It was the talk of the NFL after Super Bowl XLVIII. Seahawks pass rushers appeared to be coming from every crack and crevice of MetLife Stadium to harass Peyton Manning into a pedestrian performance. They came in waves. Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, and then Bruce Irvin and O’Brien Schofield would attack the edges. Michael Bennett and Clinton McDonald would collapse the middle. It was a human trash compactor that left many quarterbacks feeling like garbage that season. After a step back in 2014, the pass rush tidal wave appears to be gaining strength thanks to an infusion of youth, and is estimated to decimate NFL cities far and wide starting this September.
DE Cassius Marsh
It became apparent early on that his burst off the line was better suited for rushing on the edge. He had a promising preseason that included a couple of sacks, but was injured early in the regular season and never established himself.
He now returns at what appears to be a far more natural weight of 254 lbs, and is screaming off the edge in practice. Cliff Avril recently joked that he would never tell Marsh that he might be quicker off the line than he is.
Marsh is working exclusively as Avril’s backup at the LEO defensive end.
DT Jordan Hill
Hill is entering his third season and appeared to be coming into his own last year before getting hurt. He finished with 5.5 sacks, all of which came in the final six games of the regular season. Hill is still just 24 years old.
His ability to rush from the inside is crucial to Seattle’s ability to recreate the same type of formula that worked so well in 2013. He is a pass rush specialist who will almost exclusively see time in nickel defenses, which the Seahawks play quite a bit in the pass-happy NFL.
DE/DT Frank Clark
Clark is the newest addition to the group. He was exclusively an outside rusher at University of Michigan, but has spent most of his time working on interior rushing in camp for Seattle. He looks far more natural inside that Marsh did, and his weight (274 lbs) fits his frame well. Second time appears to have been a charm for Seattle when looking for a Bennett-in-training.
Clark will spell Bennett at the 5-technique defensive end opposite Avril, and also rotate in the interior line. His emergence gives Seattle more flexibility in mixing-and-matching their line than they had even in 2013. Having a legitimate option to rest Bennett, who led the line in snaps last year, can only help increase Bennett’s effectiveness.
LB/DE Bruce Irvin
FACT: Only Cortez Kennedy and Jeff Bryant have had more sacks than Bruce Irvin through their first three seasons
Irvin will continue to rush the passer in nickel situations, and occasionally blitz from his SAM linebacker spot. He is in the final year of his rookie deal, should be primed for his best season. It looks like he came in stronger this year, with noticeably larger arms.
DE/DT Michel Bennett
Bennett has made no attempt to hide his displeasure with the contract he signed just one year ago. He is in camp, though, and showing no signs of being anything but the consummate pro and team leader he has been since coming to Seattle.
DE Cliff Avril (pictured at the top of the article)
Swiss army knife