Huard: What Seahawks’ new LBs do better than Wagner, Brooks

Mar 18, 2024, 12:59 PM

Seattle Seahawks Jerome Baker LB linebacker...

Miami's Jerome Baker defends a pass intended for the Colts' Marlon Mack in 2021. (Mark Brown/Getty Images)

(Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The first week of NFL free agency came with a significant change for the Seattle Seahawks at the linebacker position.

GM Schneider believes Seahawks have ‘great fit’ in new TE combo

First, 2020 first-round NFL Draft pick Jordyn Brooks left for the Miami Dolphins. Not long after, all-time franchise great Bobby Wagner parted ways with the Seahawks for a second time in three years, going to the Washington Commanders.

That left the cupboard bare at linebacker in Seattle, but the Hawks acted Thursday with the signing of Tyrel Dodson, then again two days later by bringing in Jerome Baker (who essentially swaps places with Brooks after spending the first six years of his career with Miami).

All the moves led to a pretty obvious question for Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk to ask his co-host on Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk.

“Now the Seahawks have their linebacker room, or at least the beginnings of it, set. How will this group be different or similar to what we saw the last few years with Bobby and Jordyn Brooks?” Salk asked former NFL quarterback and current FOX football analyst Brock Huard.

Safe to say, it’s going to be pretty different in the first year of new head coach Mike Macdonald’s defense in Seattle.

“It will be different to your eye, just the size,” Huard said. “I mean, Bobby was a 250-pound big thumper … He was a big dude, and even Brooks was, what, 235? I think he even got up to about 240, so they were a little bit bigger.”

The difference is actually so notable that Huard expects a gap to be addressed.

“These two, in many ways, are outside WILL linebackers,” he said of Dodson and Baker, “and that’s what I’m kind of curious to see is if they add a little bit of thump.”

Whether or not the additional “thump” comes, Huard sees how the Seahawks’ two signings at linebacker will bring a new dynamic.

“They’re super healthy, super young, a little bit lighter and can really run. From a play standpoint, what will jump out to me more than anything is oh my gosh, we can actually cover up some people at the second level. We don’t have these massive voids of space that it feels like everybody is running into, finding receptions in, and we can cover some of these things.”

Dodson was ranked the No. 3 linebacker last season in coverage by Pro Football Focus, while Baker was No. 18, and that’s a big improvement on Brooks and Wagner.

“Remember, 64 starting inside linebackers (in the NFL), so they were 3 and 18. That’s pretty good. Bobby and Jordyn last year were No. 49 and No. 50 in those rankings,” Huard said. “So from a metric standpoint, a play standpoint, should jump out really quickly. What they’re asked to do schematically, I also can’t wait to see because there will be more pattern reading, there will be more match reading. There will be, I think, a little more man coverage with those guys, because certainly Dodson can run.”

Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of Dodson and Baker, though, leaves a pretty obvious skill set for the Seahawks to target at linebacker in next month’s draft.

“They still need some size and some bulk at that position,” Huard said. “The draft has a few of them – not loaded with a ton of them – but has a few of them that may be available there in the second, third round.”

Hear the full conversation from Monday’s Blue 88 segment from Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

Seahawks Offseason Tracker: Free agency moves and more
What GM Schneider says plan is for Seahawks’ returning OL Fant
Draft analyst says Georgia TE ‘makes perfect sense’ for Seahawks
Schneider: How safety Rayshawn Jenkins fit into Seattle’s defense
What the trade for QB Sam Howell means for Seattle Seahawks and draft

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