2005 Seahawks Player Analysis: The Defensive Line

2005 Seahawks Player Analysis: The Defensive Line

With the rookies in Cheney and the Seahawks' 2005 training camp just around the corner, Seahawks.NET will take a player-by-player look at the current roster throughout this week. Everyone will be profiled, from the stars to the role-players on the bubble. We continue our series with the defensive tackles and ends - the men who make up the defensive line.

Defensive Ends

Grant Wistrom Age 29 HT: 6-4 WT: 272 YR: 8 Nebraska  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

9

37

27.0

10

3.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

3

CAREER

100

324

264.0

60

45

5

129

25.8

91

2

18

Through his first six NFL seasons, Wistrom had missed virtually no playing time. As has been burned into the mind of every Seahawks fan, he missed seven games in 2004, his first year in Seattle, due to knee injuries. When healthy, Wistrom is a high-motor guy who is versatile enough to play tough against the run and get a good up-field charge to rush the passer. His acquisition before the 2004 season was seen as a coup, but because of his missed time, he wasn’t able to provide the types of consistent plays and intensity that the team hoped for.

Anyone who questioned the impact Wistrom would have on Seattle's defense had only to observe the first three games and next three quarters of the 2004 season – until the Seahawks’ historic 23-point fourth-quarter/overtime meltdown against the Rams in Week Five, Wistrom led the charge of the NFL’s most dominant early-season defense. Without his presence in the lineup, Seattle's defense fell to 26th overall by the end of the season. Wistrom’s absence wasn’t the only reason this happened, but it was a big enough factor to have every Seahawks fan praying for his health in 2005.

2005 Outlook: Wistrom is the emotional leader of the defensive line, and his energy and toughness are infectious. He will start on the right side and cement the line with his ability and intensity. Look for a big bounceback year if he remains healthy…and look for another disappointing Seattle defense if he doesn’t. The worth of Wistrom’s oft-debated $33 million Seahawks contract, signed in the 2003 offseason, was validated in his absence.


Bryce Fisher Age: 28  HT: 6-3  WT: 272  YR: 4 Air Force 

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

St. Louis

16

48

37.0

11

8.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

CAREER

49

124

96.0

28

13.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

4

Fisher’s stock as an outside pass-rusher has risen over the last couple of years, culminating in his excellent 2004 season with the Rams, in which he collected 8.5 sacks while playing on a sprained ankle. Signed by the Seahawks as a free agent in March, Fisher’s first task with his new team will be to replace DE Chike Okeafor, who parlayed his two good years in Seattle into a huge contract with division rival Arizona. Fisher has the tools to do it – he’s explosive off the snap and shows good movement when reacting to blocks and when he’s playing in space. Fisher does not yet have top-line technique, but his motor makes up the difference.

2005 Outlook: Fisher will almost certainly start at left defensive end immediately. Recent ankle surgery should allow him to continue the momentum he began late last season – five of his 8.5 sacks came in the Rams’ final four regular-season games. This Renton native is happy to be back home and could be ready for a breakout season.


Antonio Cochran Age: 29  HT: 6-4  WT: 299  YR: 7 Georgia 

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

16

35

27.0

8

6.5

1

0

0.0

0

0

2

CAREER

82

169

131.0

38

15.5

2

9

4.5

9

0

6

Just call Cochran “Mr. Versatility”. He would be an ideal 3-4 defensive end, but in the Seahawks’ scheme he is a valuable component in the depth chart. Cochran can play any one of the four spots along the defensive front, but his main position has been at left defensive end. He isn’t the most explosive end, but he always seems to be around the ball when the quarterback scrambles. On passing downs, he moves inside and provides a nice push from the interior. Cochran plays the run well and has a decent rip move when he rushes the passer.

2005 Outlook: Cochran will fight for the starting spot on the left side with Fisher, and it will be a battle to watch during camp. Most likely, Fisher will win that fight and allow Cochran to do what he does best – slip into different line spots as needed, providing crucial depth. Cochran’s versatility virtually assures him a spot on the final roster and he is a Holmgren favorite.


Otis Leverette Age: 27  HT: 6-6  WT: 278  YR: 5 UAB 

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

San Francisco

5

7

7.0

0

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

CAREER

17

31

25.0

6

2

1

1

1.0

1

0

0

2005 Outlook: Having spent time with the Redskins, Chargers and 49ers during his four NFL seasons, Leverette was signed by the Seahawks last November and put on the practice squad after being released by San Francisco. Leverette has been regarded as a “tools” player whose production has not matched his potential. His place in the 2005 Seahawks roster will depend on his ability to overcome that stigma. Leverette lacks the speed to effectively rush from the edge or back into a zone blitz, which limits his options in the Seahawks’ scheme.


Joe Tafoya Age: 26  HT: 6-4  WT: 265  YR: 4 Arizona  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Atlanta

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

CAREER

35

32

24.0

8

0.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

Tafoya was originally a 7th(c)-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001- the last pick of current Seahawks president Tim Ruskell's 10-year run as Tampa Bay's Director of College Scouting. Tafoya was released by the Bucs later that year, and spent the next three seasons with the Chicago Bears. Released by the Bears after the 2003 season, Tafoya was picked up by the Falcons following the 2004 regular season. Ruskell was Atlanta's Assistant General Manager at the time.

2005 Outlook: Tafoya is noted as an overachiever without any dominant skills. A decent road-grader with good forward push, he could find himself as camp fodder…but there's always a chance that he could find himself on Seattle's final roster as a situational run-stopper when the final cuts are made. His “Velcro” relationship with Ruskell might make the difference.


Jeb Huckeba Age: 23  HT: 6-4  WT: 252  YR: R Arkansas  

Defensive Stats

YEAR

TKL

TFL

SACK

INT

PBU

FF

FR

2004

56

12.5

6.5

0

0

1

1

CAREER

210

32.5

6.5

0

4

1

1

A three-year starter for the Razorbacks, Huckeba spent his first two seasons as a middle linebacker before settling in as a defensive end during his junior season in 2003. During his senior season, Huckeba attained All-SEC honors by posting 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He also got The Sporting News’ nod as the best defensive end against the run in his conference. Huckeba reminds a lot of people of Grant Wistrom with his non-stop motor, speed and athleticism. He is very raw as a pass-rusher - relying on sheer speed to beat blockers - so he will need to develop some moves to be competitive in the NFL, but there is no denying his heart and desire.

2005 Outlook: Between Fisher, Wistrom and Cochran, the team seems set at the starting spots. Cochran is a valuable backup who can play three of the four spots along the line. Huckeba has a chance to stick as a fourth defensive end if he can show the motor and skills that made the team take him in the fifth round. Look for Huckeba to make the final cut, but to see limited time during his rookie season.


Defensive Tackles

Rocky Bernard Age: 26  HT: 6-3  WT: 293  YR: 4 Texas A&M 

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

14

39

26.0

13

3.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

6

CAREER

42

103

70.0

33

9.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

8

2005 Outlook: A fifth-round pick in 2002, Bernard played in fourteen games for the Seahawks in 2004, starting one. He provides good matchups in one-on-one situations, but he has had a history of wearing down quickly. A quick, explosive engager with the ability to knock opponents back, Bernard has the talent and technique for a backup spot in 2005. Any more than that with the depth of talent in this interior line will require a superhuman training camp on his part.




Chartric “Chuck” Darby Age: 29 HT: 6-0 WT: 298  YR: 5 South Carolina State  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Tampa Bay

16

49

39.0

10

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

CAREER

61

95

74.0

21

5.5

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

Another Tim Ruskell addition, Darby was signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad in 2000, earning a roster spot in 2001. Darby was a valuable backup DT in the Bucs’ dominant 2002-2003 defenses, and he fought his way to a starting role in 2004 as a result of Warren Sapp’s departure to Oakland. Darby did not disappoint, starting all 16 games and logging a career high in tackles. He’s a smart player who can change direction quickly and will use sound technique to make up for a lack of ideal ability to hold his ground against more powerful interior offensive linemen.

2005 Outlook: If there’s an intriguing “sleeper” among the likely DT backups, it’s Darby. His ability to step in as an unheralded starter in a Tampa Bay defense renowned for impressive results speaks to his toughness. Darby has a very good chance to earn a backup job, and he may even find his way into the rotation.


Rashad Moore Age: 26  HT: 6-3 WT: 324  YR: 3 Tennessee  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

16

46

32.0

14

2

0

0

0.0

0

0

2

CAREER

30

76

52.0

24

3

0

0

0.0

0

0

2

As a 2003 rookie, Moore – whose nickname is “Booger” – was the pet project of Seahawks defensive line coach Dwaine Board. Board rode the youngster from Tennessee mercilessly every day in practice and the results speak for themselves. When he came out of college, Moore had a reputation as an underachiever, but Board got him to play hard, every down, and that resulted in an excellent rookie season. Last year, Moore was the Seahawks’ most consistent defensive lineman. He started in 12 games and was a formidable presence on the interior. He is very strong and holds up well against the run. He doesn’t get much pressure on the passer, but that isn’t really his job in the Hawks’ defensive scheme.

2005 Outlook: At this point, the 2003 sixth-round pick has to be considered a steal. He is the likely starter at one of the inside spots and should continue to improve against the run and double his sack total from last year. At the very least, he will be a significant contributor in the tackle rotation and he will see plenty of playing time in his third season.


Craig Terrill Age: 25 HT” 6-2  WT: 290  YR: 2 Purdue 

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

4

4

1.0

3

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

CAREER

4

4

1.0

3

0

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

The Seahawks’ sixth-round pick in 2004, Terrill saw action in four regular season games. His best effort came in the wild-card loss to St. Louis, when he grabbed half a sack with Cedric Woodard as his co-conspirator.

2005 Outlook: Terrill is an undersized, “high-effort” player who employs decent technique. In the past, that technique has not completely compensated for his lack of size and relative power. The DT pool is deep in Seattle, and Terrill may have difficulty surviving the competition.


Marcus Tubbs Age: 24  HT: 6-4  WT: 320  YR: 2 Texas  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

11

13

6.0

7

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

CAREER

11

13

6.0

7

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

1

Tubbs suffered through a tough rookie season after holding out for the first half of the Seahawks’ training camp. He came in out of shape and had to work hard to gain the stamina to play at the pro level. As a rookie, he played in 11 games, starting three. He then suffered an ankle injury that ended his season in week thirteen. The loss of his mother after a long illness conspired with those on-field struggles, and the result was that Seahawks fans didn’t get to see Tubbs’ potential. Tubbs has incredible quickness and athleticism for a man of his dimensions, but it hasn’t yet shown on the field. Word is he has had an excellent offseason and is refocused and ready to tear it up this fall.

2005 Outlook: Tubbs should be the starter heading into the regular season - but with a plethora of talented players at his position, he will have to fight to keep that job. He has all the tools to be a Pro Bowler, but it remains to be seen whether he can achieve that level of success.


Cedric Woodard Age: 27  HT: 6-2  WT: 310  YR: 6 Texas  

DEFENSIVE STATS

Year

Team

G

Total

Tckl

Ast

Sacks

Int

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

Pass Def

2004

Seattle

16

49

28.0

21

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

CAREER

61

110

71.0

39

1

0

0

0.0

0

0

0

Woodard started all sixteen games for the Seahawks in 2004, providing a season highlight with a sack/forced fumble/recovered fumble trifecta against the 49ers in Week Three. He’s a solid, disciplined player with great strength and excellent leverage. Lacking the sort of specific pass-rushing moves that mark the NFL’s elite defensive tackles hasn’t stopped Woodard from providing the Seahawks with a reliable interior option.

2005 Outlook: The optimal scenario for the Seahawks in 2005 would seem to have Moore and Tubbs as the starting interior defensive linemen. Should anything go wrong with that plan, Woodard will be ready to step in and start at a moment’s notice. He’ll certainly be a part of the rotation in 2005 and beyond.

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