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I think more than anyone else, Brandon Mebane suffers under the weight of high expectations. When he was drafted, when he put up a solid rookie campaign, when he seemingly took a big step forward in his second year, people had visions of a mini-Cortez Kennedy. Someone who could be a disruptive force in the middle, giving quarterbacks headaches on the reg with his jump off the snap. But, over the last four seasons, he’s just been kind of okay. On a performance review, he would have “Meets Expectations” across the board.
He’s the best run-stuffer on this team, but he’s probably somewhere in the middle of the pack if you include the rest of the NFL’s defensive tackles. He got 3 sacks last season, which isn’t terrible, but it’s also not particularly impressive either. Aside from missing a few games in 2010, Mebane has been durable, so it’s hard to fault him there. This isn’t a Marcus Tubbs situation where we’re counting on one wide-body in the middle of our line for the rest of the line to be effective, except we can’t count on him because he’s always injured. Mebane, really, is counted upon to do his job. And he does it, at a level where you would expect him to do it.
It’s time to give up the ghost on Mebane ever being an All Pro, or probably even a Pro Bowler. Mebane just finished his sixth season, which means he’s probably closer to being out of the league than he is to the start of his career. A sixth season Brandon Mebane is a Brandon Mebane in his prime, and a Brandon Mebane in his prime is good enough to be the best defensive tackle on the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s far from the best defensive tackle in the league.
I wouldn’t expect Mebane’s skills to fall off the cliff, but it would be reasonable to expect things to start declining, little by little. Considering he’s been flanked by Alan Branch the last two seasons – another tackle getting on in years – and considering Branch is a free agent who probably won’t be a high priority for this team to re-sign, I would expect this team seriously addresses the position in the upcoming draft.
Yes, we’ve heard all the talk: the coaches want to bring in a pass-rushing guy who plays in the interior line. But, I wouldn’t be altogether shocked to see this team look into finding eventual replacements for BOTH spots on the interior line. I guess it all depends on how much you like Clinton McDonald or Jaye Howard.