The Seahawks’ defensive line has been an important part of the team’s success over the last few years. The goal is to get back to the talent and depth the line had in 2013, during the team’s Super Bowl run.
Replacing Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane won’t be easy, but the players that the Seahawks have on the defensive line are up to the task. This is a talented group and they have the potential to be dominant next season. Let’s look at the players that make up this unit.
Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are the leaders of the defensive line and will continue to lead the way next season.
Bennett had his best year as a professional and finally earned some recognition by being named to his first Pro Bowl. He finished the season with a career high of 10 sacks and 52 total tackles. He is one of the most respected players in the Seahawks’ locker room and it’s important that the front office makes sure his contract issues are settled.
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Avril also had a great season and often gets overlooked among his talented defensive teammates. Avril was just behind Bennett with 9 sacks and 47 total tackles and was consistently making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Avril will be a big part of the Seahawks’ defensive front and pass rush next season.
The next part of the Seahawks’ defensive line are the impact players at defensive tackle. Ahtyba Rubin is the starter at the 3-technique and Sealver Siliga and Jordan Hill will be competing for the nose tackle spot.
Ahtyba Rubin had a great season and impressed the Seahawks with his play, leading to his reward of a 3-year contract with the team. His constant pursuit to the ball as a 325 pound man was outstanding and a great example of hustle. Rubin also did a great job of holding his ground and stopping running backs from finding any room.
Sealver Siliga looks to be the favourite to start at nose tackle, the position held previously by Brandon Mebane. He played for the New England Patriots the past 3 seasons and started in 13 games during that time. While playing for the Patriots, Siliga showed that he is a physical player that can stuff the run.
Jordan Hill looks to be the other player competing for the nose tackle starting spot. He is probably better suited, though, to be a rotational defensive tackle in passing situations. It’s important that Hill returns to form and plays like he did during the final stretch of the 2014 season where he had 5.5 sacks.
The next players that make up the defensive line are the key rotational pieces. These players will show up big next season and are a major reason why the defensive line continues to be successful.
Frank Clark had a fantastic rookie season and exceeded expectations. He showed that he can pass rush from both the outside and inside, proving to be very versatile. Next season it looks as though Clark will be rushing from just the outside and playing some of the LEO position.
Cassius Marsh will be a key piece to the defensive line this coming year and could also see time at the LEO spot. He has rushed the passer as a rotational player the past two seasons. Marsh has steadily improved each year and has shown he has potential to be a big time pass rusher for this team.
AJ Francis is another player that you should keep an eye on during training camp. He played sparingly at defensive tackle last season, but will be competing for more time in 2016. Francis will be a key part in making sure the Seahawks’ run-stopping department stays at the top in the NFL.
The last set of players that make up the defensive line are the ones that will be competing for a job during training camp. It’s important that one or two of these players emerge next season as a rotational lineman.
Ryan Robinson was making headlines during the Seahawks’ OTAs last offseason as a pass rusher, until he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and was placed on injured reserve before he could get started.
Josh Shirley was signed by the Seahawks to a futures contract in January and will be a player to watch. Shirley had 2 sacks in the preseason while playing for the Raiders and also appeared in 5 games for the Buccaneers last season.
DeAngelo Tyson is listed at defensive end, but will play both outside and inside. He has considerable NFL experience as a rotational lineman, playing in 34 games for the Baltimore Ravens, including Super Bowl XLVII.
Justin Hamilton was on the Seahawks’ practice squad for much of this past season. Hamilton is a big nose tackle who will provide the team with depth and added competition during training camp.
Overall, the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive line is a very good group that will wreak havoc in opposing teams’ backfields next season. The team still needs to bring in some more players to add to the competition, which can be done through the draft or by singing a few veteran free agents.
With a few additions I believe this unit could be the best defensive line the Seahawks have had since their Super Bowl winning season. If they can regain that type of production, and I believe they can, then the Seahawks’ defense will be back to their championship ways.