Seattle Seahawks Post-Draft Roster Analysis: Defense

Published on May 6, 2010 by     

With the 2010 NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror, here’s a look at the Seattle Seahawks roster as it heads into the mini-camp/OTA portion of the off-season.

Defensive Line

Locks: Chris Clemons, Lawrence Jackson, E.J. Wilson, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole
Bubble: Nick Reed, Robert Henderson, Dexter Davis, Craig Terrill, Red Bryant, Kevin Vickerson
Long-shot: Brandon Miller, Kevin Dixon, DeMarcus Granger, Rob Rose

Jackson, who may be revitalized playing for his former college coach, should start at left defensive end, with fourth-round pick Wilson backing him up and pushing for playing time. Seattle did not add a pass-rushing defensive end early in the 2010 draft, which they were expected by many to do.

Either the opportunity did not present itself, or the Seahawks are confident in Clemons, Henderson, and Reed to handle the weak-side on an every-down basis. (Linebackers Curry and Foley figure to rush the quarterback in nickel situations.)

Miller missed all of last season with a wrist injury, and while NFLPA records still have him on the roster, he’s been scrubbed from the roster on the official team site.

Inside, Mebane and Cole figure to remain in the starting lineup, with Terrill, Bryant, and Vickerson—neither of whom are assured a roster spot—rotating in.

Dixon, Granger, and Rose are undrafted free agents. Dixon (6-2, 257) appears to be an edge pass-rusher, while Rose (6-4, 294) is built more for the strong-side, though he has the athleticism to move inside on passing downs. Both got in trouble in school, with Dixon kicked off the Nebraska team after run-ins with campus police. Rose was suspended for the Rose Bowl by Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel for violating team rules.

Granger, a 6-2, 320-pound run-stuffer carries his own baggage, having missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing back surgery. Minnesota defensive tackle Barrett Moen is reportedly participating in the upcoming mini-camp on a tryout basis.

Linebackers

Locks: Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne, Will Herring
Bubble: Ricky Foley, Matt McCoy, Anthony Heygood
Long-shot: Reggie Carter, Joe Pawelek

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Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley hopes to have Tatupu, Hill, and Curry on the field for more than 8 snaps this season. If healthy, and when Hill isn’t serving a suspension, this is one of the more talented linebacking trios in the NFL, and Hawthorne and Herring have risen to the occasion when called upon.

The depth at the position makes cracking the roster difficult for younger players, who’ll need to demonstrate other skills to make the 53-man roster coming out of training camp.

Foley, the Canadian Football League import, will need to show that he can get to the opposing quarterback, while McCoy and Heygood’s path will likely be on special teams.

Heygood has practice squad eligibility, as do undrafted free agents Carter and Pawelek. (which is pronounced Pa-vel-ick)

Defensive Backs

Locks: Marcus Trufant, Josh Wilson, Walter Thurmond, Earl Thomas, Jordan Babineaux, Kam Chancellor
Bubble: Kelly Jennings, Roy Lewis, DeAngelo Willingham, Jamar Adams, Kennard Cox
Long-shots: Marcus Brown, James Brindley, Will Harris, Josh Pinkard

Without question, Trufant struggled mightily in 2009, earning the nickname “Marcus Trufant, P.I.” from yours truly.

In Trufant’s defense, a back injury on the eve of training camp kept him on the shelf until Week 8. When he returned, he was asked to cover the opposing team’s top wide receiver with almost no help from an ineffective pass rush. Trufant will not be confused with Nnamdi Asomugha or Darrelle Revis, but when healthy, he can be a very good cornerback in this league with even an average pass rush. Trufant is the highest-paid player on the Seahawks this year, and he’ll need a good season to reach the fourth year of his six-year extension.

Wilson, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, continues to be “pound-for-pound” the toughest defensive back on the roster, and a starting job is there for the taking. Joining them in the starting secondary are first-round pick Earl Thomas at free safety, and Jordan Babineaux as the strong safety, playing closer to the line of scrimmage, where he’s at his best.

Jennings will likely be given every opportunity to start opposite Trufant, and his experience gives him the inside track for the nickel and dime cornerback roles. Thurmond and Chancellor, two physically-gifted draft picks, are most likely to contribute on special teams, which will likely be the determining factor for Adams, Cox, Lewis, and Willingham to make the roster.

Adding a veteran cornerback or safety to the mix wouldn’t be a surprise, and two players from Carroll’s past—Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy—have been mentioned as possible additions for the Seahawks this summer.

Specialists

Locks: Olindo Mare (K), Jon Ryan (P)
Bubble: Tom Malone (P), Patrick MacDonald (LS)
Long-shot:

Mare and Ryan have the kicking and punting duties locked down. Malone has an opportunity to put some things on tape to land a job elsewhere, while MacDonald is currently the only long-snapper on the roster.

Long-snapper Matt Overton, who was signed to a “Reserve/Futures” contract but waived after injuring his foot on the first day of the off-season workouts, will be participating in the upcoming mini-camp on a tryout basis. Free agent long-snapper Bryan Pittman is also available.

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