Friday, July 13, 2018

Much Ado About Earl

It won't be long before training camp begins and preparations for the new NFL season are officially underway.  The Seahawks find themselves in a situation they haven't really been in since Pete Carroll took over. 

It's not a total roster overhaul.  Not nearly the likes of what we saw in the lockout season.  It's a considerable turnover, particularly with names that had become cornerstones of the organization.  Reliable standbys that we had come to expect production from.  Particularly with regard to the defense.

Gone are the familiar names of Chancellor, Sherman, Bennett, Lane, Avril and Shead.  Guys that were tremendous contributors during both Super Bowl appearances.  Mainstays from the better part of the last seven seasons. 

Add to that list our leading receiver, Jimmy Graham, who is now building his rapport with Aaron Rogers in Green Bay.

That's a lot of change, but it's nothing to lose sleep over.  We still have our quarterback, we have a first-round running back, revamped coaching staff and many other exciting new faces to watch at camp this year.

But one player remains uncertain.  Not just any player-- a legendary player. Of course I'm referring to Earl Thomas. 

Ever since Seattle selected Thomas with their second pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, he's been nothing short of incredible on the field.  He plays his Free Safety position like a center fielder with a bomb strapped to his chest.  They just don't make a lot of guys like Earl.

 He's been an emotional leader on the field and endeared himself to the fan base here in Seattle.  There is no doubting his significance to this franchise's history.

The question still remains-- what the hell is going on here? 

On paper, Earl Thomas is signed through this season.  He's publicly stated that he wants a contract extension, and he's willing to hold out until he gets one. He's also made comments, often cryptically,  suggesting that he wants out of Seattle altogether-- ideally resulting in a return to his hometown with the Dallas Cowboys.

It began with Earl running down Cowboys coach Jason Garrett in the opponent's locker room, in the wake of the Cowboys loss to Seattle to tell him "Come get me, bro!"

Earl attempted to sweep this under the rug with a typical-Earl, disorganized collection of thoughts that did little to convince anyone that he wasn't stabbing his current team and fans in the back with his pathetic and unprofessional display post game. 

Cliff Avril, who is now a sports radio host in Seattle on KJR AM 950, has since given us all a peak behind the curtain, saying that Earl's love of the Cowboys is well known in their locker room.

Leading up to the draft, it seemed inevitable that Earl Thomas was soon to get his wish.  Initially, it was thought that he would command a King's ransom, somewhere in the neighborhood of a pair of first round picks.  That eventually became a second round pick and a fourth. 

On the last day of the draft, with no trade in sight, I assumed that this was all off season speculation.  Surely, Seattle has plans to extend their All-Pro safety so that he might finish out his career here in the Pacific Northwest.

Evidently, that was not the case.

From what I can gather, Seattle doesn't have any immediate plans to resign Earl.  In fact, they might not have any intentions of signing him beyond this upcoming season whatsoever. Additionally, the idea of trading him, whether to Dallas or somewhere else, might not be entirely outside of the realm of possibility either.

I don't use Instagram, but I have been told that Earl continues to pander to Cowboys fans through social media while he holds out from Seahawks activities. Whatever the team or Earl's plans are, it seems like the situation is going to get messy soon.

My question is, why on Earth would the Seahawks allow for this to happen?

We should all know Thomas well enough by now to realize that the notion of him humbly and professionally honoring the final season of his contract without distraction is ludicrous. It simply will not go down that way and everyone with half of a brain should understand that.

So, if the Seahawks don't want to sign him to another long-term contract, then why not get rid of him and recoup some value in the process?

We have seen the value for safeties seemingly plummet this offseason, so its possible that neither Earl nor the Seahawks organization are comfortable with the collective assessment of his worth.  

I'm sure the Seahawks fielded offers leading up to the draft.  When he wasn't traded during the draft, I assumed that it was because they thought that the cost of extending him was better than the benefit of trading him.  But they didn't resign him.

Sure, if he finishes this season with us and gets signed by another team, it's likely that the Seahawks will find themselves with a 3rd or 4th round compensatory pick.  Maybe they were hoping they could get one more season out of him and still recoup some value once he's signed elsewhere.

Earl is demonstrative. Earl is vocal, although seldom coherent. He is bound to be a distraction if he doesn't get his way and the Seahawks simply do not have the veteran leadership in place to deal with that possibility. 

Do the Seahawks seriously want to subject their young, revamped defensive squad to the sniveling tantrums of a spoiled veteran? That seems like a recipe for disaster that could easily setback this team's much needed development. 

So, what should we do?

If I were calling the shots, I would've extended Earl before this happened.  I would've paid him as much as the cap allowed me to for no more than 3 seasons.  At the very least, that would appease Earl in the interim until I was confident that his heir apparent was on the roster and was able to negotiate trades without the player having all of the leverage.
However, if I were taking over right now as opposed to the beginning of this saga-- I would trade him immediately.  I would trade him to the highest bidder that is headquartered anywhere but the state of Texas.  Ideally, to an AFC team.  Anything above the compensatory price would be just fine.

Earl is the last bit of adhesive on the dangling band-aid that was once the LOB.  Why not rip that sucker off in one fell swoop and move forward?   The departures of Kam, Sherm, Lane and Shead were difficult for all Seahawks fans in different ways and to varying degrees.  Losing Earl isn't going to be easy, but it will be a lot easier to swallow if we can collectively grieve these losses.

Right now, the Seahawks are dragging this out to the benefit of no one.  Let's not make this difficult situation extend into next year.  If the team doesn't want to pay him long term and he doesn't want to be here-- the decision has already been made.

We'll never forget Earl Thomas and all that he's meant to this team, but we'll have to get over it.  The Seahawks seem to be at their best when they're trusting in young talent to make the next step.  Don't make this divorce any uglier than it needs to be.

Next man up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

National Anthem Rule Changes

Keeping in the tradition of handling this situation poorly, the NFL owners approved changes to the national anthem policy for 2018.


"The NFL will enact a national anthem policy for 2018 that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they don't want to stand, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday.Under the change approved by team owners at the Spring League Meeting, individual clubs will have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chooses to protest on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team. The player also could be fined by his team, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Judy Battista reported."
For those of you that possess the ability to act civilly enough to hear all sides of this issue, you may recall that these protests originated as a means for players-- specifically, Colin Kaepernick-- to express their frustration with the undeniable and alarming rate at which young men of color are killed by members of United States law enforcement.

It was never about the men and women that serve in our military.

It was never anti-America.

It was never even about the anthem itself.

It was a peaceful demonstration intended to call attention to a very serious issue facing our country.

In many ways, it did just that.  As more players joined Kaepernick in protest, more and more Americans were forced to discuss this sensitive issue. Unfortunately, the NFL's inaction gave way to the ignorant and willfully misinformed to commandeer the spotlight.

The discussion became about how players have no right to 'politicize' the game of football.

"Shut up and play!" became a rallying cry for the contingent of the NFL's fan base that believe that, ostensibly, the players are just slaves for their entertainment.

The ironic thing about that is prior to 2009, the players were kept in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem.  Sometime after that, the Department of Defense began paying for patriotism and it was reported that "the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for patriotic propaganda during NFL games."

Essentially, the NFL 'politicized' itself for financial gain.

Use of unnecessary, excessive force, particularly against young men of color, is an extremely troubling issue that should not be swept under the rug. Especially if the lyrics we sing during the national anthem hold any meaning to you.

The NFL failed miserably when it came to acknowledging the premise of these protests. I do not purport having the answers as to how we solve, move on and grow from this complicated issue, but I know enough to understand that you don't just ignore these types of issues, assuming they'll sort themselves out.

My lone criticism of Kaepernick and the protesting base is that they have tied this issue directly to the national anthem.  I believe it was a great vehicle for getting the message out, but once the discussion began, I would've liked to see the protests grow and mature into other forms.

There is a large contingent of those who are against these protests who are just too stupid too look past the protest action to the source of the protests. No matter how eloquently it is explained to them, they simply do not possess the wherewithal to differentiate between the issue of racial inequality and the flag & anthem.

The only way to get through to those people, or at the very least, remove them from the discussion and solution going forward, is to move on from the anthem and advance the protests and discussions to the next platform.

Again, I don't know what that is, but I trust there are greater minds than mine working towards the solution.

I love this country dearly, just as I love my Seahawks. Just as I am critical of ill-advised decisions made by the Seahawks organization, I will be critical of my country when I feel its actions aren't held to the highest standards.

That's pretty much the definition of greatness-- holding to the highest standards.

The things you love-- your country, your sports teams, your family, your children-- should not be above reproach. That is not how you get the best out of people.

If your child got caught stealing, would you hold them accountable for their actions or would you stomp your feet, scream and chastise anyone that criticized your child and their actions?

I believe America is still the best nation on Earth, but we are living in uncertain times where facts seemingly have lost their gravitas, intelligence and compassion are denigrated and considered weaknesses, and somehow, songs and symbols are more relevant and sacred than the ideals they represent.

These rule changes might quiet the conversation this upcoming season, but they do not effectively solve anything. That doesn't make America any better and it sure doesn't make the NFL look any better.

I know there will be a considerable portion of Seahawks fans that do not agree with me on this-- and that's perfectly fine-- but I hope that, if you do love this country as you claim to, you'll take a moment to consider Pete Carroll's  'Always Compete' philosophy and apply it to your patriotism.

We can be better. We need to be better.

But we first need to listen to those in our country that perhaps don't share the same positive experience that you do as an American.  Try to put yourself in their shoes before casting your judgement on their beliefs and actions and lets help make this country somewhere that all people are proud to voluntarily stand up and solute.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Seahawks 2018 Draft Class

The 2018 draft has concluded and Seahawks fans should be thrilled with their team's latest additions. Having more needs than the past several drafts, the Seahawks had their work cut out for them. Especially considering their relative lack of pick depth.

Seattle hit on several major areas of need while executing the trademark trading back to accumulate additional draft picks.

My favorite pick was our very first.  After trading back a few spots to pick up an extra 3rd and 6th pick, the Seahawks pulled the trigger on San Diego State running back, Rashaad Penny.

This pick didn't win over all Seahawks fans.  There were many who thought they made the pick too early, something John Schneider promptly refuted, suggesting that there was a team that contacted him immediately after the selection in an attempt to pry Penny away from Schneider.

Others complained that our rushing woes were no fault of the current stable of Seahawks backs, but rather the offensive line to blame. I simply don't agree with this line of thinking.  Over the past few seasons, Seattle has invested in their offensive line considerably while relying on undrafted and unproven running backs.

It hasn't worked and it was looking like they were doomed to repeat themselves.  We all like Chris Carson, but turning the backfield keys directly over to him, coming off a serious injury with a small but impressive body of work would have been uncomfortably similar to what we did with Thomas Rawls in his second season.  You might remember-- that didn't work.

Penny lead all of college football in total yardage.  He figures to work in conjunction with Carson, McKissic, Davis and Prosise (if he can stay healthy) to form an impressive backfield group.

Seattle didn't neglect its line, either.  They added the best blocking tight end in the draft, local kid Will Dissly out of Washington, and took a long-armed Ohio State tackle, Jamarco Jones, late in the 5th round.

The undeniably most touching moment of the draft was when the Seahawks selected Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round, reuniting the Griffin twins in Seattle. Shaquem, whose brother was a rookie cornerback for the Seahawks last year, lost his left hand at 4 years old but went on to be the player of the year last season.  He figures to contribute heavily in special teams as a rookie.

The Seahawks hope they got their Michael Bennett of the future in 3rd round choice, Rasheem Green out of USC. Evidently, fifth round choice Tre Flowers is physically identical to Richard Sherman.  We will all be thrilled if these two come anywhere close to the production of their predecessors.

The most interesting draft choice made by the Seahawks this weekend was when they traded up with the Denver Broncos to draft Michael Dixon, a punter from Texas.  This move allegedly caused the Broncos war room to erupt with laughter.

What does this mean for Jon Ryan?  Likely, it spells the end of his long career in Seattle.  Ryan, the Ginja Ninja, is beloved by the fan base and is the longest tenured player on the team, but noticeably declined last season.  Ryan is still an extremely competent punter, so I hope that the Seahawks might be able to recoup a draft pick through a trade rather than outright cutting him.

With their last pick, the Seahawks drafted quarterback Alex McGough. I wasn't aware of McGough prior to his selection, but after watching his tape, I'm just as comfortable with him backing up Wilson this season as I am with Austin Davis or the other no-name guy on the team's depth chart.

Here's a list of undrafted free agents scooped up once the draft concluded.

TCU WR Taj Williams
Missouri DE Marcell Frazier
Idaho State OL Skyler Phillips
Texas DT Poona Ford
Purdue DT Eddy Wilson
Oregon LS Tanner Carew
Oklahoma State C Brad Lundblade
Slippery Rock DE/FB Marcus Martin
Utah QB Troy Williams
Florida State LB Jacob Pugh
USC OL Viane Talamaivao
Eastern Washington DL Albert Havili
Vanderbilt WR Caleb Scott
USC S Chris Hawkins
FAU WR John Franklin III
West Virginia WR Ka’Raun White
Texas S Jason Hall
Oklahoma LB Emmanuel Beal
Michigan FB Khalid Hill

Mini Camp Invite: Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
Mini Camp Invite: Tennessee State OL Ty Allen
Mini Camp Invite: ECU CB DaShaun Amos
Mini Camp Invite: NW Missouri State CB Marcus Jones
Mini Camp Invite: Texas State LB Easy Anyama

Friday, April 27, 2018

Worth Every Penny

San Diego State's Rashaad Penny, the NCAA's leading rusher last season, was the Seahawks selection with the 27th pick in the 2018 Draft. This marks only the third time in franchise history that the Seahawks took a running back in the first round of the draft.

His predecessors-- Curt Warner and Shaun Alexander.

Warner went on to be the rookie of the year while being selected to three Pro Bowls before injuries prematurely ended his career. Alexander made three Pro Bowls and was named the 2005 MVP.  Both were home run draft picks.

That's a lot to live up to. Big shoes to fill, but Penny seems up for the challenge. There are many who think Seattle reached here, echoing the same concerns I remember hearing when Seattle took Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick in the 2012 Draft. 

Perhaps the Seahawks could have traded down, acquired extra picks, and still ended up with Penny, but John Schneider would have us believe that one team tried to coerce him to trade Penny to them. 

Just like the 2012 Draft, I'm thankful Seattle took their guy when they had the chance. Don't forget, they were able to pick up an additional 3rd and 6th round selections in the process. Penny looks to be incredibly versatile-- catching passes out of the backfield, running physically through the middle, and has tremendous lateral shiftiness in space. 

The only knock on him seems to be with his abilities in pass protection. Penny himself has admitted this, but every indication is that he is a fast and willing learner. 

I think the Seahawks had a tremendous first day of the draft. They accumulated much needed draft depth and addressed a major area of concern. Seattle has been deficient in there run game ever since Marshawn Lynch departed, largely in part to neglecting the position in previous drafts. 

Below is a fascinating vignette that compares Penny against the second overall selection, Saquon Barkley. I think Barkley might be slightly faster and a little more explosive, but Penny appears more well-rounded and otherwise identical. All indcations are that he's a great kid off the field and a potential futre leader. 

Meet your newest Seahawk, Rashaad Penny.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 Seahawks Draft Preview

The long wait is nearly over.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2018 NFL Draft, ending months of speculation.

Recently, I was able to catch up with our pal and resident draft expert, Adam Householder.  He's so important now (his words), I was only permitted to ask him three questions pertaining to tomorrow's draft. 

1. The Seahawks have traded out of the first round 4 of the previous 5 drafts. Given their lack of mid-round picks, it seems an inevitability that they trade out of the first round again. What player, if available to them at 18, would merit the Seahawks making a pick rather than trading it? I think there are only a few players Seattle considers staying put for, but I’ll also qualify that and say I think it is highly unlikely Seattle does not trade back, if not multiple times.

University of Washington DT Vita Vea would be one of those players. Yes, he is an incredible—perhaps generational—talent, but one of the main considerations that would justify staying put would be the value in his versatility. Losing Michael Bennett, and accepting the likelihood that last year’s first selection Malik McDowell may never play in a Seahawks uniform, there is a lot of room for an impactful player of Vea’s caliber. Another player the Seahawks consider staying put for is Leighton Vander Esch. Vander Esch has versatility as a pass rusher and versatile linebacker capable of any spot, but his ceiling is exceptional, and may be too tempting to pass on. 2. Seattle has more needs heading into this draft than anytime in recent memory. What do you see as their most pressing need? Who do you think can satisfy that need and what pick will Seattle take him?
The way I see it, Pete and John both want to win in the trenches and have a dominating run game. Seattle thrived on being the more physical team for years, and I believe they will look to get back to that with this draft. Possibly OG/C Billy Price or OT Kolton Miller.
A guy I’m personally not super high on but fits their profile could also be OG/C Austin Corbett. That being said, I don’t think the first pick will necessarily address Seattle’s biggest need—which I personally see as being a 5Tech DT/DE—but instead have exceptional upside and a path to opportunity.
Ultimately, I predict the Seahawks will end up with a handful of picks spreading between rounds 2 and 3.

3. Give us the name of a sleeper pick that you expect to go on day 2 or 3 who could have an immediate impact on this roster? Perhaps someone you think that could be a starter right away. One of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft as late pick but still be able to have an early impact is University of Michigan FB Khalid Hill. Hill originally went to Michigan as a TE before converting to a FB. Hill was used regularly and successfully as a short yardage back, in addition to his valuable skill set as an able receiver. Hill fits the Seahawks H-Back role perfectly and has the pedigree of coming out of a Harbaugh system—one both Pete and John have incredible respect for. My predictions for this draft will be multiple trades back, collecting a bevvy of picks between the second and third rounds, and then going after specific targets rather than wade through the clusters. In short, Schneider is about to go bananas. For the sake of ease, I have a few trade scenario predictions, but I think it’s possible Schneider makes more than five trades this draft.
- Trade back from 18 with New England in exchange for picks 23 (1st), 95 (3rd), and a 2019 4th rd. pick. - Trade back from 23 with Minnesota in exchange for picks 30 (1st), 94 (3rd), and a 2019 5th rd. - Trade back from 30 with Miami in exchange for pick 42 and a 2019 2nd rd. - Trade Earl Thomas to Dallas in exchange for pick 50 and a 2019 1st rd. - Picks 42(2nd), 50(2nd), 94(3rd), 95(3rd), 120 (4th), 141 (5th), 146 (5th), 156 (5th), 168 (5th), 226 (7th), 248 (7th) 2nd: OG/C Billy Price 2nd: TE Dallas Goedert 3rd: OLB/S Shaquem Griffin 3rd: RB Kalen Ballage/RB Jaylen Samuels/LEO Josh Sweat 4th: CB Holton Hill 5th: DE/DT Andrew Brown 5th: CB Tony Brown 5th: FB Khalid Hill 5th: OT Cole Madison 7th: DT Poona Ford 7th: QB Kyle Allen

Adam Householder is a freelance reporter for the Snohomish Tribune and frequent contributor to

Friday, April 20, 2018

Seahawks 2018 Schedule

There you have it-- the Seahawks 2018 schedule is now official.

Altogether, it's a relatively favorable schedule.  Rough start with 5 of the first 7 games taking the team on the road, including the Seahawks first trip across the pond to London. However, they get a mid-season bye and a bevy of home games in the latter portion of the season.

Both games against the 49ers occur in the first half of December, almost guaranteeing that Richard Sherman will be active to face his former team. Seattle also reignites the rivalry against Aaron Rodgers on a Thursday Night game. The Fail Mary game was a prime time match up as well-- so brace yourselves for plenty of throwback references. 

I like to stick by my idea that, if the team can start the season 4-2 or better, the playoffs are a reasonable expectation.  There's plenty of evidence suggesting they might just do that this year.  Denver is in a bit of a rebuild, Chicago is still unproven. Dallas comes in for the home opener with the momentum of the 12s in Seattle's corner. We don't yet know what to expect from Arizona, but I'm certainly not threatened by Sam Bradford. Hell, Carson Palmer had been healthier than him recently.

Rams will be the cream of the crop in the NFC West, at least until proven otherwise. I'll surrender that game to them, despite being at home. Oakland should rebound under Jon Gruden, but even if we lose the game in the UK-- Seattle should have a winning record heading into the bye.

It should be an exciting year we're looking forward to. With the draft coming up next Thursday, we'll be sure to call upon our resident draft expert, Adam Householder.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Predraft Presumptions

Welcome to the worst part of the NFL calendar year.

Free agency has cooled down and the draft is still weeks away. We've just come out of March Madness and baseball is underway.  Meaningful football games are still months away.

The only news that typically comes out of this period is of the unfortunate variety.  Off-field issues, mostly.  Nothing really good ever comes out during this limbo-like time frame.

This is when speculation dominates the headlines and bad ideas are rampant.  So, in the spirit of the (off) season, let's make some absurd, unfounded guesses for the coming year.

Pete Carroll wins his first 'Coach of the Year' award.

Let's face it-- it should've already happened. There were at least two seasons wherein Pete deserved this accolade, but instead saw it given to another of his peers.  With all of the roster turnover, many could argue that this season feels the least likely period of Carroll's career to snare this award.  However, that is precisely why I think he's (unintentionally) set up to win this year.

You could chalk up Pete's first roster overhaul to dumb luck.  As I've pointed out before, one excellent and one really good draft set this team up for long-term success.  By every account, this reboot felt at least premature and at best unnecessary.

If Carroll's team can overcome their personnel losses, the tremendous improvements made across their division, and still make the playoffs-- it will be extremely hard to deny him that accolade a third time.

Seahawks will fail to produce a 1,000 rusher for the 4th consecutive season.

The last Seahawk to finish the season with 1,000 rushing yards was Marshawn Lynch in 2014. Once again, it seems the Seahawks are content with placing the burden of the run game on another 2nd year back coming off of a serious injury.  It didn't work last time when Thomas Rawls was in that position-- and it would be foolish to assume that Chris Carson will have better luck.

Seattle hasn't given any indication that they plan to draft a running back in the first round, but they should.  Behind Carson is a bunch of guys that proved they didn't have the chops last season. Oh yeah, did I mention the Rams have Suh and Donald on their defensive front?

Seattle will reunite the Griffin Brothers.

This felt a lot more realistic when Shaquem was snubbed from the combine. Once the younger brother was invited and proceeded to put on one hell of a display-- his draft stock rose dramatically.

Shaquem appears to have a 3rd round grade on him, for which the Seahawks do not have a selection. However, the Seahawks now find themselves without Richard Sherman and have a desperate need at cornerback. The Seahawks could conceivably trade into the third round to fill that role by selecting Griffin.

Shaquem could play linebacker, corner or possibly even free safety.  A Griffin brother reunion would be much more than a heartwarming story-- it would provide the Seahawks with much needed defensive depth.

Earl Thomas will be traded before the draft.

Haven't we gone through enough this offseason? The prospect of losing perhaps the biggest personality on the team is unsettling for most fans, but it might be in the best interest of the future of the team.

Earl could net the Seahawks a handful of picks, including a first round selection.  If Seattle believes that they could potentially land a serviceable rookie with a high developmental ceiling to replace Thomas through the draft, they could save themselves the headache of trying to squeeze a long-term extension for Earl into their salary cap next year.

It would be tough on all of us to see Earl's name added to the long list of beloved players that have departed this offseason.  Still, it might be easier to swallow now, when we could recoup some of the loss through a trade, then to wait until next year when we could lose him outright-- especially if we're coming off of a losing season.

In an unprecedented move, Seattle will actually trade up in the first round of the draft.

Perhaps Seattle has learned from the past few drafts that conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason. While there are always gems to be found in the later stages of the draft, the top 25 players are generally universally agreed upon and selected in the first round.

Seattle has too many important roles to address to be gambling on late draft selections to fill them. Irrespective of an Earl Thomas trade, it would not be a terrible idea for Seattle to get ahead of that situation by trading up to select safety Derwin James out of Florida State.  James could study under Thomas, like Thomas did with Lawyer Milloy before him, while providing high-quality insurance behind MacDougald.  If Thomas is traded, James had shown he has the tools to be a day one starter.

Additionally, a trade up for hometown stud Vita Vea could address a pressing need on the defensive line.  Naz Jones showed great promise last year and Jarran Reed has been a quality starter, but both of them have had bouts with injury. Adding Vea to that mix would create a dominant defensive line that would tremendously benefit a young defensive backfield.