Seahawks

Fann Mail: Forecasting the Seahawks rotation at defensive line and linebacker

Seahawks

We’re inching closer to real football as the ramp up period of 2020 training camps continues. The Seahawks continue to work out behind closed doors at the VMAC, but the first official practice could come by the middle of next week.

That means it’s the perfect time for a mailbag to go over all of Seattle’s top storylines. Once practices start, Week 1 will end up getting here in a blink.

As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions.

I don’t think the Seahawks have hid the fact that Irvin will be playing primarily, if not exclusively, at LEO. To this point, Irvin has been Seattle’s top addition to the pass rush. His value will come along the defensive line, not at SAM linebacker.

Bobby Wagner will obviously be at MIKE. Unless Jordyn Brooks shows to be completely lost in camp and a potential liability in a game, I expect him to start Week 1 at WILL. He’s Seattle’s future at that position, and it makes sense to try and get him reps as soon as possible. That would move K.J. Wright to SAM in base.

The biggest question is whether or not Wright or Brooks gets the reps at WILL in sub packages. They could theoretically rotate throughout a game, but again, as long as Brooks is showing promise, don’t expect the first-round pick to leave the field much.

Here’s my best guess for Seattle’s starting defensive line in base: Rasheem Green, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Benson Mayowa.

 

As I mentioned above, Irvin will be a staple in sub packages off the edge. Then you’ll have guys like Collier (interior), Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson who will compete to be a part of the rotation.

Jarran Reed has to be better for the Seahawks to win the NFC West. I expected him to get a short-term prove-it deal after an unproductive 2019 season. I was write about the short-term part of it, but Seattle giving Reed $23 million over two years is hardly a prove-it deal.

The Seahawks clearly believe that Reed will return to his 2018 form where he posted 10.5 sacks. The biggest question is whether or not he can produce to that level without playing alongside an elite edge rusher. Remember, Frank Clark had 13.0 sacks in 2018.

Reed has just 5.0 combined sacks in his other three seasons. The defensive line will go as he goes which means he needs a bounce back season in 2020.

My honorable mentions are Duane Brown, who Seattle desperately needs to stay healthy, and Tre Flowers, who the Seahawks are hoping can make a Year 2 to Year 3 jump similar to Shaquill Griffin.

Rasheem Green led the Seahawks with 4.0 sacks in 2019, and he’s still just 23 years old. This will be the year where he shows whether his ceiling is as a rotational piece or if he can be something more. Seattle would be ecstatic if Green can get to the 6.0-sack range in 2020.

I have a hard time figuring out fair expectations for Collier after what was essentially a red shirt year as a rookie. I think it’s fairer to put the baseline at merely earning reps and then going from there. The Seahawks believe he has legit pass rush ability, both off the edge in base and on the interior in sub packages. The cause for concern over Collier will be legit if he can’t crack the rotation immediately.

I’ll put it at 25%. I maintain that Jadeveon Clowney’s best chance to recoup his value and cash in as a free agent in 2021 is with the Seahawks. I understand if he has frustrations from being on an island last season and dropping into coverage more than he would have preferred. However, the overall depth and quality of Seattle’s defensive line is vastly superior to what it was in 2019, and the addition of Jamal Adams would help Clowney as well.

Who knows how players opting out and increased cap space for some teams will impact Clowney’s offers. That’s the wildcard of this saga that makes me believe nothing is imminent. He might not sign until Labor Day Weekend.

I think it’s possible that Seattle will sign an edge rusher, a defensive tackle and/or a cornerback. Quinton Dunbar being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List makes corner arguably Seattle’s biggest need. Outside of Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers, I’m not sure the Seahawks have a guy they’d feel comfortable starting on the outside. Signing a veteran for depth purposes and injury protection would make sense.

 

Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones will compete to be the backup tackles. Ogbuehi is the favorite to assume George Fant’s role as the tackle-eligible player that Seattle loves to utilize. However, the Seahawks could use that role less in 2020 depending on how often they run two tight end sets with Will Dissly and Greg Olsen.

Ugo Amadi should be Seattle’s nickel corner depending on the matchup. If an opposing offense has a prototype slot receiver, like Trent Taylor in San Francisco, then Amadi would be the ideal matchup. Amadi’s reps should vary on a game-to-game basis because of that. Marquise Blair figures to be the one rotating with Amadi based on matchup.

Sadly, Joe Fann is a long-tormented Mariners fan. All of my fingers are crossed that Jared Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez turn into superstars!