Could Brooks earn playing time for Seahawks at the expense of Wright?
The Seahawks surprised many people with their 2020 first-round pick not only because they didn’t trade down from the No. 27 spot as they’ve been accustomed to doing under general manager John Schneider, but the team used the pick select a linebacker, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks.
With all attention this offseason being on the Seahawks’ pass rush – or lack thereof – it seemed like a defensive lineman would be the pick, especially over linebacker, where Bobby Wagner was a First-Team All Pro once again and K.J. Wright had career highs in tackles and interceptions. But instead, Brooks was the pick, and with Wagner firmly set at middle linebacker, there’s a chance Brooks and Wright could be on a collision course for playing time.
Paul Moyer, a former Seahawks safety and secondary coach who is an analyst for games on the Seahawks Radio Network joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Thursday and explained why it may be better if Brooks earned more playing time than Wright this upcoming season.
“I hope it’s more Jordyn Brooks because that means he just beat out a really good football player who I think had a really good year in K.J. Wright,” Moyer said. “Look, the writing is on the wall. I mean, the transition is going to happen. If it’s not next year, it’s the year after.”
Wright, who turns 31 next week, is on the final year of his current contract while Brooks, 24, should be with the team for at least four to five years once he signs his rookie contract. Wagner signed a new contract last offseason that keeps him in Seattle through 2022, and after earning his fifth First-Team All Pro nod last year, it’s unlikely Brooks, who was a middle linebacker in college, plays that position any time soon.
But Wright, who had dealt with injuries in previous years and surprised many when he signed a two-year deal ahead of 2019, more than held his own with 132 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass breakups last year. Moyer thinks Wright’s production, coupled with an abbreviated offseason due to COVID-19, should let him keep his starting job, at least for the time being.
“I think early on, we’re going to see K.J. Wright because he did play well,” Moyer said. “He’s never been the fastest guy. The surprising part is the lack of interceptions he’s had in his career – I was a little surprised by that – but he’s a good football player and we know that he’s smart.”
Brooks getting reps in training camp will be a good thing as far as better familiarizing himself with the system through actual practice versus the virtual offseason, and Moyer thinks the Seahawks may find unique ways to get him on the field before letting him loose as a starter.
“As Jordyn Brooks gets more comfortable in the system, maybe we start putting him in with packages and then when we get to that eight or 10th game of the year, all gloves are off and it’s just flat-out who’s the best football player at that point?” he said. “I think it’s something that progresses through the year. My hope would be, again, Jordyn (plays more).”
One knock on Brooks by some analysts and draft experts is his ability in pass coverage, especially compared to other linebackers from the same draft class. Moyer says that narrative is incorrect, and that watching Brooks’ film from Texas Tech proves it.
“He’s a gifted athlete and when you put on the film, he does cover sideline to sideline and I truly believe he can cover,” Moyer said. “I watched his athletic ability and everyone says he can’t cover. No, he just didn’t have to cover in college. He was never in a position where he had to cover a running back or a tight end, but he has the athletic ability.”
You can listen to Moyer’s full conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore, which includes his thoughts on Quinton Dunbar, at this link or in the player below.