Which pass rushers fit the Seahawks?

NFL draftWe’re a week away from the first virtual NFL draft, and the Seahawks still have not addressed their most glaring need of the offseason: pass rusher.

Yeah, yeah: Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin are back. But they are supporting players. The star still has not arrived for his closeup.

John Schneider’s offseason will be a failure if he does not sign Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen or Yannick Ngakoue (via trade). He must have a stud veteran pass rusher if the Seahawks are going to compete for the Super Bowl. And, whether he does or not, we can expect him to draft a defensive lineman on Day 2, too.

A deal for Ngakoue would be surprising — unless Schneider somehow got him without losing much (say a second-rounder) and then didn’t have to pay him much more than $15 million a year (which seems to be Schneider’s cap for top pass rushers). Unlikely on both counts for Ngakoue.

Clowney or Griffen would be a short-term addition — one or two years — and Griffen seems the more likely of the two to be added by next week.

With Seattle lacking a premier edge rusher, draft analysts everywhere are slotting Yetur Gross-Matos to the Seahawks at 27th overall.

It makes sense, based on both need and history. Schneider has drafted a defensive lineman with one of his first two picks in each of the past five drafts. Frank Clark (2015 second-rounder) is the only one who has risen to star status — and Schneider declined to pay him. So now Schneider and Pete Carroll are stuck hoping Rasheem Green (2018 third-rounder) and L.J. Collier (2019 first) take huge steps next season. And you can bet Schneider will add another with one of his three picks in the first two days.

At the Combine, Schneider said he likes the outside rushers better than the inside — though he said there are a couple of “pretty steep” ledges where the talent falls off. On Seattle’s board, the first-round talent reportedly ends after 16-17 players, which explains why you can expect the usual trade down.

Based on reported contact or interest, which is always a tell for the Hawks, guys they might look at on Day 2 include Gross-Matos, TCU’s Ross Blacklock, Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara and Utah’s Bradlee Anae. Let’s take a look at them and other pass rushers (inside and out) who might be there after Schneider trades down.

(Analysis is off scouting reports from Lance Zierlein, Tony Pauline and Rob Staton; Big board is the consensus from NFLmockdraftdatabase.com. You can see Seattle’s positional prereqs on Alistair Corp’s board.)

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Big board rank: 25.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Maybe. Did not fully work out at Combine.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Nothing notable.
Analysis: It’s unclear where YGM might fit. He’s explosive and long (6-5, 266, 34 7/8″ arms), but he needs to get stronger. Can he be a LEO or is he more of a 5-tech? Either way, he is a developmental prospect and opinions vary on whether he will develop enough technique to offer much as a rookie.

LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin

Big board rank: 36.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? For LB, not DL.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Foot in 2017.
Analysis: Baun (6-2, 238) probably would be a three-down linebacker for Seattle, with the ability to be used in rush packages (he had 12.5 sacks in 2019 and was the top rusher at the Senior Bowl). He could learn from Bruce Irvin, who notched eight sacks as a rookie in 2012 before moving to linebacker in 2013.

DT Ross Blacklock, TCU

Big board rank: 38.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Yes.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Achilles in 2018.
Analysis: Blacklock (6-3, 290) is an explosive one-gap tackle who could offer good interior pressure (though his run defense requires a lot of work).

DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma

Big board rank: 44.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Yes.
Reported interest from Seattle? No.
Medical history: Nothing notable.
Analysis: Reviews are a bit mixed on Gallimore (6-2, 304). Is he a one-gap rusher or two-gap plugger? He was a flash player at Oklahoma. Can he find consistency in the NFL?

DE Terrell Lewis, Alabama

Big board rank: 49.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Incomplete, but he has the length (6-5, 262, 33 7/8″ arms).
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Arm in 2017, ACL in 2018.
Analysis: Injuries held Lewis back at Alabama, and he is not a very refined pass rusher because of it. Is he fast enough? Where would Seattle play him?

DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama

Big board rank: 58.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Yes.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Nothing notable.
Analysis: Davis (6-6, 311) is a two-gap tackle with perceived untapped pass-rush ability. But his performance dipped the past two years and maturity is a question. Sounds like he could be another Malik McDowell.

LB Josh Uche, Michigan

Big board rank: 64.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? He’s short (6-1) but has the arms (33 5/8). He did not test at the Combine.
Reported interest from Seattle? No.
Medical history: Stress fracture in foot and torn meniscus.
Analysis: Never a full-time starter at Michigan, Uche nonetheless won on 27 percent of his rushes as a senior (second to top-three prospect Chase Young). Uche shined at the Senior Bowl, but is he a situational rusher or a linebacker with blitz abilities?

DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Big board rank: 65.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Yes.
Reported interest from Seattle? No.
Medical history: Nothing notable.
Analysis: Madubuike (6-3, 304) might be the best DT option in the first two days for Seattle. He’s a great pass-rushing 3-tech — 11 sacks and 85 pressures the past two years, ranking third in win rate (14.9%) among DTs in this class (behind Javon Kinlaw and Jordan Elliott). He is strong (31 reps in bench) and explosive, gets excellent leverage, moves well and can play the run. Worth a good look in the second round.

DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame

Big board rank: 68.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? He did not test at the Combine, but his height (6-4), weight (255) and arms (34 3/8) suggest he could fit as a LEO for Seattle.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Broken leg as senior.
Analysis: Okwara can get off the edge; he was third in win rate (23 percent) behind Young and Uche. He isn’t great against the run and needs to refine technique, but he could be a nice possibility.

DE Jonathan Greenard, Florida

Big board rank: 73.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? No, except his size and length (34 7/8″ arms).
Reported interest from Seattle? No.
Medical history: Wrist in 2018.
Scouting report: Greenard is not fast and has average athleticism, but he is smart and brings good technique and effort, which is why he racked up 16.5 sacks in his two seasons for Louisville and Florida. He had a good Senior Bowl and might be worth a look in the third round.

DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida

Big board rank: 82.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? Yes, except arms are a little shorter than preferred (32 7/8).
Reported interest from Seattle? No.
Medical history: High ankle sprain.
Analysis: Zuniga (6-3, 264) is an explosive athlete along the lines of Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas. He can rush inside or out. But he was not consistent at Florida, despite a 20 percent win rate, and he needs to get stronger at the point of attack.

DE Bradlee Anae, Utah

Big board rank: 92.
Meets Seahawks’ physical specs? No. His arms are too short (32 1/8) and he doesn’t hit their thresholds for quickness or explosiveness.
Reported interest from Seattle? Yes.
Medical history: Nothing notable.
Analysis: Despite his athletic limitations, Anae (6-3, 257) tallied 21 sacks his final two years at Utah. He plays with a high motor, good instincts and technique and a nasty attitude. And that could be enough for Schneider (who loves Utah players) to like him in the third round.

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