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Will Seahawks D-line take a step forward? Cliff Avril shares his thoughts

Cliff Avril said Jarran Reed has stepped into a leadership he himself once occupied. (Getty)

In working with some members of the Seahawks’ current defensive line this offseason, one thing has caught former Seattle Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril maybe a little off guard.

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“I love the leadership that they have right now with J-Reed,” Avril said of Jarran Reed, who joined the Seahawks D-line as second-round draft pick in 2016 back when it was led by Avril and Michael Bennett. “It’s so interesting because J-Reed is a reflection of myself and Mike B, but he hated us when he was there because of the way we led, and now he has become that guy and guys are following him.”

Reed, who re-signed with the Seahawks in March, will continue to be a key for the team at defensive tackle, but how does the rest of the defensive line look around him? Avril joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Friday and shared his thoughts, which are particularly worth hearing since he’s seen a good portion of the players up close.

“I’ve been working with a few of the guys over the last month or whatnot,” he said, listing the names of Reed, Poona Ford and Rasheem Green, “and I like (Seattle’s defensive line) a lot. … I think they’re going to be able to make some things happen, I think the numbers will be better (than in 2019).”

There’s a but coming, however, and it has to do with the man all questions about the Seahawks’ defensive line eventually lead to.

“But you need that other guy, and (Jadeveon) Clowney is that guy to me that can disrupt games,” Avril continued.

Clowney remains a free agent, but there’s still the possibility of the former No. 1 overall draft pick ending up back with Seattle for a second season. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently told 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C., that the Seahawks’ offer to Clowney is for one year at $15 million, and Florio added that the Seahawks “have been led to believe” Clowney has a one-year offer at $18 million on the table from the Browns. So if Clowney hasn’t taken that yet, maybe Seattle still stands a chance.

The Seahawks have struggled to maintain a consistent pass rush since Avril retired due to a career-ending injury after the 2017 season, and it won’t get any easier in 2020 with the likelihood of the COVID-19 pandemic having an impact on training camp, which would hurt in getting draft picks Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson up to speed. That’s why Avril says getting Clowney back in the mix is important for Seattle.

“I think they need a little bit more depth and experience more so than anything, because you have a bunch of guys that you’re depending on with no offseason that haven’t even been in an NFL uniform… to come in and give you some pass rush. It’s a completely different ballgame going from college to the league,” he said. “They’ve had some great additions from Benson (Mayowa), Bruce Irvin, obviously being able to keep Jarran Reed… I do think they need a Clowney because you need that experience. … We’ve seen him take over games, so you need that experience to lead the charge for some of these younger players.”

‘Uncomfortable conversations’

With protests against racial inequality and police brutality ongoing in the country, Avril took part in a social justice rally at Liberty Park in Renton last week organized by UW Huskies men’s basketball assistant coach Will Conroy and which also included UW head coach Mike Hopkins, Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart and a host of current and former NBA players with Seattle ties like Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson and Zach LaVine.

Fellow former Seahawks player Michael Bumpus was filling in as a co-host on Bob, Dave and Moore during Avril’s interview and brought up the fact that he’s been hearing from a lot of white friends about what they can do to help, and asked Avril for his take on the manner.

“I think the biggest thing is everybody has to be willing to have the uncomfortable conversations,” Avril answered. “… You have to be willing to have open conversations with your family, with your kids, and call people out when you do see them saying certain things, whether it is a family member, whether it is a friend, and hold people accountable to that because that’s the only way I think things will change.”

Avril also spoke candidly about talking to his son about the ongoing protests and his thoughts on recent comments made by Drew Brees, who like Avril is a Purdue alum. You can hear the full interview beginning at the 25:15 mark in this podcast from Friday’s episode of Bob, Dave and Moore.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Twitter.

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