Seahawks address pass rush need selecting TCU’s L.J. Collier
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — As the defensive linemen kept coming off the board, the Seattle Seahawks decided not to take a risk or get cute at the end of the first round of the draft.
Yet in true Seattle style, the pick made to address an acknowledged need was a player few were expecting to go on the first night.
Seattle selected TCU defensive end L.J. Collier with the No. 29 pick on Thursday night, while also making a pair of important trades to bolster their total number of selections over the three days.
Defensive line, and specifically defensive end, was a major priority after Seattle traded Frank Clark to Kansas City earlier this week. By selecting Collier, the Seahawks went with a versatile pass rusher who can project to rush off the edge and move inside as well. Collier isn’t intended to be a replacement for Clark, but rather is another option to use in multiple positions on the defensive line.
“I didn’t know where I was going to go. But man, it’s truly an honor,” Collier said. “I’m truly appreciative of coach Carroll and those guys up there. They took a chance on me. They took a chance on a good one.”
Collier was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in his senior season after recording 42 tackles, 11 ½ tackles for loss, six sacks, and four pass breakups. He played in a rotation during his first three years at TCU before becoming a full-time starter as a senior. The lack of playing time early in his career didn’t deter Seattle. And it was his versatility that was key to Seattle going after a player that most analysts didn’t expect to go until the second day of the draft.
While Collier played mostly off the edge at TCU, he also projects to be able to rush from the interior. If Collier develops, Seattle could have found its new version of Michael Bennett, a comparison former Seahawks scout and current Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy made on Twitter . Coach Pete Carroll agreed with the comparison.
“The thing I liked the most is the chip on the shoulder mentality. He’s got something to prove,” Carroll said. “That came through in the interviews, too. That was really important for our coaches to see him and talk with him and get that feel. He’s one of our guys.”
While addressing a position of need was big for Seattle, the more important accomplishment was landing four additional picks.
“We really feel like we’re back in the mix in this draft,” general manager John Schneider said.
Seattle was originally set to select at No. 21, but traded that pick to Green Bay in exchange for the No. 30 pick and a pair of fourth-round selections. Seattle has not used its original first-round pick in eight straight drafts.
That 30th pick was later dealt to the New York Giants as Seattle picked up a second-round pick, an additional fourth-rounder and another fifth-round selection. Seattle began the week with just four selections, the fewest of any team in the NFL. After all the trades, including the one involving Clark, the Seahawks have eight more selections over the final two days along with landing the pass rusher they needed.
“It was very important,” Schneider said. “You’re looking at where we started out having four picks going into this thing, it’s not a good feeling. I think everybody understood where we were at in terms of trading back.”
Schneider and Carroll also addressed the Clark trade for the first time Thursday. Both indicated that the market for defensive ends simply became too inflated for Clark and the Seahawks to reach agreement on a long-term contract, and Kansas City was aggressive about making a trade. While Seattle budgeted for Clark to play the upcoming season on the franchise tag costing $17.1 million against the salary cap, the market dictated a trade was likely the best move.
“We had every intension of doing a long-term deal with him and hoped that we could,” Carroll said. “The market just went crazy. It went out there so far. We just couldn’t work it in, so we had to make him available at the end of it.”