J.R. Sweezy is a long way from hometown Mooresville and just as far removed from what he used to do on the football field.
Sweezy played defensive tackle at N.C. State. The Seattle Seahawks saw something about him back in 2012 that said “offensive guard.” They were willing to use a late draft pick on him if Sweezy was willing to buy into the conversion.
Sweezy’s reply? Make me the punter, so long as I get the chance to keep playing football. So the Seahawks chose him 225th overall in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.
Three seasons later the 6-foot-5, 298-pound lineman from suburban Charlotte is doing just fine. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who also played with Sweezy at N.C. State, said Wednesday, “I believe he’s the best guard in football.”
Quite a compliment from the NFL star whose cubicle is right next to Sweezy’s in the Seahawks locker room.
“Any time that caliber of a guy, the head of the offense, has your back, that’s a good feeling,” Sweezy said.
How did he make this conversion so successfully?
“I came in with an open mind, just wanted a chance,” Sweezy said. “That’s what (offensive line coach Tom) Cable gave me and I took full advantage of it.”
Cable, formerly the Oakland Raiders’ head coach, is known for excellent teaching skills. Sweezy said Cable sped his development by not over-complicating what the position entails.
“It was tough at first, but he spelled it all out in ways that were easy to digest,” Sweezy said. “He’s very detailed, but not in a way that confuses.”