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Seahawks training camp: Cliff Avril gushes over Seattle’s pass rush potential

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks ranked a modest 18th in sacks last season, with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett combining for 19 of those 37 takedowns. That’s the same number of sacks that they had in 2014, down from the 44 they had during their 2013 Super Bowl championship season. Though they still do quite well in QB hurries and hits, it’s important that the Seahawks turn more of those plays into losses this season.

And Avril sounds confident that they will, as told to reporters during his Tuesday press conference:

"But to see Frank [Clark] and Jordan [Hill] and see what those guys are doing these first few days, I’m very happy with where those guys are heading. Frank is taking some huge steps, as far as mentally, just picking up the mental part of the game, because physically he has it all. It’s great to see those guys and it’s all about just continuing to grow, mentally, and understand the playbook and understand the game.”

Remember that Seattle had to work on replacing Chris Clemons in 2014, and that season Bennett and Avril combined for just 12 sacks despite missing no starts. However, that was also the year that Hill stepped up for 5.5 sacks in 13 games. Last year they added Clark, but he was only a rookie and Pete Carroll admitted this week that he didn’t use him enough last year and that should be changing in 2016. Another player expected to contribute now that he’s healthy is Ryan Robinson, who could at least potentially be an O’Brien Schofield-type player in the rotation.

“I’ve always been impressed with Ryan," Avril said. "Unfortunately he got hurt last year, so he couldn’t really go out there and compete for a spot, but I’ve been impressed with him. He’s really athletic, he’s explosive, he doesn’t say much but he always knows what to do, and that’s somebody that you can rely on. It’s good to see him out there and hopefully he can continue to get better, continue to compete, and hopefully find a spot on the squad.”

The other issue on defense will be replacing Bruce Irvin at SAM, but Irvin really didn’t notch as many sacks as fans had hoped when he was drafted in 2012. It would even seem that Cassius Marsh might be an upgrade in that regard, though it might turn out he’s not as complete of a player as Irvin. Or maybe he’s better -- we won’t know for sure (or even if he wins a regular spot in the rotation) until a few weeks from now.

But between Avril, Bennett, Hill, Clark, and Robinson, the defensive line could very well get back into the top 10 in sacks if everyone remains healthy.