Joey Hunt – C – TCU
Rnd 6 Pick 215
The last pick to address the Offensive Line in the 2016 Draft was used for one of the areas that caused the most concern for Seattle last year. Patrick Lewis may have looked more stable than Drew Nowak, but he didn’t do enough to convince the fans nor apparently the team that he could be a reliable starting Center in the NFL. If there is one word to describe Joey Hunt, reliable is pretty high on the list.
Hunt will not overwhelm anyone with his size, overall both measuring and looking a little small for the position. He can lose a strength battle if asked to hold a block for too long, and doesn’t get great push in the run game. However, what he does bring to the table is a very smart and aware blocker who does have some plus skills. He mirrors pass rushers very well and has a great understanding of the technique of blocking. He is a very good help blocker, knowing how to work in 2v1 blocking situations while still keeping an eye out for late blitzers other blockers in need of help. You can see at the :55 mark here vs Texas Tech he picks up a stunt and combo blocks to negate the pass rusher. He gets under a defender’s pads and stands them up, and while not getting great push in the run game he does occupy the defender and prevent them from making a play. You can see against Kansas State at :15 where he throws his body into the block and helps create the hole that springs the Runningback. He is just one of those players that has a sum greater than the parts and may not always look pretty but knows how to get it done.
A 3 year starter at Center after bouncing between Guard and Center for a few games his Redshirt Freshman season, Hunt has tons of experience snapping the ball in the shotgun with TCU’s spread style offense. Over the last 2 seasons he is credited with just 10 total QB Pressures, resulting in a 2014 2nd Team All-Big 12 selection and a 2015 1st Team All-Big 12 selection. In 2015 as a part of a high octane offense that took a ton of snaps, he allowed 0 Sacks and just 3 Hurries. He was considered a leader and was absolutely a stable and solid contributor for his team, which are both nice qualities to have at the pivot.
As I said in the opening, Drew Nowak did not play well last season and will need to have done a lot to be in line for snaps in 2016. Patrick Lewis may have been the best option last season, but he still had trouble staying healthy and there is a reason that he didn’t win the job from Nowak in the beginning. Lewis was embarrassed by Aaron Donald last year (though that is a long list) and forgot how to snap the ball in the playoffs. While Joey Hunt’s physical limitations may be a concern, he adds depth and experience along with leadership and an understanding of the position to a spot that Seattle really needs. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunt doesn’t see the field in 2016, I also think he is going to get a chance and will make a serious push to be the starting Center from the opening game. This will be a good position battle to watch in the PreSeason.