Defensive line was one of the Seattle Seahawks most pressing needs heading into this year’s draft.
And with plenty of talented defensive linemen available in the first round, the smart money was on the Seahawks grabbing one of those prospects on the first day.
Yet the Seahawks waited to the final day of the draft to select LSU defensive lineman Pep Levingston 205th overall in the seventh round.
With Brandon Mebane likely a free agent once a new CBA is agreed to, Seattle will have to look to free agency to shore up holes on the defensive front. However, general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll like Levingston’s versatility.
“He’s a real strong guy – a point of attack guy, good length to him,” Schneider said about Levingston. “He was a guy we felt could come in and compete at the 5 technique spot and be a stop guy.”
“He’s a defensive end primarily, but we think he can play both (defensive end and defensive tackle),” added Carroll said.
The skinny: Levingston started at defensive end his junior year, replacing Tyson Jackson, selected No. 3 overall by Kansas City in the 2009 draft.
He then moved inside to defensive tackle for his senior season.
The Seahawks see Levingston competing for time at defensive end with Red Bryant as a player who can hold the point at 5 technique. It’s an interesting development, because Seattle drafted E.J. Wilson for that very same purpose last year out of North Carolina in the fourth round, but cut him midway through the season – one of the few draft picks they missed on last year.
At 6-4 and 292 pounds, the 21-year-old Levingston is basically the same size as Wilson (6-3, 289 pounds).
Now Seattle hopes Levingston provides the depth up front they were looking for in Wilson. Wilson caught on with Tampa Bay last year.
What’s in a name? Levingston’s first name given to him at birth is Lazarius, but he earned the nickname Pep from his uncle as a little kid.
“My uncle, he gave me that name when I was a little kid. I was always hyperactive, so he said that I had a lot of pep in m step, so the name just stuck with me,’ Levingston said about the nickname.
2011 expectations: Seattle is looking for Levingston to develop into a rotational guy along the defensive front, joining Colin Cole, Red Bryant, Kentwan Balmer and whomever they add in free agency.
Levingston gives Seattle some insurance if Bryant does not fully recover from season-ending knee surgery last year, and he also has the ability to give the Seahawks some snaps at 3 technique on run downs.
“You have a lot of guys who can only play on the left side of the line, or the right side of the line,” Levingston said. “For me, it doesn’t really matter. I can play all across, with my left or right hand down. Wherever a team sees me there, I’m all for it. I’m all just for making a team better any way I can.”