How big a role will rookie linebacker have for Seahawks?

Jul 8, 2024, 12:21 PM | Updated: 12:59 pm

Seattle Seahawks draft Tyrice Knight...

Tyrice Knight of UTEP makes a tackle against Northwestern in 2023. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks will look entirely different at inside linebacker this fall.

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Franchise icon Bobby Wagner and former first-round pick Jordyn Brooks are both gone, having departed in free agency. Set to fill their spots are Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson, who each signed one-year deals with Seattle in March.

There’s also an intriguing wild card in rookie fourth-round draft pick Tyrice Knight, who led the FBS with 84 solo tackles last season at UTEP.

Knight came in at No. 25 on Brock and Salk’s annual “Most Intriguing Seahawks” list, which debuted Monday on Seattle Sports. For every show leading up to the Seahawks’ preseason opener on Aug. 10, former NFL quarterback Brock Huard and co-host Mike Salk will profile one player on the list.

“Tyrice Knight jumped out to me certainly at all of the (spring practices) that I saw, because he’s quick, because he looks different than some of the guys we’ve seen the last few years, and because the two presumed starters weren’t there practicing (due to injuries),” Salk said. “So we got a lot more eyes on Tyrice Knight. … He’s got the capability to be a legitimate starter in this league because of that one weapon, which is his speed.”

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Knight had a strong track record of production at UTEP, racking up 391 tackles over his four seasons with the Miners. Last year, he totaled 4.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble. At the NFL combine, he ranked eighth out of 16 linebackers with a 40-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds.

Huard said the biggest challenge Knight faces is learning the playbook as a rookie, especially given the nature of new head coach Mike Macdonald’s versatile defensive scheme. Huard said college defenses typically have much smaller playbooks.

“This young man, coming into this Mike Macdonald NFL playbook, this defensive scheme?” Huard said. “It’s gonna take him a little time.”

Huard said the ideal situation this year is that Baker and Dodson remain healthy and compile strong seasons, giving Knight time to acclimate to the NFL without being rushed into a starting job.

“I think best-case scenario, he starts zero games,” Huard said. “Best-case scenario, Dodson and Baker are awesome and splendid.”

However, Baker and Dodson both missed nearly the entire spring program with injuries. They are each expected to return by training camp, but the depth elsewhere at linebacker is razor-thin. Aside from Knight, the next options on the depth chart are former undrafted free agents Jon Rhattigan and Patrick O’Connell, who have just 19 combined defensive snaps of NFL experience.

“Tyrice Knight better be ready to play,” Huard said. “You’re going to have to equip him through training camp, and who knows, maybe rotate a series in here or there to get him some run, because he will start some. I’m pretty confident that he will start some games.”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

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