Monday thoughts: Focus on defense, 3-4 & Senior Bowl

January 23rd, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Forcing the issue?

Pete Carroll and John Schneider really keyed in on the offensive line last April, spending their first pick on right tackle James Carpenter and then drafting John Moffitt. Coupled with the 2010 addition of Russell Okung and the free agent signing of Robert Gallery, this was some makeover. As it happens, all suffered injuries last season but the line coped thanks to improved depth and the coaching influence of Tom Cable.

A good running game was listed among Carroll’s main aim’s when appointed as Head Coach and I suspect the 2010 ‘performance’ was quite embarrassing given the emphasis it received. He’d witnessed the slightly farcical arrival and departure of Alex Gibbs, the consequent changes to the offensive staff at the end of the season and now the appointment of another big name with Cable. This justifiably needed to be put right and the 2011 results were in fairness a complete improvement. By the end of the season, the Seahawks were fielding one of the more effective run games in the NFL.

Having gone some way to righting that ship, I suspect Carroll and John Schneider are going to similarly turn their attentions to the defense in a similar aggressive manner. The pass rush isn’t good enough at the moment and there’s way too much reliance on Chris Clemons for production. I have reservations about the scheme Seattle uses (more on that in a moment), but the simple fact is there’s not enough threat up-front to create consistent pressure.

I can see a situating where the Seahawks jump into the draft really determined to go defense, maybe at the risk of forcing things a little. For all the coach talk that goes on at every franchise, Carroll has always been fairly honest with his assessments on improving the team. He clearly defined the offensive line as a target area twelve months before drafting Carpenter and Moffitt ago. This year he discussed the need for speed within the front seven and more sustained pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Aside from the gaping hole at quarterback (will this issue ever be solved properly?) improving the pass rush is easily Seattle’s #2 need.

The problem is as I see it, this is NOTa strong draft for front seven pass rushers. It’s the weakest class of defensive lineman in years – Michael Brockers may be the best of the bunch, but further tape study has shown he may be better suited to the orthodox five-technique position – one not used in Seattle. Devon Still had a good 2011 season, but is he in a similar situation, facing a switch to the 5-tech? There’s no truly excellent defensive end who warrants a high pick and a pretty strong linebacker group has been decimated by underclassmen choosing to return to college. Zach Brown may be the only legitimate option at #11 or #12, but he only had 5.5 sacks as a senior and isn’t renowned for being a great pass rusher. Besides – how much of an impact can a WILL linebacker truly have for a teams lacking a consistent pass rush? Isn’t it more of a compliment than a solution?

If the Seahawks are intending to use this draft to makeover the front seven, it just seems like a bad year to do it. Although I understand why they drafted Carpenter and Moffitt last April, they also passed on the following at #25: Jabaal Sheard, Muhammed Wilkerson, Brooks Reed, Da’Quan Bowers, Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea. All of those players could be better than the defensive options facing the Seahawks at #11 or #12 this year. Meanwhile, as we approach the 2012 draft, Seattle might actually be in pole position to look at offensive lineman like Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro, while there could be some potential round two depth with Peter Konz, Jonathan Cooper, Cody Glenn and Kelechi Osemele. This is actually quite a decent year for interior line talent.

I’m not trying to second-guess how the Seahawks are approaching things, I just hope the plan isn’t to fight the board for need. Clearly they had no idea what range they’d be picking in 12 months after the 2011 draft, or who would be available. The team had committed to a good running game and went out to get the pieces they need to install that. Now they’ve seemingly decided the pass rush needs the same treatment but in such a weak year for front-seven prospects, it’s difficult to get too excited about attacking that area of the team this off-season.

Switching to the 3-4 an option?

As I touched on earlier, I also have some concerns about Seattle’s defensive scheme and the way it appears to be heavily stacked in favor of run-defense. The scheme predominantly consists of three big defensive tackles who offer very little pass rush and one specialist DE who plays in space off the edge. In the current guise, I’m not sure how exactly the Seahawks intend to improve the pass rush. Are they looking to draft a truly exceptional WILL linebacker to balance things out across from Clemons? Zach Brown does a great job sideline-to-sideline and he’s a big time athlete, but he’s not a player built to be a consistent pass-rush threat off the edge. Trying to fit a guy like Melvin Ingram or Courtney Upshaw at the WILL doesn’t make much sense, given the position requires more than a passing degree of coverage skill, awareness, instinct and mobility. You really want those two guys getting after the quarterback, not dropping back to cover a tight end. They are two players that stood up at the LOS in college with great success, so asking them to play as deep as Leroy Hill did in 2011 would make little sense.

I’m trying to work out just how committed the Seahawks are to the current incarnation of their defense. I sensed in 2010 they set the defense up mainly to max out what little talent they had and try to get at least some semblance of a competitive defense on the field. Without major investment during the last off-season, nothing much changed in terms of scheme or personnel, although they managed to uncover some young talent along the way. Do they move now to a pure 3-4? It would seem to make the most sense to me, especially considering what’s available in this draft. It would allow them to keep the big three along the interior, Clemons as a specialist rusher off the edge but provide another attacking threat on the opposite side. It’d take away some of the more extreme coverage issues in trying to fit college DE’s into the WILL. 

KJ Wright can play inside and a player like Dont’a Hightower could be had beyond round one to beef things up at ILB. That gives you the opportunity to target the players available in this class and use them in a more obvious way. Devon Still, Michael Brockers or Quinton Coples could play the orthodox five-tech, or you could look to draft Whitney Mercilus, Andre Branch or Courtney Upshaw (etc, etc) to feature at OLB. That to me would make a little more sense if you’re trying to improve the pass rush using this draft class, while maintaining most of the current starters on the roster.

During the Jim Mora days (blergh) I used to argue against calls for a switch to the 3-4 because Seattle just didn’t have the size to make it work. That’s no longer so much of a problem and it’s something we have to consider if the Seahawks truly want to get this defense rolling. Yet this would be something of a departure for Pete Carroll, who’s pretty much incorporating the defense he used in Southern California. It was easier to recruit explosive, insanely talented linebackers than it is to draft them in the NFL. Without being able to go out and get the NFL version of the Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga triumvirate, can the Seahawks find enough speed and talent in this draft class to make it work? I’m not totally convinced.

Senior Bowl underway

The Senior Bowl is underway and I’d recommend following SI.com’s Tony Pauline’s updates as the week unfolds. So far it sounds like Ohio State lineman Mike Adams has impressed competing with Vinny Curry, but apparently it’s not been a good start for Boise State’s Kellen Moore: “Though its still early, Moore does not look good. He shows no ability to put speed on his passes and his throws have consistently been behind receivers.” Keep an eye out for the aforementioned Zach Brown of North Carolina, who has already been lining up in multiple positions including middle linebacker. If the Seahawks are really serious about spending a first round pick on the position, Brown has to be in with a shout.

Mike Mayock is also at the Senior Bowl and has today been listing his positional rankings. Interestingly enough he doesn’t seem to be as high on Dre Kirkpatrick as most other people, placing him at #5 among corner’s. We’ve discussed a lot on this blog the overrated nature of Kirkpatrick’s game – he’s superb in run support and has the size to play a great physical game at the next level. Yet when it comes to coverage – the thing he’s going to need to do the most – Kirkpatrick just isn’t that good.

Pauline also has the Senior Bowl measurement from today, but I thought I’d highlight and discuss some of the more interesting numbers:

Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina) – 6-1, 236lbs
Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina – 6-5, 281lbs
Juron Criner (WR, Arizona) – 6-2, 220lbs
Nick Foles (QB, Arizona) – 6-5, 244lbs
Jeff Fuller (WR, Texas A&M) – 6-4, 217lbs
Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina) – 6-2, 276lbs
Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama) – 5-9, 191lbs
Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina) – 6-3, 226lbs
Ryan Lindley (QB, San Diego State) – 6-4, 229lbs
Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson) – 6-2, 311lbs
Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama) – 6-1, 273lbs
Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State) - 6-3, 219lbs
Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State) – 6-7, 323lbs
Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State) – 6-2, 209lbs
Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall) - 6-3, 265lbs
Lavonte David (OLB, Nebraska) – 6-0, 225lbs
Alfonzo Dennard (CB, Nebraska) – 5-10, 203lbs
Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri) – 6-5, 251lbs
Kellen Moore (QB, Boise State) – 5-11, 191lbs
Kelechi Osemele (OT/G, Iowa State) – 6-5, 333lbs
Chris Polk (RB, Washington) – 5-10, 224lbs
Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington) – 6-2, 341lbs
Russell Wilson (QB, Wisconsin) – 5-10, 203lbs

Here are what some people have been saying about today’s weigh-ins on Twitter:

Dan Kadar (Mocking the Draft): “Looks like Kelechi Osemele stole weigh-ins with his 35.25-inch arms.”

Matthew Elder (Buffalo Bills Draft): “Not a good weigh-in today for Courtney Upshaw, 6014, 273, 31.5 arms, 8 5/8 hands, 75.25 Wingspan. Things weren’t much better for Melvin Ingram 6017, 276, 9.25 hands, 30.5 arms, 77 1/8 wingspan.”

Russ Lande (Sporting News): “Boise St QB K. Moore looked bad today. His delivery is elongated & slow, the ball lacked zip out of his hand and his accuracy was really bad.”

Shane Hallam (Draft Countdown): “Kirk Cousins was pretty ripped, while Kellen Moore had a bit of a gut. Most impressive WR physically was Dwight Jones. Nice upper body, long arms. Looked very strong.” 

Hallam also pointed out that Seahawks scouts spoke to Cousins and Moore after practise. It’s no real surprise, given that the Seahawks will surely draft a quarterback at some stage if they don’t address the position in round one. Cousins is one to watch and a player we’ll focus on later this week. He made significant strides in 2011 and has maybe flown a little under the radar. He could easily be the fourth best quarterback in this class after Luck, Griffin III and Osweiler.

We’ll have more from the Senior Bowl later in the week and of course an updated mock on Wednesday as usual. Considering the defensive theme of today’s post, I’ve added a video of Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois) vs UCLA at the top courtesy of JMPasq.

28 Responses to “Monday thoughts: Focus on defense, 3-4 & Senior Bowl”

  1. Nick says:

    You may have been right all along Rob. I think that you nailed it when you said that Dwight Jones may be the best WR in this class and I can see his stock rising. I wonder if Seattle takes him in round 1 for a touchdown maker. Considering the last 2 years Seattle has not selected at their original spot in round 2, I look for this to be the spot where they drop down and collect their picks. If they need their specialists in the later rounds and want to develop later round QB’s it only makes sense.

    This way everyone is happy. Pete gets his touchdown maker in the first, stockpiles later round picks where he can get his specialist players at LEO and possibly LB, and take 1 or possibly 2 developmental QBs. Talking to Cousins and Moore supports this theory, mind you they may just be doing their homework.

  2. Richard says:

    Rob, your viewpoint is always helpful for guys like me who want to try to keep a perspective on the Hawks. I recall from your first mock that you said you wanted to look at the various possibilities.
    I have been following Vontaze Burfict since the beginning of the 2011 season. And although his 2011 season was not as impressive as his prior seasons, he, IMVHO has skills that are just not out there. I know from your prior comments that you don’t see him as worth the effort because of his temperament. Because I respect what you have said and appreciate that concern you have indicated about the impact he could have on the team dynamic. I haven’t broached the subject until now.
    I would appreciate you input, if you could set the personal control issues he has aside and speak to how he might fit this teams needs as a pass rusher. How he might become a play disruptor, creating opportunities for his defensive teammates and eventually, even possibly become one of the team leaders. Where could he fit in the various defensive schemes and positions on the field. Is he better suited for the 3-4 or the 4-3 in your opinion, can he play inside and outside.
    I looked back at his history and his history with Pete Carroll at USC. He was set to attend USC, and only changed to ASU because of grade issues and the desire to play alongside his fellow HS linebacker teammates at ASU. I believe Pete and Ken Norton Jr. would like another shot at tayloring him for the NFL. It seems that most everyone agrees he will have a long career in the NFL, if he can just get some proper coaching and guidance to channel his skills.
    If as Matt has previously suggested, we trade down with Cleveland and take their 2nd 1st round pick at #22-23 and their 2nd round pick at #37 we could draft Vontaze in the 1st and Osweiler at #37. Or deal with Cincinnati (If they want to trade up for Richardson or a WR) and get their 2-1st round picks. We could get a WR at #17, Vontaze at #21 and use our own 2nd rd. pick to take Osweiler. Actually I like that version better. Cincinnati would probably want something more for that trade maybe one of the many WRs we have.
    Anyway my short comment I planned, got a little long actually. And maybe this wasn’t the thread for the perfect Burfict question. Maybe as one of your separate commentaries on the idea of BURFICT WOULD BE PERFECT in a perfect Seattle world. I really doubt anyone wants to face him. Either way I always appreciate your perspective. Thanks again.

  3. JC says:

    Wouldn’t Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga make a triumvirate and not a tandem?

  4. williambryan says:

    It really would make a lot of sense to switch to the 3-4 as the base defense. But with Pete Carroll, it really just doesn’t seem likely. I’ve read his book and some of his coaching clinics and press conferences and so on and he is 4-3 all the way.
    Rob, I was wondering about Von Miller. In Denver, what position is he playing? If i’m not mistaken John Fox brought his brand of 4-3 there and I’m pretty sure Dumervil is one DE but I’m not sure if Miller is a DE or OLB. It seems like he is rushing from the standing position alot. Anyway I just wonder if he is anothe rexample of how to generate pass rush as a 4-3 WILL?

  5. Seahawk Steve says:

    I hope I don’t get crucified here, but it seems to me the best move is to put Red Bryant back inside to the three techique. He has already proved value there with blocked kicks and run stopping plus size. He is really fast as an inside guy which allow him to occasionally get to the QB. His run blocking would only get better. This move would allow someone like Coples to come in at the 5 Tech. He has more speed and would be much better at the pass rush.Coples is also quite capable at setting the corners and run stopping. Coples would be a nice bookend for Clemons and I could see the two working in tandum hooking around the corners forcing things right up the middle in the waiting arms of Big Red and Mebane.
    To improve the speed and pass rush even further you get a speed WILL guy and send him occasionally on a blitz. Plus you have Cam Bam comming in on some blitzs’ and the opposising offense will never know what to expect and from where. Keep branch as a quality backup for Bryant and Mebane and we are set on D.
    Assuming you spend your round 1 and two picks on 5 Tech. and WILL, in the third round you look at who is available for QB developement. We have TJ for one more year, so I expect someone like Osweiller or Harnish could come in and sit for a year learning how to play in the NFL.
    As I mentioned before I consider the possiblities for quarterback in the third and fourth rounds as 50/50 guys meaning it’s a toss-up as to them developing as a good NFL quarterback. I don’t think with a top defense stopping the run and pass and getting to the QB in addition to quality O line, run game and recievers we really need an “elite QB” we just need a QB who can distrute the ball, not turn it over, make good reads with good accuracy.If after one year it’s determined the guy was on the underside of 50/50 that’s when you go after the QBOTF in the 2013 draft and sell the farm if needed to get an elite QB.

  6. PatrickH says:

    Rob,

    I am somewhat confused when you said that the WILL is the one who could provide pass rush on the opposide side from the LEO (i.e., Clemons). From what I have read and understood from Carroll’s clinic talk and writeups on the 4-3 Under Front, the LEO is the weakside DE, and it’s the SAM (the strongside linebacker) who lines up on the other side and could provide pass rush from there. The WILL lines up on the same side as the LEO.

    There is a concise description and diagram of Pete Carroll’s scheme in the bottom of the article at the following link: http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/guide-to-n-f-l-defenses-part-3-the-4-3-front-continued/

    BTW, what is called the “Elephant” in that article is what Pete called the LEO position at USC. He changed the position name to LEO when he became the Seahawks HC.

    If there is to be a change to the 3-4 defense, then the LEO and the SAM would have to become the two outside linebackers, and the MIKE and WILL would have to become the two inside linebackers.

  7. NMD says:

    @ Patrick H – I was just writing the same point when I reloaded the page and saw your post. It confused me in the article when I thought the WILL lined up behind-ish the LEO and the SAM on the line next to the 5-tech. Anyways at that LB spot on the line I think Upshaw could fit it alright and Ingram could be kind of a wildcard who would just line up everywhere, at that SAM, LEO, 3-tech just where ever on any given play.

  8. A. Simmons says:

    Carroll produced the first top 10 yards defense in 10 or so years. The first top 10 points and yards in twenty years. And you’re questioning his scheme’s effectiveness? Don’t quite get that.

    Our secondary is highly effective. I’m quite sure Carroll knows what he needs to create an effective pass rush and will acquire the talent necessary to maintain the scheme he is using. I would rather Carroll stick with a scheme he fully understands than switch to a scheme he doesn’t.

    I’ve also read Carroll’s defensive coaching philosophy. One of the reasons he sticks with it is he knows how to manage it including fix it when their are problems. I think we’re very much seeing his ability to manage it show up on the field to the tune of improved defensive rankings. I think he’ll manage to get talent without switching to a scheme he doesn’t use and doesn’t know how to manage. I would think the question of the effectiveness of Carroll’s defensive scheme was fully answered and no longer even a question. Surprised it was even mentioned again.

  9. Rob says:

    Patrick – Leroy Hill was the WILL right? I seem to remember him playing opposite Clemons last year.

    A.Simmons – I’m talking about pass rush here. I’m not saying the defense has been a complete failure, but by Carroll’s own admission there’s nowhere near enough pressure on opposing QB’s. We’ve seen in the playoffs this year that rushing the passer is the key to success on defense, and the Seahawks just aren’t good enough at it.

    I’m not sure this scheme is capable of providing much more pressure – they use three run stuffing DT’s and a specialist LEO, while so far the LB’s have provided minimal rush threat. Without shifting to a more orthodox front four or drafting Von Miller, I’m not sure what the options are. That’s really the jist of the argument. But my job as a writer is not to assume everything is great, it’s to cast a critical eye on certain things. That doesn’t mean being negative for the sake of it, just simply raising questions to form discussions and offer some insight when I can. This team’s pass rush isn’t good enough right now, so of course we have to ask some questions as to how that can improve.

  10. Karlos says:

    It’s gonna be a real dilema if Trent Richardson falls to us & Marshawn is franchised. They say were in a bad draft position but if you think about it If Richardson or Blackmon fall & we’re in prime trading position. Drafting Richardson would be good in case Marshawn leaves plus it would help depth if he goes down but trading his rights or Justins would be better IMO. Justin Blackmon has the intangibles but I like Dwight Jones better & BMW gets no seperation & what if Sid isn’t healthy again (Think Deion Branch)? What are your thoughts (Kip/Rob) on Donte-Paige Moss as a late round flier many teams will pass on due to charecter concerns but filed in well for Couples?

  11. Colin says:

    I think the worst scenario is letting Marshawn leave and drafting Richardson. Yes, I’d love to have Trent Richardson as much as anyone, but suddenly drafting him is out of need, not value. That is a risky proposition, and it doesn’t help fill other vital holes elsewhere. As we’ve seen throughout the league, good backs can be found in later rounds.

  12. Meat says:

    Marshawn needs to stay for a variety of reasons. The first being his play this past season and what that brings to the team and what they are building. The next reason is by signing him to a nice contract (not overpaying like Alexander) sends a positive message to the team. But, the other backs unfortunately don’t cut it in Seattle. Forsett just isn’t the back that can really scare a defense. Look in Houston. Foster and Tate are two backs that step up in every game and also have great hands. Need playmakers on the team. I like the WR’s but none of them will scare a defense, period. I am still waiting for not just the QB but the playmaker to go with the QB.

  13. jim J says:

    If Trent Richardson falls to us, then we have two great running backs that can spell each other. Trent doesn’t have the power of Marshawn, but he’s probably a step quicker and can outrun the secondary. There are some other good prospects like Polk that we could get in the second round.

    Boy I hate this talk of trading back. I know it is a weak draft, but it’s not going to get any better in the later rounds.

    I also can’t see us going to a 3-4 defense when our main problem is lack of pass rush. That just seems like a reaction to not having speedy defensive ends. Weak draft or not, we got to get some speed at those positions. For pass rushing we should also go for Courtney Upshaw, especially if he falls to the second round.

    I agree with Seahawk Steve, once the top two QBs are off the board we can wait till the 3 or 4th round. The rest are average at best.

  14. PatrickH says:

    Rob,

    Leroy Hill was nominally the WILL, but as pointed out by the folks at Eric Williams’ blog over at Tacoma News Tribune, he actually lined up a lot of times as the strongside linebacker. Similarly, KJ Wright spend a bit of time on the weakside. I guess PC was moving players around to get the matchup advantages.

    Anyway, to transition to true 3-4, not only does the OLB opposite the LEO have to be good at pass rush, the LEO has to be good at coverage as well. Difficult to find those players.

  15. Vandehawk says:

    I can’t imagine the Hawks not doing whatever it takes to bring Lynch back (at least I hope so) and it seems like this is the perfect draft for us to trade back in the first round. Rob, correct me if I am wrong but this draft is weak in elite talent but the next level down seems to be prevalent for a few rounds after. It seems like there is a lot of value in rounds 3-5 so picking up a couple of extra picks would be fantastic. The other thing I was thinking about was that it seems like some of the negatives I hear about Coples, Burfict and some others are the same types of negative things I read about KJ Wright immediately following the draft. Do you think that this coaching staff could work that magic with some of these other guys? Love the site, absolutely awesome!

  16. 1sthill says:

    I not on board with the thought of changing to a 3-4 defense…Not when we had a the 7th best defense in points allowed. Maybe our style of defense is not fun to watch because we don’t get a lot of sacks, but again we have a top-10 defense…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’m all for adding situational pass rushers in round 2 or later but not in the 1st round of this draft. If we were to change our defensive scheme to a 3-4 or a traditional 4-3 defense there is a good possibility that we will not have top-10 defense.

  17. Rob says:

    The point is though 1st Hill that the defense creates no pressure. It’s not about sack numbers, it’s about pressure – an absolute must in the NFL (look at the Championship games this weekend). Moving to a 3-4 would essentially take nothing away from the current defense with the same individuals involved, but instead of Wright/Hawthorne/Hill at linebacker you have an extra pass rusher, plus Wright and then a bigger body eg Dont’a Hightower. It shouldn’t have any impact on the posititve side of the defense, but it should improve the pass rush which is an absolute must as Pete Carroll admits himself.

  18. Rob says:

    Vandehawk – I think there’s a possibility, but only at the stage Wright was taken. Coples is a frustrating player to watch because his effort is so inconsistent and that doesn’t really fit with the attitude of this team. Burfict is a loose cannon who’s attitude will be a major turn off. I still think they’re looking for younger, hungrier players who will buy into being part of this team.

  19. andy says:

    Good stuff! So it sounds like the WILL backer NEEDS to be faster than Leroy Hill. I believe we already have that guy on the roster. Malcolm Smith.

  20. Alex says:

    I don’t think it’s any secret that the main problem in this defense is the 3 tech. As Carroll said, the premier pass rusher is the 3 tech. In other words, we need a Warren Sapp, Suh, Bryant Young, Cortez Kennedy. The problem is that those players don’t drop off trees. And it certainly doesn’t help that this is a weak year for DTs.

    Alan Branch IMO was more of a temporary solution as evidenced by his 2 year deal.

  21. andy says:

    Agree with Alex, obviously 3 tech needs improvement. This is from Rob Rang today….

    “Based on Tuesday’s North practice, Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes and Michigan’s Mike Martin are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

    Physically speaking, the two couldn’t be much different. Reyes, who measured in just a shade under 6-4 and 300 pounds lined up at the three-technnique and even was split out as a five-technique defensive end. His burst off the snap and quick hands made him a tough draw for even the most athletic and experienced of the North offensive linemen. Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler, arguably the nation’s top pure guard among seniors, struggled handling Reyes one on one during drills and during the scrimmages throughout practice, as well.

    Martin, on the other hand, is a virtual bowling ball of muscle at a rocked 6-1, 307 pounds. He was able to consistently knock centers back onto their heels with his leg drive and surprisingly long arms. Though he nearly three inches shorter than Reyes, Martin’s arms (31 3/4) are less than an inch shorter than Reyes’ (32 5/8), who has the longest arms of any of the North’s defensive tackles. Martin’s long arms allow him to keep his opponents from grasping a firm hold of him. With good lateral agility, power and a relentless motor, Martin got the better of Ohio State’s Michael Brewster, a possible top 100 pick, on numerous occasions.”

    Right now both guys are in the round 3/4 range but could move up to round 2 if they keep it up…..

  22. Hawkspur says:

    Draftinsider also raved about Reyes and Martin. Shea McClellan looked good in passrush drills at LB. Another couple of players who sounded like potential Seahawks picks were the DB Iloka from Boise (tall, good movement, good ball skills) and California receiver Marvin Jones (great routes, hands and separation).

  23. 1sthill says:

    Rob, Coach Carroll has said a lot of things; we can take his comments to provide support to either side of the argument. He has also said, he wants to make opposing teams offense one dimensional by stopping their running game.

    Rob, would you be okay with changing our defense scheme in order to create more pressure on the QB, but in doing so we were to give up more points? Let’s say we change to a 3-4 defense, rank in the top-10 in sacks, but fall from 7th to 14th in points allowed…Does more pressure on the QB & more sacks, but give up more points somehow make our defense better? I am of the opinion that we should leave the scheme alone since it is the 7th ranked in points allowed.

    Also, I think you are oversimplifying us switching over to a 3-4 defense. We don’t have a defensive coordinator that is considered one of the best 3-4 defensive coordinators and he may not have any experience running a 3-4. This season there were a few times where we played with a 3-4 defense with Bryant, Mebane, and Branch as the d-lineman and for whatever reason the opposing team was able to run on that 3-4 alignment. I would caution with the assumption that it is going to be an easy/smooth transition to a 3-4 defense.

    We don’t have the LB’s to play a 3-4 defense, K.J. Wright and Clemons are the only guys under contract. Clemons is good at rushing the QB with his hand in the dirt; but has he proven he could rush the passer standing up as an OLB? Hill and Hawthorne are free agents & Malcolm Smith is too small to be a starter in a 3-4. We could re-sign Hill or Hawthorne, but I doubt both are re-signed. We also don’t have depth on the d-line for a 3-4 defense. Clinton McDonald is a decent backup DT for a 4-3 defense, but at 297lbs he does not have the size to play nose tackle and I don’t know if he would be a good fit as a DE in a 3-4. To me it looks like we would create more holes/needs on defense if we went to a 3-4 defense.

  24. Rob says:

    How would switching to a 3-4 and creating more pressure lead to more points conceded? My point is that if we want to maintain the three big bodies up front and use Clemons as a specialist, it might make more sense to utilise an extra rusher off the edge (replacing one of Hill or Hawthorne) and an extra bigger force up the middle to play alongside KJ Wright. It’s essentially exactly the same team, just with a more balance edge threat and not a total reliance on Clemons to get sacks or pressure. I never said we did have the linebackers to make this work – I proposed in the article tageting Dont’a Hightower and a rush OLB. This schem is a hybrid anyway – completely unorthodox as far as the NFL is concerned. Tipping it slightly more towards the 3-4 instead of slightly more towards the 4-3 makes sense to me – because it helps maintain a lot of the positive aspects of the individuals on the roster, while also improving the pass rush which is simply not good enough at the moment and isn’t likely to be improved with a faster SAM or WILL.

  25. Nathan says:

    andy, Malcolm Smith is certainly a faster WILL but I don’t think he is an every down player. I could see him being a big part of nickel/dime packages in the future

  26. 1sthill says:

    Rob, do you think that our top-10 defense with our current defensive scheme was a fluke last year? I only ask because if you do think our current scheme is a fluke, then I have a better understanding where you are coming from. If you don’t believe in our current scheme then there really is not anything anyone could say to sway your line of thinking.

  27. Rob says:

    I don’t think it was a fluke – but I don’t see how anyone can argue that the pass rush is at an acceptable level right now. Even Carroll admits it needs drastic improvement. The whole point here is to try and continue what we do well and boost up the areas that need improving. We must get more pressure on the opposing QB’s.

  28. SHawn says:

    As awesome as Red Bryant is, and as big of a fan of his as I am, and as big of an impact he has on our run D, and as incredible those two INTs were this year… he is still a liability in passing situations. Not just on 3rd downs either, where he usually hits the sideline. Alan Branch is pretty much the same but without any flare or fan base. No pass rush.

    I know he is a little older, but Anthony Hargrove showed us what interior pressure can do to a QB in his limited time on the field this year. I can’t see a prospect in this draft that could come in at 3 tech and dominate like we need. We should address that position in free agency if possible.

    So basically I would prefer us to get another capable rusher at the 5tech spot, put Red back inside, probably as a backup, and go back to a traditional 4-3. Also we need better run support from Clemons and the LBs. We didn’t do very well once teams figured out we were susceptible to the off tackle run, either to Clem’s side or to Red’s if they doubled him.