I will probably break down and do the obligatory final 53-man roster projection post, but I do my best to try and do things at least a little differently here. There is not much debate that defensive line is going to be the most controversial decision come Saturday. At least one person from the group of Michael Bennett, Nick Reed, Craig Terrill, Lawrence Jackson, Darryl Tapp, Baraka Atkins won’t be on that roster. Most have a visceral reaction even seeing some of those names up for discussion. That’s not what this post is about. This post is going to look at the past decisions Jim Mora and Gus Bradley have made that might give us a hint of what they might do this time around.

First, let’s look at our glorious leader, Jim Mora Jr. He was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-2006 (three full seasons). He was also the defensive coordinator from 1999-2003 for the 49ers. How many defensive lineman did he keep?

2006: 10 (five DE)
2005: 11 (seven DE)
2004: 11 (six DE, including Drago)
2003: 9 (five DE)
2002: 8 (five DE)
2001: 9 (five DE)
2000: 11 (seven DE)
1999: 9 (six DE)

AVERAGE: 9.75 d-lineman (5.75 DE)

Now let’s take a look at the last two years of what Gus Bradley has witnessed at Tampa Bay:

2008: 8 (6 DE – that seems wrong, but check my work)
2007: 8 (6 DE)

What conclusions might we draw from this? Well, let’s count up the Seahawks lineman that are realistically competing for a roster spot:

1) Patrick Kerney
2) Cory Redding
3) Brandon Mebane
4) Colin Cole
5) Red Bryant
6) Craig Terrill
7) Darryl Tapp
8) Nick Reed
9) Michael Bennett
10) Lawrence Jackson
11) Baraka Atkins

First off, these guys better hope Mora’s experience is a greater influence when deciding how many defensive lineman to keep. I’m not sure I can see Ruskell allowing the number to be 8 even if that’s what the coaches recommended, since that would certainly mean cutting his first round bust from last season, Lawrence Jackson. If they kept 10, and released someone like Atkins, they would have 6 guys that can play DE, 4 guys that could play the disruptive 3-technique DT (Mebane, Redding, Bennett, Terrill) and three guys that can play the 1-technique DT (Cole, Bryant, Terrill). And, yes, I heard Dan Quinn, Defensive Line Coach, say that Terrill can swing between tackle positions. It was surprising to me as well.

If they are forced down to 9 lineman, it will get much more controversial. I think we have needs elsewhere that would lead me to go that direction, and say goodbye to Jackson. However, politics likely gets in the way there which could mean bad things for Courtney Taylor or Ben Obamanu since Jackson will be taking someone’s roster spot.

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3 Responses

  1. ballgame

    I think Atkins if the first to go, however if they have to cut bennett or reed. Reed gets cut. There is no way bennett clears waivers with his ability to play both the tackle and DE spot however Reed is a spot player at best and there are plently of those guys in the NFL. As fans it is easy to get caught up in the numbers but the reality of it is Reed should be on the PS

  2. Anonymous

    If Jackson was Holmgren's pick, Ruskell would've shipped his *ss off already but being that Ruskell picked him, I don't see how he doesn't get a second chance this season to prove himself.

  3. hawkblogger

    I agree Bennett may have more value, but Reed has more value on special teams than any of these guys. That matters. He's leading the NFL in sacks during the pre-season. No way he makes it to the practice squad.