Skip to main content

2015 NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Line

Where do the Seahawks stand along the defensive line heading into the 2015 NFL Draft?

Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, which is set to take place from April 30 - May 2 in Chicago, Ill., will take a position-by-position look at this year's top prospects.

Along the way, we'll rehash the team's past draft picks at each position under Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll and also provide an outline of where the team currently stands at each spot.

Seattle owns 11 selections in this year's draft - one in the second round (No. 63 overall), one in the third (No. 95), three in the fourth (Nos. 112, 130 & 134), two in the fifth (Nos. 167 & 170), three in the sixth (Nos. 181, 209 & 214), and one in the seventh (No. 248).

After starting things off yesterday with the offensive line, our draft preview series continues today with a detailed look at the defensive line.

Draft History (Under Schneider & Carroll)

DE E.J. Wilson* (No. 127 overall, 2010), DE Dexter Davis* (No. 236, 2010), DE Pep Levingston* (No. 205, 2011), DE Bruce Irvin (No. 15, 2012; Irvin has since switched to LB), DE Jaye Howard* (No. 114, 2012), DE Greg Scruggs (No. 232, 2012), DT Jordan Hill (No. 87, 2013), DT Jesse Williams (No. 137, 2013), DE Cassius Marsh (No. 108, 2014), DT Jimmy Staten (No. 172, 2014)

** signifies a player no longer with the team *

Where The Seahawks Stand

Seattle has found success bringing in outside talent to supplement players the club has plucked from the draft. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, who both joined the team as free agents ahead of its Super Bowl XLVIII championship season in 2013, have combined with veterans like Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, and Kevin Williams, as well as up-and-comer Jordan Hill (5.5 sacks in 2014) to form an effective rotation along the defensive line.

This offseason, the Seahawks lost defensive end O'Brien Schofield to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency and the 12-year-veteran Williams remains unsigned as a free agent. But Seattle did re-sign Demarcus Dobbs, who was an unrestricted free agent, Greg Scruggs, who was a restricted free agent, and added Ahtyba Rubin, who spent the past seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Seattle also brought back 2013 fifth-round pick Jesse Williams, who was waived in early March.

Cassius Marsh, a pass rusher drafted in the fourth round last year out of UCLA, will work to make an impact in his sophomore NFL season after a broken foot landed him on injured reserve last October. And David King, Will Pericak, Ryan Robinson, Julius Warmsley, and D'Anthony Smith are among those that round out the position group for the Seahawks.

NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock shares his top five interior defensive linemen set to enter this year's draft.  

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Interior Defensive Linemen

1. Leonard Williams, USC, 6-5, 302 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1 (top three)

Bottom Line (via Enormously powerful defensive lineman. Has the look and feel of the biggest, strongest kid on the playground but hasn't figured out how to unlock his natural gifts and consistently dominate the rest of the kids on the playground just yet. Williams can play in an odd or even front, and is able to hold the point as a two-gapper or disrupt upfield. With coaching and more experience, Williams should be able to match the athleticism with the power and become a consistent Pro Bowler with a ceiling that goes even higher than that.

2. Arik Armstead, Oregon, 6-7, 292 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via Projection-based prospect with elite size and the traits to become a dominant run-stuffing defensive end in an odd front. Armstead has the explosiveness off the snap and in his jarring punch to gain early advantages and control offensive linemen. Armstead is a fast riser but is still very raw. He will need patience and coaching and must become a more effective pass rusher at some point.

3. Malcom Brown, Texas, 6-2, 319 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via Penetrating big man who took a huge step forward as an NFL prospect in 2014. Brown has hand quickness and uses hands like an NFL starter. His instincts and feel off the snap help him to get into the backfield quickly. Some personnel men believe Brown can play multiple spots along the line in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, which could put him in play for a high number of teams.

4. Danny Shelton, Washington, 6-2, 339 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via With his thick frame and powerful upper body, Shelton has moments where he can dominate at the point of attack. He was forced to chase sideline to sideline due to the nature of Pac-12 offenses, but when he faced downhill competition like Stanford, he stepped up. Shelton is an above-average interior pass rusher for a man his size, thanks to his surprising athleticism. He is a fit in a two-gap scheme and could benefit from playing fewer snaps than he was forced to play at Washington. He has an All-Pro ceiling, but must show a greater consistency of effort.

T-5. Eddie Goldman, Florida State, 6-4, 336 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1 or 2

Bottom Line (via His power at the point of attack and ability to discard blockers and actually make plays rather than just eating space will have 3-4 teams very excited about their potential nose guard of the future. However, his lack of pass-rushing prowess could limit just how high he rises on draft boards.

T-5. Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma, 6-5, 329 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1 or 2

Bottom Line (via Nose tackle with desired height, weight and speed. Flashes talent necessary to project a ceiling as a dominant run stuffer best suited for a 3-4 defense. Phillips' ability to eat up blocks should help him earn a high grade, but it's his potential as a big athlete with above-average range for the position that could turn him into a Pro Bowl nose.

NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock shares his top five edge rushers set to enter this year's draft.  

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Edge Rushers

1. Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida, 6-3, 261 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1 (top 10)

Bottom Line (via Strong-side 3-4 outside linebacker with the physical traits and above-average potential to set the edge or spill runs wide to an early demise. Fowler is a competitive pass rusher getting by on athleticism and inside moves right now, but has a Pro Bowl ceiling with double-digit sack potential if he takes coaching and addresses his rush technique.

2. Randy Gregory, Nebraska, 6-5, 235 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via A 3-4 outside linebacker with the length, toughness and closing burst to immediately help a run defense. Gregory could stand to add more weight to his frame and needs plenty of technique work and a patient coach for his pass-rush skill to match his traits. Gregory's draft stock has been clouded with a positive drug test at the combine to go with failed tests for marijuana while at Nebraska. High-ceiling, low-floor prospect.

3. Vic Beasley, Clemson, 6-3, 246 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via Projects as 3-4 outside linebacker. Considered one of the best pure edge rushers in the draft, but needs more sophistication to his approach. Has speed and explosion to become an absolute menace for a creative defensive coordinator. High-impact talent, but needs to crank up competitive nature in order to reach his potential. Teams privately gushed about his ability to carry speed at the combine to go along with his additional weight.

4. Bud Dupree, Kentucky, 6-4, 269 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via Dupree is an explosive, powerful athlete with a background in basketball. While he's been productive at Kentucky, his tape doesn't always do his potential justice. He must continue to improve as a pass rusher, but his traits are undeniable. Difference between being good and great might be his coordinator.

5. Shane Ray, Missouri, 6-3, 245 lbs 

Draft Projection (via Round 1

Bottom Line (via It's hard to find many play weaknesses for Ray, but his lack of overall length is one area that some teams have concerns about. He pursues the quarterback and the ball like it's his last snap. An alpha male packaged in an explosive frame, Ray has the traits and skills to be a dominant pass rusher and potential Pro Bowler. He also has the athleticism and strength to play in any defensive front.


This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.