There should be no surprises at this point of our relationship with John Schneider and Pete Carroll. Their tendencies in the NFL draft are as familiar as the walls inside your house after a two month quarantine, and can be just as maddening. Yet, the duo managed to surprise again Thursday night by taking linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round of 2020 NFL draft. The overwhelming reaction to the pick by Seahawks fans on Twitter was frustration and disappointment. It probably will not surprise you that I don’t share the popular opinion.

The Seahawks most glaring need is in the pass rush on the defensive line. No other need comes close. This draft is both weak and thin at that position. Not only that, few defensive linemen enter the NFL and make an impact as a rookie. Many fans were hoping to hear a name like Yetur Gross-Matos, the defensive end from Penn State. I was happy that was not the name called.

Seattle has a history of reaching for defensive in the first round. They often pick the best of a weak class to ensure they get some additional talent at the position. L.J. Collier was a good example of that last year. Maybe a guy like Gross-Matos will pop and be a huge miss. More likely, he will be a slow developing player with less than a 50/50 shot of becoming a difference maker.

Another position Seahawks fans wanted was offensive tackle. I was not personally very excited about that idea, but it would have certainly aligned with Schneider and Carroll draft habits. Three of their seven first round picks have been big offensive tackles. Two of those three were major reaches (Germain Ifedi, James Carpenter) who eventually became guards.

I had thought they would be tempted by Isaiah Wilson, the massive tackle who went a few picks after Seattle. I’m not upset they went another direction. Some of the guys people mentioned to the Seahawks like Austin Jackson, the athletic tackle from USC, went earlier than Seattle picked.

The other position some people were hoping for was wide receiver. This is a receiver-rich draft with every flavor of playmaker you can imagine. Seattle definitely should add to their strength at that spot by taking another good young player, but there really is no reason they had to do that with their first pick. Exiting the first four rounds without a receiver would be a mistake. My guess is they spend a third or fourth round pick on a receiver.

Believe it or not, many of the fans angered by the Seahawks selection liked the idea of taking a linebacker in the first. They just had fallen in love with another name, Patrick Queen. Queen is a lightning fast player who had to bulk up to play linebacker at 227 pounds after more naturally profiling as a safety when he weighed around 205 pounds.

He has the ability to use some of those coverage skills at linebacker, and appears to have a fair amount of upside. That he went to the Ravens with the pick immediately following the Seahawks picked Brooks will link the two players throughout their careers. It is similar to when the Seahawks traded back in the second round of the 2012 draft and passed on a chance to draft Mychal Kendricks and ended up with the less heralded Bobby Wagner.

That situation worked out wonderfully. This one could as well. I am on video, seconds before the pick was announced, saying I was hoping they would call Queen’s name. The truth is, that was because I knew more about him than Brooks.

I do not spend nearly the time I used to watching college football and the combine and the senior bowl and studying these players before they come to Seattle. As soon as tape started rolling of Brooks highlights, I saw Wagner similarities.

He is a fast, aggressive, heat-seeking linebacker who is a terrific tackler. Nobody seems to argue any of those points. He was one of the best run stuffers in college football and one of the best linebackers overall, per a variety of sources.

Brooks looks most valuable as a middle linebacker given his instincts and ability to slice through the line to make tackles behind the line, which he did 20 times last year. He can also play outside linebacker, which he may need to do until Wagner gives way.

Linebacker was a sneaky area of need for the Seahawks. Wagner took a step back last year. Some of that might have been due to the new scheme he was asked to play, but some of it was physical as he struggled to run with some players in coverage for the first time in his career. K.J. Wright is in the last year of his deal. He played well last year, but he has battled injury and is slowing down.

Seattle drafted two linebackers last year in Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. People mistake taking two linebackers for finding two future starters. Neither Barton nor Burr-Kirven have proven they are NFL starters yet. If Wagner or Wright went down, those would be your only options to step in for them. That is tenuous at best.

Brooks looks far more like a guy ready to take snaps in the NFL than either Barton or Burr-Kirven. We could see both Barton and Brooks get snaps depending on how things shake out.

Seattle has more flexibility should they choose to cut Wright to sign another pass rusher. I like Barton, but he has not clearly shown me that he can be more than an average starter. Brooks has the physical and instinctual tools to be a plus player. Should that be true, Seattle has done far worse with their first round picks.

The knock on Brooks is his coverage. People say he is stiff and not great there. That is definitely something to watch knowing how important passing is in this league. Seattle, though, was bad at defending the run and the pass last year. Getting better at one is preferable to sucking at both.

Fan frustration with the pick comes more from the fact that this team has a clear need in pass rush that has not been addressed and a lack of acknowledgement that the draft will not help there. The best chance for the draft to help that problem was if they had traded that first rounder for Yannick Ngakoue or another pass rusher, a move many folks who dislike this pick also were against.

The Seahawks draft will make or break based on what they do today more than what happened in the first round. They have three picks in the second and third round. Do not be surprised if they trade back to acquire more draft capitol after failing to trade back from 27 last night. Try not to let everyone sour you on Brooks. There is a good chance you will enjoy watching him play for this team, even if none of us saw it coming.

8 Responses

  1. CJS

    Always value the insight, Brian. I was confused by the pick at first but after sleeping on it and reading some more of the commentary on Brooks, I like the pick. Need the speed and physicality back on defense. Seems like we’ve lost some of that in the past few years.

    Reply
    • JoeB

      My only worry is hearing that Brooks is recovering from shoulder surgery. Not something you want to hear about someone who is might be one of your main tacklers for years to come.

      Reply
  2. Scott Johnson

    Brian, you points are sound and mostly spot on. This is a pick that might pay off this year. But I think the unanswered question here is…does an upgrade at outside line backer really make us better than a top five cornerback pick, which was available, to be ready next year when contracts on your two top corners are up? Does it make you better than a young runner like Taylor when we have no idea of Carson’s durability…and he’s a free agent next year. This pick should be questioned, it seem like we are stuck in a cycle of playoff team each year, but no real shot at a Super Bowl. As a parting thought, Bob Whitsitt who was arguably the best GM Seattle had before John/Pete showed up always believed that you never drafted for need, you drafted for assets and talent. Maybe Mr. Brooks will be a star, but I think at this point there are at least a few players who have a better chance to be stars.

    Reply
    • Jason

      have you spent more time scouting and interviewing college players than the Seahawks scouting staff this year? Have you done more scouting and interviewing than they have the prior 20 years? Does your job, livelihood, financial security, and children’s college education depend on the results of your scouting? Have you led personnel management for the 2nd most winning team in the last decade?

      Seems like a little bit of hubris that you think you understand talent, potential, fit, and the 1-3 year plan for team building better than the Seahawks, doesn’t it?

      It’s so tiresome to see the complete lack of humility and narcissism that abounds around draft time.

      Most of the Seahawks personnel department have spent more time learning to scout than you have spent from Kindergarten through whatever level of education you have obtained for your career.

      Reply
  3. Quinn

    Thanks Brian, it’s refreshing to read some optimism about the pick. It’s hard to imagine any player taken at 27 by this front office somehow uniting the fanbase.
    Your point about Collier is odd though. The best of a weak class? I recall near consensus that last year’s draft was historically strong at defensive line. To me, the similarity is that neither were likely to be on anybody else’s board as high as this and the Seahawks could have moved back 20 spots and still taken them. Willing partner notwithstanding.

    Reply
  4. Scott Crowder

    Jordyn Brooks was on several boards as going anywhere from 33rd to 38th. Meaning it wasn’t really the reach everyone makes him out to be.

    Reply
  5. Spencer

    Airing out some thoughts and would welcome feedback and discussion…

    1. Maybe the front office isn’t in the ‘win now’ mode that so much of the fan base assumes that it is. Maybe how they see it, we don’t have a 4 year window with Russ, maybe they see an 8 year window because quarterbacks are playing longer and their levels up play are meriting that. If Tom Brady and Drew Brees can play into their 40’s, I think that Russ can definitely do the same. He’s developed into the kind of pocket passing qb who knows how to avoid hits that can have real longevity in the league. So maybe they are playing the game 3 moves ahead instead of the 1 or 2 most everyone else tends to look at. With that context, picking Brooks (though I still don’t love the positioning, but I’ll assume they understand opponents draft boards better than me) secures the linebacker position after KJ, which is when they see the Hawks actually competing for a Super Bowl.

    2. Okay, you love the guy. He’s ‘your guy’. But isn’t a big part of the draft understanding how other teams value guys as well? I know that Brady Henderson said that other teams had him as their top linebacker and wanted to take him, but really though? We heard the same thing with Penny and I wonder how much of that is exaggerated to save face. I know that they’re picking again down at 59 and they probably thought he’d be gone by then, but you really couldn’t work a trade into the middle of the 2nd round to get him? At least that way you would get something extra and there wouldn’t be as many torches and pitch forks.

    3. I’m with Brian on the d-line. Drafting dudes how they don’t believe in is worse than taking someone just to please the fan base. I think they’ll get Griffen and kick the can down the road another year in the hopes of having a better idea of who Rasheem and LJ are and perhaps finding better options. I don’t like any of the edge rushers that early. But round 3 will have some value.

    4. When you look at all of their free-agency moves individually, they aren’t inspiring, but when you look at them collectively, I see a team (with the exception of pass rush and a d-tackle, both of which I think they’ll get on the market) trying to get themselves into position in the draft to really be able to take their favorite guys instead of being weighed down by needs. This would further support the theory that they still see themselves as in more of a re-build than many of us thought. It seems like they are still looking for the guys to build around instead of the guys they build around with.

    5. I don’t love Cody Barton or BBK and it makes sense that the same team that benched their $20M free agent signee quarterback for a rookie would not care if they already spent capital on a guys that played the same position and were just okay if they saw a chance to upgrade. Those two guys would be fun to play pick-up basketball with, but on my NFL team, I want my starting linebackers to be guys I DON’T want to play ball with. You could say that they had bigger needs elsewhere, but if they’re taking the best on their board then that makes sense.

    Just some thoughts but I’m not married to any of them. Let me know where I overlooked or underrated things. We have no idea what is in John and Pete’s heads’ but in the meantime it’s fun to guess.

    Reply
    • Jim

      A “stats comparison” between Brooks and the “supposed 1-st rounder” Queen.

      LB-Patrick Queen, LSU, 6-02/229 (Very undersized with similar speed to Brooks)
      2019: 15 games, 85-tkls, 37-solo, 12.0-TFL, 3.0-sacks, 1-INT, 2-PD, 1-FR
      2018: 11-games, 40-tkls, 20-solo, 5.0-TFL, 1.0-sack,
      2017: 3-games, 4-tkls, 2-solo, 0.5-TFL,
      Career: 29-games, 131-tkls, 59-solo, (45.0%), 17.5-TFL, 4.0-sacks, 1-INT, 2-PD, 1-FR — NOTE: Queen in 2019 was #92-overall in FBS with his 12-TFL’s

      LB-Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech, 6-00/240
      2019: 11-games, 108-tkls, 66-solo, 20-TFL, 3.0-sacks, 2-FR, 1-FF
      2018: 11-games, 78-tkls, 47-solo, 6-5.TFL, 2.5-sacks, 1-INT, 1-PD
      2017: 12-games, 89-tkls, 50-solo, 0.5-TFL, 1-INT, 2-PD, 1-FR
      2016: 12-games, 85-tkls, 61-solo, 5.0-TFL, 1.0-sack, 3-PD, 1-FF
      Career: 46-games, 360-tkls, 224-solo(62.2%), 32.0-TFL, 6.5-sacks, 2-INT, 6-PD, 3-FR, 2-FF — NOTE: Brooks in 2019 was #6 overall in FBS, (#3 of all draft entrants) with his 20.0-TFL’s

      REF: http://www.cfbstats.com/2019/leader/national/player/split01/category21/sort01.html

      Reply

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