Check out my LEO and OLB prospects if you haven't already. I think this series has lacked a bit of structure thus far so I'm going to more clearly define these initial posts as potential front-7 prospects, something Pete Carroll has openly identified as an area for improvement this off-season. Next up are the 5-techs. I turned up enough "big bodies" to split the 5-techs and 3-techs into two separate posts.
Our starting 5-tech over the past two seasons has been Big Red Bryant. After being selected by the Hawks with the 121st pick in the 2008 NFL draft as a DT, Bryant failed to make a meaningful impact in his first two seasons. Then along came wise old (sorry Pete) Carroll, who along with then defensive line coach Dan Quinn, made the bat-shit-crazy decision to move a 320+ lb man to DE on a four man front.
Well, it's turned out pretty darn good for all parties involved, excluding opposing rushing attacks of course. Big Red has rejuvenated his career and the Seahawks have had one of the best run defenses in the league with him in the lineup. What especially made this move a winning one how it allowed us to employ an undersized pass rusher for our weakside DE position. Chris Clemons should be counting his lucky stars that we traded for him. He has been exceptional with 24 sacks over the past two seasons.
The Seahawks have carved themselves quite a niche with the marriage of Big Red and Fast Clem. It's the only DE combo of it's kind league wide so far as I know. It's really remarkable. A failed fourth round pick and a conditional pass rusher came together to make one hell of a DE duo.
In the second half of 2010 we learned what happens without Bryant when we lost him to a knee injury and Bantwan Kelmer or whatever his name is replaced him. In response the Hawks signed the monstrous Alan Branch as a back-up who was quickly named the starting 3-tech with Mebane moving to the 1-tech.
Red is now a free agent. We should be able to resign him but even so, I think we will consider 5-tech a position of interest in the draft, especially if we intend to keep Branch as our starting 3-tech. From a rotational standpoint we would absolutely make good use of a 5-tech who could provide a bit more pressure while still holding up against the run. Another factor to consider is the declining performance of the Seahawks' run defense toward the end of this last season. The cause of this decline is unclear but it's certainly possible Big Red became more and more fatigued having never started a full season before and without much of a rotation behind him.
So let's get on to the fun. Many of these guys are listed as DTs but for various reasons I see them fitting better at 5-tech than 3-tech. The most common reason is a lack of girth. All of them could rotate inside on passing downs but I don't see any of them starting there for us unless they can cultivate more mass.
Devon Still (6-4 310) RS Senior from Penn State
The hype machine is on overdrive for Devon Still after an impressive Senior campaign. The positive press is not completely unwarranted but I just think it's a bit overkill. In most drafts Still would be a reach with our 11/12 pick but given the weak talent pool toward the top of the draft he would be a very reasonable selection. Some might be surprised to see me list Still as a 5-tech. In our scheme he would be an excellent fit there, a better fit than at 3-tech in my opinion. He could still start at 3-tech but I'd like to see him add a few more pounds first.
Still became much more consistent off the snap this year which was a big reason for his increased production. He's not especially explosive but once out of his stance he's a real force, often slanting into the backfield or fighting through blocks to disrupt the play. He's huge, strong, and surprisingly quick for his size. That sound familiar? His long, powerful arms help him separate and makes him a very capable arm tackler. My greatest knock on Still is how inconsistent his anchor is. Too often he winds up blown back two or three yards back off the LOS.
Here is a scouting report. Here is a highlight video. Below you can see him in an impressive display against Illinois this year. Here he is against Alabama and here he is against Ohio State, also from this year. Here he is against Alabama and Florida in the Outback Bowl from last year.
Fletcher Cox (6-4 295) Junior from Mississippi State
Fletcher Cox plays on the edge and I don't mean that he rushes from the outside, though he does on occasion. He seems to play totally out of control but the product is definitely intriguing. He's fast and strong with a balls-to-the-wall motor. Cox doesn't have much by way of pass rush moves but he keeps his legs churning on the bull rush and it can be very effective. He also has nice quickness off the snap and can penetrate from the 3-tech spot. What's especially exciting about Cox is that he has plenty of room to fill out his frame.
Cox might need a bit more work than other prospects but his upside is very tantalizing. He will probably be off the board already come our second round pick but if he's still there, he could be an excellent option for us. Here is a scouting report and below you can watch him against South Carolina this year.
Kendall Reyes (6-4 295) RS Senior from Connecticut
Kendall Reyes came to camp his Freshman year at only 245 yet has since grown into a very capable DT. It's possible that he's still growing and that's an exciting thought. Like Still and Cox, Reyes has length and strength and a good short area burst. He flashes some real power in his hands to bully past or control linemen, though not very consistently. Reyes seems more thickly built than others on this list and is thus maybe a bit better suited to move inside if he can continue to add bulk.
Kheeston Randall (6-5 305) Senior from Texas
Kheeston Randall is strong, just as his name suggests. Single blockers don't do much against him. If finding a back-up to Red who hold the point of attack against the run is an objective for us then Randall is a very good option. He was mostly asked to eat up blocks in college but on the occasion where he was set free, he flashed some ability to penetrate with decent overall quickness. I would be interested to see what Randall could do if given more opportunities to make plays.
Derek Wolfe (6-5 300) Senior from Cincinnati
It's too bad Derek Wolfe is not a better athlete because if he was then he'd be much more highly rated. He has long arms and violent hands which he uses well to separate and make plays in the backfield. He had 9.5 sacks this season and was voted the Big East Defensive POY. Unfortunately I don't think he can make plays at that level in the pros. He's strong but sometimes struggles to hold up against the run and doesn't show any real explosiveness off the snap. Still, he could be solid in a rotation and would offer some more pass rush from the 5-tech.
Below you can see some highlights.