Cliff Avril Sets Big Expectations for Seahawks Defensive Line

Cliff Avril

Getty Cliff Avril waves to the crowd at the Dinner on the 50 Event in 2017.

The Seattle Seahawks are preparing to defend the NFC West crown, but the team will need to shut down the playmakers in Arizona, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A big part of this process will be the defensive line, which will shine, according to a former player. Cliff Avril recently proclaimed that the line could be the team’s best since 2013.

The former Seahawks defender made these comments during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle. He explained to the Wyman and Bob show that the rotational players and new additions to the lineup could take the unit over the top. Specifically, he highlighted former 49ers defender Kerry Hyder Jr. as a key figure to watch.

“I love his game right? … When I see Hyder in that four-point stance and just getting out of his stance and how explosive he is, he reminds me of myself in so many ways when I was in the nine-technique in Detroit,” Avril told the hosts. “I’m excited to see him because he does a lot of great things … I think he’s going to bring a lot more than people expect to the game for the Seahawks upfront. I think he can play inside as well, and he’s just elusive on the edge.”

Avril Praised the Depth on the Roster

Along with the addition of Hyder, the Seahawks have a sizable group of defensive ends that will fight for snaps and the opportunity to take down opposing quarterbacks. The list includes veterans such as Benson Mayowa (six sacks), Aldon Smith (3.5 sacks), and Carlos Dunlap (five sacks) who all got to the quarterback during the 2020 season.

Additionally, the Seahawks have some depth players in 2019 first-round pick LJ Collier, second-year player Alton Robinson, and fourth-year defender Rasheem Green. The members of this group still have progress to make before taking over as starters, but they have combined for 10 sacks during their time in the NFL, with Green accounting for seven.

“This is, I think, the deepest defensive line that the Seahawks have had from a depth perspective since the Super Bowl year, the year we won the Super Bowl [in 2013],” Avril said during his appearance on Wyman and Bob.

The Seahawks have several options at defensive end, resulting in a considerable amount of depth. Though Avril clarified that simply having a lot of players is not enough. They have to go out and perform at a high level, especially against division foes.

The 2013 Roster Featured an Assortment of Talented Defenders

Michael Bennett

GettyMichael Bennett returns a fumble for a touchdown against the Saints.

The 2013 season ended with the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII, but the road to the playoffs featured standout play by the defense. The stacked group led the NFL in points allowed (231), yards allowed (4,378), and takeaways (39). They then held the Broncos to a mere eight points during a 43-8 blowout on Feb. 2, 2014.

While the Legion of Boom — Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Byron Maxwell among others — created headlines with their clutch plays and postgame interviews, the defensive line played a critical role in every game. This group featuring Avril, Michael Bennett, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, and Brandon Mebane wreaked havoc on opposing offenses and combined for 31.5 sacks. The linebackers and other members of the defense added another 12.5.

The Seahawks have been unable to fully recreate this dominant form on defense in the years since winning the Lombardi Trophy. However, Avril believes that the team can change this trend during the 2021 season. He just needs to see the depth players perform on a consistent level.

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