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Projecting Seattle's 53 Man Roster: Defense

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Next we'll cover the defense. My final post will look at special teams, practice squad, the injured and IRed and notable snubs.

Defensive End

Patrick Kerney

Lawrence Jackson

Darryl Tapp

Baraka Atkins

That's a fine group. Kerney and Jackson are your starter, being the most complete, three downs ends.

Tapp is your designated pass rusher and should see action especially when Jackson slides inside. I project Tapp to see nearly as many snaps as Jackson, subbing for both he and Kerney, despite being nominally second string.

Atkins will work as a run stopper and spell Kerney in blowouts and throughout the game.

Strengths: Huge ability. Pass and run stopping ability. Versatility. Depth. Potential.

Weaknesses: Minor depth concerns, mostly tied to Kerney's health.

Defensive Tackle

Rocky Bernard

Brandon Mebane

Craig Terrill

Howard Green

Red Bryant

Bernard and Mebane are the starters. Both are solid pass, run defensive tackles, with Bernard slanted towards pass rush and Mebane slanted towards run stuffing.

Terrill and Green is the designated B unit. Both are primarily one gap tackles. The used the two in some obvious run downs to disastrous effect.

Once healthy, Bryant should supplant Green as the second string right defensive tackle. He will do wonders for B unit's ability to stop the run and should even help free up Terrill to make plays in the backfield.

Strengths: Pass rush. Run stopping. Depth.

Weaknesses: The run stopping of Green and Terrill. The three tech depth behind Bernard should Bernard be injured or decline.

Outside linebackers

Leroy Hill

Julian Peterson

D.D. Lewis

Lance Laury

Peterson and Hill are the starters at strongside and weakside, respectively.

I see Laury at strongside, though neither he nor Lewis particularly fit the position, but keeping Lewis at weakside will better harness his skills in coverage. The team might look at David Hawthorne as an emergency OLB.

Strengths: Top end talent. Pass rush, run stopping and coverage ability of top end talent.

Weaknesses: Pass rush of second tier talent. Weakside run stopping, strongside pass coverage of second tier talent.

MLB

Lofa Tatupu

David Hawthorne

Tatupu is Tatupu.

Hawthorne might be given looks on the outside, where he better potential of cracking the starting squad. Especially should Seattle allow Hill to test free agency.

Strengths: Tatupu: coverage, run stopping and leadership. Hawthorne, run stopping, blitz ability.

Weaknesses: Tatupu, blitz ability. Hawthorne, coverage ability, experience.

Cornerback

Kelly Jennings

Marcus Trufant

Kevin Hobbs

The unquestioned starters and the man most likely to play with the first string should one be injured.

Strengths: Coverage ability. Ball skills and run stopping (Tru).

Weaknesses: Ball skills and run stopping (Jennings). Coverage downgrade from starters to Hobbs.

Nickelback

Josh Wilson

Jordan Babineaux

Wilson and Babineaux are the two top candidates for the nickelback spot. The team wants Wilson to win the position, for his potential and range, but he's going to need to show a lot better in the next three weeks to earn that spot. Remember Leonard Weaver, who also struggled in the preseason and remember that ability and not just performance must be considered when assigning roster spots and deciding depth charts.

Strengths: Tackling. Range (Wilson). Ball skills.

Weaknesses: Cover, man and zone. Consistency.

Free Safety

Brian Russell

C.J. Wallace

Russell is Russell.

Wallace makes the team purely on special teams ability. If Brian Russell were injured, Babineaux, Grant and maybe Adams would likely start before him.

Strengths: Discipline (Russell). Awareness (Russell).

Weaknesses: Range, coverage and run stopping.

Strong Safety

Deon Grant

Jamar Adams

Grant puts in another season as Seattle's strong safety. Perhaps as his speed fades that will be his permanent position.

Adams is a Deon Grant-like strong safety. Able to stop the run, but not a punishing gap filler. Rather, Adams has the same mix of athleticism and length that allows Grant to be a such a good free safety even when nominally playing strong.

Strengths: Discipline (Grant). Cover ability. Awareness. Potential (Adams).

Weaknesses: Inexperience (Adams).

24 on defense with no major weaknesses and a lot of depth thanks to versatile players like Jordan Babineaux and Lawrence Jackson. The three specialists are obvious, but I'll explain my picks, talk practice squad and what will become of the notable snubs in the next post.