Seahawks could find cheaper, younger options in talent-rich draft

This strength of this year's draft lies at defensive tackle, which may just rank as an even bigger area of need for the Seahawks than the offensive line.

With inconsistency along the offensive line a season-long issue, it goes without saying that the Seahawks will look to build upon the offensive line in the 2016 draft.

Should starting left tackle Russell Okung and/or right guard J.R. Sweezy sign elsewhere, that intention could turn into a overriding need.

Not enough attention, however, seems to be paid to the fact that Seattle could have significant needs on the other side of the line of scrimmage as well, with veteran starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin also set to hit the free market.

Mebane, the longest tenured Seahawk, and Rubin are nine and eight year veterans, respectively. And while neither is about to break the bank in free agency at this point in their career, each did play well last season, however, Seattle could want to retain them but still lose out in the open market to a team with more cap room looking to raid Seattle's great defense. The 29-year old Rubin, in particular, could draw interest after starting all 16 games for the first time since 2011. 

Whether or not Mebane and Rubin are retained, may ultimately matter little when it comes to Seattle's drafting a defensive tackle this spring. This year's class at the position may simply be too good for John Schneider and Seattle's scouting staff to ignore for seven rounds. 

The NFL just released the official Combine list. On this list of 332 players is a class of 31 defensive tackles who rank among the best groups at the position I've seen in my career. 

There are no less than eight defensive tackles I currently project as reasonable options for Seattle's first round pick alone, with Baylor's Andrew Billings, Florida's Jonathan Bullard, Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler and UCLA's Kenny Clark all particularly intriguing.

Because of the talent up top, a so-called "second tier" of defensive tackles could slip a little later than they should. Schneider and his staff have won big on Day Two of the draft and could find Nebraska's Maliek Collins, Notre Dame's Sheldon Day or Texas' Hassan Ridgeway available later than they should.

The depth continues into Day Three with Michigan's Willie Henry, Michigan State's Lawrence Thomas and USC's Antwaun Woods all potential last day steals, as well -- with most of the players listed here projecting as stout run defenders capable of complementing Seattle's relatively quick (but undersized) current projected starting defensive tackle Jordan Hill. Top Stories