Seahawks training camp position preview: Defensive line
Update: This article was published prior to the news of Jarran Reed’s six-game suspension. For more information, see this post.
The Seahawks kick off training camp on July 25 and there’s plenty to sort out in the weeks leading up to the August 31 roster cutdown deadline. This first position preview focuses on the defensive line, a group that will need to establish regular contributors following the trade of Frank Clark this offseason.
Fourth-year defensive tackle Jarran Reed is the returning leader in sacks (10.5) now following the trade of Clark, and also racked up the most combined tackles (50) of all defensive linemen last year. Reed has missed most of offseason training after undergoing sports hernia surgery in April, but he was able to make a return to the field in June minicamp.
Veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah was signed in free agency to replace Clark as a starting edge rusher, but he’s one of three Seahawks – including tight end Will Dissly and offensive lineman Demetrius Knox – who will continue to rehab injuries into August. According to 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton, Ansah’s shoulder injury didn’t leave the Pro Bowler with any structural damage; however, he’ll need to build up strength, and is expected to remain out of at least the preseason and possibly the first two to three weeks of the regular season.
What’s changed from last year?
Cassius Marsh, L.J. Collier, Ziggy Ansah, Bryan Mone, Al Woods, Demarcus Christmas, Jamie Meder and Jay-Tee Tiuli are all new additions in 2019.
Ansah has easily been the most high-profile singing. The thirty-year-old ex-Lion was added as a free agent in May after being courted by several other teams, including the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens. Defensive tackle Al Woods, 32, was added just a few days later.
Marsh, 26, signed in April after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. This marks Marsh’s second stint with the Seahawks. The 2014 fourth-round pick played in Seattle from 2014-16 before he was traded to the New England Patriots in 2017 and later signed by the 49ers.
Meder, formerly with the Cleveland Browns, was signed to a reserve/futures deal in January. Mone and Tiuli were signed as undrafted rookie free agents.
Also in the mix are two 2019 draft picks: defensive end L.J. Collier (first round) and defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas (sixth round).
As a first-round draft pick Collier has a chance to make an immediate impact opposite Ansah (or whoever starts in his place, with Marsh being a top candidate). Defensive tackle Poona Ford also has a chance to build on a strong debut. However, head coach Pete Carroll has made it clear this offseason that Seattle is hoping for a big step forward from two second-year players in particular: Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin.
“You’ve never heard me count on anything but (young players taking a step forward),” Carroll told Brock and Salk in May. “It’s a natural fact that they do, they make a big jump here between Year 1 and Year 2. And that’s important for us. A great example would be (defensive lineman) Rasheem Green. We’re counting on him being a legitimate part of this team. He works hard, he’s tough, he’s strong, he’s fast, he cares. He’s in it. He’s a guy that he needs to be a bigger factor. That’s why we took him last year. And he’s had a nice kind of ramping up, and so we’ll see how that goes.”
Who can fill the void left by Frank Clark? The Kansas City Chiefs gave Seattle a 2019 first-round pick for the right to acquire Clark and sign him to an extension, and that’s for good reason – at just 26 years old, Clark is a disruptive force on the line and one of the top producing pass rushers in the league.
Seattle, a team that had already dedicated a hefty portion of its salary cap to quarterback Russell Wilson and appears primed to sign middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to a record-breaking deal, couldn’t afford to pay Clark the money he was asking for (and deserved). The trade, along with a series of draft day moves, helped Seattle turn a league-fewest four draft picks into 11 new rookies. But does an influx of young talent make up for the loss of a proven starter? This trade will look great for the Seahawks if players like Martin and Green can have breakout seasons, and if Reed can replicate his production from 2018. If the Seahawks’ pass rush struggles, they’ll be in for a rough September with games against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers and Drew Brees and the Saints in Weeks 2 and 3 — and it will only sting more months later if they end up watching Clark and the Chiefs in the postseason from home.
Complete list of players (updated June 3, 2019)
Cassius Marsh (26, 6-4/254)
Branden Jackson (25, 6-4/295)
Rasheem Green (22, 6-4/279)
L.J. Collier (23, 6-3/291)
Ezekiel Ansah (30, 6-5/275)
Quinton Jefferson (26, 6-4/291)
Jacob Martin (23, 6-2/242)
Jarran Reed (26, 6-3/306)
Nazair Jones (24, 6-5/292)
Poona Ford (23, 5-11/310)
Bryan Mone (23, 6-3/345)
Al Woods (32, 6-4/330)
Demarcus Christmas (24, 6-3/302)
Jamie Meder (28, 6-2/308)
Jay-Tee Tiuli (23, 6-3/340)