*This is part five of my 8-part Seahawks Training Camp preview series*
Current Defensive Linemen on Roster (14): Cliff Avril, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, Greg Scruggs, Jaye Howard, Clinton McDonald, Jesse Williams, Jordan Hill, Kenneth Boatright, Michael Brooks, Benson Mayowa
The Seahawks defensive line was one of the more consistent groups on the team last season. This season the Seahawks hope to improve on one of the best run stopping units and the acquisitions made during the offseason also display Seattle’s commitment to improving the pass rush. Here are some storylines to follow during training camp.
With Bruce Irvin officially moving to outside linebacker, it is easier to predict where new Seahawks Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett will line up on passing downs. Avril will most likely fill in for Red Bryant while Bennett will play along the inside. The starting defensive line will initially consist of Avril and Bryant on the outside with a rotation of Bennett, Brandon Mebane, and Tony McDaniel on the inside. When it comes to the starters, my focus while watching practice will be who will rotate in with each defensive unit.
One unknown factor heading into training camp is the health of defensive end Chris Clemons. Clemons, who tore his ACL during the Wild-Card playoff game against Washington, is ahead of schedule in his recovery and it was reported earlier in the offseason that he may be available to play week one against Carolina. If that is the case, the Seahawks will have to re-arrange the formations for passing downs to fit Clemons, Avril, and Bennett on the field. For the time being, Clemons is still recovering therefore I will not consider him to counted on for the preseason and the first regular season game. If he does get back for any time during training camp, it will definitely be a pleasant surprise to all Seahawks fans. Another injury to note, although he is still listed on the active roster, defensive end Greg Scruggs tore his ACL during the offseason and will most likely miss the 2013 season.
From a depth perspective, the Seahawks seem to be pretty stacked at defensive line. The Seahawks used two mid-round draft picks on Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams and Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill. I believe Williams could challenge for the second starting defensive tackle spot and Hill will be a quality backup used in the defensive tackle rotation. The Seahawks also return Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard along the d-line although Howard did not see much time last season.
Among the Seahawks undrafted free agents is Kenneth Boatright. Boatright, from Southern Illinois, has the best chance of any undrafted player to make the final roster. If there is a spot for him, Boatright will be added in with Avril, Clemons, Irvin, and Bennett to a very talented pass rush formation. Of all of our defensive linemen, Boatright is the man who I am most excited to see during training camp and the preseason.
My training camp preview series will resume on Monday with a look at the safeties. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!