Christian Haynes

Seahawks’ RG Anthony Bradford Still In Mix To Start

The Seahawks are seeing a bit of change on the interior of their offensive line this offseason. Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas return at tackle and Anthony Bradford returns after starting 10 games in 2023, but the departures of Evan Brown and Damien Lewis required updates to the depth chart. Throw in the fact that Seattle drafted UConn guard Christian Haynes in the third round of this year’s draft and not even Bradford is a sure thing to return to a starting role this year.

We talked about this a bit in a recent breakdown of the team’s offensive line, but a more recent update from the end of minicamp may inform things a bit differently.

As a fourth-round rookie out of LSU last year, Bradford was one of the larger linemen in last year’s rookie class, weighing in at 332 pounds. His strength and size were worth the investment, but a lack of natural athleticism and quickness were thought to limit Bradford to a developmental role to start his career.

Multiple injuries to players like Phil Haynes, Lucas, and others forced Bradford into a starting role much earlier than expected. Bradford performed respectably as a starter but certainly left loads of room for improvement. As expected, the area he was predicted to need developing in, pass protection, was a huge handicap to the offensive line. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded his pass blocking as the 70th-best in the league out of 77 graded guards.

In our breakdown we entertained the possibility of Haynes beating out Bradford for the starting job as a rookie. All 49 of Haynes’ starts for the Huskies came at right guard, so it’s a position with which he’s very familiar. A second-team All-American in 2022, Haynes excels in the areas Bradford struggles in. During his college career, Haynes was noted for his plus athleticism and great short-area quickness. With scouts noting his strength, football IQ, and finishing mentality, as well, a lot of signs seem to be pointing to Haynes being the favorite to take over the job in 2024.

ESPN’s Brady Henderson set the record straight earlier this month after interviewing new head coach Mike Macdonald following the final day of minicamp. Per Henderson, Macdonald claimed that Bradford is “right in the mix” to start. Bradford hadn’t been participating in the offseason program as he worked his way back from an ankle injury but was finally working with the team in the final days of camp. With the starting experience, it sounds like he’ll continue to be given every opportunity to retain his starting job.

One player to keep an eye on was also mentioned in our previous breakdown. McClendon Curtis, an undrafted rookie last year, has been an under-the-radar option for Seattle. As Bradford missed time in recovery, it was Curtis taking the majority of first-team snaps on the offensive line, while Haynes spent most of his time on the second-team unit. McClendon isn’t boasting a ton of experience, only playing four special teams snaps in his rookie year, but coaches seem to appreciate what he’s done so far in the offseason.

This is a battle that’s sure to rage into training camp. Haynes will continue learning and growing in the new system, attempting to usurp his predecessor; Bradford will continue working his way back from injury, attempting to show his development from a rocky rookie season; and Curtis will hang around as an unlikely but potential option to take the job.

Latest On Seahawks’ Offensive Line

Though the Seahawks’ path forward at offensive tackle seems secure, the team has lots of questions to face concerning the interior line. The situation should lead to a few position battles worth watching this summer.

At offensive tackle, the situation is simple: 2022 first- and third-round picks Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas are set to continue manning the starting spots they’ve held since their rookie season. The only questions mark here comes with Lucas’ health, after the 25-year-old missed all but six games last year as he struggled to come back from offseason surgery on his shoulder. Even if either player misses some time, Seattle brought back a former tackle of theirs in George Fant after four years away from the team. Most recently, Fant started 13 games for the Texans last year and should provide an improvement to the backup options utilized last season in Seattle.

At guard, the team inked veteran free agent Laken Tomlinson, who should slide into the starting job at left guard. At right guard, the Seahawks return Anthony Bradford, who started 10 games as a fourth-round rookie last year. The team also utilized a third-round selection this year to draft UConn’s Christian Haynes, who played exclusively at right guard throughout college. Bradford wasn’t a world-beater last year, with Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranking him as the league’s 62nd-best guard out of 79 graded players, so Haynes will likely be given every opportunity to compete for the starting job opposite Tomlinson. Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times points out depth guard McClendon Curtis as another under the radar option. Though listed on the roster last year as a tackle, he’s now listed at guard, where he started 30 games in college.

The real questions come at center, where the Seahawks have stacked up a number of inexperienced options. Currently, the depth chart holds Nick Harris, Olusegun Oluwatimi, and Mike Novitsky. Harris, a 2020 fifth-round pick for the Browns, only started four games over the course of his rookie deal, though he earned plenty of snaps on special teams or on overloaded lines in Cleveland. Oluwatimi started one game as a rookie fifth-round pick for Seattle last year, though he also got plenty of special teams experience. He also played over half the team’s offensive snaps in two other games last season. Novitsky is a long shot to make an impact in this conversation. An undrafted rookie out of Kansas, Novitsky doesn’t trail the others much in experience but lacks the drafted pedigree.

Three spots are generally set: Cross at left tackle, Tomlinson beside him as left guard, and Lucas opposite the two at right tackle. You could even say four spots are set, if you decide to count Fant’s job as a swing tackle. At right guard, Seattle knows Bradford can handle the job, if necessary, but they will hope that competition with Haynes will either push Bradford to improve or reveal a better option in Haynes or even, possibly, Curtis. Center is where things remain dire. The team may strike gold in the three unlikely options they hold, but external additions may be on the horizon if no one takes hold of the starting job convincingly.

Seahawks Finish Draft Pick Signings

The Seahawks have completed the signing of their rookie class, according to reports from Seahawks senior reporter John Boyle. The team had already signed six of their draft picks and 16 undrafted free agents. Now, with these final two contracts getting inked, Seattle can move on to other offseason activities.

Third-round offensive guard Christian Haynes was the first to sign this morning. In his six years at UConn, Haynes was a four-year starter for the Huskies, redshirting his first season in 2018 and seeing his 2020 season cancelled due to COVID-19. He played exclusively at right guard in Connecticut, which sets him up perfectly for a position battle as a rookie.

Between tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, both of whom were acquired in the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seahawks have a recent history of rookies starting on the offensive line. Last year’s rookie fourth-round pick Anthony Bradford was another such example, starting 10 games at right guard in 2023, but Haynes will have the opportunity to push Bradford for the job this summer.

Sixth-round offensive tackle Michael Jerrell isn’t likely to get the same opportunities. Cross and Lucas are firmly entrenched as Seattle’s starters, but Jerrell, a small-school lineman with quickness, length, and toughness, projects as an intriguing developmental piece in the NFL.

This concludes the Seahawks’ eight-man draft class. The eight players are:

  • Round 1, No. 16: Byron Murphy (DT, Texas) (signed)
  • Round 3, No. 81 (from Saints through Broncos): Christian Haynes (G, UConn)
  • Round 4, No. 118: Tyrice Knight (LB, UTEP) (signed)
  • Round 4, No. 121 (from Dolphins through Broncos): AJ Barner (TE, Michigan) (signed)
  • Round 5, No. 136 (from Panthers through Browns and Broncos): Nehemiah Pritchett (CB, Auburn) (signed)
  • Round 6, No. 179 (from Commanders): Sataoa Laumea (G, Utah) (signed)
  • Round 6, No. 192: DJ James (CB, Auburn) (signed)
  • Round 6, No. 207 (from 49ers through Broncos): Michael Jerrell (T, Findlay)