FanPost

Mock Offseason - Cloning the Seahawks Defense

We got 8 days to go to NFL free agency, so it’s time for another mock offseason. The combine is over, and franchise tags have been issued, so this is the best look at prospects & free agents that we’ll have before the action officially begins on March 11. I took the approach I’m sure many NFL GM’s will be taking this offseason – which is how in the hell do we copy the Seahawks defense? Let’s take a look at their D, and then figure out how the Colts can clone it.

Depth chart:

POS

First

Second

LDE

Red Bryant

Michael Bennett

LDT

Tony McDaniel

Jordan Hill

RDT

Brandon Mebane

Clinton McDonald

RDE

Chris Clemons

Cliff Avril

LOLB

Bruce Irvin

Malcolm Smith

MLB

Bobby Wagner

Heath Farwell

ROLB

Malcolm Smith

Mike Morgan

LCB

Richard Sherman

Perrish Cox

RCB

Byron Maxwell

Jeremy Lane

SS

Kam Chancellor

DeShawn Shead

FS

Earl Thomas

Chris Maragos

Dline: Seahawks play a 4-3 D, but its unique in that they start a DT (Red Bryant) at DE, and start only one pass rusher. This makes it very similar to a 3-4 D. They do this to stop the run, obviously, and had great success – ranking 7th overall against the run. On pass downs, they bring in Michael Bennett & Cliff Avril to rush the passer, along with Clemons/Irvin. Some might be surprised that these 2 pro bowl talents don’t start, but it seemed to work out great for all involved, as they won the super bowl while having the top defense in the NFL. This pass rush is just ridiculously good, especially when Bennett rushes from the inside (3-tech) and allows Avril/Clemons/Irvin to rush from the outside.

LB’s: At LB, Seattle features speed and athleticism. Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner were among the fastest LB’s in their draft class, and Malcolm Smith was a R7 pick with 4.44 speed at his pro day. These guys fly around the field making plays all over, with Irvin providing good pass rushing skill on 3rd downs, and Wagner/Smith able to handle coverage duties.

Secondary: The CB’s are big and play physical press man coverage, the SS weighs 230 lbs and hits like a LB, and the FS is a ball hawk with 4.4 speed. What’s not to like? This is by far the best secondary in the NFL, and would be tough for any team to clone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try…

So, what do the Colts have, and what do we need to add to clone Seattle?

Dline: The Colts have the run stuffing DE’s in Redding and Francois, and a decent NT in Chapman. For the run, we really just need one dominant force on the Dline, preferably at NT, to help with run stuffing. For pass D, we need someone who can rush effectively from the inside.

LB’s: We have Freeman, Mathis, and Werner, but need another athletic ILB to start alongside Freeman. We also need another pass rush option at OLB, as Werner is far from a sure thing right now and Walden isn’t a good option.

Secondary: We have two physical press CB’s (assuming Vontae is retained), and a big SS who can run and hit. We still need a centerfield FS who excels in pass coverage, and there aren’t many good ones out there. We also need a better 4th CB, as Vaughn is just terrible.

Given this basic analysis of Seattle’s D, lets get on with the mock offseason!

Cap numbers can be found here: http://overthecap.com/teamcap.php?Team=Colts&Year=2014

Draft rankings I used: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings

Players cut:

Samson Satele: No explanation needed

Kelvin Sheppard: Not worth $1.3M, especially since his dead money is 0. He’s gone.

Players resigned:

Vontae Davis ($7M): Good press man CB, is definitely worth resigning if the price doesn’t get ridiculous. If it does, I’d go for Sam Shields, Verner, or DRC. One of those 4 should bite for $7M per season. For now, I’ll assume its Vontae.

Adam Vinatierri ($2M): I would personally rather just go with two $500K rookie kickers and live with the results. Kicking is becoming a commodity in the NFL, and now it seems every team has a good kicker & punter. I’ll assume we let Patty Mac walk, as his contract could be too high, and retain AV at a decent $2M contract for 1-2 more years.

Moala ($900K): Good depth DE

Gordy ($800K): Decent 5th CB, but nothing more

Sergio Brown ($1M): Good special teams player, so might as well keep him around

Linkenbach ($900K): Versatile Olineman, having started at tackle and guard. Good backup to retain.

Free agents signed:

Jairus Byrd ($9M): Only true centerfield ball hawk FS on the market, and really is probably the 2nd best one in NFL after Earl Thomas. There aren’t other great options in FA, and the best guy in the draft is Jimmie Ward who’s built more like a CB. So I think Byrd needs to be priority #1 for Griggles. I say we pay up to $10M for him, let’s just get it done. I’ll assume we can get him for $9m. It may be overpaying, but we got an extra $7M to play with due to the increased salary cap, so why not pay an extra couple million for a true game changer?

Michael Bennett ($8M): If we are going to clone Seattle, we may as well steal their best pass rusher. This guy can rush from the inside and outside, and has a great attitude that doesn’t require starting for a good team. I say we bring him in to play a similar role as he did in Seattle. Redding will be gone after this season, so Bennett can start from 2015 on after he learns the 3-4 DE role a bit better. This guy can be our inside pass rusher, and provide a JJ Watt type presence to our D.

Paul Soliai ($6m): Big NT who can dominate the line of scrimmage. Has experience in both 4-3 and 3-4, will be a huge upgrade over Aubrayo Franklin.

Rashean Mathis ($1M): Big press man CB who can fill in our 4th CB role. He’s older, but still producing, and likely wanting to play for a winner after stints in Jacksonville and Detroit. He made $940K last year, so $1M should be reasonable given his age. He’s just a stop gap, but an obvious upgrade over Vaughn.

Hakeem Nicks ($5M): Like it or not, it’s getting pretty obvious that we will be targeting a WR this offseason. I hope we don’t overpay for Decker, but I do think we need a solid starter to allow Reggie to ease back into playing shape as the 3rd WR. Hines Ward looked good in this role, and Reggie would too. I think Nicks will be looking for a prove it deal, and $5M should get it done. Hopefully we can get a 2nd year at that price too!

Brian De La Puente ($5M): We need a solid center, and this guy fits the bill. If not him, Smith from Green Bay works too. Just get an average center in here, as Satele is awful. Sorry Alex Mack fans, but he’s tagged now and won’t be leaving Cleveland.

Draft:

If free agency plays out like this, our only starting position open is ILB. From there, we just need to add depth & quality where we can. Rumor has it that we were looking at OLB’s at the senior bowl, so I am going that route.

R2: OLB Jeremiah Attaochu – Speed rusher who can get after the QB. Had 22 sacks the last 2 years, and he dominated at the senior bowl. Plays with similar speed & motor as Mathis, so hopefully he can learn from the master!

R3: ILB Christian Jones – Good coverage ILB who fits the athletic requirement of a Seattle LB. 6’3" 240 lbs with 4.7 speed, the guy moves fluidly in coverage and can run sideline to sideline. He should start next to Freeman next year.

R5: CB Walt Aikens – Small school press man CB prospect who opened a lot of eyes at senior bowl. He’s 6’1" 205 lbs with long arms and fluid hips, so he looks the part of a solid man CB. But, given his small school tape, he’s still a lottery ticket and I’d want to sign a vet (like Rashean Mathis) as insurance while Aikens develops for a year.

R6: RB Tyler Gaffney – Our RB position has a lot of question marks right now. TRich may be good one day, but who knows. And Ballard is coming off an ACL. So why not go with a speedy RB from Stanford who Pep is familiar with? Gaffney ran a 4.49 at the combine at 220 lbs, which is good for us as we need a speed option in the backfield. He’s a solid back that could compete with Boom Herron in training camp for the 3rd RB job.

R7: P Pat O’Donnell – The name Pat seems to work for us with punters, so let’s keep it going. This new Pat is similar to old Pat in that both are athletic, big legged kickers who can make a ST tackle in a pinch. O’Donnell checks in at 6’4", 220 lbs and ran a 4.64 40 at the combine. Seems like Patty Mac on steroids to me! Oh, he can punt too, averaging 47 yards per kick. Best part, he only costs $500K and a late pick.

Okay, that’s all the moves. Here’s the final roster and salary cap numbers for 2014:

Defense

Offense

Name

Position

Cap
number

Name

Position

Cap
number

Paul Soliai

NT

$6,000,000

Andrew Luck

QB

$6,029,454

Josh Chapman

NT

$548,878

Matt Hasselbeck

QB

$3,750,000

Michael Bennett

DE

$8,000,000

Reggie Wayne

WR

$6,166,668

Ricky Jean-Francois

DE

$5,125,000

Hakeem Nicks

WR

$5,000,000

Cory Redding

DE

$4,391,668

TY Hilton

WR

$706,850

Fili Moala

DE

$900,000

LaVon Brazill

WR

$589,670

Montori Hughes

DE

$545,493

Da'Rick Rogers

WR

$495,000

Robert Mathis

OLB

$8,750,000

Griff Whalen

WR

$495,000

Erik Walden

OLB

$4,250,000

Coby Fleener

TE

$1,456,813

Bjoern Werner

OLB

$1,794,636

Dwayne Allen

TE

$835,826

Jeremiah Attaochu

OLB

$900,000

Wesley Saunders

TE

$600,000

Christian Jones

ILB

$700,000

Jack Doyle

TE

$495,000

Jerrell Freeman

ILB

$576,668

Trent Richardson

RB

$2,252,708

Josh McNary

ILB

$495,000

Vick Ballard

RB

$531,140

Henoc Muamba

ILB

$420,000

Tyler Gaffney

RB

$500,000

Vontae Davis

CB

$7,000,000

Stanley Havili

FB

$570,000

Greg Toler

CB

$4,833,333

Brian De La Puente

OC

$5,000,000

Darius Butler

CB

$3,000,000

Khaled Holmes

OC

$600,027

Rashean Mathis

CB

$1,000,000

Donald Thomas

OG

$3,750,000

Josh Gordy

CB

$800,000

Jeff Linkenbach

OG

$900,000

Walt Aikens

CB

$500,000

Lance Louis

OG

$742,500

Jairus Byrd

S

$9,000,000

Hugh Thornton

OG

$641,345

LaRon Landry

S

$4,750,000

Gosder Cherilus

OT

$3,900,000

Sergio Brown

S

$1,000,000

Anthony Castonzo

OT

$2,545,803

Delano Howell

S

$570,000

Xavier Nixon

OT

$495,000

Pat O'Donnell

P

$500,000

Adam Vinatierri

K

$2,000,000

Matt Overton

LS

$570,000

Totals

$76,350,676

$51,618,804

Total cap used

$127,969,480

Salary cap

$133,000,000

Dead money**

$2,000,000

Cap space

$3,030,520

** Over the cap has our current dead money at $800K, then add $1.1m for cutting Satele

Final Roster analysis:

Offense: We improve the interior Oline with a new center, and the WR position with Nicks. We also got some RB insurance for TRich & Ballard. Overall, I think as long as (most) everyone stays healthy, our offense would be very explosive. We’d have 3 good/great WR’s (with 3 more young guys developing), 2 good TE’s, and a trio of RB’s who complement each other. Mix in an improved Oline and Luck continuing to develop, and I think this offense would be top 5-10 overall. We could still use a 3rd TE, 3rd OT, and potentially a starting OG to replace Thornton/Thomas, but I couldn't fit it all in.

Defense: I spent most money/picks on the D, and it looks much improved to me. Not sure we’d be on Seattle’s level, but we’d be much closer. The pass rush would now feature two pro bowl talents in Mathis and Bennett, with Bennett able to provide interior pass rushing. Then between Werner and Attaochu, hopefully one can contribute an outside rush and we’d have 3 solid pass rushers next year who can play together on 3rd downs. Our Dline would look pretty stout against the run, with Soliai as the main anchor & disrupter, surrounded by Redding and Francois. Our ILB’s would be fast and athletic like Seattle’s, with Freeman and Jones as the starters and Muamba as a reserve. And our secondary would be much improved with Byrd playing the centerfield ball hawk role that Thomas plays, Landry roaming the box and drilling people like Chancellor, and Vontae/Toler/Mathis playing aggressive press coverage on the outside, with Butler for the slot. And to boot, we have a prospect in Aikens to develop and hopefully take over for Toler in 2015.

I think that’s a super bowl roster in 2014, and it didn’t involve cutting 15 players. Obviously not every FA target we want will come to Indy, but hopefully Grigs can make similar moves and at least fill in similar types of players to clone Seattle’s type of D. Good news is we have the money to sign a lot of impact talent, not scrubs like Walden!

That's all folks. Let the thrashing begin, and feel free to offer suggestions or other options. As far as draft picks go, look at my CBS link before saying someone won’t be there, as that’s what I used. I double checked most of the grades on Walterfootball & ESPN as well.



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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