2012 NFL Draft: Defensive linemen

Southern California defensive lineman Nick Perry runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department.

A look at the positions heading into the April 26-28 draft:

Best of the bunch

Player, school                                      Ht.   Wt.     Projection

DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi St.         6-4   298     Top 10 pick

DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina  6-6  284      Top 10 pick

DT Michael Brockers, LSU                   6-6   322     First round

DT Dontari Poe, Memphis                   6-4   346     First round

DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama          6-2   272    First round

DE Nick Perry, USC                                6-3   271     First round

(Rankings and projections by Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com)

What it all means: The D-line prospects in this year’s draft class come in all shapes and sizes, as well as experience and production levels. They’re expected to be sprinkled all over the board in the first round, and that pretty much matches the assessments when the positions are broached. “There’s some very interesting inside guys and outside guys that are kind of spread throughout,” Seahawks GM John Schneider said.

What about: Shea McClellin. The offense got all the pub at Boise State, and for obvious reasons. But McClellin is a “scheme flexible” prospect worth taking a longer look at late in the first round or early in the second round, according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “If Shea McClellan is there, I would value him a lot,” Mayock said. “He’s going to fit somebody’s 3-4 defense at the tail end of the first round, and I think he’s going to be a 10-year starter.” If that’s not enough for a guy once listed as the 12th-best end earlier in the process, Mayock added, “I see Mike Vrabel when I look at Shea McClellan.” Vrabel, of course, played in the league from 1997-2010 for the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs. McClellin had 9.5 sacks in 2010 and seven last season.

Don’t forget about: Alameda Ta’amu. If you’re looking for a nose tackle, and in the later rounds, take a look at the massive (6-3, 341 pounds) prospect from the University of Washington. Even though he played as heavy as 360 for the Huskies, Mayock said, “I would start with (him), if you’re talking about a pure nose tackle for either a 3-4 or a 4-3. He’s massive and may only be a two-down defender, but those downs are going to be really good.” Mayock rates Ta’amu as a late-second round or third-round prospect.

Seahawks situation: The Seahawks have set themselves up to go in just about any direction, with a number of players, after addressing several needs in free agency. But the one thing still missing from coach Pete Carroll’s offseason to-do list is acquiring an edge pass-rusher to complement and take some of the pressure off Chris Clemons. All Clemons has done since being acquired in a 2010 trade with the Eagles is produce back-to-back 11-sack seasons – the first player to get double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons for the Seahawks since Michael Sinclair in 1997-98. But none of the other linemen had more than three sacks last season.

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