With pick No. 172 in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected defensive tackle Jimmy Staten out of Middle Tennessee State. Staten is a great athlete who put together an impressive workout at his pro day.
Defensive tackle wasn't thought to be a position that the Seahawks were likely to target in the draft this year. Starters Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel both return from the 2013 Super Bowl team. The Seahawks also have 2013 draft picks Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill on the roster, as well as 2012 draft pick Greg Scruggs.
The rotation at the position also includes defensive end Michael Bennett, who rotates inside on passing downs. With the addition of Staten, there is now going to be a tough battle for playing time on the inside of the defensive line. Staten may face an uphill battle just to make Seattle's roster this season.
One thing that Staten offers that may help his case is versatility along the defensive line. At the moment, he represents a potential backup at three positions in 2014.
Staten said he'll play "wherever they fit him in" - end, nose, defensive tackle— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) May 10, 2014
Staten could fit along Seattle's line in a number of ways. He possesses the strength necessary to two-gap, so he should be able to find success either as a nose tackle or at 5-technique. With defensive end Red Bryant now in Jacksonville, it is possible that the Seahawks view Staten as his replacement in short-yardage situations.
The Seahawks have talked about evolving away from that type of player there, but they also didn't have anyone on the roster who had proven capable of playing that role. Perhaps the Seahawks will rethink those changes to there defensive scheme now that Staten is on the roster.
Staten is very similar athletically to 2013 fifth-round pick Jesse Williams. Williams missed the entire 2013 season with a knee injury and now will face stiff competition from Staten for both playing time and a spot on the active roster.
Williams missed all of the 2013 season, and the Seahawks risked losing him to a waiver claim by placing him on injured reserve early. Staten's selection here may indicate that the Seahawks do not believe that William's knee will ever healthy enough to return to his college form.
It is also important to note that it's a long way from Middle Tennessee State to the NFL. It will likely take time for Staten to develop his game before he is ready to make a major contribution to Seattle's defense. Staten is still raw as a prospect. Whether or not he sees the field in 2014 may ultimately depend on how quickly he responds to coaching.
Beyond 2014, Staten's place on the roster will depend greatly on where his skills fit into Seattle's scheme. Seattle's salary-cap situation indicates that they may want to replace nose tackle Brandon Mebane with a lower-cost option before the 2015 season, and Staten is certainly a candidate to take over the position at this point.