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The Seattle Seahawks today signed the venerable veteran pass rusher Chris Clemons, whom most Seahawks fans may remember as the Leo for the team from 2010 - 2013. Clemons racked up 38 sacks during his four-year tenure with Seattle, a remarkable number for a player who was considered largely obscure at the time of his acquisition from Philadelphia. He was one of Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s early steals.
What’s perhaps most interesting about Clemons’ return to Seattle is its implications for the team’s upcoming draft. Defensive line depth has certainly been a topic of discussion regarding the Seahawks’ positional focus during the primary rounds, and the addition of Clemons would seem to argue that Seattle may be looking to fill other needs, at least during the first day. Does this signing point to an offensive lineman being a near lock in round one? Hardly. The always reliable and seemingly indefatigable Rob Staton of SeahawksDraftBlog.com, for instance, has discussed the intriguing possibility of the Seahawks drafting a defensive lineman such as Emmanuel Ogbah with their first pick. And I would be remiss to not add the necessary caveat regarding Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s legendary unpredictability.
However, while today’s addition of Clemons might not weigh heavy with portent of Seattle’s decisions come April 28th, that hardly renders it meaningless with respect to the team’s intentions going forward. In a vacuum, Clemons is just another role player on an already productive defensive line. That said, in the context of Seattle’s very real, perhaps even urgent need for quality offensive linemen, it’s hard not to read into today’s signing anything but an indication that Seattle is thinking O-line early with regard to the upcoming draft.
On the other hand, Clemons returning to Seattle points to the fact that PCJS have identified the defensive line - pass rush in particular - as an area that needs addressing. Given that Clemons will almost certainly not be guaranteed a spot on the 2016 roster, it’s easy to imagine Seattle adding to that mix another quality player through the draft to compete with Clemons for a roster spot, much like the team did with Eric Winston and Justin Britt in 2014. None of this need necessarily effect any decisions in the first round. It does, though, hint at the possibility of the Seahawks looking D-line with at least one of their high draft picks.
So, does Seattle’s signing of Chris Clemons ultimately have any significance with respect to the 2016 draft? With Pete Carroll and John Schneider, it’s impossible to say. And that makes it that much more fun to speculate on.
Does Clemons have any sacks left in that lanky six-foot three frame? However the draft plays out, I suspect the Seahawks are betting he does. And why not? To say that Clemons has done pretty well for an undrafted journeyman out of Georgia would be an understatement. Still, it’s hard to imagine Clemons playing anything but a limited role in Seattle’s 2016 season. Regardless: welcome back to Seattle, Chris Clemons. And don’t forget to bring that Super Bowl ring with you on your plane ride up.