BROCK AND SALK

Seahawks Draft: The LB who had Kenneth Walker-like day at combine

Mar 3, 2023, 12:52 PM | Updated: 1:04 pm
Seahawks draft Jack Campbell...
Iowa LB Jack Campbell against Northwestern on Oct. 29, 2022. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)
(Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)

Two areas of need for the Seahawks were on full display at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, with defensive linemen and linebackers getting their testing in.

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Seattle needs help both on the defensive line as well as at inside linebacker as things currently stand.

So who were some combine standouts? Former NFL quarterback and current FOX Sports college football analyst Brock Huard pointed to two guys during Friday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports, but he explained why he was far more impressed with one over the other.

“What I’ve learned with all of these guys is you have your tape, you have your grades, you have all that stuff going into the combine, so you’re not like emotionally overwhelmed by just some freakish workout like Nolan Smith, this D-end/linebacker from Georgia,” Huard said.

Smith was one of the stars of Thursday’s workouts as the 6-foot-2, 238-pound defender ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash with a vertical leap of 41.5 inches.

Huard noted that Smith is just “different” athletically, and he broke a lot of athletic testing records coming out of high school.

“But then again, his production in college (was) 110 tackles, 20 for loss and 12.5 sacks in his career. That’s not one year,” he said. “He was beat up last year at Georgia and missed half the year with injury, but is just a freakish player.”

“So what you want to do is take your grade (from the game tape) and then go watch him perform,” Huard added. “And who’s the one actually who has been hyper productive that then goes out there and actually impresses you more physically?”

Someone who fit that billing as being hyper productive and then impressing at the combine a year ago was running back Kenneth Walker III, the 2021 Doak Walker Award winner from Michigan State who the Seahawks selected in the second round.

“He transformed Michigan State and then went out there and ran 4.38 (seconds in the 40-yard dash), and you’re like, whoa, that physical prowess is even more than what the production was,” Huard said.

This year, there’s another player from the Big Ten conference who was extremely productive in college and then turned some heads with his athletic testing.

“You know who it was yesterday that I would have never imagined? … He’s a middle linebacker and the Butkus Award winner (as college football’s top linebacker), a guy named Jack Campbell out of Iowa,” Huard said.

Campbell, a 2022 unanimous All-American, measured in at 6-5 and 249 pounds on Thursday and he ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash. He also had a vertical leap of 37.5 inches, which was second-best among linebackers, a 10-foot-8 broad jump (third-best among linebackers), a 6.74-second three-cone drill (best) and 4.24-second 20-yard shuttle (best).

Heading into the combine, Huard said there was some belief that Campbell was “too stiff” and just a “box guy” who didn’t run well, bit fit well into Iowa’s defensive system. His combine performance suggests otherwise, and Huard thinks he may now be a second-round prospect. The Seahawks have two second-round picks in this April’s draft.

“Is he a second-rounder? Does that kind of bump him from a third-rounder up to a second? A late second to a mid- or early-second?” he said. “He’s got some injuries – been banged up a little bit himself as well – but he’s one, like Ken Walker, whose physical attributes, I think, far outweigh what people expected because of production on the field – the Butkus Award winner, 140 tackles, five picks the last two years. The guy knows football as well. Impressive.”

Listen to the second hour of Friday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player below.

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