On Standup Ends and the Seahawks Evolving Needs

Seattle traded Darryl Tapp. It acquired Ricky Foley and Chris Clemons, both of whom are pass-rushing linebackers. Pete Carroll talked up playing Aaron Curry as a stand up end, which is either a convoluted way of saying rush linebacker, or a confusing way to play an end. It would seem that Seattle is intent on running a kind of 3-4, in the strictest sense that three players will play with their hands in the dirt, and four will be standing and able to rove.

So the Seahawks scheme is changing and with it its needs. Let's consider the Seahawks current roster, and what new needs arise from this possible shift.

Linebacker: It's crazy to think Seattle would need linebacker depth. It wasn't long ago that trading away linebacker depth to better address more pressing needs seemed sensible. No longer, with David Hawthorne and Lofa Tatupu sharing snaps, Tatupu injured quite a bit recently and Leroy Hill injured quite a bit always, Seattle needs linebackers. Will Herring is the best depth available, but I wonder if Herring will survive the switch. Whatever the case, Seattle needs depth at inside linebacker and potential starter caliber depth at outside linebacker. It needs two to three new players to fill out its linebacker ranks.

Standup End: This is Aaron Curry's position, but Curry has never played it before and that means Seattle better be ready if he struggles. Tapp could have provided depth, but now Seattle needs to find a player of good size and athleticism that can pass rush should Curry not be able to. Brandon Graham and Sergio Kindle make sense, as does Jerry Hughes. Seattle probably can't spend an early pick betting against Curry, but luckily there are plenty of tweener types that can fit this role. It has already added situational pass rushers, but in this all important position, it would be nice to have legitimate depth.

Defensive End/Tackle: This is an interesting need, and how it's filled depends on exactly how Carroll runs his defense. If Curry is an end, he should play beside a defensive tackle. In that case, Seattle would likely start Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane and attempt to add depth and talent to the interior. Lawrence Jackson would absorb the snaps on the left. That does not fit the composition of a traditional 3-4 though. Mebane lacks the length wanted in a 3-4 end. If Mebane and Cole fight it out for nose tackle, then Red Bryant could potentially win a spot alongside Curry. However it works out, Seattle will likely look to add length and athleticism to its defensive line, including a Jackson-like end, and maybe another penetrating tackle.

Seattle needs to adjust its talent to fit what Carroll wants to do, but if that process frees Curry to rush the passer, and if he develops in that role, it will certainly be an achievement. Change takes sacrifice, and sometimes that sacrifice includes an immediate step back, but I think the higher goal of maximizing Curry's potential is worth it.

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