The Seattle Seahawks pass rush has been a good indicator of how effective the defense is in years past, and I expect 2018 to be no different. If they get a lot of sacks and pressures they should win more games. So, how good will Seattle’s pass rush be this year? First, we will look at the new pieces then move on to the same guys who were here last year. I have picked three each to talk about here.
Barkevious Mingo was signed as a free agent from the Indianapolis Colts this offseason. He was a top-ten pick in the 2013 Draft by the Cleveland Browns as a rush linebacker. Mingo has seven sacks in three years there and was considered a bust. Since then he has spent a year with New England and one with Indianapolis where he ended up with two sacks over those years. This production is pretty low for someone who is supposed to be a sack specialist. The Seahawks are hoping he fits well as the Leo end (weakside defensive end) or strongside linebacker in their system. There is a good amount of upside with Mingo and few risks if he does not work out. Mingo is a good fit and could get 10-15 snaps a game if he shows well in the offseason.
Rasheem Green was picked in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. His career at the University of Southern California was productive with 16.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in three years. He is pretty much the same size as Michael Bennett at 6’4” and 275 pounds and so it looks like Seattle will use him in some of the same ways as Bennett. Green seems to be fitting in during the offseason and it looks like he has the work ethic to improve his power and technique. He could start out as a situational pass rusher or run stopper from the outside and work his way into the rotation by midseason. He has a lot of potential and might be a great addition to the defensive line group.
Jacob Martin is another rookie from this year’s draft, he was a sixth-round selection. He is around 230 pounds which is small to be a pass rusher on an every-down basis. He makes up for this with great speed and a good understanding of how to set up offensive linemen. Martin ended up with 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in his four years at Temple. Martin has a good motor and uses his hands well, but needs to get a lot stronger in his lower body if he wants to be more of an every-down type of player. It looks like Seattle is hoping to get production from Martin on special teams at first so he can use his athleticism, but depending on how well he does in camp he might get more snaps.
Frank Clark is the guy Seattle is really depending on to step up this year. He was the understudy behind Bennett and Cliff Avril and now is thrust into the lead role. Clark will be counted on to try and reach double digit sacks, something no Seahawk was able to accomplish last year. Clark has shown he can be a very good pass rusher, he got ten sacks in 2016 and has 22 in his three years in Seattle. Clark needs to keep getting stronger and using his leverage better, right now he is more of a speed rusher than a well-rounded rusher. Seattle’s rush defense was also down last year, I think this is from a lot of factors and one of those is Clark stepping in for Avril during the year. He was not as good against the run as hoped and that is something he can improve on this year. Look for Seattle to move him around and try and find good matchups for him in passing situations.
Dion Jordan was a top ten pick in the 2013 NFL Draft just like Mingo was and has had even less impact in the NFL. Jordan amassed three sacks in two years playing for the Miami Dolphins and was suspended for his third year for violating the league’s drug policy. He did not play in 2016 either, and was signed by Seattle in 2017 to bolster the pass rush. When Jordan played he made enough of an impact to warrant the Seahawks banking on him for production this year. Jordan got to the quarterback four times last year in very limited snaps with his impressive speed and burst. As of right now he is penciled in as a starter at defensive end and will be counted on to increase his productivity against both the pass and the run in 2018. He has potential but not much of a proven track record, so the Seahawks are gambling on him stepping up.
Nazair Jones was picked in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Seahawks and he came into camp and performed well. He has great athleticism for his size and has shown a good burst in the games he was able to play last year. Jones missed time because of injury but also made plays. He returned an interception for a touchdown (it was called back because of a penalty after the pick) and got another interception in preseason action. He chipped in two sacks to go along with his solid interior run stopping play. He is still better at pass rushing then run stopping but he is coming along in both categories well. I could see him starting for Seattle for several years. Jones will be splitting time with Jarran Reed, Shamar Stephens, Quinton Jefferson and Tom Johnson in the middle this season and can hone his technique with the two ex-Vikings Stephens and Johnson.
Overall I think the Seahawks will get almost 40 sacks this season and will impress many people.