From collegiate tight end to undrafted utility lineman, to starting right tackle then Russell Okung’s heir apparent. It’s been a circuitous route to the blindside for Garry Gilliam, who Seahawks coaches have tapped as next season’s starting left tackle, but he told “Danny, Dave and Moore” Thursday that journey has better equipped him for the challenge.
“Being a tight end gives me advantages in terms of my foot speed and athleticism,” he said. “Playing at right tackle, becoming more of an offensive lineman in that way, but not having as much pressure as a left tackle does, I was able to find my own way there and come into myself as player. Now I kind of see it as an evolution. The next step in the evolution would be now to move to the left side as a left tackle and be there. So it’s a huge opportunity and I’m excited for it.”
Gilliam was part of an offensive line that he believes meshed better and improved as the season went on, and he stated appreciation for the coaches’ faith to move him to the more demanding left side.
In preparation of the transition, Gilliam said he’s been working to get “a lot stronger” in the offseason and is working on eye-hand coordination with his left hand.
“Just little things that a lot of people don’t really focus on: flexibility through certain parts of my body to help me move going that way better,” he said. “Little things here and there and obviously the practice is what’s going to be the biggest thing when we start that.”
He says the main adjustment with his stance will be moving his left foot back off the snap rather than his right.
“In terms of seeing the field, it should be fairly similar,” he said. “Actually, sometimes I think you get more from the left side of the line because it’s the quarterback’s blindside, so a lot of blitzes will be geared toward that way, so you’ve got to be a little bit more aware on that side.”
After going undrafted in 2014, Gilliam was initially groomed as Seattle’s backup left tackle before being thrust into the starting right-tackle role during training camp last season.
Gilliam is muscular and relatively lean at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, which is not typical for his new position that is generally responsible for blocking the other team’s premier pass rusher. When asked about his size, Gilliam said his body type might be what’s needed to handle the NFL’s increasingly athletic defenders.
“You know how I said this is an evolution as a player from tight end to right to left? Maybe this is the evolution of an offensive lineman,” he said. “These defenders are getting crazy athletic and way faster so you’ve got to compete with them. In order for you to do that, your body has to be able to move in that way. A moving body, if it (means having) a six-pack and a little bit more ripped, then so be it.”