Huard: How this draft class’ strength can help Seahawks in free agency

Feb 4, 2023, 2:58 PM

Seahawks Marcus Davenport...

Marcus Davenport of the New Orleans Saints strip sacks Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins December 27, 2021. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It’s no secret the Seahawks need help up front on defense.

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Inside linebacker is a huge question mark for Seattle with Cody Barton hitting free agency after an up-and-down 2022 campaign and top tackler Jordyn Brooks may not play for a bit in 2023 due to a torn ACL.

The Seahawks also need help on the interior of their defensive line as their run defense was one of the worst in football this season.

And the Hawks could also use more help getting after the quarterback, as they need more options besides Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor in the pass-rush department.

An intriguing former first-round defensive end is hitting free agency, and Mike Salk wanted to know former NFL quarterback Brock Huard’s thoughts on that player. That wound up leading to a conversation about the free-agent pass-rushing class and how that group may be impacted by the upcoming NFL Draft.

First, the player in question is Marcus Davenport, a 2018 first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints who has 21.5 sacks in 63 games, including nine in 11 games in 2021. But Davenport is coming off a very down year as he had just half a sack in 15 games last season.

“He is long, he’s athletic. I think he’s fought through some ups and downs in his career, it hasn’t been a real consistent upward linear path,” Huard said during Friday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Injuries have played a role in that as he’s missed 19 games over his five-year career.

And when thinking of Davenport and his potential fit with the Seahawks, that led Huard to look back on free agency a decade ago.

“Along those lines, I’ll tell you what I did, Salk, is I went back and I looked at the 2013 NFL Draft,” Huard said. “Do you know why I went back and looked at the 2013 NFL Draft when it comes to Davenport in particular? Because in 2013, the No. 1 position drafted overall were defensive ends. Thirty defensive ends were taken in that draft, three of the first six picks in the 2013 draft were defensive ends.”

OK, so 10 years ago, defensive ends were the cream of the crop in the draft. So what? How is that relevant to Davenport or this topic?

“Remember what happened in 2013 with the free agency market for pass rushers?” Huard asked Salk. “Remember what happened to Michael Bennett and to Cliff Avril? Unfortunately for those guys, there was a draft class saturated with defensive ends, and in particular, at the top of the draft.”

Bennett and Avril both were coming off excellent seasons in 2012, but due in part to a loaded pass-rusher draft class, they couldn’t cash in. Bennett signed a one-year deal worth under $5 million with the Seahawks that offseason and Avril signed a two-year, $13 million contract.

“So I think for a Davenport, unlike Geno Smith or what have you, I think for these pass-rushing free agents, they’re pretty bummed that (NFL Network’s) Daniel Jeremiah has 11 of the top 50 players in this draft as pass rushers,” Huard said. “So not a great time to be a free-agent pass-rusher. But it’s a great time if you’re (Seahawks general manager) John Schneider to … harken back to 2013 and say, ‘We may have an opportunity to get a valuable guy, a pro or a good player, that’s going to be available there in the second wave of free agency third wave of free agency a little bit like Michael and Cliff were.'”

Listen to the full second hour of Friday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player below.

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