Fortune may have smiled upon the Seahawks when it comes to this year’s NFL Draft. This particular draft class is deep with defensive linemen, and that is an area the Seahawks must address throughout this draft. Two, or perhaps even three, of the team’s selections in this draft should target this area. I believe the Seahawks should use their first round pick on a defensive tackle.
The Seahawks’ defensive line was riddled with injuries again last season. Starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole both missed several games due to injury, and starting right defensive end Red Bryant was put on IR and missed the final eleven games of the season (including the playoffs). Depth on the line was so lacking that Aaron Curry took several snaps at defensive tackle during games at the end of the regular season. That cannot and should not happen again.
Cole and Bryant should be starters next season along with defensive end Chris Clemons, who played better than anyone could have expected last season. The wildcard in this situation is Mebane, who will potentially be a free agent once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Mebane will draw interest from other teams, but he has had injury issues that might damper it some. He has more value to the Seahawks than he would to any other team, so the front office should be able to re-sign him. If it still exists, a transition tag would be a possibility.
Assuming those four will be the starting unit, there is virtually no depth behind them. Kentwan Balmer can ably rotate in at all four spots, but that’s about it. Raheem Brock played well down the stretch and had a very nice comeback season, but he is a free agent and will seek more money than the team could or should pay him. Junior Siavii and Craig Terrill are little more than warm bodies, although Terrill does stand out on special teams. If both are on the team next season, it means the front office failed to address the depth issue.
In my last post, I said it was almost fortunate that the Seahawks were drafting 25th instead of eighth if their intention is to draft an offensive lineman in the first round. If their intention is to draft a defensive lineman, as I think it should be, then it definitely is fortunate. If the Seahawks were drafting eighth and took a defensive lineman, then Mebane would almost certainly not return because of the money that would have to be invested in that pick. By drafting 25th, they can select a defensive lineman and still afford to sign Mebane. The draftee will see significant playing time, yet not be burdened with too many responsibilities or expectations.
I feel strongly that if the team selects a DL at 25, then it should be a tackle. Defensive ends have a much higher likelihood of being a bust. If the highest graded lineman available is an end, they probably should take him, but I won’t be thrilled about it. The memory of the absolute disaster that was Lawrence Jackson still resonates in my mind.