Seahawks zeroing in on OL prospect Austin Corbett

It’s no secret that Seattle needs more talent on the offensive line, and the team may already have a target in mind on draft day.

Tony Pauline of first linked Seattle to Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett during the Senior Bowl:

The Seattle Seahawks, a team that needs offensive lineman, were very complimentary of Austin Corbett throughout today’s first practice. They mentioned his durability, versatility, and ability to obliterate defenders.

He doubled down on the Seahawks’ keen interest today, reporting that Seattle could target Corbett as early as the 2nd round:

Austin Corbett of Nevada had a dominant week in Mobile, and his versatility has pushed him into the second day of the draft. As we reported, Corbett dominated just about everybody at center, guard and right tackle. Depending on what they do in free agency, the Seattle Seahawks are one of the teams that could target Corbett in the second round.

Pauline’s report carries a lot of weight, as he is a well-sourced draft insider who has accurately connected Seattle to linemen in the past. For example, Terry Poole – a 4th round pick of the Seahawks in 2012. There are several takeaways we can glean from the reported interest, but let’s start with the promising prospect himself:

Austin Corbett – OG/C/RT – 6’4, 310 lbs, 33.5” arms – grade: 3rd round

Austin Corbett was a walk-on at Nevada in 2013, red-shirting for one season before putting together a stellar career for the Wolf Pack. He took over as starting left tackle as a red-shirt freshman and never looked back, alternating between both tackle positions over the past four years. The senior earned 1st team all-Mountain West honors in 2017 for his efforts.

Corbett is looking to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor at Nevada – Joel Bitonio of the Cleveland Browns. Bitonio was drafted in the 2nd round after starring at left tackle in college, but transitioned to guard since he was undersized. Corbett likewise projects as an interior lineman in the NFL, as he is smaller than teams prefer at tackle. The similarities to Bitonio don’t end there, as Corbett’s game also resembles that of his former hard-nosed teammate.

I re-watched all his snaps from the Senior Bowl, and viewed multiple tapes from the past two years to study his game. Here are my notes from that evaluation:

  • Fires off the ball with plenty of lower body explosion, though without ideal pad-level (and therefore leverage).
  • Shoots his hands accurately with first-punch violence, and actively works to establish dominant hand-position.
  • Adequate quickness, footwork and base for an interior lineman in pass protection.
  • Tough as nails and looks to finish with many degrees of nastiness – can “obliterate” defenders at times.
  • Greatest concern is upper body power – lacks strength in both his core and hands, and struggles to sustain.
  • Versatile – excelled at G/C in Senior Bowl + considerable OT experience. Can get you out of a game at OT.
  • Scheme flexibility given decent size, quickness, explosion & IQ – can block on the move & in the phone booth.

There is clearly a lot to like about Corbett, and it makes sense that the Seahawks are attracted to his versatility, toughness, and well-rounded game. They liked many of the same attributes in Ethan Pocic a year ago. In fact, Pocic is not a bad comparison. Corbett isn’t quite as technically sound, but he’s smart, tough, and possibly a better athlete.

Corbett was also lauded for his work ethic and leadership at Nevada, including by coach Jay Norvell:

“I’ve been around a lot of kids and offensive linemen,” Norvell said. I would have to say Austin is right up there with the very best players I’ve been around in his work ethic and his stability and him showing up every day and answering the bell as a leader and a worker. He’s been an incredible example.”

Leadership, competitiveness and character are all checked off on Corbett’s scouting report, which are valued in the Seattle organization.

Austin Corbett – Senior Bowl performance

Corbett played about half the game, lining up at right tackle throughout the 2nd quarter before switching to center for the 3rd. He also came in at left guard for the 2-minute drill in the 4th quarter. I viewed every snap of his in game, and focused on him during team drills after Pauline’s initial report.

I wouldn’t go so far as to characterize his performance as “dominant,” however he was one of the better linemen in Mobile. His first half play at right tackle was just okay, carrying out his assignments but for a few hiccups. He handled top Senior Bowl standout Ogbonnia Okoronkwo better than others, but still struggled to contain Obo’s edge speed. His worst rep of the week came at RT during the game, opening the door for a spin-move & sack by Jalyn Holmes:

On the other hand, Corbett looked much better inside at center and guard in the 2nd half. He was flawless snapping the ball, and in pass protection (both of which you expect from C’s). Additionally, he consistently executed his run-game blocks with good angles and movement. I think the game really confirmed scouts’ projections of him as a OG/C in the NFL.

Here he is in a 1-on-1 pass protection rep vs. ballyhooed EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport. Corbett wins the hands battle and drives the off-balanced Davenport into the turf:

Look how quickly he resets his hands, and the tremendous torque he uses to toss Poona Ford to the ground on this rep:

That’s a “wow” play for an offensive lineman. Those are the types of “dominant” reps which, combined with his experience and versatility, will make Corbett a valuable commodity on draft day.

Factoring in everything, I think the 2nd round is a little rich for Corbett (I have a 3rd round grade on him). However, he’s a solid blocker who makes a lot of sense as a Day-2 target for the Seahawks. The combine will be telling, as we’ll be able to gauge whether he possesses the athletic traits Seattle desires in offensive linemen.

Takeaways from Seahawks interest in Austin Corbett

As mentioned at the top of this post, there are a few key takeaways from Pauline’s reports, which may affect the Seahawks offseason:

1) We listed offensive guard as a top priority need for the Seahawks in our offseason preview series 3 weeks ago, and suggested that Seattle would use the draft to find a replacement for Luke Joeckel. The 2018 interior offensive line class is exceptional – full of athletic, skilled and NFL-ready prospects. The Seahawks’ interest in Corbett indicates that improving the offensive line is in fact a pressing need, and they could look to the draft to fill the gaping void at LG. Or another OL position, depending on where Pocic, Ifedi and Britt line up next year. The stars are aligned for an early pick on the OL, in terms of team need and draft value. If not Corbett, there are several other terrific prospects available.

2) Speaking of Britt, is he a dark horse cut/trade candidate? Corbett (along with Pocic) may both project best to the center position in the NFL. While they’re versatile enough to play multiple spots, interest in another “center” might indicate a willingness to move on from Britt. There is an out-clause in the form of an option-bonus in his contract. I believe Seattle can theoretically cut him and save a portion of his $6.2 million cap hit in 2018:

Ultimately, I’d consider it unlikely that Britt plays for anyone else next season. Though he struggled as a run blocker last year, he is one of the only rocks Seattle has in pass protection. Stability and continuity are important factors with many young, developing lineman in tow.

3) The Seahawks are very likely to move down from their current 1st round draft position. It’s telling that Pauline connects Seattle to Corbett (a perceived Day-2 prospect), despite the Seahawks owning zero picks in that range right now.

While acquiring a blue-chip prospect at 18th overall would be great, it’s not a guarantee by any means. John Schneider’s traded down or out of the first round for five straight years, and it’s widely assumed he’ll do so again. With numerous holes on the roster, it makes sense for Seattle to trade down and acquire more early-impact prospects. Schneider also hasn’t been afraid to move up in the middle rounds (see Tyler Lockett, Quinton Jefferson) and I can see that happening again this year. 

In our first 2018 Seahawks mock draft, Seattle ended up with three 2nd-day picks after maneuvering through trades. That’s not at all far-fetched for a team needing to add as much young talent as possible this offseason. We’ll remind you that Seattle has drafted a whopping 10 players in the 2nd or 3rd round over the last two years.