Seahawks are looking for a pass rusher in the draft

RENTON — The Seahawks did a lot of things well on defense in 2011 as, over the course of the season, they went from being a young, promising defense to one that was just plain good.

But for everything that the Seahawks did do well defensively — finishing seventh in scoring defense and ninth in total defense — there is one area in particular that needs to get better, coach Pete Carroll said.

“You never have enough pass rush, so it’s always important,” Carroll said. “… We’re always looking. Certainly in this draft it’s one of the issues that we’d like to attend to.”

The Seahawks have a promising young secondary that already is one of the best in the league, but for that unit to be even better, opposing quarterbacks need to be under duress more often than they were last season when Seattle had just 33 sacks. That sack total ranked in the bottom third of the league.

Defensive end Chris Clemons had 11 sacks for the second straight season, which is a very solid total, but he had little help. Leroy Hill was second on the team with four sacks, and no defensive lineman other than Clemons had more than three.

So when the Seahawks make their first-round selection on Thursday, don’t be surprised if the team’s newest edition is a player who specializes in terrorizing quarterbacks.

“We need to find a pass rush combination with our guys that gets us more push and is a bigger factor,” said Carroll. “… We think Clem is a premiere pass rusher. He’s shown (22) sacks in the last two years. He’s a factor. We need to add to that.”

The Seahawks could certainly look for pass rushers in the later rounds of the draft, but like quarterbacks, cornerbacks and left tackles, elite pass rushers are highly-coveted commodities, so the top guys will go early.

“It’s the most difficult talent to find … pass rushers,” Carroll said. “It’s why people try so hard and so often with guys early in the draft trying to nail a pass rusher because they’re just so special. It’s the big, fast guys. That’s the hardest … to find.”

Two pass rushers expected to go early are South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and North Carolina’s Quinton Coples. Coples is the more traditional tall, long-limbed end while Ingram is a more compact and versatile player. It’s hard to say which one, if available, would fit the Seahawks better given the coaching staff’s ability to adjust the defense to the personnel. Both, however, certainly could make an impact on Seattle’s defense.

“There’s a guy that’s 6-foot-5-plus that runs 4.6’s (in the 40-yard dash) in Coples. He has prototypical numbers and he’s a classic in the profile of the big pass rusher,” Carroll said.

“Ingram is … an inside pass rusher primarily that plays outside linebacker at times, that plays ‘Mike’ linebacker at times. He’s all over the place and he’s utilized totally differently. He’s a shorter guy with shorter leverage and all of that and has effectiveness and a total different style.

“They’re just widely different. Both very effective and great prospects that will go high in the draft.”

Of course there are ways to improve a pass rush besides just looking for ends in the draft. The Seahawks hope they found an interior pass-rushing threat in free-agent Jason Jones, and linebacker K.J. Wright’s pass-rushing skills improved over the season. For a defense that frequently employs a run-stopping end in Red Bryant, getting pass pressure from varying areas is important.

All of that being said, however, the single best way for Seattle to pile up more sacks will be to add an elite pass rusher sometime this week, and possibly in Thursday’s first round.

As general manager John Schneider points out, the two stats that most accurately predict the winner of an NFL game are explosive plays on offense and turnovers caused by the defense. The easiest way to create turnovers is to get to the player who makes decisions with the ball on every down. If the Seahawks can find a player capable of doing that, a very good defense should get even better 2012.

“There’s a number of ways we’re looking,” Carroll said. “We just hope that we’ll hit it at the right time and have an opportunity for a guy somewhere in the draft. There are guys throughout the rounds that look really cool to us when the time comes. We’re very much in tune to that.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (72) blocks during a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh, PA. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)
Archbishop Murphy alum Lucas proving he belongs with Seahawks

The rookie right tackle and rookie left tackle Charles Cross appear ready to anchor Seattle’s offensive line.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jacob Eason (17) passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)
For Eason, surprise workload was ‘great opportunity’

The Seahawks QB and Lake Stevens alum played the entire second half in Thursday’s preseason loss to the Bears.

First year Mariner football head coach Tyler Tuiasosopo gathers his team for a talk between drills during practice Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, at Mariner High School in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mariner ushers in new era with coach Tyler Tuiasosopo

The former Marauders star quarterback is “living my dream” after taking over for the recently retired Mark Stewart.

Kenai Sinaphet takes the hand off from head coach, Dalton Schwetz, during practice Wednesday afternoon at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on August 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Fresh start’ for Marysville Pilchuck under new coach Schwetz

The Tomahawks begin practice without longtime coach Brandon Carson, who stepped down following last year’s playoff run.

Stanwood's Ryder Bumgarner rushes with yardage with Arlington's Trenton Lamie, left, closing in the third quarter Friday night at Stanwood High School on September 24, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Prep football: 5 storylines to watch this season

A look at some intriguing questions as local high school football practices get underway.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Canadians hand slumping AquaSox 5th straight loss

Everett mounts a late rally, but falls 9-8 for its 12th loss in the past 14 games.

Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) gets the rebound and makes a break around Storm center Tina Charles (31) as Washington Mystics center Shakira Austin (0) watches during the first half of Game 1 of a WNBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Late surge lifts Storm over Mystics in Game 1

Jewell Loyd scores 12 points in the final five minutes as Seattle earns an 86-83 win in the first of a three-game series.

The Central Welding Supply 125, which serves as the season finale at Evergreen Speedway, will attempt to run on Saturday, after being bumped postponed last weekend due to weather.
Community roundup: ARCA West comes to Evergreen Speedway

Plus, a host of local collegians earn preseason honors, Jake Luton gets released by the Jaguars and more.

Seattle Seahawks' Cade Johnson, right, reaches for the ball after he fumbled on a punt return as Chicago Bears' Davontae Harris (16) and Dazz Newsome, upper right, reach for the ball during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Seattle. The ball was recovered by Bears' Elijah Hicks for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)
Seahawks struggle in all phases, thumped by Bears

Seattle is plagued by dropped passes, poor tackling, penalties and special teams mistakes in a 27-11 loss to Chicago.

Most Read