Cliff Avril went down late in the Super Bowl and his absence made it difficult for the Seahawks to get pressure on Tom Brady as he led the Patriots comeback. Two years prior, Chris Clemons went down against the Redskins and the Seahawks were short-handed in edge rushers against Matt Ryan in another heart-breaking playoff loss. Lesson learned. A team can never have enough pass rushers. One of the hidden hopes to add to the Seahawks pass rush in 2015 comes from a player drafted in 2014. Cassius Marsh flashed in rookie mini camp and throughout training camp. His development this year will have a significant impact on the Seahawks ability to get after the quarterback.
Marsh stands 6’4″ and has been able to play at anywhere from 260 pounds all the way up to near 300 pounds. Seattle drafted him with an eye on learning from Michael Bennett as a swing end and nickel inside rusher. He reported to camp in the 270 pound range, and played both inside and out.
I was far more impressed with his get-off as an edge rusher than as an interior player. Marsh is active in either spot, playing through the whistle and pursuing the ball all over the field. He uses his hands well, and needs to, as he is not particularly strong. The primary interest was for Marsh to rush the passer, but he showed decent instincts against the run as well. He finished the preseason with 2.0 sacks and a few tackles for loss.
One question with Marsh was his durability. He is nowhere near as thick as Bennett, and he appeared to wear down as the preseason progressed. Sure enough, he was lost to a season-ending injury (broken foot) just a few games into his rookie season.
Marsh made little impact in the games he did play. There is no way to know if he was truly overmatched or was in the early stages of development as a rusher.
It will be interesting to see what weight the Seahawks ask Marsh to play at this year. He looked far more like an edge player than an interior rusher when I saw him last year. That could mean the Seahawks ask him to lose a few pounds and play in the 260-range. He needs to get stronger as well, so it could be a situation where his body changes (getting leaner) more than his weight.
His hand use and motor will tempt the Seahawks toward seeing him again on the inside. There is no harm in cross-training. Marsh, however, showed signs of being a starting quality player. The team would be wise to make him spend the bulk of his time focusing on one position that best features his strengths.
Frank Clark has received a lot of attention this offseason for off-the-field questions. Marsh is a similar player in terms of height and weight, but lacks Clark’s strength. At least, he did last season. Nobody outside the organization is counting on Marsh to be a factor on the Seahawks defense in 2015, but this is player who seemed capable of 5-7 sacks last year. If he has put in the time in the weight room and increased his fitness level, Marsh will climb the depth chart and become a player Seahawks fans will love.