BY Art Thiel 01:20AM 04/24/2020

Thiel: Seahawks surprise with ‘the next Wagner’

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.

LB Jordyn Brooks was a second-team All-America selection at Texas Tech. / Texas Tech athletics

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.

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.





  • Alan Harrison

    I’m with you. Tackling machine, but at 27? Maybe someone in the early R2 wanted him and they couldn’t trade up. But it’s hard not to see this as Irvin, Collier, Carpenter, etc. I’d rather have spent this morning defending a pick like JK Dobbins.

    • art thiel

      Dobbins is still around for R2. But yes, this seems another reach in the first round.

  • Mark Stratton

    Is the Schneider-Green Bay connection dead? It’s noteworthy that Green Bay traded into the first round one pick before Seattle took Brooks. Seems the Hawks might not have had a trade-back partner even if they wanted one. Still when it was obvious they were going to pick I was hoping for the running back from Georgia. At least that is a semi-need.

    • Bruce McDermott

      They had a trade down lined up. Green Bay gave that team a better offer at the last minute, and the Hawks were forced to pick. Reminds me a bit of last year, with Collier–they didn’t get who they wanted at 29, but did get a player they liked.

      • art thiel

        Schneider was out-bid. It happens, although we’ll never know exactly.

        • eYeROQ

          The Times reported Green Bay was working multiple deals and had a deal lined up with Schneider so he could trade down but at the last minute decided to trade with Miami at pick 26 to select Jordan Love instead because they got a better offer. So Schneider got the rug pulled out from under him at the last moment. Green Bay was worried if they didn’t trade with Miami that Indy would swoop in instead and take Love. Matt LaFleur really wanted Love badly.

    • art thiel

      Schneider thought he could get Brooks and an extra pick for dropping back to 30. But GB wasn’t in a mood to help. They were too busy explaining the deal to Aaron Rodgers, although Rodgers figures to have known the deal when he was hired to replace Favre.

  • coug73

    This is pure speculation, will Carrol/Schneider draft a new mascot? I don’t dislike the present one but you never know with this tandem.

    • art thiel

      I thought that was the job of Luke Willson, after inheriting the job from Jon Ryan.

  • jafabian

    Some media outlets are calling the pick a reach at the 27th pick and for the times the Hawks have kept their first round pick under John Schneider that seems to be their trend. Bruce Irvin was considered a reach at the 15th pick and he’s been a solid player during his career though in hindsight the team should have picked Chandler Jones or David DeCastro. Drafting is not an exact science. I’m wondering if there are concerns about Wagner who seemed at times a step slow last season.

    I was glad to see the Hawks not use the new Quarantine Draft to show off their million dollar luxury home or yacht like some of their peers have. Not something most people practicing self-isolation need to see. The Seahawks get it.

    • art thiel

      Brooks is better regarded as a run defender, and most teams are seeking LBs who can run with receivers. But Schneider claims he was their highest rated guy left. But what else would he say?

      • jafabian

        Agree that he always says that. The Hawks do need more bodies at LB but man, 350 lb Tackle Isaiah Wilson of Georgia was sitting there. So was Penn Edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos. Both of those players could be starters where I see Brooks coming off the bench for a couple seasons.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Wilson must be sitting at home shaking his head and saying, here’s to another year of running for my life. Still only the first and round and there has to be at least one quality O lineman that J&P might consider. If not, the dollar store remains an essential business for all your needs. Including O lineman.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks defense at times wasn’t good enough to be mediocre. So I can understand the need, but I still think the OL remains the biggest threat to the Renton empire.