By Brent Stecker
As the Seahawks enter the 2013 season, the hype around the team doesn’t just stem from their talent, but also their prevalence of youth.
The team is particularly young at linebacker, with all but one of the 11 LBs on the roster checking in with three years or less of NFL experience, and it appears to be eyeing even more youth at the spot. Second-year defensive lineman Bruce Irvin is moving to outside linebacker — though he won’t be able to play the position in a regular season game until after he serves a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Danny O’Neil discussed the Seahawks philosophy at linebacker and the reasoning behind Irvin’s potential move during the latest edition of “Hawk Talk”. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
Tim S asked how the Seahawks plan on keeping their young linebackers into the future.
Danny O’Neil: That’s something we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve seen that this team and its regime isn’t going to pay big money for veteran linebackers. What we haven’t seen is whether they’re willing to pay linebackers who fit their specs. Do they believe that when you find great speed like the Seahawks have in Bobby Wagner, do you feel you can go back into the draft and find replacements or is that the kind of rare fit that can be a lynch pin.
Mark asked about the potential of Bruce Irvin at linebacker.
Danny O’Neil: Impossible to say. You can’t evaluate the Front Seven during no-contact drills. Will he drop well enough? We won’t know that until we watch him in contact scenarios.
Kobe Berg asked if any scouts have major reservations on quarterback Russell Wilson going forward.
Danny O’Neil: The only one I could say that has — on the record — said: Daniel Jeremiah — who was working with the Philadelphia Eagles at the time of the draft — said he believed that Russell would reach his ceiling quicker than any other QB in that draft, but that ceiling would be lower than some of the first-round picks.
John asked if wide receiver Percy Harvin’s $11 million-a-year contract sends the wrong message for a team that wants to re-sign its players at a discount.
Danny O’Neil: I think you’re right to point out that contract indicates that players aren’t going to take a discount to come here. At least not players in their prime. A veteran might to get a chance to win a championship, but someone in his prime — rightfully — is going to look to maximize his earning.
Beast asked if the Seahawks will keep wide receiver Golden Tate over fellow WR Sidney Rice if Rice misses a few games this year.
Danny O’Neil: Durability is certainly going to be a question. Let’s remember that Sidney Rice has played a full 16-game schedule only twice in his NFL career. Tate is also younger.
Buckminster Fuller asked what offensive rookie will make the biggest impact this season.
Danny O’Neil: I don’t think it’s (running back) Christine Michael, but (wide receiver) Chris Harper hasn’t really convinced me he’s going to be part of the rotation and I think (tight end) Luke Willson is going to be more of a specialty player.
Jeff asked if the Seahawks can afford to keep both Tate and WR Doug Baldwin with Harvin taking up a lot of cap room, or if they would rather let Tate walk and get a big receiver for the other spot.
Danny O’Neil: Great question, and I don’t know the answer for sure. I don’t think they would choose not to re-sign Tate because they want more size. They want — and believe — Tate to remain an impact player.
Miika asked if Wilson will miss less wide-open receivers this season, or if it’s more of a visibility issue.
Danny O’Neil: I really think the fact that he had one-third the training-camp reps before becoming a starter as a rookie had more to do with any of his perceived shortcomings in the pocket as opposed to his height. Show me one thing he did not systematically improve at over the course of the year.