Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the hopefuls on the Seattle Seahawks’ 90-man roster. Seattle had 11 draft picks and made several significant moves in free agency. These are some simple thoughts on the new players and things to look for as we head into mini-camp on June 11th.
The Defensive Ends:
Ezekiel Ansah, Rasheem Green, Cassius Marsh, Quinton Jefferson, LJ Collier, Branden Jackson, Jacob Martin.
I’m adding Jacob Martin because that’s really what I believe he is on this team.
Leader of the pack – This one this year is tricky. The leader on the football field will be newcomer Ziggy Ansah, but he’s not going to give the speeches. ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky is a former teammate of Ansah’s, and said his power is in his preparation. Ziggy will lead by elevating the standard of practice and ferocity on the field.
The vocal leader will hopefully be LJ Collier. LJ comes from a small town system where no one is an enemy and that close community creates friendship. Remember this is the guy who had so many people at his draft phone call that Pete Carroll could barely get in a word. He’s apparently very friendly and afraid of no one. Rookies take time to build influence but Collier has a magnetic personality and should gain it quickly.
Most to prove - Rasheem Green. Mid-third round picks are typically hoped on for more than 12.5 snaps per game. We’re still not sure why an impressive preseason didn’t translate to at least some consistent on-field production. At this point Green is on a narrow ridge with his future potential teetering between Naz Jones or Jarran Reed. Let’s hope this season he finds his way towards the latter.
Most to lose - Cassius Marsh. The tattoo king of the NFL is on a one year deal with nothing else guaranteed after his $600k signing bonus. It’s not really a prove-it deal as much as a hold-on deal. Marsh signed a $7.7 million contract with the 49ers last season, but was cut before most of it came to fruition in 2019. Before that, the Patriots traded a 5th round pick for his initial departure from Seattle, but the Pats cut him within two months. This is technically his fourth team in three years – playing for Seattle twice. If he doesn’t make the team or this season doesn’t go well, Marsh is running out of opportunities in the NFL.
Biggest factor in a playoff run - Jacob Martin. In a foreseeable scenario, Martin will be either the second or third most effective edge rusher behind Ansah and possibly Green. If he’s playing at a high level, the consistent rotational pressure Seattle will have at that point will be much stronger than what they’ve had in recent years. If neither Martin nor Green see a significant improvement this year, the Seahawks are effectively looking at Jarran Reed + one edge rusher, exactly what they had last season.
Best Sack Celebration – Cassius Marsh. We never got to witness this the first time in Seattle, but apparently he’s been doing Taekwondo now? Hopefully we’ll get to see a few high kicks this year.
Last one cut: Branden Jackson. I think Seattle keeps five ends again this year, and without much cap space restraint even guys on rookie deals are in for an uphill battle. Though his contract is quite team friendly, this is a strong group on a supremely deep roster, and Jackson will get the ax to make room for more upside in other areas.
Best Madden 2020 Rating - Ziggy Ansah, 82. Downgraded a bit because of the shoulder concern, but respectable.
The two most important stats heading into 2019:
12 - Total INTs, only better than ten other teams. Yes I realize this a defensive line group. But when Seattle was shut down in the back end, those guys gave tons of credit to the guys in front. The Hawks excelled at fumble recovery last season, but did not place enough consistent pressure on opposing QBs to force similar value in secondary takeaways. With Clark gone, this could be more of the same unless guys step up.
19th out of all edge rushers, pass-rush efficiency percentage last year, Jacob Martin. As a 6th round selection in his rookie season, finishing that high in the NFL is incredibly impressive. If he maintains near that efficiency over a full season it will be huge for the Hawks’ defensive front.