Reviewing Seattle's defensive line needs as the NFL Draft nears.
We’ll continue our Seahawks pre-draft position reviews with a look at the defensive line.
PLAYERS CURRENTLY ON ROSTER
Starters: DEs Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, NT Brandon Mebane, DT Tony McDaniel.
Seahawks 2015 Draft
- Seattle Times NFL mock draft
- Seahawks' 10 best draft picks of all time
- Seahawks' 10 worst draft picks of all time
- Position review: Defensive line
- Position review: Offensive line
- Position review: Quarterback
- Position review: Running back
- Position review: Wide receiver
- Position review: Tight end
- Position review: Linebacker
- Position review: Defensive Backs
- Position review: Special Teams
Backups: DTs Ahtyba Rubin, Jesse Williams, Jimmy Staten, D’Anthony Smith, Jordan Hill; DEs Demarcus Dobbs, Will Pericak, Cassius Marsh, Julius Warmsley, Ryan Robinson, Greg Scruggs.
OVERVIEW: Seattle’s four primary starters from last year — Bennett, Avril, Mebane and McDaniel — all return (Mebane, by all accounts, is recovering on schedule and for now nothing has happened in regards to his contract). Kevin Williams, who started when Mebane went down late in the season, has essentially been replaced by the signing of free agent Rubin. Williams has yet to sign with any team. The only other real loss in the off-season was O’Brien Schofield, who signed with Atlanta.
But depth remains a question up front for the Seahawks. And the main question is how much can Seattle get from all of the young players drafted in the last few years who have instead seemed to be constantly battling injuries — specifically Scruggs, Marsh, Hill and Williams? Smith also missed last season with an injury.
If all return healthy and play to the ability they have shown, or that the team thinks they have, then the depth could be shored up pretty quickly.
But the Seahawks, in a way, are still trying to replace the depth lost after the 2013 season when Red Bryant, Clint McDonald and Chris Clemons were all released or not re-signed for salary cap reasons. The lack of experienced depth caught up to Seattle in the Super Bowl, especially after Avril got hurt in the third quarter and the pass rush became less of a factor.
Bruce Irvin factors in here, as well, due to his hybrid role as a linebacker in run downs and then a pass rusher in passing downs.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 10. With 11 picks, Seattle will definitely add to the defensive line. The Seahawks have drafted 10 defensive linemen out of 48 picks in the John Schneider/Pete Carroll era, and at least one in each of the five drafts.
This is regarded as a pretty good year for both ends and tackles, so the Seahawks should find plenty of options despite having to wait until the 63rd pick.
POSSIBLE DRAFT FITS: One player slotted to the Seahawks in a few mock drafts comes with a familiar name — Michael Bennett. This Bennett played at Ohio State, and unlike Seattle’s Bennett, he is also regarded as being almost solely an inside player (NFL Draft profile here). But like Seattle’s Bennett, he also appears to like to have some fun. Another player a few mocks have linked to Seattle is Stanford’s Henry Anderson, who is regarded as more of a run-stuffing tackle whose pass-rush ability is in question.
The Seahawks also were reported to have brought in Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards for a visit to the VMAC. Edwards is regarded as versatile enough to play both the three-technique and five-technique (similar to the way Seattle uses Bennett now). Edwards came out after his junior year so he could be a player who would need some time to develop.
Seattle is also reported to have brought in for a visit one of the more debated players in the draft — Michigan defensive end Frank Clark. Depending on the evaluator, Clark is projected to go anywhere from the third to the seventh round, in part over questions over off-field issues at Michigan that included being kicked off the team late in the year following a domestic violence arrest. The legal issues have been cleared up, which could help Clark’s status.
One local player who could also interest Seattle is Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper, whose draft stock has been considered as rising as the draft nears. He’s regarded as a good inside pass rusher, and his performance against Oregon when the Cougars nearly upset the Ducks is often cited as game that particularly entices scouts.
Here are the previous position reviews: