last year – and he seemed genuinely miserable to be gone even that long; but when Holmgren first came here it was the same deal, only with Established Player: Joey Galloway.  Is this all about testing the limits of the new leaders of the team?  See if they’ll cave into your demands (which means, of course, that they’d cave into EVERYONE’S demands going forward until they’re replaced by more iron-fisted individuals) …

I think Okung knows the score.  He knows this team sucked total balls last year at the Left Tackle position and that we want no part of any of these clowns already on the team manning Hasselbeck’s blind side.

He also knows that there was one Left Tackle picked ahead of him in this year’s draft, and it’s a 50-50 proposition that national sports pundits think Okung is actually the better of the two.

AND, Okung knows that, while teams traditionally hold to a sliding salary scale with rookies – with the 1st pick making the most, going downward from there – there was a Safety and a Cornerback picked at the spots around himself.  Let’s face it, Left Tackle is MUCH more important than either Safety or Cornerback.

Ergo, Okung feels he deserves at least Trent Williams money (who was picked only 2 spots ahead of him).  I’m beginning to think the Redskins drafted Williams because they knew he’d be the easier sign.

Here’s the dilemma I’m having.  No, I don’t want the front office to be a bunch of cave men, caving into all the demands of all the asshole players on this team (not to mention future asshole players who think they can come to Seattle and take advantage of a bunch of rubes).  But, I also don’t want my team to suck!  And we WILL suck if we don’t have Okung!  Ultimately, I have to side with the organization on this one, but let’s just say they’re not without fault.

This is what happens.  This is what happens when you try to be tight-fisted, when you wait the market out, when you lay a hard line.  If the Seahawks would’ve just swooped in early, set the market themselves, and fucked over everyone else, then Okung would be happy, the organization wouldn’t look like a bunch of disorganized fucksticks who can’t get their players in camp (instead, we’d look like a bunch of free-wheeling maniacs throwing money around, which would only be all the more appealing to potential free agents down the line), and I’D be happy because I could sit here and laugh at Buffalo for screwing the C.J. Spiller pooch.

Will it ever end?  Will my suffering go eternally unrewarded?

Right now, we’re at the stage where Coach + General Manager are taking their cases to the media.  “We’re the victims here!  He should be in camp!  We’ve got a fair deal on the table!  He’s only hurting himself and his development!”  Of course, it’s all bullshit, and appealing to the fans through the media will only go so far.  If this thing drags out, the team is going to lose all leverage it thinks it has now.  Ultimately, the fans want the best players in uniform, they don’t give a shit how it’s done.  All these football players are overpaid whiny bitches; just get the job done and get him in camp.

I’ll only be satisfied at this point if Okung really IS the second coming of Walter Jones:  a guy who can stay at home, train on his own, miss all of camp, and still come in and dominate.  Something tells me I’m going to be anything but satisfied with this situation.