Where does Seahawks’ D-line rank among rest of NFL?

Jun 27, 2024, 7:49 AM

Seattle Seahawks Leonard Williams Darrell Taylor Commanders 2023...

Leonard Williams (99) Darrell Taylor (52) of the Seattle Seahawks sack former Commanders QB Sam Howell in 2023. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

(Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Defensive line will be one of the most fascinating position groups to watch for the Seattle Seahawks this fall.

Brock: Why Seahawks could exceed national expectations this year

The Seahawks have a deep collection potential impact players up front, highlighted by defensive end Leonard Williams, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu, edge rusher Boye Mafe, edge rusher Darrell Taylor, nose tackle Jarran Reed and rookie first-round defensive tackle Byron Murphy II.

They also have a new defensive scheme under first-year head coach Mike Macdonald, who quickly developed a reputation as one of the brightest defensive minds in the league during his success-filled stint as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator over the past two seasons.

With that combination of potential talent and scheme, where does Seattle’s defensive line rank among the rest of the NFL? In an article published Tuesday, Pro Football Focus lead NFL analyst Sam Monson ranked the Seahawks’ D-line at No. 17 out of 32 teams. However, he believes Macdonald can ultimately elevate the unit into a higher tier.

“I think there’s a very good chance that this defensive line is going to look better this year than in those rankings, because of the system that this team brought in,” Monson said Tuesday on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. “The last few years, the sort of in-vogue defense has been that Vic Fangio defensive scheme. I think the (Macdonald) one that’s coming in now is going to be (the in-vogue one) the next couple of years, and the Seahawks are going to be right on the cutting edge with essentially the primary architect of that defensive scheme as their head coach.”

Macdonald’s scheme features a unique level of positional versatility and interchangeability, which allows him to creatively mix his pressures and confuse opposing offenses with where exactly the pressure will be coming from. It was on full display last season, when his Baltimore defense became the first in NFL history to lead the league in each of points allowed, sacks and takeaways.

“Number one, (Macdonald’s scheme) is gonna get the most out of some of the players on that unit,” Monson said. “And number two, it’s just gonna enhance the play of everybody along that defensive front, because of the way they coach defense. They essentially allow everybody to just play quickly and kind of meld the pressure looks with the formation, and just let everybody go out there and play football without having to think about it.”

Brock’s reaction

During the Blue 88 segment Wednesday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, former NFL quarterback Brock Huard strongly disagreed with Monson ranking the Seahawks’ defensive line at No. 17.

“Yeah, I’m not buying that at all,” Huard said. “I think this is a top-10 crew. This is a top-10 defensive line room.”

Last season, five players on Seattle’s defensive line finished among the top 100 in sacks in the NFL. Mafe had a team-high nine sacks during a breakout second season, Reed added seven sacks, Williams and Taylor each had 5.5 sacks and Jones had 4.5.

That list doesn’t include Nwosu, who had 9.5 sacks in 2022 before missing most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. It also doesn’t include Murphy, who was the second defensive player off the board in April’s NFL Draft after a dominant 2023 college season at Texas. And this will be the first full season in Seattle for Williams, who had four sacks in 10 games with the Seahawks after coming over from the New York Giants in a trade last October.

“I think you can have seven of the top 100 sackers, easily,” Huard said. “And I’m sorry, that is not the 17th-ranked defensive line room moving into 2024. This crew has a chance, with the scheme, to be top 10 – and who knows, man, maybe even push top five. It is gonna be the essence of this football team in 2024.”

Listen to the full conversation with PFF’s Sam Monson on Bump and Stacy at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Hear the full Blue 88 segment on Brock and Salk at this link or in the audio player near the bottom of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Will Metcalf and Lockett both still be on Seahawks’ roster in 2025?
• Will Seahawks sign DK Metcalf to second extension? Insider weighs in
• Brock: The area where Seahawks’ Geno Smith is a top-five QB
• Insider: Why Seahawks could be in on Dak Prescott next offseason
• Baldinger: The biggest jump new Seattle Seahawks OC Grubb will face in NFL

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