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The Seahawks’ offseason focus needed to be pass rush, pass rush, pass rush

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Did Seattle do enough to turn its defense around?

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Injuries ravaged the Seattle Seahawks last season, and the team slumped to the finish of the regular season losing three of their last four games. Despite the setbacks, the Seahawks still won a wild card game before getting dropped by the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round.

Seattle’s offense is now fully built around quarterback Russell Wilson. He has a budding star wide receiver in DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett remains a solid target. The team also acquired veteran Greg Olsen to bolster a tight end group that includes Will Dissly, who was fifth on the team in receptions despite playing just six games.

Seattle Seahawks (11-5), lost in Divisional Round

While much of Seattle’s passing offense is built out, the team has some serious needs to address on the rest of the roster. Here’s what Seattle needs to fix the most.

Before free agency:

  1. Pass rusher: Even if the Seahawks can bring back Jadeveon Clowney, they need to boost their pass rush. That’s despite taking defensive end L.J. Collier in the first round last year. Only one team finished with fewer than Seattle’s 28 sacks last season. No one likes trading down more than Seahawks general manager John Schneider. If he moves down from the No. 27 pick, it could be to target a pass rusher. Julian Okwara of Notre Dame, Josh Uche of Michigan, and Curtis Weaver of Boise State make sense after the first round.
  2. Offensive tackle: The Seahawks seem to perpetually need an offensive tackle. That is especially true this offseason with right tackle Germain Ifedi entering free agency. Backup George Fant is too.
  3. Cornerback: Shaquill Griffin proved himself to be a legitimate No. 1 cornerback last season, but the Seahawks need help opposite him. Remember how Packers receiver Davante Adams scorched the Seahawks for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs? In the middle of the draft, the Seahawks could target a player like Bryce Hall of Virginia. The team could also take a flier on Stanford Samuels III, a former four-star recruit whose talent didn’t materialize at Florida State.

What Field Gulls wants most this offseason: Pass rush. Pass rush. Did I mention pass rush? I just mentioned it again. The Seahawks’ inability to generate pressure last year contributed largely to a disappointing performance on defense. They have the cap space and draft capital to invest substantially in the pursuit of edge rushers. Of lesser importance but still desired is retooling this offensive line (especially with Mike Iupati, Ifedi, and Fant all free agents) and bolstering wide receiver depth. — Mookie Alexander

After free agency:

The Seahawks actually took a lot of steps to address their biggest holes, but with some aging veterans and lacking depth options, most of the same positions remain as a need. Other than the ones listed below, they also need depth at quarterback, running back, and safety.

  1. Edge: While the Seahawks signed Bruce Irvin, they’re still waiting to see if they’ll have Jadeveon Clowney back. Their edge needs could potentially be filled with an outside linebacker. Either way, they need more pass-rushing help and to ensure that the edge isn’t a weakness after they fortified the middle with the Jarran Reed re-signing.
  2. Offensive tackle: Seattle got a serviceable starter in Brandon Shell, signed center B.J. Finney, and brought back Mike Iupati on a one-year deal. But it’s lacking in depth options and a potential successor for Duane Brown, who will be 35 when next season gets underway.
  3. Cornerback: While the Seahawks made a strong move in trading for Quinton Dunbar, they need a reliable nickel corner. For now, that’s Ugo Amadi, but they can do with getting him some competition in the form of a rookie, perhaps someone that fits the prototypical mold of a Pete Carroll cornerback, something they’ve been lacking since Richard Sherman left.

After the draft:

The Seahawks had a very Seahawks draft, even though they didn’t make a first-round trade.

Their first two picks were on Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks (first round) and Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor (second round), neither of whom had a ton of buzz heading into the draft. Still, they can potentially help Seattle’s defense right away. Brooks is an excellent run defender who had 20 tackles for loss last year in Lubbock, while Taylor totaled 8.5 sacks for the Vols. Syracuse’s Alton Robinson, another edge rusher, is a nice Day 3 pickup.

The Seahawks only added one depth piece to their offensive line, but he’s a good one: LSU’s Damien Lewis in the third round.

Dan Kadar’s draft grade: C