How a private workout helped sell Seahawks on Germain Ifedi

When Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable and director of college scouting Matt Berry worked out first-round pick Germain Ifedi, their goal was to push him out of his comfort zone.

"One of the things I tried to do in the workout was to press him, to see how far I can take him," Cable said. "He never backed down. He handled the workout beautifully. One of the characteristics coming in was I knew there was a toughness about him. Since he'd become a starter, he hadn't missed a day, whether it was a game or practice."

Added Ifedi, "He told me I'm a good athlete, [that] I have all the tools, but at times I can let my technique go awry. I can let my game go out of bounds. You want the truth. He's one of the first offensive line coaches that gave me an honest, no BS assessment. I instantly had respect for him after he said, 'You're good. You have a lot of plays you play well, [but] you have a lot of plays that make me scratch my head, like what happened there?' I want to agree with him. He said he doesn't know if it's a lack of focus or letting my technique go awry, but he was straight up with me. He was like, 'You have all the ability in the world, and you have a chance to be a really good player.' "

The Seahawks' brass has talked extensively about the difficulty in evaluating college offensive linemen. Because prospects often face a difficult transition in terms of scheme and technique, the organization weighs a couple additional factors other than tape when making evaluations. One is physical traits. With his size (6-foot-6, 324 pounds, 36-inch arms) and athleticism, Ifedi is a home run in this category.

The other is coachability, which can be more difficult to gauge. Ifedi is far from a finished product, and Cable called him "raw fundamentally." But the draft is not about what players are right now. It's about what they can become if developed properly.

Projecting how quickly Ifedi will make an impact is difficult because he's going to be asked to learn new techniques. He played from a two-point stance at Texas A&M and will be taught a different type of set.

"What they do is kind of a retreat set -- back up, catch and hold on," Cable said. "In this league, that won't do it. You have to close face on people and use your strength and your power and size. He's going to have to learn how to do that. He's going to have to learn how to play with leverage. It's not a system where he's coming from that they come off the ball and try to knock you back and all those things."

Added Berry, "It's a totally different scheme. They vertical set, especially at tackle. It's a derivative of the air raid Texas Tech offense. He's not asked to do a lot of the stuff we asked him to do. You're really looking for a skill set that fits what we do and the mentality, and he has both of those."

The plan is for Ifedi to compete for the starting right tackle spot. To win the job, he'll have to beat out veteran J'Marcus Webb. Webb (44 career starts) has the edge with experience, but he'll be playing for his third team in four years. While Ifedi was selected with an eye towards the future, if he's starting the season on the sideline, there will be reason for concern.

Asked if he expects Ifedi to make an impact as a rookie, Cable said, "You certainly hope so. That's why we picked him with the 31st pick. The fact that he's played both guard and tackle in college bodes well for both him and us. For me, I think when you watch him, he can get out of whack, but he was the one guy the scouts and I felt like could right himself. He could get out of whack, but he can get himself back in position. He was picked for a reason, and I think he's the one guy that you can clean up right away.

"I think down the road, long-term he's a guy that can be a cornerstone player for you."

Tape is always the most important factor in evaluating college prospects. But with Ifedi, it's clear that the Seahawks fell in love with the measurables and the intangibles.

"He's been a guy they consider, for lack of a better term, the policeman in the locker room," Berry said. "They have a lot of different characters down at A&M. You guys have seen guys getting in trouble and stuff. He's the guy that cleans up the locker room. They trust him to be a team leader. He's a juice guy for them. If something's going on in practice, he's the one that handles it. His mentality, competitive makeup and the fact that he graduated in four years. He's a registered junior this year, so he's already graduated. He's got his life together. We're getting a man, which is a really cool thing."