One of the main questions Seahawk fans have had about their 2014 NFL Draft class is how the team plans to use DT/DE Cassius Marsh. Marsh came out of UCLA playing in Jim L. Mora's 3-4 defense and he moved around the line, playing inside and outside. Since the Draft, Seahawk coaches have talked about how they see him as a Michael Bennett type of player, someone they can use at the five-technique defensive end spot, the LEO weakside defensive end spot, and at the three-technique in the nickel package, rushing the quarterback against guards.
"When we watched the tape on (Marsh)," Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn recently said, "Number one, we just thought he had great effort in the way that he played. We really liked that style. The thing that we saw about him as an inside rusher is that he had really quick feet and hands. We thought: 'Can we help him develop in that role?' Over the three days in the mini-camp, he certainly didn't disappoint in that way. We're going to use him at both defensive end and defensive tackle, and try to use that versatility that he has."
When Quinn ws asked to 'pigeonhole' him as inside or outside guy, he reluctantly replied: "It looks like right now he could really use his quickness inside. Those guys are so hard to find (inside rushers), so you know when you get the chance to develop one, we're going to take that as far as we can."
With the confirmation that he'll be first and foremost an interior nickel rusher, the obvious question becomes, "at what weight?" According to Marsh, in an interview with John Clayton recently, the heaviest he's played at is 290 - his freshman year, and he played at that weight, or about 285 or so, at three-technique in a 4-3 defense. After his freshman year, he got all the way up to 303 with a poor diet and that was a life-changing moment for him - it motivated him to work harder, get on an eating program, and really work to take care of his body. Per Marsh, he worked really hard to get back down to 285, and played there his sophomore year. His junior year, Jim L. Mora came in and he played in Mora's 3-4 at 275 pounds, getting down to 265 during the following offseason with the help of a Navy SEALs training boot camp.
That's where he stayed for his senior year.
"I feel great at the size I am, I played my entire senior season at this size," Marsh told Clayton. "Felt great, explosive and strong, Obviously, (gaining) the extra size and strength is going to help me a lot at this level (going forward), where everybody's a grown man, you know, it's not little boys out there anymore. But, I'm going to work hard, do what the nutritionist says, the way coach says, and just work hard.
"They (the coaches) have a goal weight for me: they want me to get to around 270, eventually. But they want me to do it the right way. I believe in that strongly too, so I feel very blessed to have coaches that believe in the same things as me. So I'm just going to work very hard, do exactly what the nutritionists say, what the strength coaches say, and work toward that goal."
Michael Bennett is listed at about 275 but it wouldn't surprise me if he plays slightly lighter, right around 270. The idea with this weight is that it gives both players the combination of explosiveness and speed with size and power to play either inside or out with equal effectiveness.
In addition to the work that Marsh will do with the Seahawks coaching staff and nutrition experts, he plans to continue working with MMA enthusiast and NFL reporter Jay Glazer.
Great work too by my UCLA studs today Cassius Marsh and Xavier Su'a-Filo pic.twitter.com/ofFh2DkqBT— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) July 8, 2013
"@tlaw10: @JayGlazer you gonna train with @CassiusMarsh some more? Get him ready for the repeat run Jay! #Seahawks">yes sir! Starting soon— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) May 24, 2014
As Clayton points out, Marsh's MMA training helps him with hand-fighting techniques that are invaluable in the trenches.
"Hand-fighting (is what I have taken away from MMA training) - not necessarily a move, just the ability to feel hands, grab hands, chop hands, leverage, and feel their body. I wouldn't call them moves, necessarily, qoute-unquote, but there's a lot of different things you can do when you learn MMA. How to really use your hands and how to control someone's hands, control your leverage, and use somebody's weight against them. It's definitely been an advantage for me, working with Jay, doing that MMA work."
Listen to the whole interview here: