As expected, Big Red Bryant was cut last week to free up cap space to sign younger and better players. Bryant has been a staple on the Seahawks' defense for the past four years. His humongous body, colossal strength and tenacity against the run were a huge reason for Seattle's defensive success. By stopping the run, Bryant helped force teams to only throw the ball and become one dimensional. This allowed the Seahawks' undersized nickel pass rushers to come in fresh on obvious passing downs and wreak havoc.
Now that Bryant is gone, the Seahawks are in need of a replacement at the 5-tech strongside defensive end spot. Greg Scruggs and Jesse Williams are two young players on the Seahawks roster that could possibly take over for Bryant. Scruggs reportedly has been going H.A.M. in the weight room while he has been recovering from his ACL tear last May. He says he now weighs 311 pounds, up from 284 during his Pro Day in 2012. Speaking of his Pro Day, he benched 225 25 times during it which when considering he has 35 ½" arms is a serviceable number. Say the 30 lbs he has put on is all muscle, he is probably throwing up 225 35-40 times now, so theoretically the Seahawks have a 311 lbs player with 35 1/2" that is strong as a bull - all ideal traits for a run stopping 5-tech.
Williams, like Scruggs, is a young player coming off IR that could factor in to the 5-tech conversation. Williams was considered by many to be a late 1st/ early 2nd prospect last season before a knee injury pushed him back to the 5th round. That knee injury eventually knocked him out for the season. If he can come back healthy, he's a strong and quick DL that can anchor against the run.
If the Seahawks can re-sign Michael Bennett, he too could also factor into the 5-tech position. He took over for Bryant at the starting 5-tech position last season against Atlanta and the Seahawks only surrendered 48 rushing yards to RBs. Bennett is more than an interior pass rusher, he can stop the run from that spot as well.
Even though the Seahawks have options to replace Bryant on their roster, they still may decide to address this position in the draft. One player that could take over for Bryant that could be available at the end of the 1st round is Stephon Tuitt, DE Notre Dame. At the NFL combine, Tuitt weighed 304 lbs and measured in at 6'5" with 34 3/4" arms and 10" hands - that's a grown man.
Furthermore, Tuitt is not only built like a grown man but plays like one as well. He, like Bryant, excels in run defense. He is an absolute bear on the defensive line and nearly impossible to run at. He benched 225 31 times at the combine which is extremely impressive considering he has 34 ¾" arms. He repeatedly demonstrated his strength this past season at Notre Dame.
Here he is flexing on Rutgers RT, Andre Civil:
(All video by DraftBreakdown.com):
Here he is manhandling USC LT, Chad Wheeler:
All season, Tuitt repeadetly treated Tackles like he treated the ones in the previous plays. When he wins early and gets inside hand position, whoever he locks onto is essentially dead because he's so strong. His 34 ¾" arms allow him to lock onto Tackles before they can lock onto him and his 10" give him the grip to be impossible to shed.
Not only is Tuitt strong but he plays with good technique as well. He isn't one of those players that is an outstanding athlete that is a little raw around the edges and has to be taught the game of football. He's an outstanding athlete that plays with good technique, has solid hand placement, a nice get off for a 300+ lbs individual, and is rarely caught out of assignment.
Furthermore, he is not only reserved to playing the 5tech but could play the 3tech as well. The Seahawks have brought in many players that they feel can play either the 3 or the 5-tech in their scheme - Kentwan Balmer, Alan Branch, Tony McDaniel, E.J. Wilson, and Lazarius Levingston to name a few. With Tony McDaniel set to hit free agency, it is possible that Tuitt could actually be brought in to replace McDaniel rather than Bryant.
Here he is making a TFL from the 3tech spot against Stanford:
Tuitt was lined up at the 3-tech in Notre Dame's 46 defense, coincidently, is the same position Bryant would line up at whenever the Seahawks were in their 46 defense. Notre Dame DT, Sheldon Day, did his best Brandon Mebane impression - causing absolute disorder in the backfield from his penetration. Tuitt then did his best Bryant impression by finishing off the play. Tuitt played this beautifully; he fired low out of his stance, anchored against the double team, got skinny, split the double team and finished off the RB for a TFL. These are the type of plays that are going to help the Seahawks win another Super Bowl.
Furthermore, Tuitt not only is a wall in the run game but he also has some pass rush ability as well. His pass rush success may actually be why people may be overly critical of his play. He was so good as a sophomore that anything less than amazing as a junior was going to be a disappointment. As a sophomore, he recorded 12 sacks, despite being a 304 pound DE. What other 304 pounder has got 12 sacks mostly rushing outside against a Tackle? He then followed his sophomore campaign up with "only" recording 7.5 sacks his junior year. 19.5 sacks in 26 games is doing some serious work at DE.
Though Tuitt got a lot of sacks rushing from the outside, in the NFL, he is going to be most effective as an interior pass rusher. He has very good agility for a 304 lbs human and can beat interior lineman with both quickness and power.
Here he is whooping USC LG, Max Tuerk, from the 3tech:
Here he is doing the same to Stanford RG, Kevin Danser:
Bryant wasn't much of a pass rusher so Tuitt could actually be an upgrade to him in this regard. Tuitt could very well become an every down player for the Seahawks, playing the 5 or 3tech in base and the 3tech in nickel. With Bennett and Clinton McDonald both hitting FA, the interior pass rusher position is wide open, Tuitt is somebody who could fill this role.
Lastly, PCJS believe that football is won in the trenches, with the 32nd pick, Tuitt is somebody they may choose to go to war with.