DE is thought to be the biggest need for the Seahawks other than QB. In 2011, the pass rush was at best inconsistent and at worst completely absent. Even if the Seahawks manage to re-sign Red Bryant, a massive overhaul of this group is needed.
Chris Clemons quietly had another outstanding year in 2011, with 11 sacks and 51 tackles. The problem was that Clemons had almost no help in terms of putting pressure on the QB. If he didn’t get there, then no one did. Clemons wil definitely be back next season.
Red Bryant is a unique player in the NFL. At 323 lbs. he’s a mammoth at the position. He’s also a big reason why the Seahawks run defense was so good. Bryant’s size and strength are unmatched by any other player at his position in the league, and he creates major headaches for opposing offensive coordinator.
At the same time, Bryant is all but useless as a DE against the pass. While the Seahawks will occasionally use him at DT on passing downs, he hasn’t shown much ability on the inside either. The best place to line him up on passing down is on the sidelines. He might be the league’s most extreme 1-dimensional player in that regard.
Bryant is also a free agent. Re-signing him is a majot priority for the Seahawks. He is an irreplaceable part of the Seahawks defense. Losing him to another team will mean fundamentally changing the structure and scheme of the defense.
Raheem Brock was perhaps the team’s biggest disappointment in 2011. After 2010 season where he had 9 sacks as a part time player who subbed in for Bryant on passing downs, his sack total dropped to just 3 this past season. Even worse than his lack of sack was his general lack of effectiveness. Brock just never managed to generate a pass rush despite considerable playing time and absolutely never being double teamed. Brock’s career seems to be at an end.
Rookie Laz Levingston spent most of the season on the practice squad, and is thought to be a potential backup to Red Bryant’s 5-technique. Little is really known about his actual potential, other than the fact that Seahawk coaches like him a lot.
Anthony Hargrove and Jimmy Wilkerson are similar players. Both are too big to play the Leo end position, and too small to play the 5-tech. Wilkerson spent the year on IR. Hargrove was actually used as a backup DT, who came in on passing downs to try and provide some inside pressure. Neither appear to have a long term future with the team.
And finally there’s Dexter Davis. Davis is, apparently, the best pass rusher on the roster and has double digit sack potential. The problem is that Davis can’t stay healthy both of seasons in the NFL have been spent on injured reserve. It remains to be seen if those injuries were flukes, or a sign that he’ll never be able to stay healthy.
Prediction: Red Bryant will re-sign. Clemons will return, and Dexter Davis will be given one more shot at staying healthy. Laz Levingston also returns, but everyone else is replaced.