Seahawks Veteran in ‘Fierce’ Roster Battle With 4th-Round Pick

Phil Haynes, Anthony Bradford

Getty Seahawks veteran Phil Haynes (L) must fend off Seattle's 2023 fourth-round pick, Anthony Bradford (R), to keep his spot on the roster.

The Seattle Seahawks received high grades across the league for the 10 selections made in the 2023 NFL Draft, however, the influx of new young talent is putting several veterans in danger of losing their starting role.

With the first week of organized team activities (OTAs) in the books, Sports Illustrated‘s Corbin K. Smith pointed out the Seahawks veteran guard Phil Haynes faces a “fierce” competition against the team’s fourth-round pick, LSU standout Anthony Bradford.

When the Seahawks re-signed Haynes to a one-year, $4 million contract this offseason and released Gabe Jackson, all signs pointed toward the 27-year-old right guard finally taking over the starting role for the 2023 NFL season.

While a sports hernia injury kept the Wake Forest alum on the PUP list during the bulk of his rookie year, and a hip injury sidelined him in his sophomore season, the Seahawks trading for Jackson in 2021 kept the team’s former fourth-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft from nabbing the starting spot. Last season, Haynes appeared in 15 games while rotating with Jackson and only started in three, but he did enough to impress head coach Pete Carroll.

“He’s got a starting caliber to us,” Carroll said during his end-of-season press conference. “We like him. He’s physical. Consistent is a good word for him because he’s there. He’s there for you. He’s a great kid… I’ve got high hopes that Phil could be a real factor for us.”

Phil Haynes Will Have to ‘Fight’ to Keep His Starting Job Over Anthony Bradford

One person who’s long been a huge fan of Bradford, the 6-foot-4, 332-pound versatile rookie right guard is Seahawks general manager John Schneider, who watched him play live against Tennessee, during which he was forced to play left tackle following a teammate’s pre-game injury.

“He moves out there and goes and plays tackle and he played well,” Schneider said after the draft, as reported by SI‘s Daniel Flick. “So, he’s a big man, he can compete to start, and he can get you out of a game at tackle… Square, power, heavy hands – you can see him finishing people.”

While Schneider said Bradford had a “great” pre-draft visit, he’s continued to impress the coaching staff during rookie minicamp and OTAs, and is already giving Haynes a run for his money.

Corbin wrote, “Haynes will have to fight to keep his starting job over the next couple of months. Staying healthy will be the first key, as injuries have been a persistent problem that have held him back from reaching his full potential to this point.

“Beyond availability, Haynes will also have to show marked improvement in pass protection to fend off Bradford, who only allowed 12 pressures at LSU last year and has impressed in his first couple weeks with the Seahawks. The competition between him and his rookie challenger should be fierce in the trenches with those two players duking it out at right guard.

Bradford still needs to make some improvements before stealing that staring spot, former Seahawks quarterback turned analyst Brock Huard told Seattle Sports on May 25. “There’s gonna be some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and you can probably hear that that sled creak a little bit in some of those pads. Because like (Rocky IV villain Ivan Drago), whatever he hits, he destroys. He is a powerful, powerful man.”

“His adjustment is all going to be about pass protecting. His adjustment is going to be about that interior quickness… The dude’s got power for days, but does he now have the eyes and the feet?…  Damien Lewis and even Phil Haynes are gonna look at him and go, ‘That dude is a monster.’ But now can you stay in front of these pass-rushers and can you be adept enough in the protection game that you can play? That will be the big question for Mr. Bradford.”

Phil Haynes Is Helping Mentor the Seahawks’ Young Talent

Phil Haynes

GettySeahawks guart Phil Haynes looks on during a game at Lumen Field on November 27, 2022.

Despite facing a make-or-break year in Seattle, offensive line coach Andy Dickerson praised Haynes for taking on a leadership role during OTAs.

“I thought he’s done a great job being one of the vets in the room, taking some of the leadership role,” Dickerson said, per SI. “You can feel the confidence and see how he’s practicing and it’s great to watch. Him, D-Lew, Abe [Lucas], Charles [Cross], the little things they do. People may not know, but you see the techniques and again, we’re teaching a new system and techniques and some things last year for the first time. But’ the second year, the third year, it’s a different thing, so it’s been great to see those guys get better.”

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