Seattle Seahawks

Deep defensive line in 2018 NFL draft is just what Seahawks need

Defensive lineman Vita Vea, center, joins Huskies teammates quarterback Jake Browning, right, and tight end Will Dissly, left, after winning the Apply Cup over Washington State in November. Vea could be a top-10 pick Thursday; the Raiders and Dolphins are interested.
Defensive lineman Vita Vea, center, joins Huskies teammates quarterback Jake Browning, right, and tight end Will Dissly, left, after winning the Apply Cup over Washington State in November. Vea could be a top-10 pick Thursday; the Raiders and Dolphins are interested. AP

There's a silver — really, really thin — silver lining to losing two Pro Bowl defensive ends at the same time.

The 2018 NFL draft that begins Thursday is deep in defensive linemen and edge pass rushers.

Michael Bennett has been traded to Philadelphia. Fellow Pro Bowl sack man Cliff Avril may never play again because of serious neck injury. And the Seahawks are squarely in one of the most important markets in the game.

Today's pass-o-rama NFL is most about two assets: Quarterbacks; and having guys who can hit, pressure, rattle and sack them.

This draft has both.

Five quarterbacks are likely to be selected in Thursday's first round. Many believe an end/edge rusher, Bradley Chubb from North Carolina State, will be drafted before four of those quarterbacks.

Here are the best defensive linemen, plus those likely to be available in the later rounds when Seattle picks most; seven of the Seahawks' eight scheduled picks are on day three, one in round four, four in round five and two in round seven.

EDGE RUSHERS

1. Bradley Chubb, Georgia: Almost unblockable in college. Bronko Nagurski winner as the nation's top defender. An deft hand fighter to ward off blockers. Expect him to be gone within the first five picks, likely at number four to Cleveland.

2. Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio: Athletic, talented, yet still very raw. Some view as a disappointment at the Senior Bowl. That may Seattle's salvation to drop him to the Seahawks at 18, or later after a trade, in round one.

3. Arden Key, LSU: A surgery, a suspension, red-flags galore. Without those this tall, powerful end would be in Chubb's range. Likely falls into the second round.

Possible later-round options for the Seahawks:

1. Davin Bellamy, Georgia: Chubb got all the attention with the Bulldogs. But Bellamy made plays and has NFL-like qualities such as size, speed and length.

2. Marcell Frazier, Missouri: Lived in opposing backfields in the Southeastern Conference, with 15.5 tackles for lost yardage last season.

3. Ja'von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State: Sack machine. Two-time Sun Belt Conference player of the year. Poor combine workouts dropped his stock. Athleticism is intriguing. Results in college are remarkable.

TACKLE

1. Vita Vea, Washington: Ruined offensive lines, lived in opposing backfields no matter how Huskies deployed him. Oakland looking long at him with the 10th pick.

2. Da'Ron Payne: Alabama: Freakish strength that overwhelms many offensive linemen. Can that be the case in the NFL, too? Run-stuffing tackle that will be middle linebacker's dream in the league.

3. Taven Bryan, Florida: Runs over linemen in his way, impressively for not being 300 pounds. Something tells me Atlanta coach Dan Quinn will take this bull late in round one.

Possible late-round prospects for the Seahawks:

1. Poona Ford, Texas: A disruptive nose tackle in a 3-4 in college, so not a natural fit for Seattle. But the Seahawks had him as one of their 30 allowed pre-draft workouts they hosted at team headquarters. May not last past fourth round.

2. Abdullah Anderson, Bucknell: Another Seahawks pre-draft visit. A Seahawks kind of guy: Basketball player for three years in high school, football for only his senior year. 6-4, with great feet.

3. Andrew Brown, Virginia: Seahawks had him in for a workout, too. Effecting up and down UVA's defensive line, inside and outside. Versatility always intrigues the Seahawks. NFLdraftscout.com notes he was ejected too often from games in college.

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