It's hard to argue that on the field, everything starts up front. Whether it's offense or defense, the men playing with their hands on the ground are very often the reason your team will win or lose Sunday afternoon. For defenses, having a dominating pass rusher like Indy's Dwight Freeney or Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice can take over games and even limit what plays the offense may call. Look at our own Seahawks the past few years. Head coach Mike Holmgren has stated on more than one occasion that he was sometimes reluctant to call 7-step drops because he feared getting sacked! How many times have we seen opposing QB's standing tall in the pocket, eyes downfield just waiting for their 3rd or even 4th receiving option to come open? It doesn't matter if you have an ENTIRE secondary of All Pro DB's back there, a receiver will eventually get open if his QB has enough time to throw.
The Seahawks made a big effort to solve this problem last year when it signed DE Grant Wistrom to a huge contract in the offseason. Injuries slowed his production in ‘04, but no one can deny how much better the entire defense played when he was on the field. And Wistrom's not even a dominating pass rusher. He's good, but nowhere near the same level as the NFL's elite pass rushers. Losing Wistrom's bookend, Chike Okeafor, will hurt the rush, but the ‘Hawks are hoping newly signed Bryce Fisher can pair up with veteran Antonio Cochran to have an impact.
But even with the trio of Wistrom, Cochran and Fisher, Seattle still lacks a DE that specializes in sending QB's to the turf. This lack of pressure is a huge reason our defense can't get off the field, especially on third down. This year's NFL Draft doesn't appear to have a Dwight Freeney in it's class, but it certainly has some talented pass rushers that can make an impact for the ‘Hawks as rookies. In part one of this series, we take a look at the defensive ends in the class of 2005.
David Pollack, DE Georgia
6'2" 265 4.75 (40 Time)
NFL Comparison- Patrick Kerney, Atlanta
I had originally compared Pollack to our own Grant Wistrom, but it's definitely clear he's a much better pass rusher than Wistrom. The epitome of a football player, Pollack is absolutely relentless, all the time. Whether it's pass-rushing or dragging down running backs, Pollack's hustle and non-stop motor leaps out at you on film. He's put up huge numbers the past three years at Georgia despite constant attention from opposing offenses, making him that much more attractive to NFL scouts. Pollack's also one of the smartest players at his position, showing a knack for making good pre-snap reads and recognizing plays before anyone else does. Also, in an age where many NFL teams are shying away from prima-donna players that seem to care more about the ‘bling' hanging around their necks, Pollack is the polar opposite, having a team-first attitude and giving his all in practice, as well as on game day.
Despite his lack of NFL size (6'2"), Pollack gets to the QB consistently. He's quick off the ball and has a good, not great, first step. His lateral movement is excellent and he closes on QB's with the best of them. Plays with good leverage and is able to punch offensive tackles and get around them. Makes big plays, forcing fumbles and even stripping QB's for the ball and recovering them on the same play.
Playing the Run-
Knows how to anchor vs. the run and uses his weight well. Much better scraping down the line-of-scrimmage in pursuit than taking on offensive lineman head-on, but who isn't? There is a concern about his ability to take on tackles at the point-of-attack at the next level, but this is usually a concern of most "undersized" college DE's. However, Pollack's got very solid strength and, in my opinion, he wont be any more a liability than any other DE in the game.
Roster Impact for Seattle-
Being a franchise that's had considerable drama the past year, selecting an impact player that's also a solid locker room presence would be a huge improvement for the team. However, because so many teams are looking for a player like Pollack, it's virtually guaranteed that he wont be on the board at #23. The ‘Hawks would have to give up valuable draft picks in order to move up and get him, making it extremely unlikely that he'll be lining up opposite Grant Wistrom next year.
Top 20. Pollack could go as high as #9 to Washington, but something tells me that because so many NFL teams have fallen in love with workout numbers, Pollack may slip a bit. Any team needing a DE will certainly look at him, but watch out for Kansas City, Cincinnati, Minnesota and St. Louis.
There are definitely faster, more athletic DE's in this class, but as a whole, Pollack's clearly the number one rated DE on my board right now. No one matches his hustle, intelligence and ability to play the run and pass equally well. His entire body of work is also second to none. Added to which, Pollack's a high-character guy that always seems to make big plays. Whoever ends up with him is going to get a very, very good football player.
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