Defensive Line Depth
Seattle kept eight defensive lineman last season. An argument can be made for all thirteen defensive lineman currently on the roster to make the final cut. We know Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, and Jason Jones are locks. Alan Branch is highly likely given his performance last season. He has been injured much of camp, and is in the final year of his contract. It is possible the team will see a way forward with one of the younger, cheaper players. Possible, but not likely. Call it six lineman. Things get more interesting from there. Clinton McDonald is a productive run stuffer that brings a ton of spirit to the group at the age of 25. Greg Scruggs can play end and tackle, and is having a great camp. His flexibility gives him additional value. If the front office kept those two, that would leave players like Pep Levingston, Jaye Howard, Cordarro Law, and Dexter Davis off the list. Pass rushing is a huge premium, so Davis and Law could get extra consideration. Howard is a promising project as successor to Jones rushing in the middle. Is it possible the team keeps nine players here? sure, but it is already a strong group and there are other areas, more needy, areas that would suffer.
Front Office vs. Coaching Staff
Talk to the position coaches, maybe even the head coach, and they will want the best players on the team. That sounds obvious. The front office will not always look at it the same way. They are constructing a roster with present and future in mind. A player that is inferior this year may be a guy they believe can be superior in time. Cost also plays a role. Someone that is more expensive needs to be worth that additional cost. The playing field is not even. Similarly, older players must be that much better than younger players that are both cheaper and have longer futures. Take a situation like Coye Francies versus Jeremy Lane. Francies is a better corner right now. Coaches would almost certainly feel more comfortable inserting him in a game than Lane. The front office may see Lane’s ceiling as much higher, and sacrifice current ability for future potential. The same conversation may happen at tight end with Cameron Morrah and Sean McGrath. Coaches generally have final say on who fills the top of the roster. Those are the guys they will depend on. The front office has more sway filling out the bottom of the roster. That is part of what makes predicting who makes it that much more of a crap shoot.