Seattle Seahawks

Top pick Germain Ifedi salutes, drives on with early switch to guard

Offensive lineman Germain Ifedi (76) follows tackle Terry Poole (69) and runs in front of center Joey Hunt during practice at the Seattle Seahawks weekend rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Clinic in Renton. Ifedi is expected to play at right guard this season.
Offensive lineman Germain Ifedi (76) follows tackle Terry Poole (69) and runs in front of center Joey Hunt during practice at the Seattle Seahawks weekend rookie minicamp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Clinic in Renton. Ifedi is expected to play at right guard this season. phaley@thenewstribune.com

The Seahawks saw Germain Ifedi as a right tackle the day they drafted him.

By the time the 31st-overall pick from Texas A&M got to Seattle a few days later, he was a right guard — for the first time since his sophomore year of college.

What the heck happened in the trip from his hometown of Houston to Renton?

“He (offensive line coach Tom Cable) came in and said, ‘Right guard in rookie minicamp,’ ” Ifedi said Friday.

“I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ 

Then the first-round pick smiled a huge, knowing grin.

The first day on the field in his NFL career Friday, and Ifedi has already mastered the need to just salute and drive on in pro football. Especially for rookies.

Ifedi looked every bit of his 6 foot 6 and 325 pounds. Wearing Russell Okung’s vacated number 76, when Ifedi spread his arms or raised them, he blocked out much of the sun shining brilliantly beside Lake Washington. That’s because he has a seven-foot-plus wingspan, 85 inches, to be exact.

Cable, coach Pete Carroll and his staff are going to give Ifedi every chance to be the replacement at right guard for J.R. Sweezy, who left for Tampa Bay in free agency this spring. The Seahawks wouldn’t have stayed in the first round without trading out for the first time in four years if they didn’t want Ifedi to start immediately.

And it sounds like he will be playing next to J’Marcus Webb.

Carroll said the free agent Seattle signed from Oakland in March for two seasons and $2.75 million guaranteed will get first crack at right tackle. That was where Garry Gilliam played last year, but Gilliam is now the left tackle to replace Okung, the 2010 first-round pick who signed with Denver.

Webb and Ifedi would be a combined 7 feet 1 and 655 pounds on the right side of Seattle’s remodeled line. That’s a massive upgrade in size , and why the switch of Ifedi to guard.

“Well, if you go back and look at where he’s played, his film early in his career at right guard shows he’s really adept at playing that,” Carroll said. “He’s got the flexibility to play right tackle, as well.

“We’re going to take a good look at J’Marcus Webb at right tackle and Germain side-by-side. It looks sweet. They’re about as big and long as you can get. Both guys can handle both positions. If you guys paid attention to J’Marcus last year, he played probably 11 or 12 games at guard (for the Raiders) and his last three games at tackle so we’ve seen both of that.

“So we think we’ve got good flexibility there and as always, we’ll go and see what we can pick up information-wise. But this is where we’ll begin.”

Ifedi said the difference between guard and tackle is speed.

“(At) guard things happen a little quicker. The guy gets on you a little quicker,” Ifedi said. “Football is football. (On) offensive line, you got to block your guy. You got to protect the quarterback by any means necessary.”

He called this week “anxious.” He celebrated with family and friends for a couple days in Houston, then moved to his new life in a new city he’d never seen before this week.

“It’s great to be here,” he said. “I love the city already.”

Second-round pick Jarran Reed, from Alabama, was head-up on the opposing center throughout the practice. That was the role Brandon Mebane had in Seattle for nine seasons, until March when he signed with San Diego.

Third-round pick Rees Odhiambo, an oft-injured tackle at Boise State, was at left guard. He apparently will compete with third-year man Justin Britt, the starter there last season, and 2015 draft choice Mark Glowinski at left guard.

“Guys are competing,” Ifedi said. “That’s what we are here for. That’s why this team has been so successful.”

Carroll’s always glowing, even in winter. But the coach was practically beaming after day one of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp that ends Sunday.

“An exciting day — for everyone,” Carroll said at the start of his seventh minicamp season as Seattle’s coach.

“The first impression that we had today: This has to be the best Friday that we’ve had in a (rookie) minicamp. You know, Russell (Wilson) would argue with that (regarding the Seahawks quarterback’s debut in 2012). He thought that was the all-timer...

“It was clean.”

Much of that was because center Joey Hunt (sixth-round pick) and his Texan Christian teammate, quarterback Trevone Boykin (undrafted free agent), didn’t mess up any snap exchanges. They’ve been working together for years, albeit in TCU’s shotgun, spread offense.

Boykin looked commanding as he threw and somewhat large in his upper body.

Quarterback Vernon Adams, here on a tryout as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon and Eastern Washington, is listed at 5 foot 11 — the same as Wilson, to whom Adams is often compared. Adams looked more slender in the lower body and said he was lighter. On the field and behind the podium as he talked after practice about what he says is a “blessed” opportunity. He also has a free-agent tryout scheduled with Washington, but said he hopes the Seahawks choose to sign him by the end of this minicamp.

Jake Heaps looks the part of a quarterback, with a big arm and constantly encouraging teammates after plays. The former Skyline High School sought-after recruit that played for Brigham Young, Kansas and Miami in an unsuccessful college career through 2014, completed a long throw to the opposite sideline early in practice. Then he cheered and patted tight end Nick Vannett, a third-round draft choice out of Ohio State, on the back.

The coach said he’s “going to see how it all goes” among the three passers this weekend. It likely amounts to an elimination minicamp while the Seahawks continue to talk to the agent for Tarvaris Jackson in hopes of getting the veteran quarterback to return for at least one more year as Wilson’s primary backup.

Carroll said again that the team would “love to have Tarvaris back.”

As clean as the start of minicamp was to Carroll, it did show its youth. Vannett dropped a pass on successive plays, fifth-round pick Alex Collins fumbled the ball during a run play, and Heaps threw short on a deep sideline pass and undrafted free-agent linebacker Nick Holt, son of former USC and Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt, intercepted the ball.

EXTRA POINTS

The team announced nine of its 10 draft choices had signed contracts. The exception was seventh-round pick running back Zac Brooks, who practiced Friday. … The Seahawks also announced the signing of 13 undrafted free agents just before practice began: QB Trevone Boykin, Brandin Bryant (a 289-pound defensive tackle from Florida Atlantic who runs a 4.8-second 40 and the Seahawks are trying at fullback), CB DeAndre Elliott, TE George Fant, DE Christian French, DT Lars Koht, LB Steve Longa, RB Tre Madden, T Lene Maiava, WR Tanner McEvoy, DE Montese Overton, DE David Perkins and SS Tyvis Powell. … Seattle had 24 of its 53 players at the end of last regular season enter the league as undrafted free agents. That was the most in the league.

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