The defensive end position is a major need for the Seahawks as the NFL Draft draws ever closer. It’s beginning to look more and more likely that Jadeveon Clowney will play elsewhere this season. Even if the former #1 overall pick does return, Seattle sorely needs to address the pass rush from a defensive group that totaled just 28 sacks in 2019.
Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin, two former Seahawks, were brought back to help address that need, but an influx of youth and talent from the draft could make the biggest impact in Seattle.
Here are some defensive ends the Seahawks could look at in each round of the draft:
Round 1: Yetur Gross-Matos | Penn State | 6’5 266 LBS
A pure 4-3 defensive end, Gross-Matos has the length, bend and burst to become a major pass-rushing force off the edge. Totaled 35 career tackles for a loss with 17.5 sacks at Penn State. Early on, he may not be a three-down player as a rookie, as Yetur will need to add some more strength to hold up against the run. But with major upside, Gross-Matos would be a great high-ceiling pick for the Seahawks at #27 overall.
Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos in Three Plays: pic.twitter.com/J0Lgi3n7Ol
— Matt St. Jean (@mattstdream) April 10, 2020
Round 2: Curtis Weaver | Boise State | 6’2 265 LBS
Not the athletic prospect that Gross-Matos or other first round prospects may be, Weaver is the epitome of production over looks. Curtis holds the Mountain West Conference’s sack record with 34, including 13.5 in 2019. A bit doughy with a less than ideal body-type, Weaver none-the-less has the high-motor, instincts and strength to make an impact at the NFL level. A quick first step, a bevy of moves and surprising agility will allow him to see the field early as a pass-rusher.
I will not rest until Curtis Weaver gets the attention he deserves. The man is WRECKING offensive lines.
Among CFB edge defenders through Week 3 (per @PFF), Weaver has the:
– Most total pressures
– 4th highest pass-rush grade
– 5th highest pass-rush win rate pic.twitter.com/agLifdbZP7
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) September 19, 2019
Round 3: Bradlee Anae | Utah | 6’3 257 LBS
After accruing 12.5 sacks last season, Anae was named the winner of the Morris Trophy as the 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. A technically-proficient end, Bradlee totaled 29.5 career sacks and excels in all the “small-things” with a workmanlike manner Seattle coaches will fall in love with. Though not equipped with elite athleticism, Anae brings an all-around skill-set to impact both the run and passing game.
Diamond in the Rough EDGE 2020 Draft:
Bradlee Anae, UTAH
– High-effort Competitor
– Attacks with Urgency
– Good Snap Anticipation pic.twitter.com/Zj9ha1G3Rm
— ||JETLIFE|| (@NYJETS___) April 5, 2020
Round 4: Alex Highsmith | Charlotte | 6’3 248 LBS
A small-school stud, Highsmith’s name has been floated around by pundits as one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. Another high-motor player, Alex has a large tool-box of pass-rushing moves, resulting in a 2019 total of 21.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Has above average speed and athleticism, running a 4.70-40 at the Combine. Too light at the point of attack to play three downs in a base 4-3, Highsmith would best be utilized as a situational pass-rusher early in his career. Could see time as a stand-up edge rusher.
Charlotte Edge rusher Alex Highsmith with a nasty spin move v. Clemson.
Something that sticks out about Highsmith is his variety of pass rush moves. Very few guys do coming out of college. That led to 15 sacks in 2019 for the small school DE. pic.twitter.com/6wVv3Nrrhp
— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) April 9, 2020
Round 5: Christian Rector | USC | 6’4 275 LBS
Despite sub-par production (only 13 career sacks) during his time with the Trojans, Rector has the size and length to be an intriguing run-stopper at the defensive end spot. With a strong anchor capable of taking on blockers, Rector can set the edge as a strong-side end in the Seahawks scheme. Purely a two-down run-stuffer who won’t offer much on passing downs.
Round 6: Kendall Coleman | Syracuse | 6’3 257 LBS
In 44 career games with the Orange, Coleman racked up 137 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks. A four-year starter and defensive captain. Wins with technique rather than athleticism, Coleman is a smart player who can be a valuable depth piece on the edge.
Round 7: Bryce Sterk | Montana State | 6’4 262 LBS
A former 3-star transfer from the University of Washington, Sterk was the best defensive lineman in the Big Sky Conference last year at Montana State. Good power, a high-motor and a quick-first step lent itself to a great bull rush, with Bryce totaling 20 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks in 2019. Though he will need to add variety to his pass-rush at the next level, Sterk could be another late-round gem for the Seahawks.