Seahawks training camp battles: defensive tackle

Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (77) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (77) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The defensive tackles for the Seattle Seahawks are athletic and talented, but they are also young and raw.

Other position groups are getting all the attention this offseason, but the defensive tackles for the Seattle Seahawks are an intriguing group. This is a group with tremendous upside, but only has one players with considerable experience.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at this position are the guys who are not listed but still factor into the rotation. I’m referring to Michael Bennett and and Frank Clark. Both of them are defensive ends, and both (especially Bennett) will see time inside at the 3-tech DT spot as an inside pass rusher.

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That allows the Seahawks to keep fewer defensive tackles than most team that use a 4-3 defense. While it helps elsewhere on the roster, it also means that they often lack true backups for their starters.

Seattle likes to keep specialized backups at defensive tackle; guys with unique skills that fit certain sub-packages. That means that when a starter gets injured, the team doesn’t have a player with a similar skill set that they can plug into the rotation.

Here are how things stack up as we get set for training camp:

Jarran Reed

The Seahawks traded up in the second round of the draft to get Brandon Mebane’s replacement at nose tackle. Reed is a legit first-round talent that dropped because of the premium put on pass rushers.

Run stuffing nose tackles are undervalued right now, and the Seahawks took advantage of that. Reed is a monster up front that’ll anchor Seattle’s defense for the foreseeable future.

Ahtyba Rubin

Both of Seattle’s starting defensive tackles from last season were free agents, and the Seahawks could only afford to keep one. It is significant that they decided to let Mebane go and keep Ahtyba Rubin.

Rubin is a versatile defensive tackle that can effectively one-gap and two-gap. That’s a rare trait for a defensive tackle, and why the Seahawks valued him so highly.

Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill’s spot on the roster has never been more tenuous. Hill is still the pass-rusher at nose tackle that comes in on obvious passing downs, but now he has two players pushing him for his job.

Hill has the edge in experience, and had a stretch of five games in 2014 where he looked dominant. Unfortunately, he’s also struggled to stay healthy, and wasn’t nearly as good in 2015 as he’d been the year before.

There was hope that by now he wouldn’t be completely useless against the run, but he still has no ability to anchor and avoid being driven backwards.

Quinton Jefferson

Think of Quinton Jefferson as a more athletic but much-less refined version of Hill. Jefferson wins with an explosive first step and great strength, but he’s essentially clueless on how to use his hands to get off blocks.

Brandin Bryant

Bryant isn’t as strong as Jefferson, and he isn’t close to being as refined in his technique as Hill. Instead, Bryant brings movement skills that are uncommon for a guy that is 289 pounds. He’s a guy that’ll pursue the ball from sideline to sideline

In fact, Bryant’s ability to move is so solid that the Seahawks are going to try him at fullback. He’s like a slightly quicker version of Will Tukuafu.

Sealver Siliga

If this name sounds familiar, it is because he was with Seattle before. He was the guy they got in the trade for John Moffit, though Siliga’s time in Seattle didn’t last long.

The Seahawks signed Siliga as a “draft hedge” in case they weren’t able to get a nose tackle that would be ready to play right away. Drafting Reed meant that Siliga is not long in line to see the field. As long as Reed stays healthy, Siliga will have an uphill battle to make the 53 man roster.

Next: Training camp battles: linebacker

Justin Hamilton

If you look at the backups, you’ll notice that Hamilton is unique. He’s not a massive nose tackle; neither is he a undersized pass rusher. Instead, he’s more of a generic defensive tackle.

While that might not be exciting, it is still important. Other than Hamilton, the Seahawks lack a backup for Rubin in the base defense.