Seahawks draft profile: Justin Madubuike would be beastly in the middle
By Lee Vowell
The Seahawks need to fix their defensive line for 2020 but they also need to do so long-term. Justin Madubuike could help do that.
The Seahawks had 28 sacks in 2019, tied for the second-lowest in the NFL. This is not the way Seattle’s defense works successfully. Or any NFL defense for that matter. But another issue was that Seattle gave up 22 rushing touchdowns this past season. Seattle gave up 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game in 2019, third-worst in the league. Needless to say, Seattle’s defensive line needs to be a lot better in 2020.
But what about beyond 2020? The Seahawks have a decent window of opportunity open for the next few seasons as Russell Wilson is still young enough to be really good for some time. But he needs a good defense to help Seattle get deep in the playoffs.
More specifically, Seattle needs a good to great defensive line to set the tone for the rest of the defense. Signing a few good free agents will help in the short-term but what about four years down the road?
Seattle needs to keep building through the NFL draft. Currently, Seattle has the 27th pick in this year’s draft. 12s all know that Seattle almost always trades down since John Schneider became the general manager and Pete Carroll became coach in 2010. This year, though, maybe Seattle should stand pat to grab Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Madubuike slotted as a late first-round draft pick right now. Of course, all that might change should Madubuike blow up at the NFL combine this week. He could move up draft boards quickly. I think if he does, the Seahawks should think about moving up to grab him.
Madubuike is made for a 4-3 front which Seattle, of course, plays. He came into college at 275 pounds and now is a bit over 300 pounds. But he hasn’t lost any quickness. Madubuike can create within each pass-rush and just when an offensive lineman is ready to take him head on, Madubuike can find a way to move around him.
But if Madubuike wants to go head-on, he can and he can do so really well. Madubuike uses his hands to quickly establish leverage and then can use his powerful legs to push an offensive lineman backwards. Madubuike had 5.5 sacks in college in both 2018 and 2019 along with a combined 22 tackles for loss for a reason. He is strong.
The fact, too, is that Madubuike is still fairly raw in technique meaning that he can add additional moves for his quickness but also learn how to leverage his power. If he learns well, there is nothing than Madubuike cannot do.
A smart and bigger offensive lineman will know how to guide Madubuike out of a play. While Madubuike is great with his hands on getting inside an offensive lineman and using his power to force a lineman to do what Madubuike wants, this won’t work initially against an experienced NFL player.
The offensive lineman will simply put his hands outside of Madubuike’s and then force Madubuike to move wide instead of straight ahead and that could open running holes.
Madubuike’s weakness will be overcome with age, though. If he can stay healthy, play in a 4-3 base and be coachable, Madubuike will be a near-Pro Bowl defensive tackle. The Seahawks need great defensive ends in their system to pressure quarterbacks, but they need to get help with an interior pass rush too. There is a reason Frank Clark was great in 2018. He had Jarran Reed’s 10.5 sacks from the interior to help him.
In 2019, Seattle got extremely little from the interior of its defensive line as far as pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This needs to change. If the Seahawks want to get back to 2013 through 2015 pressure levels, they need strong defensive tackles. Justin Madubuike would be a step towards getting the Seahawks defensive line back to greatness.