See A Hawk: Damien Lewis

A keyword that most Seattle Seahawks fans don't associate with positive feelings: Offensive Line. For years, the team from the Pacific Northwest has had problems adequately protecting its quarterback. The weaknesses in run blocking are history since the signing of offensive line coach Mike Solari, but blocking on pass plays continues to be a problem. Now this should change once again - also with the help of rookie Damien Lewis.

It has often been claimed in recent years that the Seahawks have not invested enough in the offensive line. However, the picks of the past seasons - Ethan Pocic, Jamarco Jones, Phil Haynes, among others - or the signings in the current free agency - Brandon Shell and B.J. Finney to name a few - speak a different language. Investments have been made. The only problem is that cap space and draft capital were often invested in the wrong way. In addition, selected players such as Haynes or Jones have had few chances to prove themselves.

Hopes for the coming years rest on Finney, Shell - and this year's third-round pick Damien Lewis. In the "See A Hawk" column, we present Seattle Seahawks players - often draft newcomers - in a little more detail at irregular intervals. Let's take a look at one of Russell Wilson's newest protectors in the squad.

OG Damien Lewis

Brief information:

  • College: LSU (2018-2019)
  • Age: 23 years (21 March 1997)
  • Height: 188 cm
  • Weight: 148 kg
  • Arm length: 84 cm
  • Hand size: 26 cm
  • Draft: 3rd round, Pick #69

College Statistics (2019):

  • Games: 15

Career

Damien Lewis' path to the NFL was not the usual linear path of three to four years in college before heading to the NFL Draft. Before landing at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he won the national championship in his second and final year, Lewis was at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Here he excelled with exceptional performances, both on and off the field Lewis excelled. More and more, it is becoming clear that the Seahawks have not only looked at athletic ability when selecting talent, but also at the intelligence and maturity of each athlete. Jordyn Brooks, for example, has a similar profile academically to Lewis. The front office could hope for a quick and comparatively smooth transition from college to the NFL in the uncertain times of Covid-19 - no one knows if, when and where training camp can take place.

As foreshadowed: Lewis landed at LSU after two years at Northwest Mississippi Communiy College and was a two-year starter there as well. On the offensive line, his job was to protect this year's first-overall pick, quarterback Joe Burrow. In doing so, Lewis turned in consistently solid performances that ultimately led to a national championship. The LSU offense is putting together a record-breaking season, producing rows and rows of talent that was also drafted in the NFL Draft this year (Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the skill positions, for example). From the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line (best O-line in college football), Llyod Cushenberry and Saahdiq Charles were selected by NFL teams alongside Lewis.

Video analysis

Lewis is a very massive and aggressive player. At 188 centimetres tall, he weighs 148 kilograms. With the help of this mass and strength, Lewis is a dominant blocker in the running game, pushing through with great regularity and able to move opponents at the point of attack, freeing up the necessary gaps for the running back to block. What stands out most is his firm footing: once positioned, it is an almost impossible task to move Lewis.

If he does lose his balance, he can recover quickly and regain his balance. Once the block is set, Lewis keeps it up for a very long time, the opponent hardly has a chance to free himself from the clutches of the O-lineman and get to the quarterback. Lewis usually absorbs the opponent's first hit without much impact. This also makes him a safe player in pass protection. Despite his slow speed, Lewis can also pre-block for the run game at the second level.

Lewis, however, is not the most mobile player due to his enormous bulk. This makes him not particularly suited to plays such as runs over the outer lanes or screen passes where the offensive line has to leave the middle of the field and block the way elsewhere. Here, Lewis has trouble getting to the point of attack in time to support his teammates. Lewis is not the most mobile player, which also makes him susceptible to pass rushers who want to advance to the playmaker primarily through speed and can change direction quickly. It will probably be difficult for Lewis to keep opponents away from the quarterback in the NFL as well.

Greatest strength: Damien Lewis (jersey number 68) is attacked by the defensive tackle. He absorbs the defender's first hit, loses his balance briefly, but is able to stabilise himself quickly and keep the opponent away from the quarterback. The pocket for quarterback Joe Burrow breaks down in this scene, but Lewis is no cause. He does his job with flying colours.

Biggest weakness: Lewis' lack of acceleration and quickness is noticeable on all plays that take place outside the hashmarks. You can see a screen pass to LSU's running back to the right side. For the play to be successful, the pre-blockers must be in front of the ball carrier at the time the pass is received to block opposing defenders and clear a running path for their own player. Lewis does not manage to get to the point of attack quickly, the play ends with only a minimal gain of space.

Seahawks comparison: A younger version of D.J. Fluker with better pass protection skills but the same aggressiveness in run blocking.

Conclusion

Lewis is a dominant run blocker and an almost equally good pass protector. His strength and bulk allow him to dominate opponents. It becomes problematic when he faces quick and agile opponents. Since he plays in the interior offensive line, however, this can be minimised through good communication and a certain routine. In a running game system like the Seahawks', which under offensive line coach Mike Solari is incorporating more and more power elements, Lewis is well-suited. As a pass blocker, Lewis should be an upgrade. After the dismissal of D.J. Fluker and because of the large draft capital invested (third-round pick), there is no doubt in my mind that Damien Lewis will be the starter at right guard in Week 1. In the video footage we saw, he looked ready for the pros and the next level.