Pat Kirwan has tackled the task of ranking and rating the league’s defensive linemen in this piece at CBSSports.com.
A former scout, coach and front-office exec in the NFL, Kirwan begins by offering, “It’s not enough to refer to defensive linemen as simply defensive linemen. In fact, it’s not enough to call tackles just tackles and ends just ends. There is a lot more to the job description.”
He also includes four of the Seahawks’ D-linemen in his report. Here’s where they rank and what Kirwan has to say about them (the numbers for each are a combination grade for drawing double teams, hustle and pursuit and sacks/hurries/knockdowns):
On the rise
No. 8 Bruce Irvin (30.5) – “Irvin is a 4-3 RDE coming off a rookie season as a situational pass rusher. If he stays in that role, he will find himself back on this list next year, which isn’t a bad thing.”
No. 9 Red Bryant (6) – “Bryant will never have big numbers but he is a critical piece in Seattle’s defense. He two-gaps a lot in a 4-3 front and anchors the run defense. To appreciate all the dirty work he does up front, look at what happens to the Seattle D when Bryant isn’t on the field.”
4-3 right ends
4. Chris Clemons (42.5) – “Clemons is coming off an ACL injury and may not be ready to go, which means Cliff Avril gets the call. Clemons is a perfect fit in the Seattle defense and if healthy will have a 40-plus season.”
4-3 left ends
5. Michael Bennett (44) – “I can’t believe the Bucs let him go. Now he fortifies an already good Seattle defensive line. Bennett may not have the production he had last year and could struggle to match his numbers from 2012.”
If there’s a nit to be picked here, it’s: Where’s Brandon Mebane? The Seahawks’ nose tackle has produced 56 sacks in each of the past two seasons and was an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season. And he usually leaves the field on passing downs, while almost always drawing and handling double-team blocks when on the field.
Kirwan has the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork, Bills’ Marcell Dareus, Bengals’ Domata Peko, Rams’ Michael Brockers and Cowboys’ Jason Hatcher as his Top 5. Good players. But are all of them better than Mebane?
One word answer: Underrated. Two word answer: Still underrated.
Last year’s first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, the 6-foot-3, 248-pound defensive end out of West Virginia, could be slated for a breakout year, writes NFL.com columnist Adam Schein.
Draft analysts questioned the pick of the unrefined pass rusher a year ago, but head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider saw the upside in his tremendous athletic ability and physical makeup.
“I just need a great group of people around me and need to get around a great group of pros who are going to show me how to be a pro on and off the field and I think I’ll be all right,” Irvin said the day he was drafted with the 15th overall pick in 2012.
Despite seeing limited snaps as a situational pass rusher a season ago, Irvin led all rookies with 8.0 sacks, recorded 19 quarterback hits and forced a fumble. In 2013 he’ll be joined at the line of scrimmage by newcomers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, who combined for 18.5 sacks last season and could help create more space for Irvin to get after the quarterback.
On Irvin, Schein writes: “This cat is a freak athlete. Irvin had eight sacks in his rookie year — and he was still raw. With a full NFL season under his belt, this Seattle pass rusher will become one of the elite sack artists and disruptive forces in the game.”
Also appearing on Schein’s list of breakout candidates for 2013 are Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, New York Giants running back David Wilson, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
“The best way to kick off my appearance for the season is without a shirt on. I’m in a little bit better shape, right?”
If you’re a fan of Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson’s “The Real Rob Report” then it should be a pretty easy guess as to who’s behind that lighthearted quote that helps kick off his newest episode.
If you’re not yet a fan of the show, it’s about time you get in on all of the behind-the-scenes Seahawks goodness.
Robinson’s latest chapter features a look in at Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The familiar faces of Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Josh Portis, Jermaine Kearse, and Phil Bates are all included, as well as the first “Real Rob Report” introductions with newcomers Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett.
Remember, you can stay up to date on everything from the Real Mike Rob by following his show on Twitter and subscribing to his channel on YouTube. And be sure to check out Moffitt’s venture into the apparel business at moffittmerch.com, where like he said in the video above – he’s not “lining his pockets” with the proceeds – they help feed the homeless at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
There are some automatic circle-the-date events in the NFL. The draft. The start of training camp. The regular-season opener.
For Dan Quinn, this year also included April 29 – which just happens to be today, and the day Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program kicked off. It marked the first time since the final practice of the 2012 season that the coaches have been allowed on the field with the players. And for Quinn, it was his first time on an NFL practice field since the 2010 season, as he spent the past two years as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida following a two-season stint as the Seahawks’ D-line coach.
“This is the day I’ve really been looking forward to,” Quinn said. “I’ve been looking forward to this Phase 2 starting. In fact, I even told that to the guys before hand – we’re all kind of getting back to our element, which is being out on the field.”
His anticipation over this day is understandable. It was Quinn’s first day on a practice field as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, a position he was hired to fill in January after former D-coordinator Gus Bradley left to become head coach of the Jaguars. It also was Quinn’s first on-field session with the free-agent additions to the unit he now coordinates – linemen Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
“This is a chance for us to see some of the new players we’ve added on the field,” Quinn said. “The classroom work has been good. But this is the next step, the precursor to playing. The culmination has been good and the players, to their credit, worked.”
The players did that work in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center because of the rain that was falling in Renton this morning. But it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players or coaches, even though their “against air” efforts focused primarily on technique.
“It’s always fun to get out there on the field,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We still can’t do a whole heck of a lot, but at least we’re running routes, catching balls, calling plays.”
The limited on-field activity that is allowed in Phase 2 continues through May 17, with a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12. Phase 3 begins on May 20 and will include 10 OTA sessions where the offense is allowed to work against the defense, and vice versa. The offseason program concludes for the veterans with a minicamp June 11-13.
In the interview for Tuesday’s story on defensive lineman Michael Bennett, the once-Seahawk and now once-again Seahawk offered another reason for wanting to re-sign with the team in free agency last month.
In a word, it’s the secondary. In 10 words or less, it’s Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner. Two were voted All-Pro last season – Thomas, the free safety; and Sherman, the left cornerback. Three have played in the Pro Bowl in at least one of the past two seasons – Thomas (twice); Chancellor, the strong safety; and Browner, the right cornerback.
“I’ve never played with a secondary with this caliber of talent,” Bennett said. “That’s one of the unique things about this defense and this team. I’ve played with some OK secondaries since I’ve been in the league, but this is my first time playing with a secondary like this.”
And make no mistake, the Seahawks were Bennett’s destination team even before he hit free agency last month.
“I turned down money to come here, and came here on just a one-year contract,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be. I love this place.”
In a word, “No.” In two words, “No way.” If you need three words, how about: “Are you kidding?”
We figured we’d answer the question in the teaser for Jason La Canfora’s feature at CBSSports.com – Is there a better NFL personnel guy right now than Seattle’s John Schneider? – before actually getting into what he had to say about the Seahawks’ general manager.
La Canfora points out the obvious, which is too often overlooked when it comes to Schneider. Maybe it’s because Schneider looks too young to be running a NFL franchise. Maybe it’s that old stigma of doing all that he’s doing in Seattle, a remote outpost on the NFL landscape. Maybe the XXXL-sized shadow cast by coach Pete Carroll.
Whatever the reason, it’s nice to see Schneider getting his due – some overdue due.
Writes La Canfora: “John Schneider might be the most aggressive general manager in the NFL, and, in my estimation, no one has done a better job evaluating talent and manipulating the draft, trades and free agency since he took over the Seahawks in 2010. …
“So, here in early April, I challenge anyone to find a team that made better calculated moves than Seattle and Schneider. I am a huge Percy Harvin guy, and felt he could be an absolute difference-maker, particularly if a team with a dynamic quarterback like Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick landed him. Turns out Harvin can now line up alongside Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Yes, the price in terms of draft picks was high – but Schneider also did well to recoup picks and clear up budget space by spinning backup quarterback Matt Flynn to Oakland – and there was no way the Seahawks were going to get a talent anything close to what Harvin provides picking where they were in this draft.
“I love the move, and while I understand Harvin has warts, I don’t see him clashing with Pete Carroll or being a persistent problem child in Seattle. He’s making what he’s worth; he’s content and has been migraine free for quite some time. His versatility and game-breaking skills at several receiver spots, running back and on special teams cannot be overstated.
“Seattle also had a need at pass rusher and landed Cliff Avril – and another player just hitting his prime and perhaps the best rusher on the market – and at a bargain-basement rate. They added Michael Bennett for good measure on a prove-it deal, wisely allowing the market to set before wading in. All the while, I continue to hear edge rusher Chris Clemons is making great progress recovering from knee surgery. When you consider this team was looking Super Bowl-worthy already, plus all of Wilson’s upside, a big tip of the cap to Schneider.”
All we can add to this is, “Yeah” and “It’s about time someone noticed the job Schneider is doing, and has done.”
Like last year. Schneider and staff got Lynch and run-stuffing/kick-blocking defensive end Red Bryant re-signed before they could become hot commodities in free agency. And can Schneider ever get enough credit for seeing things in Wilson that others couldn’t, or refused to because he’s “too short to play in this league?”
The answer to that last question, of course, is the same as those offered to the first question: “No.” “No way.” “Are you kidding?”
The Seahawks continued the reshaping of their defensive line today by announcing the signing of former Dolphins defensive tackle Tony McDaniel in free agency.
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound McDaniel entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2006 with the Jaguars, who traded him to the Dolphins in 2009. McDaniel has 119 career tackles, including 36 in 2010; and 8.5 career sacks, including 2.5 in 2010 and 2011.
McDaniel obviously is excited about the move, as he posted this photo on Instagram.
He is the third defensive lineman to sign with the Seahawks since the free-agency period began on March 12, joining defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch, a starter with the Seahawks the past two seasons, has signed with Buffalo in free agency, the Bills have announced.
Branch became expendable with the Seahawks as the club added Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency.
After joining the Seahawks as a free agent in 2011, Branch started 31 games the past two seasons, posting 34 tackles and three sacks in 2011 and 30 tackles and one sack last season. He played his first four NFL seasons with the Cardinals.
Branch is the second of the Seahawks’ nine unrestricted free agents to sign with another team. Defensive tackle Jason Jones joined the Lions.
Audio file – General Manager John Schneider on 950 KJR AM:
Seahawks general manager John Schneider joined 950 KJR AM’s Mitch in the Morning show with host Mitch Levy yesterday to discuss an array of offseason topics – the trade for Percy Harvin, the free agent signings of defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and what the future holds for backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
If case you missed the interview, we’ve embedded the entire segment between Schneider and Levy above, but one of the more newsworthy pieces to come out of the conversation was on Bennett, who ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported had been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff.
“It is true,” Schneider told Levy of the report. “I do know he [Bennett] played every game last year with [the injury], that’s the understanding. Our medical staff felt comfortable with it, especially on a one-year deal.”
Schneider went on to say that Bennett’s injury would need to be repaired at some point, but not anytime in the near future. He fully expects Bennett to play with the injury as he did throughout 2012, when he racked up 9.0 sacks and three forced fumbles while playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The majority of them were as an inside rusher,” Schneider said of Bennett’s 2012 sack total. “It’s how we’re going to use him, like a three-technique inside rusher.
“Michael had been here before, so he’s very close with Red Bryant and a number of guys on the team. He had a strong interest in coming here and playing for coach Carroll and [defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn.”
NFL.com Around the League writer Chris Wesseling has ranked what he believes to be the NFL’s five strongest rosters, and after the recent acquisitions of wide receiver Percy Harvin and defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, the Seattle Seahawks have claimed the top spot on his list.
The Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots rank No. 2-5, respectively, on Wesseling’s list. His comments on the Seahawks’ current squad and 2013 NFL Draft needs are outlined below:
Adrian Peterson’s reaction to the Percy Harvin trade speaks volumes about a dynamic player who could tip the balance of power in the NFC West. It’s easy to forget that Harvin was a more valuable player than Peterson prior to his season-ending ankle injury in Week 9 of last season.
Russell Wilson’s offense averaged 32.4 points per over the final 10 games of the 2012 season (including the playoffs). It gets even better with Harvin, recently described by NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell as ‘a movable chess piece that advances the continuing evolution of NFL offense.’
To a defense that led the NFL in fewest points per game, the Seahawks have added effective pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on the cheap.
Draft Needs: This might be the one team with the luxury of selecting the best player available regardless of need throughout the entire draft. The Seahawks could use depth at linebacker and the offensive line, but the most glaring weak spot is kicker, with Steven Hauschka unsigned.”