The Seattle Seahawks have made some big moves in the offseason and have addressed their needs on the defensive line in doing so. They used free agency to acquire defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and took advantage of a deep 2013 NFL Draft class when they drafted two highly regarded defensive tackles in Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill. These moves have allowed the Seahawks to have more flexibility in terms of personnel in their 4-3 defensive scheme, so it will be pretty fascinating to see who they use to start games in the front seven.
Now I don’t have the technology to get into the mind of Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, but I can take a stab at who might be out on the field for the team’s first defensive play when they take on the Carolina Panthers on September 8th so I’m going to do just that.
I think the talented young group of linebackers is pretty much set with the second-year stud Bobby Wagner anchoring the defense at middle linebacker and likely flanked by outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith. There is the possibility that second-year defensive end Bruce Irvin could play some outside linebacker this year, but he’s going to miss the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, so we will have to wait until week five to see.
The defensive line is where the possibilities get really fun. It’s still not clear whether defensive end Chris Clemons will be ready for week one or not after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a playoff game against the Washington Redskins last season, but let’s pretend he is for the sake of speculation. If he is ready to go, I would expect Clemons to line up at one end spot opposite Cliff Avril. This would allow Red Bryant, who was converted by the Seahawks from defensive tackle to defensive end when they drafted him, to return to his natural position at tackle, alongside Brandon Mebane.
The Seahawks won’t have reserve defensive end Greg Scruggs this season, but Michael Bennett will provide solid depth at both end spots behind Clemons and Avril. Rookies Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill will also provide interior depth and there has even been some talk of Hill playing some defensive end this year which would be excellent for the Seahawks at least until Bruce Irvin is done serving his four-game suspension.
Regardless of who is on the field for this Seattle defensive front, they will be a formidable foe for any NFL offense. If they can regain and then maintain health at the key positions, I think they will once again lead the NFL in fewest points allowed per game.
Follow Connor Hutyler on Twitter @ConnorHutyler.