I’m not convinced the Seahawks will look to draft a defensive tackle early in 2021.
After all, they didn’t add a defensive tackle to replace Al Woods until Snacks Harrison arrived mid-season.
Forward planning wouldn’t be the worst idea though. Jarran Reed is out of contract after the 2021 season. Poona Ford is a restricted free agent at the end of the current season. Bryan Mone is soon to be an exclusive rights free agent.
So beyond next year, there are question marks at the position.
It’s possible they simply retain all three and roll with what they’ve got.
Ford has been a revelation this season. One of the big unnoticed moments on Sunday was Ford racing downfield to tackle Josh Reynolds after a whiff in coverage then a missed tackle by Shaquill Griffin. Ford tackled Reynolds 26 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He’s PFF’s 13th highest graded defensive tackle and Seattle’s highest graded defender overall. Ford has developed into a crucial part of the Seahawks defense and should be rewarded with a long term contract.
Mone also warrants serious praise. The only players graded higher on Seattle’s defense are Ford, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and D.J. Reed.
Jarran Reed is another story. He is graded very poorly by PFF, ranking as the 96th best defensive tackle. With a $13.5m cap hit next season, there’s a question to be asked on whether they can justify his salary. However, there’s a reason why they made a big play to retain Reed in the off-season. They seriously value his leadership and he’s often the one in the middle of the pre-game scrum, rallying the troops. Reed also has 6.5 sacks this season. In his last two ‘full’ seasons, he has 17 sacks. It’s not easy to find defensive tackles who can produce those numbers — even if you wouldn’t necessarily classify Reed as a dynamic pass rusher.
The fact they weren’t even willing to retain Snacks Harrison by simply making him active against the Rams suggests they are comfortable with this trio. Any further depth could be acquired in the form of a cheap UDFA or veteran free agent.
You never know what the future holds though. Can you keep Reed beyond 2021? How easy will it be to retain Ford and Mone?
The early signs are the 2021 draft will be strong at the position. If nothing else, it looks like a class worth tapping into.
It’s not the only area of strength. The interior O-line group has some intriguing options assuming everyone declares. Notre Dame left guard Aaron Banks is terrific. Ohio State duo Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers could both go in the first round. Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is overrated as a tackle option but could be a decent second round guard. The injury to Alabama’s Landon Dickerson is a real shame, given his major potential at center.
There’s also depth and talent at receiver and tight end plus it’s a better looking EDGE rush group.
With the Seahawks not picking until the end of round two, we need to try and identify the deep positions in the class.
Here’s a look at the defensive tackles who could go in the first three rounds.
Daviyon Nixon (DT, Iowa)
His gap discipline at 6-3 and 305lbs is superb. He knows what his role is, he can control the LOS or split his blocks to force runs back inside. He can afford to be patient because he’s just so nimble and athletic for his size. His frame is big, strong and powerful but he flashes quickness and he’s opportunistic. He can bully opponents and shoot gaps equally well. He has every chance to be a very high pick.
Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State)
Incredible talent who combines fantastic quickness and athleticism with an aggressive, physical mentality. He ran a 4.41 short shuttle at SPARQ at 298lbs which is an outstanding time and he added a 5.13 forty. His hand use enables him to create openings and his agility and speed make him a threat as a pass rusher. He was recently shot in the face but remarkably returned very quickly, missing minimal time. Don’t be surprised if he’s a big riser as the draft process develops.
Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
He is a physical freak. At SPARQ he ran a 4.27 short shuttle — a time most defensive backs would be satisfied with — at over 270lbs. He’s since grown to 320lbs and yet he’s carrying minimal bad weight. He also ran a 4.94 forty and jumped a 34 inch vertical. Explosive, quick and agile — McNeil made headlines for a remarkable ‘big man’ pick-six earlier this season against Virginia. He can play the nose but has the agility and quickness to threaten as a pass rusher.
Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
He’s listed at 6-2 and 290lbs so he’s a little undersized. He also doesn’t really have much scope to get above 300lbs. However, he had 10.5 sacks in 2019 and 12 TFL’s. There aren’t many defensive tackles putting up those numbers in college. The thing that really stands out is his ability to stay clean and work openings. Twyman has a really good swim move and executes the push/pull to a high standard too. He keeps his feet moving and doesn’t stop working to the quarterback.
Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
Big, hulking nose tackle listed at 6-6 and 330lbs. Georgia coach Kirby Smart once said if he had three Jordan Davis’, he’d be “a happy camper”. The expectation is he will have a surprisingly good combine and his draft grade will go through the roof. He’s not a sack specialist or a dynamic pass rusher but he’s the type of player you need to anchor your line and control the line of scrimmage. He’s arguably been Georgia’s best defender this year.
Jay Tufele (DT, USC)
He sat out the 2020 season and has arguably failed to really build draft momentum as a consequence. Tufele had 6.5 TFL’s and 4.5 sacks in 2019. There are real flashes on tape where he uses upper body power and heavy hands to bully interior blockers and work into the backfield. When he’s given 1v1 opportunities he can win with a mix of brute strength and quickness. He ran a 5.04 forty at SPARQ at 297lbs. A good combine could really boost his stock.
Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State)
An absolute freak show when it comes to physical talent. At SPARQ he ran a 5.17 at 332lbs. He also added a 4.56 short shuttle which is superb for his size (Malik McDowell ran a 4.53 at 295lbs). If you watch the Rivals recruiting tape, he jumps off the screen in the 1v1 reps against some of the best offensive line talent in college football. Despite missing the final month of the 2019 season he still managed 8.5 TFL’s and five sacks at defensive tackle. His pass rush win percentage was 16.8%. However, there are also concerns regarding conditioning and there are plays on tape where ‘slouching’ would be a flattering review of his effort. He’s a five-star physical talent but needs to be in pro-shape.
Tommy Togiai (DT, Ohio State)
Highly impressive team mate of Haskell Garrett. He’s also a former four-star recruit but unlike Garrett we don’t have any SPARQ testing numbers to gauge his athletic potential. On tape he plays with the same effort and intensity. He’s tremendously powerful and can split double teams to barge his way into the backfield. He recorded three sacks and 3.5 TFL’s in six games for the Buckeye’s. Length and testing will be key — he’s listed at 6-2 and 300lbs.
Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Tipped by many ‘draft media’ types to go early in round one, this was always more hype than reality. Barmore started the season slowly as Alabama’s defense struggled. However as things settled down, he started to excel — recording four sacks in three games towards the end of the season. At 6-5 and 310lbs the hope was that he would develop into another Quinnen Williams but so far that hasn’t happened. He has a somewhat limited repertoire and has been forced to play more of a rotational role for ‘Bama — yet he shows off brute strength and he does a good job keeping his frame clean. The talent and upside is there. It’s unclear whether he will declare — Nick Saban does a good job recruiting his players to return.
Levi Onwuzurike (DT, Washington)
Another player who arguably has lost momentum after opting out of the 2020 season (not that the Huskies played a long schedule anyway). There are flashes on tape that are intriguing. He’ll straight arm blockers to push the pocket and there are some moments where he really controls the running game from the inside. He had seven career sacks for Washington and had 6.5 TFL’s in 2019. He’s listed at 6-3 and 293lbs so size and scheme fit need to be considered. Does he standout physically? That’s a question to be answered. Testing will be important.
Tyler Shelvin (DT, LSU)
Shelvin also opted out of the 2020 season. He’s all about massive size and controlling the interior. He’s listed at 6-3 and anywhere between 345-365lbs. He can anchor against double teams and he can punish blockers 1v1. If you want someone who can play early downs to take up space inside and work mostly against the run, Shelvin can do that. He’s a mountain of a man. He isn’t a pass rusher though and that will mean he has a limited ceiling in the draft.
I’m also a huge fan of Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo and have been projecting him as a top-20 pick throughout the college football season. He has the size to play inside/out and be a true game wrecker. If he doesn’t go as early as I think, he should be a name to monitor throughout the process.
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