by: William P. Tomisser
With all the talk about our own free agents resigning and who we might be drafting, I thought we should take a look at each position as of the end of the season and see who’s currently on the roster and see who we think might be going into Mora’s first training camp as well as who might be gone through free agency or replaced by Mora.
Today we’ll look at the defensive line as a whole with ends and tackles together. We ended the season with four defensive ends and five defensive tackles on the active roster. We had one tackle on the practice squad and one end on the injured reserve.
- Baraka Atkins
- Lawrence Jackson
- Brandon Miller
- Darryl Tapp
- Patrick Kerney (injured reserve)
- Rocky Bernard
- Red Bryant
- Howard Green
- Brandon Mebane
- Craig Terrill
- Kevin Brown (Practice Squad)
Atkins and Tapp will obviously be in the mix this summer as well as Kerney if he recovers from his injured shoulder. He tore his labrum again and needed more extensive surgery than the first time he had the injury. He is expected to miss training camp next summer but will hopefully be ready when the season starts or soon thereafter. If he can’t come back, we have some real work to do on our defensive ends.
Brandon Miller was a undrafted free agent acquired from Atlanta when they released him last November. I would imagine that he will be invited to camp but without any real expectations of becoming part of the rotation if Kerney’s injury prevented him from playing.
The top rated defensive end in the draft is Brian Orakpo from Texas. He is probably the premier pass rusher available in this year’s draft. At 260 lbs he’s a little light, but expected to be a top 5 pick. If the Seahawks determine that Kerney won’t be able to overcome his injury by draft day I expect they would have some interest in Orakpo, but if Kerney is still on the mend and the prognosis is good that he’ll recover I doubt the Seahawks will use their high pick on a defensive end.
Defensive tackle is even more unsettled. Bernard and Green are free agents, and with Bernard’s off-field troubles last summer and the need for a better interior pass rusher and big-bodied run stopper, it’s doubtful that either will be at camp in July. That leaves us with Bryant, Mebane, and Terrill as veterans and Brown from the practice squad, who will undoubtedly be given a chance to compete in training camp.
Brown was a guy who had impressed the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent from UCLA and they have pretty much kept him around on the practice squad all season. I’m sure they intend to give him his shot in training camp, but he’s only about 300lbs and doesn’t meet the profile of their greatest need at defensive tackle, which will be covered below.
Green could be resigned; however, although he showed some promise in pre-season play, he’s only been on an active NFL roster four years (not playing in 2005 and 2006) and will be 30 years old next season. He’s big at 320 lbs, but by the time he’s fully developed he’ll be ready to retire. He could make it as a stopgap measure if other positions require more attention than we can give the defensive line.
The need for a big-bodied run stuffer has existed ever since Tubbs was injured the first time and our pass rush is all coming off the ends, which still leaves the opposing quarterback a nice little pocket behind the center to work in. A disruptive defensive tackle like Cortez Kennedy who keeps pressure up the middle and requires a double team would help push the pocket out to where the outside pressure would be more effective at getting to the quarterback.
That’s the two defensive tackle positions that I see the Seahawks needing to put this defensive line on the map. Red Bryant might be able to fill one of those needs, if not both. He is definitely a big strong guy. He has trouble keeping low and not letting offensive linemen get underneath him to win the leverage battle, but that can be coached.
Red has also shown that he has a quick first step and could surprise as a pass rusher, but he isn’t known for that talent. All that potential remains to be seen though and it would behoove Seattle to make sure they have the run stopping and pass rushing component in camp to compliment the already very talented Mebane and steady Terrill. I see Seattle picking up at least one defensive tackle from either the free agent market or from the draft who will be expected to play in the rotation next season and I think they really need two to advance in that area.
I could see Mebane, Terrill, Bryant, an interior pass rusher, and a big-bodied run stopper becoming a very good defensive tackle rotation.
The top defensive tackle in this draft as far as most publications are concerned is Terrence Cody from Alabama. Cody is 365 lbs and is a monstrous run stuffer. He’s not a pass rusher but could certainly fill that big-bodied run stopper need for us that Tubbs vacated. Expected to go in the middle of the first round, we would have to trade down to get him.
Of course, a lot depends on Kerney getting well so we don’t have to add our top outside rushing threat to the list of replacements needed.
I leave it to you Addicts to hash it out. In the next couple of days we’ll look at the offensive line, including center, guards, tackles, and the tight end positions. The other areas we’ll be looking at down the line are linebackers, defensive backs, receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks.