The Seattle Seahawks have decisions to make on their defensive line. Frank Clark is a free agent and besides Jarran Reed there is not a consistent playmaker in the d-line group right now. This and offensive line seem like priorities every offseason for Seattle. So, looking for a pass rusher to bend the edge and create pressure or an interior lineman to push the pocket and plug run gaps is old hat for Seahawks fans right now. Seattle only has four picks in the 2019 NFL Draft at the moment, but if anything is known about Seattle’s draft plan it is that they will trade back and get more picks. Do not expect them to pick in the first round this year.
Zach Allen DE, Boston College, 6’4” 284 lbs.
Allen is a bull of a man; he uses his 284-pound frame to hold up blocks at the point of attack. He can also use that power when rushing the passer, as he is a consistent threat to get to the QB. His teammate Harold Landry was drafted by the Tennessee Titans last year and was considered a top-five pass rusher. But, scouts are saying Allen might be a better prospect. He has better strength and is more consistent against both the run and pass; he just doesn’t have the speed of Landry. He had 18.5 sacks over three years and he posted 100 tackles in 2017. That’s a ridiculous number for a defensive end and it shows he has good play recognition and is always around the ball.
Jachai Polite DE, Florida, 6’2” 242 lbs.
Polite was a quiet contributor for the Gators his first two years. He racked up four sacks, nine tackles-for-loss and 33 total tackles. Then this year he exploded, and I mean that literally; he has one of the quickest first steps in the draft right now. In 2018 Polite got 11 sacks, 19.5 tfls and 45 total tackles. He was a terror off the edge for Florida and he probably will get picked in the first round. He has the potential to be a double-digit sack player in the NFL. But, that will only happen if he can get stronger. He uses his speed very well to set up his pass rushing moves and can translate that speed into a good power move. But when a big offensive lineman gets a good push on him he can be thrown off course. Polite is a great complementary piece for a defense right now, and in two years he could be Von Miller, or he could be a special teamer.
Jerry Tillery DT, Notre Dame, 6’7” 305 lbs.
Tillery is an explosive player who can change the game with his pass rushing. He was the second-best pass rushing defensive tackle in college football after Quinnen Williams. He almost had 50 pressures this season, turning eight of those into sacks. It is worth noting that four of his sacks came in one game. But, sack numbers are inconsistent, and his pressures paint a bigger picture of his talent. Tillery is not just a pass rusher though; he is a solid tackler who plays with good power and quickness, yet he can lock up on double teams or power blocks and concede ground. He is a hustler who can beat faster people to the ball, but he could be labeled an underachiever because of his physical skills.
D’Andre Walker DE, Georgia, 6’2” 250 lbs.
Walker is a steady, consistent, technically sound player. He has played four years at Georgia and played at least six games every season. Walker is a good run defender with some workable traits as a pass rusher. He is good at using his hands to disengage from blocks and has good awareness when playing his run responsibilities. Not explosive fast off the snap but he plays with a high motor does his job. I could see Walker playing the strong side linebacker role and as a situational pass rusher in 2019. He is very coachable and can help whatever team he gets on.
Oshane Ximines DE, Old Dominion, 6’4” 255 lbs.
This is a speed pick here. Ximines is Old Dominion’s most dominant player and he could take over games. He got 55 total pressures in 2018 to go with an elite pass rushing grade. He was a top five pass rusher in college football and he might be able to take that explosion to the NFL. Seattle needs more speed off the edge right now. Dion Jordan did not play well last season, so the Seahawks need to look for more edge pressure. They should look at Ximines because he was pressuring the QB on more than 15% of his pass rush snaps.
Greg Gaines DT, Washington, 6’1” 315 lbs.
Gaines is a beast on the interior of the defensive line. He has not had a lot of attention on that Washington defense because of all the stars that he has been playing with. But now it is his turn; he was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 52nd best player in college football last year. Gaines is one of only three players to have at least 40 pressures and 35 stops in 2018. The other two are Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins, who are both projected to be picked in the top 15 this year. Gaines has proven he can contribute in run and pass defense, he could be an excellent partner for Jarran Reed. Both would be able to push the pocket on pass plays and plug gaps on run plays. Gaines is also much quicker than people realize, and you underestimate him at your own risk.