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First look at the draft: Defensive line

Post by Eric Williams on Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:43 am with 21 Comments »
February 9, 2011 11:43 am

Upgrading the defensive line remains a priority for Seattle. Three of the four starters up front are under contract for next season, including defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, and defensive tackle Colin Cole.

Brandon Mebane will be a free agent, but would appear to be one of the leading candidates for Seattle to re-sign this offseason.

Veteran defensive end Raheem Brook proved a nice fit as an edge rusher paired with Clemons in passing situations, and although he’s a free agent, he would seem another candidate to re-sign with Seattle. Junior Siavii gave the Seahawks some production at both tackle and defensive end before suffering a neck stinger against Atlanta. Kentwan Balmer provided similar versatility at both positions.

And let’s not forget to mention the impact losing Dan Quinn will have on the defensive line. I thought Quinn commanded a lot of respect from this group and did a nice job at both finding specific roles for players and getting the most out of them.

It will be interesting to see how new defensive line coach Todd Wash transitions into that position from Tampa Bay.

The Seahawks did a decent job of generating a pass rush this year, finishing with 37 sacks this season, good enough for 13th overall in the league. However, there were times where the secondary was put in a tough position because opposing quarterbacks had too much time to throw.

Seattle’s run defense was good early in the year, but injuries to Bryant, Cole and Mebane led to a steep drop-off in the second half of the season.

So I think adding depth to the defensive line through the draft will be important this year.

And defensive line might be the most talented-rich position in this year’s draft, with NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock recently saying as many as nine defensive lineman could go in the first round in April.

Rob Rang and I took a look at a couple prospects that might make sense for the Seahawks to select with the No. 25 overall pick.

Those players include California defensive end Cameron Jordan, who could be a potential 5-tech with the versatility to slide inside and play 3-tech in passing situations, and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan as a potential Leo defensive end.

Cameron Jordan, DE, California, 6-4, 285

Rang: “Just like his former teammate Tyson Alualu, who ended up being the No. 10 overall pick last year, when you put on the film Cameron Jordan just stands out. His physicality, he shows a little bit more burst than people want to give him credit for, so when he went to the Senior Bowl and was really dominant – I mean he was the best defensive lineman there – it wasn’t much of a surprise to anybody who really watched the Cal tape.”

Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue, 6-4, 255

Rang: “He’s a potential Leo guy. He’s got some pass-rush ability. He’s got some burst up field. I’d like to see him use his hands a little bit better, but he plays with his heart on his sleeve. He’s a very intense football player.”

Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois, 6-3, 300

Rang: “As we get close to the draft you’ll see more and more of Liuget in first-round mocks from writers who do their homework. Quick, active and instinctive, he could wind up leaping ahead of many of big names.”

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa, 6-3, 286

Skinny: Clayborn skipped the Senior Bowl and had a somewhat disappointing final season for the Hawkeyes, with only 3.5 sacks. But he still possesses strong pass-rush skills, an ability to play stout against the run and good closing speed that should make him a tempting selection in the first round.

NFL Draft
Leave a comment Comments → 21
  1. Dukeshire says:

    Rang’s right, Jordan dominated all week at the Sr Bowl. He’s someone that I can see as a 3 tech. His get-off and initial punch could provide the ‘Hawks with the interior pass rush they so desperately need. Unfortunately, I doubt he’ll make it to 25.

    Kerrigan really reminds me of Patrick Kerney, both size and motor-wise. If he makes it to 25 and their first choices at o line or in the secondary are gone, I can see them grabbing him. Again, with the idea he can provide a pass rush (and can capably stop the run) without the assistance of blitz, something Clem struggled with despite his overall sack total.

    The ‘Hawks have to get a better rush without relying on the blitz so often, while not sacrificing their run defense.

  2. If Chuck Bresnahan becomes OAK’s DC, then I wonder if Hawks could get OAK’s DL coach Mike Waufle for our DL coach? Waufle was discussed as potentially OAK’s DC position, then Davis went out and started looking at Bresnahan and JAX’s DL coach Joe Cullen to be their DC. Davis hired Bresnahan who is starting to look like Davis’s future DC. OAK has apparently already trimmed assistant coaches: passing game coord Ted Tollner, QB coach Paul Hackett, OL coach Jim Michalczik, OL asst coach Chris Morgan and LB coach Mike Haluchak. DC already hired Chris Morgan yesterday to help in coaching their OL.

  3. I know Wash “is their guy”, but look at how TB’s DL performed compared to OAK’s:

    I know Richard Seymour, but still. . .

  4. Dukeshire says:

    That makes no sense. A; Waufle is still employed by the Raiders. B; Seattle just hired Todd Walsh less than a month ago.

  5. Dukeshire says:

    klm – Forget Seymour, TBs line was one of the youngest d lines in the league, last year, including 3 rookies.

  6. Maybe I’m just not making sense. I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding why TB fired Wash. I know there’s history between Kiffen, PC, Bradley & Wash which is probably why Gus is still DC, and also why Wash is DL AC here. According to many TB fans though, there’s not alot to like about Wash.

    DC Kiffen left TB in ’08 when Morris became DC under Gruden. Bradley was TB’s DQC in ’06 and LB AC ’07-’08. In ’07 Wash replaced Gus as TB’s DQC (to help rookie DE Gaines Adams rush the passer) and DL AC in ’08-’10. Morris replaced Gruden as HC in ’09. Bradley became Mora’s DC in ’09 and PC’s DC in ’10. Wash was hired to replace Quinn here for ’11.

    Wash’s TB DL Stats:
    ’07 Vs the run 22nd, 12th in pass-rush
    ’08 Vs the run 11th, 8th in pass-rush
    ’09 Vs the run 28th, 24th in pass-rush
    ’10 Vs the run 30th, 31st in pass-rush

    TB’s DL Players & Position Rank vs Run:
    ’07 RDE G.Adams (24,6-5/258) & K.Carter (34,6-5/290): 8th
    RDT J.Haye (25, 6-2/284) & LDT C.Hovan (29, 6-2/296): 31st
    LDE K.Carter & G.Spires (33, 6-1/261): 24th

    ’08 RDE G.Adams: 24th
    RDT J.Haye & LDT C.Hovan: 13th
    LDE K.Carter: 10th

    ’09 RDE S.White (30, 6-3/268): 16th
    RDT C.Hovan & LDT R.Sims (29, 6-4/314): 32nd
    LDE K.Carter: 18th

    ’10 RDE S.White: 21st
    RDT R.Miller (23, 6-1/301) & LDT G.McCoy (22, 6-4/295): 31st
    LDE T.Crowder (25, 6-4/272) & K.Moore (24, 6-4/265): 27th

    TB’s DL got 11.5 of TBs 26 sacks. The rest came from blitzing DBs and LBs. Miller and Moore were ’09 rookies, McCoy was drafted in ’10.

    Mike Waufle was Tom Cable’s DL coach in OAK. OAK’s DL ranked 1st in rushing the passer and 4th vs the run. Get permission to talk to him and then swap Waufle for Wash.

  7. Dukeshire says:

    I understand the statistical difference between Walsh’s lines and Waufle’s. But what doesn’t make sense about you’re suggestion, is that Seattle just hired Walsh. Carroll’s not going to fire a newly hired coach, in the hopes they can sign another coach for that same position, who is still employed with another team. (And this says nothing about whether Bresnahan would fire Waufle and go in another direction, if he’s promoted to DC. Or whether Waufle is interested in making a lateral movement.)

    Let me put it another way; if Carroll was interested in Waufle, he wouldn’t have hired Walsh.

    Also; Kiffen left after the ’08 season to coach with his punk son at Tenn. Morris became the DC when he became head coach. He coached defensive backs under Gruden, not DC. And TB didn’t fire Walsh, his contract expired and they didn’t re-sign him.

  8. Dukeshire says:

    Pardon me; Wash. lol (Force of habit…)

  9. Sarcasticus says:

    Here was Sando’s take on the hiring of Wash.

    As far as “the circumstances surrounding why TB fired Wash,” his contract expired and he was not retained.

  10. c_hok_phan says:

    Yes, defensive line is a need. But can anyone say “cornerback”?

  11. I don’t understand what’s not making sense to you. To an “always compete” team, a coach’s position should be no different than a player’s. Players are being cycled through SEA like a continuous revolving door. Should happen with coaches too – like Seto with Newheisel. Maybe Seto’s back with Hawks, not sure. Coaches shouldn’t be thinking their jobs are any ‘safer’ here than the players. They also have to believe they are competeing for their jobs – even in S.AK. I wouldn’t have hired Mora, nor kept as long as they did. When you looked at Mora’s record with ATL it showed the same kinda decline as Wash’s with TB. Then he didn’t improve their DBs performance. I wouldn’t have kept TR as long as they did, either. I probably wouldn’t have hired Belichec from CLE either, but if his players didn’t improve from the start in NE I’d have fired him too.

    I wouldn’t necessarily fire Wash now before getting permission from Davis to talk with Waufle. But I’d use whatever influence Cable may have with Waufle to bring him here. Maybe Hawks could get some OAK DL FAs to come along too.

    I already mentioned the histories of Wash and Bradley, PC & Kiffen, which is what Sando brought out in his article when Wash was hired. Sando also wrote that he didn’t know much about Wash as a coach. Kiffen was DC at TB when both Bradley and Wash were hired there. Yes, he did follow his son outta town, and Morris became DC. TB didn’t reup Wash. Fired, to me, is shorthand for being let go. TB fans were very vocal about wanting to see the last of Wash. Hopefully Wash’ll be some kinda Belichec in NE here, but I’m thinking he’ll be another Gus.

  12. Dukeshire says:

    Klm – Always compete? He hasn’t even coached a single practice yet. And rest assured, if he fails to perform at the level Carroll expects, he will go the way of Jeremy Bates.

    In any case, I already explained why your origional suggestion makes little sense, to me at least. And quite frankly, is making even less the more you clairify it. (Since when did the Raiders become a bastion of coaching and player talent?) If Carroll had designes on Waufle, he wouldn’t have hired Wash. It’s pretty simple.

    And for the record, I wasn’t the one who posted the Sando link.

  13. Sarcasticus says:

    “Yes, defensive line is a need. But can anyone say “cornerback”?

    Yes! Can you say “monday’s topic”?

  14. Sarcasticus says:

    I posted the Sando link in case folks had not seen it yet. It was in no way a rebuke of your post. I thought the quote Sando had on what folks thought of Wash’s job was interesting.

    Perhaps next time I will just paraphrase the article and pass it off as my own knowledge.

  15. Dukeshire says:

    I presume that was directed at klm. I only mentioned that I didn’t post the link because he seemed to include that in his last post directed at me. Anyway…

  16. Sarcasticus says:

    Sorry for the confusion, Duke. I was responding to poster klm008.

  17. Duke-
    I don’t know as much as you about football of course, so if you know why PC hired Wash (beyond having worked together with Kiffen and Bradley before) I wish you’ld clue me in on it. PA can afford the very best position coaches – is Wash the best DL AC for SEA? Why, coaching fit & player personnel?

    TB Coaches:
    HC: ’07-’08 J.Gruden, ’09-’10 R.Morris
    DC: ’07-’08 M.Kiffen, ’09 J.Bates / R.Morris, ’10 R.Morris

    Kiffen ran a 4-3 T2, with light-fast DL guys to pressure the QB with the front 4. TB’s FO made Morris DC for a few days before the start of the ’09 season, then fired Gruden and their GM, & promoted Morris to be HC. Jeremy Bates’ dad was hired to be DC. Jim Bates scrapped the T2, had Wash coach the DEs and (Neely?) the DTs. Bates didn’t have the personnel for his scheme – which didn’t work, so Morris took over dual roles, HC & DC that mid-season and which he’s performed ever since. Morris went back to the T2 to better fit their personnel. Not sure if Wash ever got much chance to coach TB’s DTs? Over Wash’s career @ TB, the most sacks by any his DLers was 6.5 by G.Adams in ’08 and 6.5 by S.White in ’09. Youngsters.

    Compared to SEA’s & TB’s DLs, OAK (last season) WAS a bastion of DL coaches and players. OAK’s/SEA’s/TBs ’10 DLs ranked 4th/24th/30th vs the run and 1st/28th/31st vs the pass. TB’s DL in ’09 was dead last at defending the run. Why? Probably because the way teams beat the T2 is with the run. TB’s DL is very light and susceptible to being worn down. At least one of TBs safeties gets pulled up into the box and then teams go after whoever isn’t getting help.

    You may have mentioned before that PC’s unbalanced 4-3 under hasn’t worked much better than Mora’s 4-3 over did. SEA still can’t blitz like a 3-4, can’t create pressure from its front 4 like their more balanced ’07 and prior 4-3s, can’t rush the passer from the strong side and can’t stop the run from the weak side. Will Wash bring SEAs DL back to a more balanced 4-3, with 2 pass-rushing DEs and 2 penetrating DTs, or will he try to continue with Quinn’s efforts to get PC’s 4-3 under to work better here?

    SEA’s DL can probably stuff the run quite well again if Red, Mebane and Cole are healthy. If those guys are on the DL, SEA’s safeties can stay in their cover-2 shell. Tru’s coverage (at least whoever on SEA’s D covered the other team’s #1 WR) ranked 14th. Whoever covered the other team’s #2 WR ranked dead last. Vs other WRs SEA ranked 28th, and 29th vs RBs. Vs TEs SEA ranked 10th (not so bad). SEA’s DEs seemed to get better vs screens later in the season.

    Thinking of Tez lately. Sad about what we’re getting from our current DL. This draft has some talented DEs and DTs in it. Maybe we’ll never have another Tez, but we’ve gotta at least get some better depth. Backup 5-tech and quicker 3-tech would sure help.

  18. Dukeshire says:

    I never mentioned that Carroll’s “unbalanced” 4-3 (under) hasn’t worked much better than Mora’s 4-3 did. I believe you have me confused with someone else. But I have no doubt that Carroll will continue to run his base 4-3 as an under (with a single high safety, not cover 2) and bring in players that can create pressure from the weak side (Leo) and strong side ends. Were they able to do that last year? Not without the help of a blitz, but I place the blame for that on the players, who are still here. (Many will not be when the ’11 season begins. Balmer, Richardson, etc…) In Carroll’s season ending presser, he mentioned that this off-season’s top priority was improving both lines.

    Now, I don’t presume to know why Carroll hired Wash, aside from their connections. And that’s not the point I’ve been trying to make, anyway. My issue with your take is that you believe Carroll ought to be trying to hire a d line coach who’s with another team only weeks after they just hired one. This is not the way a quality organization works. I’m not commenting on who the better line coach for Seattle’s situation is, I’m taking issue with the method in which you are suggesting Carroll assemble his staff. And while doing so, noting that if Carroll wanted someone other than who he hired, he likely would have gone directly to that person. He did not. So that ought to tell us that Carroll got the man he wanted, for good or ill. (Or, perhaps he sought permission to speak to another coach and was denied.)

  19. Dukeshire says:

    “Backup 5-tech and quicker 3-tech would sure help”

    This we can agree on. D line is one of the 3 positions they ought to be targeting in the 1st (o line and corner are the other) IMO.

  20. Thanks Duke –
    I’ll assume (and hope) you’re right about PC having the man he wants for his DL coach, and that SEA will continue (and prosper) with the 4-3 under once they have healthy and better fitting personnel.

    If the FA period is messed up, then SEA’s new players may be more likely to come from the draft. Wash worked with one DE rookie, and four rookie DTs in ’10. Quinn only had DD. Rookie DLers are usually slow outta the gate at getting pressure. That might be a reason for why Wash. Wash’s been working with lotsa rookie DLers for the last 4 years trying to get them to quickly gain the techniques, use attack angles, etc needed to beat or get off NFL blockers. If Hawks go early DL in the draft, Wash has plenty of experience with rookie DLers.

  21. Dukeshire says:

    klm008 – We all hope for that. Thing is, as this defense goes, so goes Carroll’s tenure here. He’s a defensive coach and has been very clear about the fact he’s run nothing but a 4-3 under. He’s given coaches clinics and lectures on it and has been developing it since he coached with Kiffen in Buffalo and Minn in the mid eighties. Should Seattle’s defense continue to struggle moving forward, the blame and responsibility falls solely on Carroll, IMO. Not Bradley. Not any defensive assistants. He’s going to bring in coaches who can convey his ideas about how the defense ought to be run. And he’s going to run this team the way he sees fit (he has very specific and clear ideas how that should be, according to him) and let the chips falls where they may. (Which is hopefully in, on and around the Lombardi Trophy.)

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