John Schneider remains confident in Seahawks 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier

Joe Fann
NBC Sports Northwest

INDIANAPOLIS – Both John Schneider and Pete Carroll referenced the Seahawks need to improve their pass rush in 2020. Only the Lions (23) had fewer sacks than the Seahawks (28) last season.

But while all of the focus is on bringing back Jadeveon Clowney or signing another high-profile edge rusher, Seattle is confident that there are a few in-house pieces that may be able to contribute. Rasheem Green and Shaquem Griffin are two names who are expected to be in the rotation.

The Seahawks are also banking on L.J. Collier being a factor. Seattle's 2019 first-round pick was essentially red-shirted as a rookie. Collier appeared in 11 games and made three total tackles. He was a healthy scratch down the stretch of the season, including both of the Seahawks playoff games.

When asked about Collier, Schneider opted to take the glass-half full approach.

"We were lucky that we had him. We thought we were going to lose him for the season that day (in camp)," the GM said, referring to when Collier rolled his ankle on July 30. "We were lucky that we didn't have to place him on IR. Obviously we would have liked to see him make a little bit more of a dent."

Collier's high-ankle sprain forced him to miss a little more than a month, and he was never able to get himself truly into the rotation on Seattle's defensive line. That was surprising to many given the numerous injuries the team suffered at those spots. After practices during the regular season, Collier was often seen getting extra 1-on-1 reps against some of the team's young offensive linemen, many of whom were on the practice squad.

The work was likely beneficial for Collier, but it was also a clear indication that he wouldn't have a role on gamedays. That's expected to change in Year 2. Schneider said he and Collier had an "awesome" meeting on move-out day back in January.

"He was really excited about next year and what that brings," Schneider said. "We had traded Frank (Clark), so we were really excited to be able to acquire L.J., and then unfortunately he had that really funky ankle injury."

Collier has the label of a "tweener," which can be the kiss of death for a defensive lineman as it's somewhat synonymous for not having a true home. Is he a defensive tackle? Is he an edge rusher? We still don't know where Collier will fit best.

But Schneider remained steadfast that the Seahawks have a vision to get the most out of their former first-rounder.

"He's a powerful rusher," Schneider said. "He's got great hands. He can rush inside. He can rush outside. He can rush at the five (technique). He can rush at the three (technique). He's going to be… we're excited."

Collier took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to proclaim that he's coming to prove all of his doubters wrong. Seahawks fans remain skeptical, but in Collier's defense, it's far too early to make a definitive determination after just one season, no matter how limited the returns have been.

John Schneider remains confident in Seahawks 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

What to Read Next