NWSB Midterms: 2011 Seahawks Defensive Player Grades

Seahawks Player Grades

Some of you may have read my blog (Northwest Pro Sports) where I break down and grade every Seahawks player each game based on their performance taking every snap they play into consideration.

Did you miss my offensive player rankings article?


This is a midterm report based on their performance through the Cowboys game.

Defensive Line

1) Alan Branch (A-)

If you had asked me who the best defensive lineman during the first half of the season I would not have answered Branch yet here we are and he has been the most consistent lineman especially recently. He hasn’t been under and A- in any game since he had a B+ in week 3. His numbers (17 tackles and 1 sack) don’t really show the disruption he causes his opponents.

2) Brandon Mebane (A-)

Brandon had a strong start but the last two weeks he has tailed off a little bit and that is the reason I have him second to Branch despite better numbers and being a force himself. Mebane has 27 tackles.

3) Chris Clemons (B+)

Chris has become quite the pass rusher and his numbers would only get better if the Seahawks had a better defensive end rushing the passer on the other side. Chris has 5 sacks and 21 tackles through eight games.

4) Red Bryant (B)

Red would have been graded with a B+ if it hadn’t been for his melt down that got him ejected from the Browns game after having a monster day with two blocked field goals. He is a beast against the run, in-fact I challenge anyone to find a better DE against the run than big 79, but he struggles to get pressure in the passing game and that can lead to him being a little bit of a liability. Red has 17 tackles and a half sack so far this season.

5) Raheem Brock (B)

It appears Raheem has come back down to earth after having a career year last season. He has 16 tackles but has only managed 1 sack. He has been getting pressure on the quarterback but just can’t seem to get to QB’s fast enough to turn pressure into sacks. Perhaps his age is catching up to him.

6) Clinton McDonald (B-)

Clinton plays as a rotational guy but when he is in you don’t see a huge drop off in play. He doesn’t put up big numbers (although he has 17 tackles like Branch) but he isn’t a guy you worry about playing to keep the starters fresh either.

7) Anthony Hargrove (C+)

He has played fairly well on defense this season, as a backup, but he has been struggling at time on special teams especially trying to block in the return game. Anthony has 13 tackles and 1 sack so far this season.


1) Leroy Hill (B-)

After a rough couple seasons dealing with injury and addiction Hill appears to be refocused on football and has become Seattle’s most consistent and reliable linebackers. Leroy has 50 tackles, 1 sack and a forced fumble so far this season.

2) KJ Wright (B-)

So much was made of the fact that Aaron Curry never lived up to potential and that is true however his emergence made Curry’s potential meaningless. After just a couple games into his NFL career this 4th round draft pick proved to be more reliable and consistent then 4th overall pick Aaron Curry who had been drafted a couple years before. Wright has 27 tackles to date.

3) David Hawthorne (C+)

David has had a couple nice games so far this season but for the most part his play has been mediocre. He does lead the linebackers with 54 tackles this season,has an interception and a sack.

4) Matt McCoy (C)

He was slated to be the teams middle linebacker in Nickel and Dime situations but his season, just three weeks old, was ended when fellow linebacker Aaron Curry hit his knee from the side and put him on Injured Reserve.

5) Aaron Curry (C)

Aaron was too inconsistent, plain and simple. He would make a big play and then turn around and leave a man wide open for a big play. He was a liability in coverage and wasn’t doing a great job against the run either. After KJ proved to be better he was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a 2012 and a 2013 draft pick.

6) Malcolm Smith (C-)

Malcolm was Seattle’s final pick of the 2011 NFL draft and he has shown ability but he is going to take some time to develop. He is mainly used in special teams situations.


1) Richard Sherman (B)

Richard has stepped into his role as the starting cornerback after Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond were placed on injured reserve. He is playing solid and if he continues to improve he won’t be watching a game from the sidelines any time soon (barring injury of course). Sherman has 20 tackles a forced fumble and an interception so far this season.

2) Walter Thurmond (C+)

Walter was playing pretty well until a broken leg landed him on injured reserve. Thurmond finished his season with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.

3) Marcus Trufant (C+)

Marcus started the season well but on his third game started to struggle. Soon after he was placed on injured reserve because his lower back was bother him again. After missing most of 2009 with a similar injury it is possible we have seen the last of 23. Trufant had 23 tackles and an interception for the 2011 NFL Season.

Kam Chancellor

SI Peter Kings All Pro Team - Kam started the season on fire

4) Roy Lewis (C+)

He has only played in two games since returning from starting the season on the physically unable to preform list but after a shaky first game he was much improved in his second. Lewis has 7 tackles and a fumble recovery this season.

5) Brandon Browner (C)

Brandon has the ability to make a lot of plays but at times he doesn’t trust his skills and he leans on receivers too much and racks up penalties. He needs to clean that up in the second half. Browner has 32 tackles and an interception so far this season.

6) Kennard Cox (C-)

Kennard was brought back to Seattle because of his special teams ability but so far he has been anything but special. He has made several uncharacteristic mistakes that have cost the Seahawks in games. If he doesn’t have a better second half he will be looking at other careers come next season. Cox has 8 tackles and a half sack so far this season.


1) Kam Chancellor (B)

Kam started the season on fire but in the last three games he has not been playing his best football. The game against the Cowboys was his worst game of the season, it seemed like he forgot how to tackle. So far this season he has 50 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and three interceptions.

2) Earl Thomas (B-)

You can see a big difference in Thomas this season. He is playing much faster and much more instinctual. Earl has missed opportunities to make some big plays but he is a defender opposing teams need to keep an eye on. Through the first half of the Season he leads the defense with 55 tackles and he also has 1 interception.

3) Jeron Johnson (C+)

Jeron has not had a lot of opportunities but when he has gotten a chance he usually makes the most of it. He has 6 tackles so far this season.

4) Atari Bigby (C-)

Atari did not have a chance to learn the defense during the preseason and it seems to effect his play during the first half of the season. He was a good safety in Green Bay but struggled with injuries causing the Packers to go in another direction. I would expect his play to improve as the season moves along. Bigby has 11 tackles and 1 sack so far this season.

Midseason Defensive Awards

Defensive MVP: Alan Branch, when he is in he is usually creating havoc on opposing offenses.

Rookie of the Year: Richard Sherman, since he has taken over the starting job he hasn’t looked back and has become the teams best cornerback.

Biggest Disappointment: Aaron Curry, after being the fourth overall pick just two seasons ago his play has led to him being traded for a couple low round picks.

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About Brett Bivens

Born and raised in Spokane. Moved to Seattle in 2006. A Seahawks fan since he can remember, Seahawks season ticket holder for 5 years!. He blogs, tweets and bleeds blue and green. 12th Man For Life! Connect with Brett today!
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