2016 Seahawks Preview: Can Rookie Defensive Linemen Make An Instant Impact?

The Seahawks traded up to select two defensive linemen - Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson - in the 2016 draft. How quickly will each player make an impact?

The Seahawks haven't often been willing to part with extra picks in order to move up in the draft under general manager John Schneider, but twice this past April they did just that, both times taking defensive linemen—Jarran Reed in the second round, and Quinton Jefferson in the fifth—a sign of just how much they wanted to acquire both of those players.

In Reed, the Seahawks might have found a starter to replace Brandon Mebane, who left in free agency, while Jefferson is a versatile lineman capable of playing multiple positions in sub-packages.

In Part 2 of our 2016 training camp preview, we look at how those two might fit in, and at how the rest of the line could look this season.

Returning starters:Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril
Ahtyba Rubin
Additions:

Jarran Reed (second-round pick)
Quinton Jefferson (fifth-round pick)
Chris Clemons (free agency)
Sealver Siliga (free agency)
Tavaris Barnes (free agency)
Montese Overton (UDFA)
David Perkins (UDFA)
DeAngelo Tyson (UDFA)
Brandin Bryant (UDFA)

Key losses:

Brandon Mebane (free agency)

Last season:

The initial 53-man roster included nine defensive linemen: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark, Jordan Hill, Cassius Marsh, Demarcus Dobbs, David King.

What's At Stake In Training Camp

While Mebane left for San Diego in free agency, the Seahawks were able to re-sign unrestricted free agent Ahtyba Rubin, meaning three of four starters are back this year with Rubin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett all returning. Reed, a player the Seahawks considered taking with their first-round pick, could end up taking over for Mebane in the starting lineup, but with Jordan Hill able to play that spot, and with Sealver Siliga signing in free agency, the Seahawks have options that keep them from having to force a rookie into the lineup if he isn't ready.

The Seahawks like to rotate their linemen to keep players fresh, and the depth should be very good this year. Jefferson, like Bennett, could play multiple spots, Chris Clemons is back, and if Hill doesn't win a starting job, he could be a valuable piece of the puzzle as an interior pass rusher. Frank Clark, who showed flashes as a rookie, especially late in the season, should see even more playing time in pass-rush situations now that Bruce Irvin is gone. 

"He's a guy who came back to us with a little bit different makeup," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Clark. "He's stronger, he looks faster than ever. He lost a few pounds. He came in a little bit leaner than he came in a year ago. He just feels great, he feels like he's physically on it. We talked today about how much farther down the road he is now in understanding what's expected of him and all of that. He's having a blast playing with these guys."

Cassius Marsh could factor into the pass-rush mix as well, though he also is being looked at as a candidate to replace Irvin at strongside linebacker. Also, don't sleep on Ryan Robinson, who looked very impressive in offseason workouts last year before suffering an Achilles injury, or on a pair of undrafted rookies at that spot, David Perkins and Montese Overton.    

RELATED

Check out the best photos from the team's 2016 offseason program of each defensive lineman on the Seahawks roster.

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