Carroll's Quest

Posted Feb 21, 2012

Pete Carroll wants to get faster on defense and also produce a better pass rush in his third season as Seahawks coach. He'll get a look at some players who could help him do just that at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pete Carroll would like to emerge from this offseason with more speed on defense, in general, and a better pass rush, specifically.

The Seahawks’ third-year coach will get an up-close look at some players who could help with those needs when the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off on Wednesday in Indianapolis. And whether it turns out to be the 11th or 12th pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft for the Seahawks, they should be looking at a pool of players who could satisfy one of the areas Carroll mentioned in his look-back/look-ahead news conference after the 2011 season.

At least that’s the opinion of Todd McShay, the ESPN draft analysis who likely will log more TV time between the start of the Combine and the end of the Draft than the all the Republican presidential candidates combined during that span.

So let’s take a closer look at this want-to-have/where-to-get-it situation.

“When you look at it, we really like our guys, but we need to get faster on defense,” Carroll said when asked about the unit that ranked No. 9 in the league last season. “As big as we are, we need to get faster. So I’d like to see us add more speed in the linebacker corps.”

Offered McShay, during a conference-call interview last week: “It’s a class that has some good linebackers. It really is shaping up to be a good linebacker class this year, especially outside.”

If it’s speed you want in a linebacker, it’s speed that North Carolina’s Zach Brown flaunts. He ran the 60-meter dash on his school’s indoor track team as a sophomore in 2009, clocking a school-record 6.72 seconds. And Brown weighs 236 pounds.

But the goodness of the group seems to be in its depth, rather than its Top 15 talents. McShay has only two outside linebackers listed among his Top 32 players: Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw at No. 9; and USC’s Nick Perry, who played end in college, at No. 31.

As for improving the pass rush, Carroll said, “It’s a big deal. It’s an area of our football team these last two years where it’s not what we need it to be. … That’s an area that really needs to improve for us to take another step.”

Carroll is not talking about Chris Clemons, obviously. The player who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles two years ago to fill the “Leo” end spot in Carroll’s defense has responded with back-to-back 11-sack seasons – the first end to produce double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons for the Seahawks since Michael Sinclair in 1997-98.

“Clem had a great year again rushing the passer,” Carroll said. “But we need more than that.”

Last season, the next-highest sack total on the team was four by linebacker Leroy Hill, and the rest of the linemen combined for 10 sacks.

Offered McShay, when asked about the pass-rushers among this year’s college players: “There’s some depth to this class.”

McShay has a half dozen pass-rusher ranked among his Top 32 players: 5, North Carolina end Quinton Coples; 7, South Carolina end Melvin Ingram; 9, Alabama’s Upshaw; 25, Syracuse end Chandler Jones; 30, Clemson end Andre Branch; 31, USC’s Perry.

“It’s what direction do they want to go?” McShay said.

Carroll already has spelled that out. He wants to get faster and generate a more-productive pass rush.