Granted they haven't even put pads on yet, but right now Cassius Marsh is looking like a steal of a 4th-round pick. #Seahawks
— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) July 26, 2014
More than anything, this is what I wanted to see at the start of training camp: Cassius Marsh fitting right in straight away.
This is just my personal preference, but the two things I want to see in a pass rusher is get off/speed and hand technique.
The speed aspect is pretty obvious. You need it if you’re going to work the edge and compete against increasingly mobile quarterbacks. It’s not just about the pass rush either — the QB’s move around so much more these days you also need to contain and work against the read-option. DE’s and linebackers have to be faster and smarter.
The thing is, it can’t just be about speed. Too many college DE’s dominate a college tackle on speed alone and look great doing it. Then they make the step up to the pro’s and suddenly the speed doesn’t have the same impact. NFL tackles are quicker, bigger and stronger. You need a counter, you need a repertoire. You can’t rely on just being quick off the edge.
How many athletic DE busts have there been in the last 10 years? Pass rushers who look great flying off the edge and rounding the tackle. Then they get into the league and can’t make it happen. Sometimes being a little slower in college helps because you’re FORCED to work on technique. Speed is not the be-all and end-all.
Hand use is so important. You need to be able to engage and get off a block. If you’re relying on speed what are you doing? The same edge rush time after time with the occasional stunt inside?
If you can engage contact and release effectively, you’re just making life harder for an OT. They’ll take awkward angles, it might draw a guard into a double team. They can’t just set, kick-slide and mirror over and over again. Edge speed is great — but it’s even better with strong hands and the ability to get off a block.
When I studied Marsh after the draft (you can read the full article here) — he showed excellent technique. He isn’t a burner (4.89 speed) and it’s clear he’s had to work on other aspects of his game to compensate. Here’s a quote from that piece:
When he gets pro-guidance and can concentrate exclusively on development, he could make immediate and drastic improvements to what was already a pretty solid college career. It’s going to be hard work. He didn’t look in great shape at the combine despite slimming down to 252lbs. He could gain another 10-15lbs and look better for it. If he’s prepared to put in the graft he could be an exciting player.
The Seahawks need another pass rusher. They didn’t just lose Chris Clemons this year, they also lost Clinton McDonald. Cliff Avril is a free agent in 2015. The defensive line is the one area Carroll and John Schneider haven’t had the midas touch in the draft. They’ve relied on veterans.
Marsh could break that duck.
He can work inside or out, he’s naturally strong and the extra weight gain will help here. He’s another Michael Bennett type of rusher. The Seahawks had a lot of success at the end of last season rushing Clemons, Avril and Bennett on obvious passing downs. It’d be a shame to lose such an aggressive and potent attack — and Marsh has an opportunity to fill the gap left by Clemons in these types of situations.
San Francisco and St. Louis both sport elite pass rushing units. Arizona has one of the best overall defenses in the NFL. Seattle’s defense is also right up there, but if they want to stay at #1 they’ll need the pass rush to continue to prosper. And that means some of the younger guys such as Marsh need to have an impact.
It’s early days but so far, so good.