Seahawks Defensive Line: Too Much Talent, Too Few Roster Spots


Dec 16, 2012; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant (79) lines up against the Buffalo Bills offensive line at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

I sat down this morning, and decided to look at the 98 players currently either under contract or recently drafted by the Seahawks, and see if I could take a stab at the 53 man roster. It didn’t take very long before I ran into a serious problem.

The defensive line is going to be a massive battle for roster spots. There are simply too many good players, and no way too keep them all. It’s simply impossible to handicap how it will all shake out. Other position group look to be equally daunting.

Normally, this isn’t a huge problem for me. In most years, It’s pretty easy to pick out 47 or 48 of the 53 man roster at this stage.

Sure, there’s always few unexpected upsets, like an UDFA Jeron Johnson beating out draft pick Mark Legree. There’s also some incredibly unexpected occurrences  like the complete regression Kris Durham. These are rare though, And not something that bothers me when making predictions.

Contracts dictate certain locks to make the roster: Red Bryant and Chris Clemson have too much dead money associated with their contracts in 2013 to be going anywhere. Similarly, the contracts of Bruce Irvin, Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennet, and Cliff Avril suggest that their roster spor isn’t in jeopardy. 

Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams also both that the inside track to a roster spot given their draft status and general talent level. It would be a major shock if either don’t make the roster.

That’s 8 players: 3 edge rushers, 2 inside pass rusher, and 3 big bodied run stuffers. The team is likely to keep two more in my opinion. 10 defensive linemen is a lot, but with Irvin and Avril playing strong side LB in the base run defense, I expect the team to keep an extra linemen at the expense of a LB.

That leaves 3 spots up for grabs.

Lets take a look at some of the names competing for those 3 spots:

  • Jaye Howard
  • Clinton McDonald
  • Greg Scruggs
  • Tony McDaniel
  • and rookie free agents: Kenneth Boatright and Myles Wade

So who do you keep? Scruggs had the best 2012 of the group, but he is redundant with Bennett and Hill. The same is true of Howard, who didn’t play much in 2012, but has tremendous potential as an an inside pass rusher.

McDonald and McDaniel both offer good depth, and the ability to fill in for starters in ways that the others do not. The two rookies also bring unique skills to the table. Don’t let their undrafted status fool you into thinking they don’t offer anything. 

So now, pick 2 from that group. How comfortable are you the assumption that the team will agree with your selection?

If I’m picking, I’m keeping Scruggs and McDaniel. Scruggs because I know he can contribute, and McDaniel because he’s the only real backup run stuffers. The problem is that means that Howard is cut in that scenario, and he has a chance to end up as the best player of the ones we’re picking from.

Now, there’s a chance the Clemons starts the year on the Physically unable to Perform (PUP) list as he rehabs from his knee injury. That would help the situation since he wouldn’t be using up a roster spot until mid-season. That helps the situation, but it doesn’t fix it completely.

Don’t get me wrong, having too many talented players is a good problem to have. It’s just going to be tough to watch good players leave and go to other teams at the end of training camp.