Ethan Pocic’s future position — guard, tackle or center — is a long-standing debate.
His position in the NFL draft is now settled.
The Seattle Seahawks selected Pocic in the second round, with the 58th overall pick of the draft Friday night, nabbing the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Chicago-area native. He’s the first LSU center picked since Louis Williams in 2001 and was the fourth Tiger selected in the draft, following the three first-rounders picked Thursday.
He got the call while at a watch party in his hometown Friday night, surrounded by friends and family. He spoke to Seahakws coach Pete Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable.
"I got a call and went into shock," Pocic said. "I was so excited, so fired up. Really going through the call and watching on TV ... it’s a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it. I went into shock. I’m all fired up, got a lot of energy going. Dream come true."
Pocic is a versatile lineman who played all three positions during a four-year career, starring as an All-Southeastern Conference center during his last two seasons. Known for his quick feet and football intelligence, Pocic returned for his senior year, bypassing a potential second- or third-round selection in 2016. He stayed mostly because of hip surgery he underwent in January 2016.
During the extra year, he helped pave the way for a rushing attack that finished 21st nationally. The Tigers often pulled him on running plays, a tough act for a center, snapping the ball and then racing around end for a collision.
He'll join another former LSU athlete in Seattle. The Seahawks signed ex-LSU track star Cyril Grayson last month after Grayson impressed during LSU pro day.
"Great team," Pocic said of Seattle. "They're in the playoffs every year. Coach Carroll does a great job. Couldn’t ask for a better coach."
Pocic excelled on and off the field so much that LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes touted him as the best lineman he’s ever coached. He wasn’t afraid to play hurt, either.
He suffered through the first half of last year with a sprained MCL in his left knee, and he played the latter half of the season with a fluid-filled bursa sac swelling his right knee. The injuries have now healed, he said in January.
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Pocic’s pre-draft process was highlighted by an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile in late January.
Cleveland Browns coach Hugh Jackson, a coach in the Senior Bowl and former offensive coordinator, called him a “talented, big guy” who’s “smart, athletic and tough.”
“He’s going to have a chance to play in this league. I think we all know that,” Jackson said. “Comes from a great background and had a great career in college.”
His background is tall.
Pocic is the baby of a family that’s not vertically challenged. His older brother Graham, a four-year starter at Illinois, is 6-6. His sister Hailey, the oldest of the three, is 5-10 as is his mom Kim. His dad Gary is 6-8. His parents actually met at a “tall club” near Chicago, Pocic said.
Pocic started 27 games at center, nine at guard and one at tackle at LSU. His future in the NFL is expected to be at center, and that’s his preference, but it’s no certainty.
Many thought he’d move from center to tackle last season after the Tigers lost tackles Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander. That never happened. He was too valuable, coach Les Miles and Grimes previously said, at a critical position. The center is often called the quarterback of the line.
In a way, Pocic’s uncertain position was a positive, some say.
“Ethan’s value is actually his versatility,” Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said in January. “These (NFL) teams only dress seven or eight linemen (for a game). If he can play anywhere literally across the line, I think that’s really going to help him in the draft.”