The Seattle Seahawks made a splash in free agency when they signed defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to go along with pass rushers Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin who were already on the roster. With 18.5 combined sacks last year, Avril and Bennett are expected to help improve a Seahawks pass rush that struggled with consistency for much of last season.
However, Eric Williams from the Tacoma News Tribune points out the lack of depth at the defensive end position despite the free agency additions.
“[W]ith Seattle’s top two pass rushers either rehabbing from a serious injury (Clemons) or unavailable for the first four games because of a performance-enhancing drug suspension (Irvin), Avril will be counted on to carry the load as the team’s top pass rusher.”
While Michael Bennett had tremendous success rushing the passer last year, he is expected to see more snaps from the defensive tackle position in the Seahawks defense while Avril will be coming off the edge. With very little depth at the “Leo” (pass rushing defensive end) position because of Clemons’ and Irvin’s respective situations, Avril will see a heavy workload for at least the first four weeks until Irvin comes back. Should Avril go down with an injury, he would likely be replaced by a platoon including Kenneth Boatwright and Benson Mayowa. Bennett would probably also see his fair share of snaps at Leo, but would be playing out of position since his body type and skill set don’t fit the leaner, quicker prototype of the Leo position.
Not only will Avril need to stay healthy to make the Seahawks pass rush effective, but he’ll have to produce at a high and consistent level as well.
What was once seen as a luxury pick up for the Seahawks now looks like a necessary addition, as Avril will definitely get a chance to earn his money.