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Rob Rang's Draft Preview: Seahawks Defense-Only 2024 Mock Draft

Draft analyst Rob Rang offers up a hypothetical defense-only seven-round mock draft for the Seahawks.

2024 DL:Edge

One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports. Rob has been covering the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports Illustrated,, USA Today, Yahoo, and, among others. He also works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Rang's opinions and evaluations are his own and do not reflect those of the Seahawks. Follow him on Twitter @RobRang.

With the exception of the Chicago Bears selecting Caleb Williams as the first of several quarterbacks among the top 10, there is otherwise plenty of disagreement across the virtual galaxy of mock drafts available today.

Except when it comes to the Seahawks – where virtually everyone is projecting Seattle to select an offensive lineman, often after trading back from their first pick, No. 16 overall.

I'm allowed neither of those options in this mock draft, however.

This mock draft is about approaching the talent and fits of the Class of 2024 from a purely defensive perspective, picking out the players who could pop in the new defense Mike Macdonald and Aden Durde are bringing to Seattle.

Round 1: No. 16 overall – Jer'Zhan "Johnny" Newton, DT, Illinois

Given their needs at the position and the fact that the 2024 class is loaded with offensive line, it bears repeating that I believe that is the most likely direction the Seahawks will go with their first pick. Should the Seahawks look elsewhere and remain at No. 16 overall, the playmaking Newton is one of the few defenders worthy of deviating from that plan.

Simply put, Newton is the most proven and polished interior defensive lineman in this class. The 6-foot-2, 304 pounder is a three-time all-conference selection and two-time All-American who capped his college career by being named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, generating 52 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and four blocked kicks, which led the entire country.

The Seahawks know Newton as well as any team in the NFL – and not "just" because of the experience that Macdonald and others on his staff have in coaching against him in the Big Ten but the fact that he was, of course, a college teammate of Devon Witherspoon.

For all of Witherspoon's big plays a year ago, it was his unbridled enthusiasm and leadership that helped set him apart from some of the other talented defenders selected early in 2023 NFL draft. Newton plays with similar joy. He also plays a position of supreme value, projecting as a defensive end in the three-man front Seattle is expected to use as its base and a defensive tackle when the Seahawks use a four-man look.

Adding Newton to a line that already boasts Leonard Williams, Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed, as well as more traditional nose guards Johnathan Hankins and Cameron Young may seem like overkill to some. I disagree. Macdonald's defense in Baltimore last season was dominant, in part, because of its frequent rotation of its talented big men. The addition of Newton would give the Seahawks a similarly formidable front. Not to put undue pressure on a rookie, but Newton's burst, power and use of hands are similar to the skill-set Justin Madabuike used to become a star in Baltimore this past season under Macdonald.

In my opinion, selecting Newton wouldn't just be about filling a concern on the roster, it would truly be a case of taking the best player available.

Round 3: No. 81 (from Saints through Broncos) – Jeremiah Trotter, Jr., ILB, Clemson

Signing free agents Jerome Baker and Tyrell Dodson may have filled the sizeable shoes left behind by Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks but with both 'backers signed to just one-year deals and little proven depth behind them, inside linebacker might just be the Seahawks' biggest need on the defensive side of the ball heading into the draft.

I see Baker and Dodson as quality NFL starters who may enjoy enough success in their first season in Seattle that they want to return for more. As such, I would not be surprised if the Seahawks opted against investing the No. 16 overall selection in Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper - the only linebacker I personally view as worthy of a first round pick this year – though I believe his speed and pass rushing ability would be outstanding additions to the Seattle defense.

Trotter (6-0, 228 pounds) offers a similar blend of range and rush skills, while boasting even greater instincts for the position. The son of a four-time Pro Bowler of the same name, Trotter signed with Clemon – a perennial playoff contender – and quickly emerged as a star, earning All-American honors each of the past two seasons in large part due to his ability to make big plays all over the field. He registered a staggering 28.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks over the past two seasons with four interceptions and three forced fumbles during that time, taking two of those picks back for touchdowns.

Round 4: No. 102 (from Commanders) – Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, S, Texas Tech

Part of the rationale for selecting a traditional defensive lineman in the first round is that the talent up front drops off considerably after the first few players. While I strongly considered Iowa's do-everything defensive back Cooper DeJean at No. 16 overall, quality depth at safety in this year's draft could allow the Seahawks to focus elsewhere first.

The Seahawks, you'll remember, already fortified safety via free agency, bringing in veterans Rayshawn Jenkins and K'Von Wallace to a group that boasts a returning Pro Bowler in Julian Love, among others. Of this trio, however, only Jenkins is signed past this upcoming season (his contract is up in 2025), which could make safety a surprisingly early priority for the Seahawks.

There are a number of talented "box" safeties in this class that I believe will appeal to the Seahawks. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb is very familiar with former Husky Dominique Hampton, of course, and knows former PAC-12 standouts Cole Bishop (Utah), Kitan Oladapo (Oregon State) and Jaden Hicks (Washington State) well also. Each would make sense as middle round picks for the Seahawks.

Taylor-Demerson is more of a traditional centerfielder type whose lack of prototypical size could push him further down the board than his talent warrants. The 5-foot-10 and 197 pounder possesses a combination of size, range, instincts and ball-skills reminiscent of a young Quandre Diggs, who the Detroit Lions originally drafted in the sixth round out of Texas back in 2015.

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Round 4: No. 118 – Dwight McGlothern, CB, Arkansas

Cornerback is not a pressing need for the Seahawks but that won't have Schneider and his scouts ignoring the position should a talented player fall to them – and that may very well be the case as this year's corner class is deep.

There is a lot to like about the slithery 6-foot-2, 185-pound McGlothern. He spent two years at LSU – intercepting the first pass of his college career and returning it for a touchdown - before transferring to Arkansas, where he emerged as a true ballhawk, turning 16 pass breakups into seven interceptions over the past two seasons, while also forcing three fumbles.

Round 6: No. 179 (from Commanders) – Fabien Lovett, Sr., DT, Florida State

As stated previously, I'm a big fan of Illinois' Newton and would applaud his selection by the Seahawks even though some might feel he isn't the best schematic fit. Regardless of whether or not Seattle drafts Newton or a similar penetrator early on, a traditional two-gapping defensive lineman like Lovett on Day Three would make a lot of sense.

At 6-foot-4 and 314 pounds with 35 ½" arms and 10 3/8" hands, Lovett is a big, powerful man. He began his college career at Mississippi State (playing alongside Cameron Young), registering 19 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack as a freshman. He wound up transferring to Florida State for the final three years of his career, however, playing in a similar rotation for the ACC champion Seminoles as the one I expect Macdonald to employ in Seattle. Lovett, who has a three-year old son, was voted a team captain in Tallahassee this past season, showing the maturity, power and nastiness needed to eat up blocks and free up teammates to rack up tackles.

Round 6: No. 192 – Tyrice Knight, ILB, Texas El-Paso

If reuniting former teammates is, in fact, a strategy the Seahawks look to employ in this draft, nabbing Knight (who played with 'Riq Woolen at UTEP) would make a lot of sense. Knight's statistics were darn near worthy of royalty while with the Miners, culminating in a 2023 campaign in which he collected an eye-popping 140 tackles, including 15.5 for loss and four sacks. While Knight's statistics scream early round pick, the tape shows a player prone to freelancing a bit, which is why such a productive player might still be available on Day Three.

The Seahawks have already shown interest in the 6-foot-1, 233 pounder, reportedly bringing him to Seattle for one of their 30 team visits. He might be the perfect project for Macdonald and his new staff.

Round 7: No. 235 – Andrew Chatfield, Jr., Edge, Oregon State

One could argue that if the Seahawks really were to invest all seven of their current draft picks on defenders that an edge rusher might be their first choice rather than their last but given the second-round selections in Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe and Derick Hall, as well as the anticipated healthy return of Uchenna Nwuso, adding more juice off the edge is not required.

Nevertheless, one can never have too many pass rushers and Chatfield – who began his career at Florida – put together a breakout 2023 season in Corvalis. He was a Combine snub after registering 9.5 sacks, as well as two forced fumbles and two interceptions this past season. The stubby 6-foot-2, 250-pounder has some burst off the ball and complements it nicely with a terrific spin move that could make him a very effective designated pass rusher at the pro level.

NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang ranked his top edge rushers and defensive linemen for the 2024 NFL Draft.

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