The Seattle Seahawks entered the offseason with their biggest need appearing opposite Frank Clark; free agency is firmly in the rear view mirror, and the need for a second EDGE remains. Fortunately for Seattle, the 2019 NFL Draft is rich in pass rushers, both with elite talent at the top and Seahawk-y prospects on the draft’s second and third days.
Over the next week, we’ll be going through Seattle’s positions of need and finding an ideal (and realistic) fit for the Seahawks on all three days of the draft, beginning with the glaring hole at EDGE.
Day 1 - Rashan Gary, Michigan
When the pre-draft process began in January, either Florida State’s Brian Burns or Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat would have appeared here. Since then, both players have risen up boards as a result of their outstanding athletic testing. Perhaps one remains at 1.21; it’s unlikely Seattle remains there, though.
Gary is a similar athlete (95th percentile) to Burns (95th) and Sweat (97th), but that part of his process was expected. Gary was an incredibly highly touted five-star recruit and lived off that reputation throughout his career at Michigan. The technical side of his game failed to develop, as he would go on to post just 9.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss over three seasons for the Wolverines. Even worse, Gary’s junior season in 2018 saw him regress with 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 24 pressures.
With the physical tools that will make Pete Carroll drool, Gary is a legitimate option for the Seahawks towards the end of round one. He checks all of Seattle’s athletic thresholds at EDGE, and just needs his game to be refined; if a team can unlock his potential, they could have a perennial Pro-Bowler on their hands.
Day 2 - Ben Banogu, TCU
If you asked me right now who I believe will be the Seahawks’ first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Banogu would be my pick. Like Gary, he checks all of Seattle’s athletic boxes, and is actually an ever better athlete (97th percentile) than Gary. Not only is Banogu incredibly explosive, his short shuttle—of great importance to the Seahawks—was fourth among EDGEs at the Scouting Combine. Banogu combines explosiveness, agility and production, with 17 sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss and 109 pressures in two seasons at TCU.
Putting on our draft conspiracy hat, we have reason to believe Seattle is indeed interested in Banogu. They’ve shown interest in Banogu’s teammate and fellow edge rusher L.J. Collier numerous times—at his pro day, at the combine and a top-30 visit—despite Collier being remarkably outside their mold. The Seahawks apparent interest in Collier is not them ignoring the guidelines they’ve followed for nearly a decade; it’s just standard draft season operating. On draft weekend it will be Banogu, not Collier, who they circle back to.
Day 3 - Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
As far as day three projects go, Crosby is as intriguing as they come. He’s an 88th percentile athlete who tested as well in explosiveness (broad jump 92nd percentile, vertical jump 90th percentile) as he did in agility (three cone 95th percentile, short shuttle 96th percentile). His 4.13 second short shuttle was second among EDGEs at the combine and like Banogu, Crosby was a productive two year starter with 18.5 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss. (Crosby also posted 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks as a bit-player as a redshirt freshman.)
Hurting Crosby’s stock is his level of competition and more importantly, his play strength. It looks as though Crosby is yet to fill out his frame at nearly 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds. A best case scenario for Crosby may be something similar to Jacob Martin; a rotational rusher who can devastate tackles with his flexibility and get off, but mostly limited to passing downs. (Though it’s worth noting that Crosby’s run defense did grade out well per Pro Football Focus.) The NFL demands a deep rotation along the defensive line, and playing at a home stadium like CenturyLink could mean the Seahawks and Crosby are an ideal fit.
Regardless of how Seattle moves around the 2019 NFL Draft, trading back (and maybe even up!) as they see fit, they should have several chances to acquire impact EDGEs on all three days of the draft.