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What the Seahawks will be looking for from DL and LB at the Scouting Combine

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, we covered two of the most unique positions at the Scouting Combine in wide receiver and tight end. Continuing to go through the position groups as they arrive, we are now at another split position at defensive line, plus linebacker.

Like wide receiver, the defensive line is split into three different groupings for the purposes of the Seahawks Draft Board: EDGE (naturally), run-stuffing defensive tackles and interior rushers. While the lines can blur between the two (boiled down) types of defensive tackles, there is a difference in profiles Seattle looks for. First, the headlining position for the Seahawks this offseason.

EDGE

The position with the most thresholds in Seattle’s draft philosophy is EDGE. That’s a tremendous help for a number of reasons, most notably that it helps to clear out names at a position where so often high profile prospects flame out in epic fashion.

First, there’s defined size requirements: 6-foot-3 and above, between 245 and 275 pounds, and arms 33” or longer. The Seahawks are looking for explosiveness around the 70th percentile among EDGEs in the broad jump (9-foot-10) and a vertical of 32” or higher. The biggest emphasis athletically is put on change of direction.

Short shuttle isn’t hugely important, anything quicker than 4.3 or 4.4 seconds is fine, however, three cone is a highly important indicator. Anything slower than 7.3 seconds is a non-starter, and even that’s pushing it. Since 2010, Seattle’s drafted the EDGE with the quickest three cone time three times. The Seahawks will keep close tabs on the EDGEs who test the best on the three cone drill this week, and you should too.

Defensive Tackle

Though the position is boiled down further, there are a couple things Seattle looks for at the position, regardless of the player type. For the most part, the Seahawks prefer taller DTs (6-foot-3), however Poona Ford is a considerable recent exception, at just 5-foot-11. Arm length, 32” and longer, is important. Explosive athletes aren’t particularly of interest to Seattle inside, with thresholds of 27” in the vertical and 8-foot-6 in the broad.

After those general trends, it boils down to more role-specific numbers. The Seahawks target run-stoppers 305 pounds and above, while more penetrative players are in the 295-305 range. Functional strength is required in the run defenders, and so 30 reps is the baseline on the bench press. Short-area movement is valued in gap-shooting pass rushers, which means a short shuttle of 4.65 seconds or quicker is needed.

Linebacker

Since 2010, Seattle has stuck quite closely to their mold at linebacker, with two high profile exceptions. The first came in 2011, when K.J. Wright was selected despite not meeting any of the Seahawks’ athletic thresholds, except for broad jump. What Wright did (and still does, presumably) possess was incredible, 98th percentile arm length. (Wright did meet their height and weight requirement.) The other exception was Shaquem Griffin, who was selected despite only clearing their height and 40-yard dash thresholds.

Seattle is likely going to be in the market for an off-ball linebacker this spring, and during the Scouting Combine, that will be players 6’ and above, and between 230 and 245 pounds. They’ll be in the 90th percentile or above in the vertical jump (39”) and in the broad jump (10’). Above average speed in the 40-yard dash, below 4.55 seconds will be targeted, as will above average change of direction—around 7.2 seconds and below.

Since 2012, Bobby Wagner has exemplified the type of linebacker the Seahawks want: Prototypical size, the speed and agility to get sideline-to-sideline, and the explosiveness to stop the ball-carrier upon contact. That’s the type of player they’ll be looking for in Indianapolis.