The Seahawks made Luke Joeckel their first free agency signing on Saturday. The former A&M Aggie signed a 1-year, fully guaranteed $7m deal. It’s a signing which has taken some shots from all sides. That damnation coming off Joeckel’s struggles in Jacksonville to begin his career.

A former No.2 overall selection, Joeckel comes with a lot of tape to dig through. So here, to try and dig deeper on the move and what he brings to Seattle. We have dived in on a few game films Joeckel has.

Games Watched:
2015: v Carolina (Wk 1), v Indianapolis (Wk 4), v NY Jets (Wk 9) & v Houston (Wk 17);
2016: v Green Bay (Week 1) & v San Diego (Week 2)

The Good

Joeckel is a strong guy. He shows that readily when latching on to rushers.He is able to lock them out of a play. In 2015 he had a really solid season, bar one game (more on that later). The year started in 2015, after a poor 2014, against Carolina and their fierce defensive line. Joeckel held up on well from where I sit and managed to keep his QB upright. His QB however struggling mightily to get his radar set.

Here is one example (in .gif form) to show a way Joeckel is strong at LT;

 

There you can see Joeckel (76, LT) able to mirror well to the rusher, pushing him out of the play. He keeps his hands and chest clean by restricting the end to jabs. The play ends with the Panthers end on the floor and Joeckel ‘playing to the whistle’. It’s tidy and solid, while not perfect.

But it is effective.

For the Seahawks n 2016, that word ‘effective’ was an all-too-brief used adjective. One way which frustrated many and ruined gameplans and drives was a stunt-rush which got past the inexperienced Seahawks group.

After a move inside in 2016, Joeckel got an early test on his ability to keep his head on a swivel v the Packers. Here is a very early example of him facing up to that ‘stunt’:

 

All too often that was a sack or a rushed throw for Wilson in 2016. That recognition could be a good, important tool in Seattle. Something which may help improve the unit in 2016.

As a tackle in 2015 though, Joeckel has a few issues. His footwork seems wildly inconsistent and his upper-body weirdly seem to get him out of a ‘loss’ off the snap. His size (6’6, 312lbs) obviously plays a huge part in that detail.

In 2015 he looked solid again in the run game. Very wide-open lanes were opened by the Jaguars but Joeckel showed good movement skills to get to the second level on several occasions. Here is a good show of the good and bad of that from Joeckel against the Colts:

 

In the above play, Joeckel moves Zach Kerr back and onto his Left guard. He then moves smoothly onto the linebacker and keeps him at bay and completely out the play. The play amounts to very little- as a lot did for the Jaguars offense- but that ease at which he gets to the second level is a good aspect of his play in the run game.


The Bad

Now after a 2014 where he was rated Pro Football Focus’  ‘worst lineman in the league’, 2015 was a year to produce for Joeckel. In the aspect of keeping his QB clean he did that well. It’s a point which didn’t get past the aforementioned PFF.

That week 17 game in 2015 came against the Texans. It’s a game which shows off Joeckel’s worst habits. As shown here also v the Jets earlier in the year:

His weird-looking reliance on his upper body strength sees him lean when beaten off the snap. He lurches forward and does struggle to recover with his footwork. In this game, Whitney Mercilus took advantage on a couple of occasions.

 

He loses all leverage once Mercilus goes lower than Joeckel appears to anticipate. This throws it all off and his feet are never regained and Mercilus gets the sack. It’s a worryingly consistent fault and against the rushers Houston boast, it was worked on to great effect. It also, as is the course against Hosuton, something which sees him a JJ Watt victim.

His footwork is far too sluggish and slow. His reaction in the top half is dragged by the lower. It’s a game, as seen above, saw him give up 5 sacks per PFF.


The Intriguing

Again, as mentioned earlier, in 2016 he was moved inside to left guard. The Jaguars had signed Kelvin Beachum and the opening two weeks saw Joeckel tasked in a smaller ‘window’ to deal with. He made the move look a smart one.

He, now in a ‘phone booth’ used his size and strength more effectively and could certainly find his way in Seattle in the interior.

If that is the call, then Mark Glowinski would be the man with the fiercest pressure on him. The tape is limited as the move was curtailed by an injury to Beachum and then a season-ending one to Joeckel himself.


The Conclusion

Overall, Joeckel shows a lot more to be happy with if you are a Seahawks fan than you’d possibly expect. The team ended the season and looked ahead to 2017 by stating they wanted to address the line. Here they have done that and improved it too.

He is a solid player who failed to emerge from under the pressure that comes with being a top-5 pick. In a new situation and different coaching it is not unfeasible to expect a flourish to come for Joeckel.

But having said that, he does bring over a lot of worrying habits to extinguish. The upper-body lunge forward is a consistent part of the ‘bad’ from him. His lack of footwork when beaten off the snap is glaring.

Showing for him that the initial contact on the rusher being of great importance to his success; either on assignment or the play overall. His ability to recover alarmed most when on the island at left tackle.

Watching him work in an offense which ‘improvises’ as much as Seahawks and QB Russell Wilson does could be a bumpy ride too. But maintaining the blocks and showing good movement to the second level could help him with that.

For me it is a player who is a solid talent at the position. He is a upgrade not just on what the Seahawks have him to compete against, but also what they brought in twelve months ago. Outside of the ‘top pick cloud’ that followed him in Jacksonville should, hopefully, give him a new lease of life.

Tom Cable is about to earn his money and has a chance to prove John Schneider’s tab of ‘best line coach in the league’ either heartily right, or pin another throwaway to it.

Joeckel has some bad tape, really bad at times. But despite that there is reason to be confident the Seahawks can get the consistency which saw Joeckel so highly touted in college, out of him again.

The experience and versatility (albeit limited) at the different spots, all count in his favour. It ticks a box the Seahawks surely had. All of it builds up, despite the negatives. That versatility could be something to track. But it is likely that it is at left tackle Joeckel and the Seahawks find the best hope of a solid move down the road and the addressing of a major issue, dealt with.

 

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Stuart Court is the Team Manager for Seattle Seahawks on ProFootballSpot. Stuart also is co-host on the UK Seahawkers Podcast 'The Pedestrian Podcast'. Follow Stuart on Twitter @Stu_Court