As the Seahawks worked to build depth on the offensive line, most of the attention went to the signing of Deuce Lutui and even Frank Omiyale. And both have looked solid and worth the investment. Somewhat under the radar, though, was the pick-up of free agent tackle Alex Barron.
Barron, the 19th player taken in the 2005 draft, is likely considered a bust. In his five seasons with the Rams, he was the most penalized player in the NFL. False starts, holding, you name it. They finally traded him to Dallas, where he again was noted for untimely penalties. He landed in New Orleans last year, but was on IR, leaving his career in serious doubt.
Seattle gave him a tryout and then a contract. The main reason is obvious. He’s a lean and muscular 6-7, 320, with the kind of in-human arm span that makes some guys first-round draft picks. In OTAs and minicamps and early in training camp, he’s been mostly going with the third unit at left tackle.
But it’s apparent he’s earning more of the staff’s trust with his work in practice. His physical gifts and skills are particularly obvious in one-on-one pass protection drills. He’s got a wide, balanced set-up, good feet and powerful hands. When he latches onto a guy, his play is over.
Thursday, with the team in full pads, Barron was given time with the second unit at right tackle, behind starter Breno Giacomini. And three straight plays, Barron was asked to block speedy rookie first-round pick Bruce Irvin. Barron’s drop was quick enough, and punch so powerful, he dropped Irvin to his knees on the first snap. The next two, Irvin went with a spin move to the inside, and Barron stonewalled him. Those were extremely impressive efforts against a player who is young, yes, but is going to be a real nightmare for a lot of tackles in the league.
The big question, of course, is whether Barron can follow the rules. That is the sort of thing he’s going to have to show in the preseason. If he can bring that maturity to his game, the Hawks may have found an extremely valuable back-up swing tackle at a bargain price.