Free agency, draft provide D-line with even more depth and versatility


Since Red Bryant joined the Seahawks in 2008 almost three dozen other defensive linemen have rotated through the roster. But Bryant looks at the 2013 group and offers, “It’s going to be something special.”

Defensive linemen have come and gone since Red Bryant joined the Seahawks in 2008.

Too many to remember. Enough that it takes almost seven hands to count.

Gone: Rocky Bernard, Darryl Tapp, Lawrence Jackson, Baraka Atkins, Craig Terrill, Nick Reed, Dexter Davis, Pep Levingston, all draft choices; Patrick Kerney, Colin Cole, Raheem Brock, Alan Branch, Jason Jones, Anthony Hargrove and Jimmy Wilkerson, all signed as free agents; Cory Redding, Kentwan Balmer and Kevin Vickerson, who were acquired in trades; Brandon Miller, Jay Richardson, Amon Gordon, Pierre Allen and Patrick Chukwurah, who were signed as rookie free agents or off-the-street free agents.

Still here, for obvious reasons: Brandon Mebane, a third-round draft choice in 2007 who has started at both interior positions and was a Pro Bowl alternate at nose tackle last season; Chris Clemons, who was acquired in a 2010 trade and has produced 33.5 sacks the past three seasons; Bruce Irvin, who led all NFL rookies with eight sacks after being the team’s first-round draft choice last year; Clinton McDonald, a versatile situational tackle who was acquired in a 2011 trade; and Greg Scruggs and Jaye Howard, who were selected in the draft last year, in part, because of their versatility.

Returned: Michael Bennett, who made the Seahawks’ 53-man roster as a rookie free agent in 2009 and then played the past 3½ seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before re-signing with the club as free agent last month.

This year’s additions: Cliff Avril and Tony McDaniel, who were signed in free agency along with Bennett; and Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, who were selected in the NFL Drafted over the weekend.

Of all the lines, in all the seasons, Bryant likes this collection best because of its depth, versatility and the unique skills the individuals bring to the whole.

“We’re going to miss Alan Branch, that was my dog; and J.J. (Jason Jones),” Bryant said Tuesday, when the players worked outside on Day 2 of Phase 2 in their offseason program. “But this is probably the most-talented D-line I’ve been a part of.

“And it’s across the board. I feel like if a guy goes down, you can honestly say we won’t miss a step. And that’s saying a lot.”

That is it, because the Seahawks’ defense allowed the fewest points in the NFL last season and also ranked a franchise-best No. 4 in average yards allowed. But by getting better, and deeper, up front, it should only make the overall defense even more difficult to contend with.

“It just gives a lot of good shots to do good things,” is the way coach Pete Carroll put it.

The Seahawks have not just lucked into this situation. It has taken the hard work of general manager John Schneider and staff and director of pro personnel Tag Ribary and his staff to come up with this impressive collection of linemen who will allow Carroll to play defense the way he wants to – fast, physical, aggressive – in Dan Quinn’s first season as coordinator and Travis Jones’ first season as D-line coach.

via Free agency, draft provide D-line with even more depth and versatility.