RENTON, Wash. – The NFL is full of offensive linemen who transition from tackle to guard. Maybe they don’t have the lateral agility or the light feet needed to dance with defensive ends on the edge, so despite impressive college credentials, they’re moved into the interior line where speed and athleticism are at less of a premium.
What you don’t see much of, however, is a player who was a guard throughout his college career moving to left tackle, arguably the most demanding and important position on the line, after joining an NFL team.
Yet, that’s exactly what the Seahawks are doing with undrafted rookie Alvin Bailey, and so far the experiment appears to be working. Bailey, a guard at Arkansas, showed Seahawks coaches the ability to move like a tackle, and when you combine that with what offensive line coach Tom Cable described as some sub-par run-blocking skills, left tackle, a position that puts a premium on protecting the passer above all else, seemed like a perfect fit.
“It’s just his feet,” Cable said. “And he’s got nice patience. He really kind of came in well- schooled as a protector, but he’s got to learn to run the football.”
It wasn’t a move Bailey was expecting when the Seahawks signed him, but he’s more than happy to go back to the position he last played in high school if it helps him earn a job in the NFL.
“When I came out here, the coaches put me at tackle,” he said. “It took me a little while to get used to it. I’m still getting better at it, but I’m getting more and more comfortable every day.
“I was (surprised). I was expecting to play guard. But this is where they put me, so I’m just trying to make the most out of it.”
Bailey more than held his own in Seattle’s preseason opener in San Diego, and despite the fact that he went undrafted in April, he is currently the No. 2 left tackle behind Pro Bowler Russell Okung.
Bailey won’t argue with Cable that he is still very much a work in progress, saying “I’m nowhere close to being ready to play yet when the whistle starts blowing for real.”