Green grass on blue clear sky, spring nature theme. Panorama or banner. Super high resolution, premium quality.
Linebacker is one position that either hits or misses right away in the NFL. Quarterbacks tend to take a season or two ramping up, as do defensive backs, and wide receivers. Look no further than the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year results for proof of the linebacker gestational speed. Ten of the last twelve winners have been linebackers.
Bobby Wagner takes the field Saturday as Seattle’s most prominent rookie linebacker. He plays in the middle, like four of the ten linebackers listed above. This is not to suggest Wagner is going to win rookie of the year, but it should be clear before we get to the regular season what kind of player we have. K.J. Wright wasted no time making an impression last season. Aaron Curry was proof in the opposite way just as quickly.
Wagner is nursing a bruised quad that was heavily wrapped this week during practice. That said, keep an eye on #54 and look for how many false steps he takes (i.e., is he fooled by misdirection, play-action, etc.). Look for how many tackles he gets in on. Pay attention to where his tackles are made, whether they are behind the line, in the hole, or a few yards down-field. Judge the impact he is making on his hits. Harder hits generally are better predictors of guys who will cause turnovers. Lastly, look for how he is in coverage. Does he get a deep drop in zones, and how quickly does he recognize a pattern and break on the ball?