Seahawks’ pre-draft positions of need: Linebacker

Feb 25, 2015, 10:07 AM | Updated: Apr 8, 2016, 10:50 am
Seattle has drafted at least one linebacker each year since 2011, including Bobby Wagner and K.J. W...
Seattle has drafted at least one linebacker each year since 2011, including Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. (AP)

A look at Seattle’s roster shows that linebacker is the one position the Seahawks don’t need to draft for the 2015 season.

A look at general manager John Schneider’s drafting history, however, shows just as clearly that it’s the one position you can expect the Seahawks to choose. The Seahawks have chosen at least one linebacker in each of the past four drafts, and in two of those seasons they have picked a pair of players at that position.

Where Seattle stands

The Seahawks are so stocked at linebacker that Malcolm Smith – the Super Bowl MVP – not only didn’t have a starting spot but wasn’t seeing any action other than special teams by the final month of the season. Bobby Wagner made a Pro Bowl breakthrough this season, Bruce Irvin continued his maturation as an edge linebacker in addition to returning to pass-rushing duties while K.J. Wright solidified his place in Seattle’s long-term picture by signing a contract extension in December. While Smith is an unrestricted free agent, the Seahawks have Kevin Pierre-Louis returning after undergoing shoulder surgery. He showed promise as a rookie not only as a special teams player but a playmaker, especially in Seattle’s nickel defense. The challenge is that he plays the weak-side spot Wright has locked up for the next few years.

Seattle’s draft history

Danny O’Neil and Brady Henderson are taking stock of the Seahawks’ roster with an eye toward the areas they could address in the draft.

CB | WR | TE | LB | RB

Schneider and coach Pete Carroll inherited one of the league’s most expensive linebacker groups with Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and Leroy Hill under contract in 2010. That was also the only year in the past five when Seattle didn’t choose a linebacker in the draft. The Seahawks’ linebackers are now homegrown, and last season, Heath Farwell was the only one among that group with more than three years of experience. Brock Coyle, undrafted out of Montana, even got a start last season when Wagner was out with a toe injury.

Names to remember

Stephone Anthony, Clemson. His teammate, Vic Beasley, is going to go much earlier. Too early for Seattle. And of the six linebackers Seattle has chosen in the draft, only one was chosen in the first three rounds: Wagner (Irvin doesn’t count because he was drafted as a defensive end). Antony is one of the fastest inside linebackers in this draft, a four-year college player with both size (6-3, 243) and speed and a headstrong playing style.

Shaq Thompson, Washington. Thompson did not stand out at the scouting combine, and he’s continuing to be dogged by questions of whether he’s more safety than linebacker at 6 feet tall and 228 pounds. He’s not a huge hitter but he sure moves well, and with many projections calling for Thompson to fall out of the first round, could he be someone who slides to the Seahawks?

Kwon Alexander, LSU. He was one of the fastest linebackers at the combine and has already shown an ability to come back from injury. He tore a knee ligament in high school and saw some colleges – including Alabama – shy away from him. The fact that he had the second-fastest time of all linebackers at the scouting combine showed that his ability to recover is not a question mark. Seattle has shown a willingness to take guys who’ve come back from serious knee injuries, whether it was cornerback Walter Thurmond, running back Christine Michael or wide Paul Richardson.

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Seahawks’ pre-draft positions of need: Linebacker