Seattle Seahawks Sophomore Sleeper: Jaye Howard


Seattle Seahawks second-year defensive lineman Jaye Howard is hungry — no pun intended. The 305-pound former University of Florida standout was put through mild shock last season playing only two games as a rookie with his new team. Coming out of the SEC and playing for a championship program, Howard had already played against high-level competition. So it is easy to understand why he was projected to be a difference-maker on the Seahawks defensive line as early as his rookie season.

However, he finished his first season as a pro with zero tackles and zero sacks.

This was surely a humbling experience for Howard, but one that he seems to be feeding off of instead of allowing it to discourage him. The coaching staff took notice of his presence at the team’s Renton facility throughout the offseason, as he spent nearly every day training and studying film there. Howard’s goal was to become a stronger player at the point of attack, and to understand the finer intricacies of his team’s defense. This season, after gaining approximately 20 pounds of good weight, he will use his outstanding work ethic and a newfound familiarity with the coaching staff to push for more playing time.

With Dan Quinn rejoining the Seahawks coaching staff as their defensive coordinator, Howard will have a familiar face coaching him once again in his sophomore season. The two have history together as Quinn also coached Howard at the University of Florida. Their relationship will undoubtedly be helpful for the second year defensive lineman as he looks to take the next step.

That next step may be in a somewhat new direction for Howard. He has reportedly seen time at defensive end during training camp this year, backing up converted defensive tackle Red Bryant. The Seahawks defensive scheme is somewhat unique, in that they are technically a 4-3 defense but they employ 3-4 personnel.

The defensive line in this scheme is predicated on creating mismatches that favor the ‘Leo’ defensive end. The term ‘Leo’ in this system refers to the rush defensive end or rush linebacker played by Chris Clemons the past three seasons. In order to do this, Seattle has relied on Red Bryant’s size and run-stopping ability at the other end position, essentially creating a 3-4 front and allowing the strong side linebacker to pass rush opposite the ‘Leo’.

So Howard is becoming more valuable with his versatility as he splits time between the defensive tackle position he played the past two seasons and the defensive end position that he played early in his college career. It is likely that the gap responsibilities for the end will be different in this system so it will probably be a relatively new experience. However, it should be one that Howard is comfortable with. After all, he has never had a problem with athleticism and could provide a greater pass rush than Red Bryant from that spot on the line. He did manage 11 sacks in college — 5.5 at defensive tackle his senior year, and a combined 5.5 sacks splitting time between end and tackle prior to that.