No trading down for more draft picks. No pursuit of higher-profile players. Seahawks used their top pick on LB Jordyn Brooks, who seems much like Bobby Wagner.
Unfortunately, the NFL keeps no statistic for eye rolls generated per draft (American pro football, first round). But if it did, the Seahawks would have expanded their already considerable lead Thursday night.
They selected a player who is good, but who no one else in football thought was worthy of drafting in the opening round of the NFL’s first virtual draft.
While sports and the rest of the world is cattywampus with shattred habits and routines, it was remarkable to see the Seahawks stick steadfastly to their contrarian tradition that recently includes drafts of Malik McDowell, Rashaad Penny and L.J. Collier.
That is not to say that Jordyn Brooks, a stout, speedy linebacker from Texas Tech, is doomed to fail. It’s just that other teams, along with Seahawks fans, have every right to lean against the door jamb, arms folded across chests, eyebrows arched, and tap one foot impatiently.
Well? Explain yourselves. Explain why you didn’t trade out of the first round and instead used your own pick for your own player for the first time since 2011.
“We just found a guy that really could check all the boxes,” said coach Pete Carroll, nonchalantly.
That may be true, but he could have checked the boxes just as easily in Friday’s second round, with picks the Seahawks had at 59 and 64, not 27. Hey, even the kid wasn’t ready for it when the call came. He was briefly away from the TV and his phone, in the kitchen fixing some pasta.
“I was a little bit surprised it was the Seahawks,” he told reporters by Zoom conference from Dallas. “I wasn’t surprised by the first round. But I hadn’t talked to them since the combine, so I wasn’t really expecting them to pick me. But I’m very grateful and excited to get down there in Seattle.”
While he may be momentarily challenged directionally, he knows his Seattle sports history.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said of the Seahawks’ triumph in Super Bowl XLVIII. “They played the Broncos and I think they won the game like 40-8 (43-8, but he was barely in high school). I just remember it being a hard-nosed defensive game for the Seahawks side. I just remember looking at that defense the whole year, basically.
“With the defensive backs that they had, and of course Bobby Wagner, and the guys they had up front. It was something special to watch. I really got my eyes on Bobby Wagner. I remember a lot from that season. It makes me excited to come here.”
Well, that’s a big box checked. Particularly the awareness of Wagner. At 6-0 and 245 pounds, Brooks has the size, speed and manner of Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker. No one knows better than the man who coached them both.
Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells called Jordyn Brooks the “next Bobby Wagner” which he would know since he coaches Wagner at Utah State.
I think Seahawks fans would sign up for that.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 24, 2020
Carroll made note.
“I really like that he has a lot of respect for Bobby and (fellow LB K.J. Wright),” he said. “He knows of them, and he’s followed them, and he’s looked up to those guys.”
Carroll said his first call after the selection was from Wagner, wanting Brooks’s contact info. Wagner, 30 in June, is in no need of replacement, but it will happen someday — and sooner for Wright, 31 in July and in the final year of his contract. The player most impacted is second-year LB Cody Barton. The Seahawks haven’t brought back the strongside linebacker next to Wagner most of last season, Mychal Kendricks. So there’s an immediate vacancy.
“We always need to get faster and get tougher on defense, no matter what spot we’re talking about,” Carroll said. “He fit that perfectly. We’re really excited to have him to enter our defense.”
In his senior year in Lubbock, the Houston native was first-team All-Big 12 and a consensus second-team All-America selection after recording 108 tackles, including 20 tackles for loss and three sacks. Brooks finished his collegiate career with 367 tackles (seventh-most in school history), 33 tackles for loss and seven sacks with two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered.
The scouting reports say he’s a ferocious tackler who has trouble shedding blocks and needs to improve his pass coverage beyond backs out of the backfield. The Seahawks were impressed with his confidence, command and leadership. Carroll and GM John Schneider decided that public sentiment for a pass rusher in the increasingly likely absence of free agent DE Jadeveon Clowney was of no influence.
“The work that was done in free agency to pick players and put them where they fit, allows us in this draft to take guys that that bring us maybe the highest-end opportunity,” Carroll said. “We’re not stuck on having to take a player at one particular position, or to fit into a little shoebox.
“We’re in this this draft to try to take guys that can impact us because they’re special players, and and not necessarily just to fill a need.”
Schneider said Brooks, the fourth linebacker taken in the round, was the highest-graded remaining player on the Seahawks board. At the February scouting combine, where Brooks ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash but didn’t participate in other drills because of a shoulder injury, Schneider stayed away from talking with him. But it wasn’t necessarily to keep rival teams from following the scent. He said he was just busy.
“When people aren’t talking about players, yeah, that’s when you get pretty nervous,” he said. “Jordan was was clearly one of those players.
“I just evaluated all the different interviews — the Senior Bowl was great — and our guys spent a ton of time with him. Everybody came away from from that very impressed.”
“Our guys” were right about Wagner in 2012, when he was modestly regarded coming out of Utah State. That’s been long enough from a major draft score that the Seahawks might be able to take comfort from the fact that they are overdue to hit big.
— RedRaiderSports.com (@RedRaiderSports) April 24, 2020