Three combine DL standouts that should move up the Seahawks board

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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The NFL Combine is underway, and we’ve already seen three defensive standouts that should be climbing the Seahawks’ big board in preparation for the 2023 draft. Seattle needs help on the defensive line, both interior and edge. They’re in a great position to land two, and possibly all three.

It’s no secret that the Seahawks are looking for some fresh young talent along their defensive line. While there are plenty of free agents the Hawks may pursue, none of those players would be as inexpensive as someone playing on a rookie contract. With Seattle heading into the draft with two first-round picks, they have a great opportunity to load up the defensive front, just as they did last year with Charles Cross and Abe Lucas on the O-line.

With the recent news about Jalen Carter’s legal troubles, the entire draft is thrown into a bit of chaos. Personally, I wouldn’t draft the guy until day three – if then – but he was hardly the only top-line talent in this draft. It wasn’t very likely that Seattle was going to land Carter before the draft, and now they might not want him at all. But with their performances at the combine, the Seahawks may very well be able to draft all three.

Seahawks should have their eye on the fastest DT in the draft

Big Board riser No. 1: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pitt

I know, 12s, I know. “Who cares if your defensive tackle can burn the 40? If he needs to be fast, you’re in trouble already.” Well, back in 2014, Aaron Donald turned in the fastest verified time for a defensive tackle at 4.68. Nobody complains that his speed is wasted, right? Well, except us, because we’re tired of seeing him in Seattle’s backfield. That record is gone now, as Kancey turned in a record-setting 4.67 40 at the combine.

Not only is that a record for a DT, but it’s also a record for any player over 280 pounds. At 6’1″ and 281 pounds, Kancey has been tagged as undersized for the position. I get that, I truly do. On the NFL’s official site, his prospect grade is listed at 6.37. For context, the scale runs from 8.0 – the perfect prospect in every respect – down to 5.50. At 5.50, a player is considered to  “priority undrafted free agent”. Below that and you have people who should only watch football professionally, not play it.

Here’s a fun thing about grading prospects; those grades aren’t exactly infallible. Do you know who else was considered undersized for the position? I know, you saw him coming from a mile away, 12s. NFL quarterbacks wish they could say the same. Aaron Donald was actually graded even lower as a prospect. I’m sure you don’t believe me, but check for yourself: the future seven-time All-Pro, the guy who’s been to the Pro Bowl every year of his career, was rated at 5.90, an “average backup or special teamer.” Yes, he was another undersized Pitt Panther.

As for Kancey, I’m not saying he’s the next Aaron Donald. but the similarities can’t be ignored. Who does this describe: “Short, scrappy, instinctive, highly productive defensive lineman who does not look the part”. Is that Kancey? Or does this describe him: “Undersized, one-gapping defensive tackle who is explosive and productive.” Yeah, basically the same guy, right? The first is from Donald’s analysis, and the second is for Kancey. In his final two seasons at Pitt, Kancey totaled 14.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles for a loss. Donald registered 16.5 sacks and an eye-popping 47.0 tackles for a loss. As I said, I don’t expect Kancey to be the next Aaron Donald., but he definitely looks like he’ll be a force in the NFL.