If Seattle retains Jim Mora and company, it will also likely stick with a 4-3. And if Seattle sticks 4-3, it needs another top pass rusher on its defensive line. Seattle badly wants to create pressure from its front four. Colin Cole isn't cutting it, but Cole is certainly not responsible for all of Seattle's pass rush woes. A bloodless offense that can neither create a lead nor sustain a drive contributes. Creating pressure from the front four is quietly assisted by creating pressure on the scoreboard. As I found out not too long ago, even Jared Allen needs leads to generate sacks.
Allen himself fell to the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft. His major sin was playing for a crappy team. The dubiously named Idaho State Bengals were 26-19 over Allen's four year career. They were not, say, shittier than a monkey house, but they were mediocre at best. Allen was able to grab 17.5 sacks and 28 total tackles for a loss as a senior. What looked like a senior explosion might have been nothing more than changing circumstances. The Potangals were 8-4 that season.
I've searched the ranks of college football and not found another prospect quite as good as Allen, but a few names stand out: Jairius Jarvis of Missouri Southern, Arthur Moats of James Madison, but let us start with our title talent: Brandon Graham.Like Allen, Graham played for rotten teams that were rarely protecting the lead. He didn't become a full-time starter until his junior season and just in time, Michigan fell of a cliff. They were 20-6 in his first two seasons and 8-16 over his final two seasons. Graham didn't stop producing, but he traded sacks for tackles for a loss. In spot duty as a sophomore, he had 8.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. In his final two seasons, he had 20.5 sacks, still very good, and 46 tackles for a loss. The same number of TFLs as Allen had over his final two seasons.
Graham is 6'2" at best. It's unclear whether that actually matters but it matters to scouts. He's pegged as an outside linebacker. That might inflate his value a bit. Some think he'll go in the top fifteen, but an Everette Brown-like fall seems possible too.
That depends. Graham is heading to the Senior Bowl. A little over a week from now, I expect reports will stream in detailing Graham tearing faces off. That could lead to a B.J. Raji like ascent. A month later at the NFL Combine, scouts will state their disbelief that Graham is merely 6'1". Tongues will wag and Graham will toboggan into the second. And then when the actual draft comes, it will all be forgotten.
Anyway, that's Graham and this is his taller, Husky counterpart, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim:
Went all Rod Serling on you there. You didn't think this was about some Big Ten first-rounder, did you? Take what I wrote about Graham, substitute four-year starter for two-year starter, put him on an even crappier team, subtract about 100 spots in the draft, and make him a Husky. The Wolverines are bad. Washington built to a 5-7 season. Te'o had twice as many sacks, 29, as his Huskies had wins, 14. That's some suck. And that's some kind of special player that survives it. Survives and, like Allen, like Graham, contributes how he can. Nesheim had 46 tackles for a loss, 29 sacks and eight forced fumbles. He's not a physical spectacle, but that's kind of the point.