RENTON The Seahawks just met their biggest need head on.
And we mean big.
Seattle traded down from 26 to 31 in round one and selected Germain Ifedi, a huge offensive tackle from Texas A&M, Thursday in the first round of the NFL draft.
Ifedi is 6 feet, 5 3/4 inches tall and 324 pounds. He has wingspan of more than seven feet; it’s 85 inches according to Seahawks general manager John Schneider. So, heck, he can cover seemingly about half the line of scrimmage with his arms.
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“He’s BIG!” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
“He’s an ass-kicker,” Schneider said.
The Seahawks project Ifedi as a right tackle, “a cornerstone tackle” eventually, veteran line coach Tom Cable said. Cable said the attributes he liked most while working out Ifedi were his toughness, his ability to correct mistakes on the fly during a game and the fact he went from guard to left tackle to guard back to right tackle while at Texas A&M. Seattle loves versatile linemen that can play and think in multiple settings.
Cable made it clear he intends for Ifedi to play right away, this coming season. That’s even though the Seahawks signed veteran J’Marcus Webb in free agency in March to a free-agent deal guaranteeing him $2.75 million the next two years.
Seattle lost former Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung to Denver in free agency in March. They lost guard J.R. Sweezy to Tampa Bay in free agency, too. The Seahawks’ entire starting offensive line from the Super Bowl they won in January 2014 is gone.
“He was drafted in the first round for a reason,” Cable said of Ifedi.
Ifedi was shown on ESPN beaming immediately after league commissioner Roger Goodell announced his name, jumping up and down and hugging a dozen family members, his agent, friends and high-school teammates in his family’s home in Houston.
His agent’s particulary ecstatic reaction and hopping up and down made Ifedi laugh. Everything about the Seahawks’ call did.
He said when he got the call he heard, “This is John...” then nothing else Seattle’s general manager said. That was because he and his family and friends were already roaring and screaming and hugging.
“It could have been John Anybody,” Ifedi said, chuckling.
“That was 10, 12 years of hard work coming to roost,” he said. “You get that call, you don't know who it is. It ould be a bill collector.”
No, he shouldn’t need to worry about one of those calling him now.
The maximum fedi will get in his four-year rookie deal is $8,265,109, including a signing bonus of no more than $4,210,988, former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com reported.
That’s per the league’s collective bargaining agreement now essentially slotting rookie salary per where they are chosen in the first round. This will be the first rookie contract Seattle’s had with a fifth-year option since their last first-round pick, 2012 with Bruce Irvin. The team didn’t use that fifth-year option on Irvin for 2016, so he left for Oakland in free agency.
“I feel blessed,” Ifedi said. “This team is the perfect fit for me.”
For the four consecutive year, Schneider and Carroll traded their first-round pick. But this time the Seahawks stayed in the opening round. They moved down in a trade with quarterback-needy Denver, and also gained a third-round pick from the Broncos at 94th overall. The Broncos used Seattle’s original pick to draft Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch to replace retired Peyton Manning as soon as this season.
Seattle gaining a pick -- to get to 10 for this draft -- while losing only five spots and staying in the first round? That’s value Schneider and Carroll live for.
“We get another pick in the meat part of this draft,” Carroll said.
The third-round pick from Denver they got Thursday night is the 28th choice Schneider and Carroll have acquired in seven drafts leading Seattle. Carroll said the Seahawks were fielding “four or five” offers to trade their No. 26 selection Thursday, but they had connected before the draft began with Denver general manager John Elway on possibly trading that pick to the Broncos.
NFC West-rival Arizona at No. 29 then took the top-five talent I and many had pegged for the Seahawks at their previous No. 26 spot: Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle, Mississippi. That instantly makes the Cardinals better -- and they were the division’s defending champion already.
But all the Seahawks were basking in Thursday night was getting an “ass-kicker” for a new tackle on a line that desperately needs one or three.
And Ifedi was basking in making his first-ever trip to the state of Washington to begin a life about which he’s been dreaming since he was a kid in Texas.
“I’m looking forward to getting started,” he said. “I’ve worked so hard for this. I wanted it for so long. And now I have it.
“You have a blessed night.”