What is the Seahawks’ plan at defensive tackle in 2020?
After accumulating just 28 sacks in 2019, the focus of the Seahawks’ offseason has been at pass rush and how to generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The team didn’t add any big names to rush the passer, but Seattle did use two draft picks on edge rushers and also signed former Seahawks Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, who combined for 15.5 sacks in 2019 at defensive end.
Seattle may not have added a big-name defensive end, they did use a good amount of its resources to add to that group. While that unit saw some new faces added to the mix, the other aspect of the defensive line has been relatively unchanged.
That would, of course, be at defensive tackle, where currently, the Seahawks have six defensive tackles, though three of them have essentially no NFL experience.
That group is headlined by Jarran Reed, who had 10.5 sacks in 2018 but had 2 last season after missing the first six games with a suspension. He re-signed as a free agent this offseason. Poona Ford, who is entering his third year, is the other expected starter.
Behind those two are 2019 undrafted rookie free agent Bryan Mone, who appeared in a few games for Seattle, as well as Demarcus Christmas, who missed all of 2019 with an injury he suffered after being drafted in the sixth round of 2019’s draft. The Seahawks also added undrafted rookies Josh Avery and Cedrick Lattimore after this April’s draft.
Reed and Ford are capable starters, but the rest of the group is inexperienced. Some have thought that the Seahawks may add a veteran defensive tackle, but with just a few weeks to go before training camp, that position has yet to be addressed in free agency or trade.
So what does the current state of that room mean for the Seahawks? Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy explained what the team’s thinking may be.
“As of right now as it currently sits, what it’s telling you is a A, they have a tremendous amount of confidence in Jarran Reed and Poona Ford – an insane amount of confidence as you don’t have a ton of depth behind those two guys,” he said. “But also what I think is really intriguing is that they are going to be using Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier more at the three-technique position than you might realize.”
Green is entering his third season and led the Seahawks with 4 sacks in 2019. Collier was the team’s first-round pick in 2019, but the young defensive end was injured in training camp and when he returned in the regular season, he struggled to make an impact, recording just three tackles and no sacks or tackles for loss.
With additions like Irvin, Mayowa and 2020 draft picks Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, having Green (279 pounds) and Collier (291 pounds) line up inside could give that line some versatility, potentially generate more pressure from the defensive tackle position, and also allow for a lot of rotation along the line at multiple spots.
“They might be using those two guys and kicking them down to be defensive tackle more often than you might think now that you’ve got so many guys who can play that edge rush position across your fronts,” Heaps said. “It really comes down to are you playing more of these young guys and trying to use versatility to your advantage or are you going to, when all is said and done, add that run-stuffing defensive tackle. I hope they do the latter, but when you talk about currently as this roster sits and how are you going to get by with it, that’s the one answer that would be, I don’t know if it would be good, but it would certainly be fascinating to see how it would all work out.”
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