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Seahawks bubble watch: Which pass rusher will meet his defensive end?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Locks: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh

Battle Of The Bubble: Chris Clemons vs Ryan Robinson

Also: Tavares Barnes, David Perkins, Montese Overton

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks carried five defensive ends, including Demarcus Dobbs. (And hybrid fullback Will Tukuafu but honestly, that's more "gimmicky" than anything else.) Dobbs had 11 tackles with the Seahawks last season and has zero sacks in five NFL seasons. He is currently still a free agent.

If there is one real camp battle for a roster spot though, it probably belongs to Clemons and Robinson. The two players are fighting for one spot most likely and it really comes down to age+experience vs youth+potential. And don't be fooled: Seattle likes Robinson ... a lot. If not for a torn Achilles, there's a decent chance he could have made the team last season after an impressive showing in OTAs. The purveying thought around town is that it will come down to Clemons or Robinson for this final spot on defense, and it may have a lot to do with their ability to play SAM linebacker and fill-in for the departed Bruce Irvin.

As I noted in April, Clemons' best chance of playing a significant role on defense this season will be if he can rush the passer from the linebacker position anyhow. But even still, Clemons is turning 35 this year and had just three sacks for the Jaguars in 2015. Robinson has never played a significant snap on defense in the NFL, but is only 25.

When Clemons was 25, he was halfway out of the league due to being perennially injured and consistently just not an outstanding player, so it's way too early to assume that Robinson can't have many good seasons ahead. That's why I think Carroll will have a harder time letting go of Robinson (if he's healthy) than he will moving on from Clemons (unless he can prove he still has another full season left in the tank.) You see, Robinson has to prove he can't, while Clemons has to prove he still can.

That's why I'm leaning towards Robinson in this case.

Now, to cut back to what I assume will be a comment: Why is Cassius Marsh considered a lock?

Marsh has zero sacks over two seasons, but he's also perhaps the most important player on special teams besides Tyler Lockett. He just turned 24 and showed a lot of potential opposite Clark in the preseason last year, so it would be shocking to see them cut an elite special teams player who could still be a very good defensive player; especially now that the coverage unit will be without Ricardo Lockette. I'm extremely confident that Marsh will be on the Seahawks for the entire 2016 season, regardless of being a regular on defense.

There's also a case to be made for "fluidity of position" here, because I don't know if ultimately someone like Overton or Barnes or Robinson will be considered primarily a linebacker or a defensive end, but I'm just making a few judgment calls and besides, I'd be surprised if anyone besides the four primary defensive listed above, plus one of Clemons or Robinson, make the roster. Overton, Barnes, Perkins are more like practice and taxi squad types, it seems like right now. That could obviously change by late August, but as far as playing defensive end goes, there's not much room for change after Bennett, Avril, and Clark.

Marsh will be the fourth one there, while I'm guessing that Robinson beats out Clemons.