The Seattle Seahawks' pass-rush last season produced 39 sacks and generated pressure on 27.9 percent of opposing quarterbacks' dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Those unspectacular figures ranked tied for 13th and 18th in the NFL, respectively.
And that was with Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson manning Seattle's defensive line. They're both gone while Cliff Avril also seems unlikely to be back because of a career-threatening neck injury.
That's a whole lot of pass-rush production the Seahawks need to replace. ESPN's Todd McShay had that in mind in his fourth mock draft, which was released Wednesday. It has Seattle taking UT San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport at No. 18.
Davenport racked up 21.5 sacks over four college seasons, including 8.5 as a senior to go along with 17 tackles for loss. He followed up a strong week at the Senior Bowl with a 4.58-second 40 at the scouting combine, which is an exceptional time for a 6-foot-6, 264-pound defensive end.
McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. both described the 21-year-old Davenport as a raw talent but still one of this draft's top pass-rushers. They agree that he's the No. 2 defensive end behind North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb.
McShay's projection of Davenport to the Seahawks was part of a two-round mock draft along with Kiper. The latter gave Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson to Seattle at No. 18, as Kiper and McShay each did in their third mock drafts.
The Seahawks don't have a second- or third-round pick -- much to general manager John Schneider's discontent -- after parting with them in the Richardson and Duane Brown trades, respectively. That absence of top-end draft capital has led to the widely-held expectation that the Seahawks will trade down in the first round, something Schneider has done often during his eight drafts with Seattle.
But that's far from a certainty.
Trading Earl Thomas, for instance, could recoup at least one of those missing picks and likely more. That could lessen the temptation to move down. Even if the Seahawks hang on to Thomas, there's no guarantee they'd find a trade partner on draft night that's intent on moving up in the first round and willing to make Seattle a suitable offer to do so.
And what if the Seahawks simply decide that they can't pass up on a player who has fallen to them at 18?
As it stands now, Dion Jordan is the projected starter at defensive end opposite Frank Clark. Jordan's NFL comeback got off to a nice start late last season with four sacks in five games, but those were his only five games over the past three seasons. And he's playing on a one-year restricted-free-agent tender while Clark is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Plus, Malik McDowell's availability is still in question after last year's top pick missed his entire rookie season because of a head injury, so the position is hardly solidified long-term.
It's why a player like Davenport -- even at 18 -- could make sense.
Here's a look back at the players Kiper and McShay projected to the Seahawks in their first three mock drafts: