JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks’ 2020 NFL Draft class points to a transition

Apr 26, 2020, 10:37 AM | Updated: 11:31 am
Seahawks draft pick Darrell Taylor...
Darrell Taylor is one of four Seahawks who could be the leo in the pass rush. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks ended up getting a solid B grade for the 2020 draft.

A look at all eight Seahawks picks | WSU’s Gordon tops UDFA list

That’s a big upgrade from what graders were giving out while scratching their heads over the first-round selection of linebacker Jordyn Brooks. I know I was scratching my head, but as soon as John Schneider took defensive end Darrell Taylor in the second round, that changed.

Then when the Seahawks added defensive end Alton Robinson in the fifth round, everything came into focus. Schneider attacked the Jadeveon Clowney void by loading up the numbers. Clowney was a great part of Seattle’s defensive line and we’ll see this week whether he can take advantage of the end of the unrestricted free agency period.

Because Clowney will be a street free agent instead of a UFA starting Monday, he can sign with the Tennessee Titans and not cost them the third-round 2021 compensatory pick they should get for departed right tackle Jack Conklin. The door remains open for a Seahawks return but no one in Seattle is holding their breath.

Instead of Clowney, the Seahawks have four options to rush the quarterback from the “leo” position. Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa have the experience. Taylor and Robinson have the raw talent and can learn. The other defensive end position, the five-technique, will rely on L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green.

The Seahawks were tied for 29th in the league with the Detroit Lions with 28 sacks last year. Irvin and Mayowa add 15 1/2 sacks. As head coach Pete Carroll said Saturday, the Seahawks now have great depth along the defensive line even though they don’t know who exactly are going to be the starters.

Carroll said they can keep the ends fresher with the numbers along the defensive line. They didn’t feel as though they need to add a defensive tackle because Collier and Green can move to defensive tackle on passing downs and pair up with Jarran Reed.

The mission is to get to 40 sacks or more in 2020.

What’s interesting is the 2020 Seahawks draft sets up a transition for the team. That’s why the selection of Brooks now looks more interesting. The Seahawks have their three starters at linebacker with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Cody Barton. From the looks of Brooks, he could end up being the next Bobby Wagner in this season. He’s a tackling machine. He goes sideline to sideline. He shows the potential to play all three positions at linebacker.

Drafting Brooks at 27th overall wasn’t the plan. The Seahawks were working on a deal with Green Bay that fell through at the end when the Miami Dolphins offered the Packers a better trade. The Dolphins gave them a fourth-round pick.

No other teams called Seattle to trade up. Had their deal with Green Bay not fallen through, the Seahawks would have gone to No. 39 and taken Brooks, but one of their next options was Taylor. They clearly had Taylor listed above Penn State defensive end Yutar Gross-Matos and Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who went in the second round.

To get Taylor, the Seahawks had to trade up to the 48th pick. Schneider’s history of trading up have been exceptional, landing players such as Jarran Reed, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Michael Dickson, Jeremy Lane and others.

Getting back to how this draft points to transition, they took guard Damien Lewis, who could take over for D.J. Fluker next year. Phil Haynes or Jamarco Jones could take over for Mike Iupati next year. Fluker and Iupati are free agents after this season.

They answered the need for a running back by taking DeeJay Dallas from Miami. Tight ends Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister are free agents after the season and the Seahawks drafted two tight ends – Colby Parkinson and Stephen Sullivan.

For this draft, the Seahawks got a solid B.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

More Seahawks draft coverage

Rost: Superlatives for the Seahawks’ eight-player 2020 NFL Draft class
Moore: 10 takeaways from the Seahawks’ draft
Groz: Draft was a badly needed break of ‘business as usual’
Just two Huskies, one Cougar taken in draft

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