Worried about Seahawks minus Bobby Wagner? Cody Barton’s been ready
It’s understandable if Seahawks fans are a little worried about the state of the linebacker position for the team.
It was one thing when the Hawks moved on from veteran K.J. Wright after what was maybe his best season in 2020. Now they’re pressing ahead without perennial All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was cut and subsequently signed by the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams, who you may remember are coming off a Super Bowl championship.
Concern isn’t coming from those who have talked during Seahawks OTAs about the linebackers, and specifically about fourth-year middle linebacker Cody Barton, who is set to take over Wagner’s starting spot.
“He’s got some fans on this team,” Bob Stelton of Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob said Wednesday. “The new defensive coordinator (Clint Hurtt) had some interesting thoughts on him – really just like you and everybody else excited to see what Cody Barton brings to the table this year.”
The “you” Stelton was talking to was his co-host Dave Wyman, a former NFL linebacker and current Seahawks Radio Network color commentator who has been a fan of Barton since Day 1.
“Don’t take it from me – I mean, take it from the defensive coordinator,” Wyman responded.
OK then – here’s what Hurtt, who was promoted from defensive line coach to the DC position this offseason, had to say this week about Barton (full press conference here):
“His effort and energy – really, really good in the pass game. He’s always had a great awareness for that. He’s got a background being a safety growing up and and then obviously working his way down into the box. You see some of those things with his awareness and picking up pass routes and the communication with guys on the back end. Really excited for him, for the opportunity. It’s just the opportunity being there. The effort, the attention to detail for Cody has always been a part of it but now he has a great opportunity. He’s had a really nice spring so far.”
That’s in line with what Wyman has seen since Barton joined the Seahawks as a third-round pick out of Utah in 2019.
“I’ve been saying it for a few years… certain things that I saw out of him that I’ve just been raving about,” Wyman said. “I remember his rookie year, I said, ‘I think that guy had the best rookie camp that I’ve seen since Lofa Tatupu.’ And that’s pretty high praise.”
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Wyman agrees with Hurtt about Barton’s ability in pass coverage.
“His awareness – I’ve said this like a broken record, the Carolina game in 2019, he’d have had two picks in that game because one was tipped and the other one was not thrown on target. And (that’s) mainly because of his drop – he totally understands (pass coverage). His reads are really good. He’s a really good middle linebacker, and that’s what I hear from the Seahawks, that he’s a true ‘Mike.'”
The ‘Mike’ position is football terminology for the middle linebacker spot, as opposed to ‘Will’ (weakside) and ‘Sam’ (strongside). Barton has played all those positions in his time with Seattle, but he’s started just five games in his career despite being active for all but one of the 49 regular season Hawks games since 2019. The reason? Not because he lacked ability, but because he was blocked at his best position by Wagner, an all-time great.
“He should have been a starter by his second year… and the reason why he’s not been on the field is because of Bobby Wagner,” Wyman said.
While linebacker Jordyn Brooks, a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2020, will assume some of Wagner’s responsibilities being the vocal leader and leading the defensive huddle for the Seahawks, Wyman believes Barton is going to provide a big help.
“I think that Jordyn Brooks is the guy as far as linebackers go for leadership and everything, and they want him calling the huddle and things like that, but Cody is going to be a great asset for them in that regard, as well,” he said. “… I just think he knows what he’s doing, and that allows you to play really fast.”
You can hear the full discussion in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below from Wednesday’s Wyman and Bob.
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