Analysis: Seahawks Have Yet to Find Proper Replacement For Jarran Reed

When the Seahawks parted ways with Jarran Reed in March, it left a gaping hole in the middle of their defensive line. With the heat of free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, questions still remain about the position vacated by Reed.
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Jarran Reed made his mark with the Seahawks over his five seasons with the team. In 2018, he notched a whopping 10.5 sacks, which was third in the NFL among full-time interior linemen. He would hit a bump in the road, however, suffering a six-game suspension that shortened his 2019 campaign. Upon his return, he never fully regained his form from the previous year.  

He'd go on to have a more normal 2020 season, posting 6.5 sacks on 22 pressures while playing in every game.

The Seahawks were unable to come to an agreement with Reed on a contract restructure and he was subsequently released, leading him to land with the defending AFC champion Chiefs. 

Seattle has made a flurry of moves along the interior line, extending Poona Ford to a two-year, $12.3 million contract and reuniting with Al Woods for the second time in three seasons.

Neither Woods nor Ford play the same type of game that Reed did. Ford certainly is a solid contributor in his own right, with 40 tackles, 14 pressures and 2.0 sacks in 2020. However, he's primarily a nose tackle, and doesn't display the same pass rushing acumen as Reed.

Meanwhile, Woods is now 34 years old and is a depth piece at best. Where does the pass rushing threat along the interior come from? 

Seattle attempted to address it by signing the embattled former first round pick of the Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche. In a perfect world, he would be an ideal replacement with his athleticism and pass rushing potential on the inside of the line. But there are numerous red flags and question marks attached to his game, and it's going to be a challenge for him to simply make the 53-man roster out of camp.

Perhaps the Seahawks are thinking outside the box instead of looking for a direct replacement for Reed. L.J. Collier took 585 total snaps in 2020, with 180 of them coming on the interior of the defensive line. Certainly, they like his athletic traits and pass rushing skills and tried to create mismatches with his size and speed inside. 

For now, there is no indication Seattle intends to slide Collier inside as a 3-tech lineman full-time. Given his first-round selection as a 5-tech defensive end, the Seahawks will likely try him out at his original position as much as possible.

Bryan Mone and Cedrick Lattimore should not be forgotten as well, but the latter is still very much an unknown commodity. While he played well in the Seahawks' wild-card round loss to the Rams this past January, that was his NFL debut. 

Undrafted rookie Jarrod Hewitt might push to make at least the practice squad with his athleticism on the inside, but it would be shocking if he emerged as the replacement for Reed's skills and production. 

Whether it's a change of philosophy along the defensive line or just lack of quality options, the Seahawks still find themselves without an athletic, pass-rushing defensive tackle as we approach mid-May.