The Seattle Seahawks haven’t produced a double-digit sack master from the line of scrimmage since the 2018 season, when defensive end Frank Clark and defensive tackle Jarran Reed produced 13 and 10.5 sacks, respectively.
With the No. 9 overall pick in the April 28 NFL Draft, chatter among fans online and NFL Draft pundits has tabbed the Seahawks trying to decide between a replacement for former franchise quarterback Russell Wilson or taking edge rush help (Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux has been projected by some mocks to fall to the ninth spot). The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta is already one believer that the pass rush needs to improve in his Wednesday, April 6 column.
However, in an exclusive interview with Heavy, one defender who earned the top honor for defenders in his conference says he would “kick some a**” if taken by Seattle regardless of round.
Edge Rusher is Standout From the MAC
The 2021 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Defensive Player of the Year Ali Fayad of Western Michigan says the Seahawks have talked to him recently.
He leaves Kalamazoo, Michigan leading the MAC with 13 sacks. Two guys he snatched? Carson Strong of Nevada and Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh — the latter signal-caller projected to be the first quarterback taken on April 28.
But the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder says “it would be phenomenal” to come in and line up for Seattle following his conversation with Seahawk officials.
“They need edge rush help over there,” Fayad said. “They make the call on April 28, 29, 30th, whatever, I’ll be ready to strap up and be ready in training camp to kick some a** for sure.”
Opposing Teams Gave Him ‘Wood to my Pit’
Fayad may not be as highly touted of an edge rusher compared to Thibodeaux or potential first overall pick Aidan Hutchinson.
Fayad is heading to the draft as an underdog with the odds stacked against him. But he’s used to being that label…tracing back to his recruitment period.
“A lot of teams said I wasn’t big enough, I wasn’t fast enough, and I didn’t have the measurables that the other guys did,” Fayad recalled.
There were two MAC schools that really caught his attention — ultimately helping grow his inner fire for the rest of his career.
“I remember, vividly, getting the Bowling Green text that my high school d-line coach sent me saying that my get-off wasn’t good enough. Plus Central Michigan talking about how I was too small,” Fayad said. “Things like that became wood to my pit. I was just burning fire all within me.”
He added that he had to earn his Eastern Michigan offer by going against every offensive lineman who attended the camp he went to…without taking any breaks. But, “I earned everything. Thankful for my peoples for giving me the platform and foundation to jump off. I still got that fire in me just thinking about all of that.”
One rival MAC school, he says, was “clowning” him.
“Central actually had me on a visit and I felt like they were clowning me — telling me ‘we have wide receivers who are 15 pounds heavier,’ stuff like that,” Fayad said. “It felt great to come out and win defensive player of the year. It felt great overall to reign the conference as king.”
Current Seahawk Gave Him Draft Advice
Here’s what else can potentially bolster his chances of joining the Seahawks: His familiarity with one member of the Seattle receiving unit: Past WMU Broncos standout D’Wayne Eskridge.
The No. 56 overall pick of the 2021 draft even shared a draft tidbit that eventually resonated with Fayad regarding mock drafts.
“I remember talking to Dwayne Eskridge his senior year and before he went into the draft. I saw something on social media and he told me ‘You don’t even want to know. I don’t get into the mock draft type of thing.’ And once I heard him say that, he was very much a leader to me and showed where his mental was on: He wasn’t focused on the outside noise and whatever people projected,” Fayad said.
However, he is aware that he’s entering this draft without the hype that other edge defenders have received and as someone from a non-Power Five conference. But he’s confident in knowing he’s a major sleeper in this class.
“I know that for a fact. It’s nothing to me. All I’ve got to do is get on that field and all the chips will fall as they may, I promise you that. Every time I’ve been in a situation where they didn’t know about me just like in high school and now college, people didn’t believe me at the time but now, I’m the defensive player of the year from my conference. It’s part of being the underdog…and I’ve embraced it. I’m just ready to dominate.”