Fans don’t like to be surprised in the NFL Draft, especially not in the first round. That’s why many Seahawks fans are still coming to grips with Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks being taken with the No. 27 pick on Thursday night.
Although Brooks was an under-the-radar player going into the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, there are many reasons for optimism. For starters, his college coach Matt Wells compared him to Bobby Wagner. That’s saying something given Wells coached Wagner at Utah State.
Brooks was a highly productive player in college and earned Big-12 All-Conference honors in each of his four seasons. He’s a run and hit linebacker with the desired mentality, grit and passion for football that Pete Carroll and John Schneider covet.
According to one NFL scout, Brooks and the Seahawks are a perfect pairing.
“He’s a Seattle guy: fast and physical,” the scout told NBC Sports Northwest.
But he didn’t stop there in his tantalizing scouting report of Brooks.
“I love the football player,” the scout continued. “He’s a dog. He brings the juice, and he’s explosive on the field. He’s better in run support than in pass coverage, but he can really run, and he has a nose for the football.”
This scout gave Brooks a pro comparison of Kwon Alexander, a player who provided a massive boost to the 49ers defense in 2019.
A lot of the disappointment in the Brooks pick stems from Seattle passing on Patrick Queen. The LSU product was the more highly-touted linebacker going into the draft. I was in the camp of believing that Queen could have been a great fit in Seattle.
So the logic is understandable: if you’re going to take an off-ball linebacker in the first round, why would you take Brooks over Queen?
While many draft experts remain steadfast that Queen is the superior prospect, this scout isn’t so sure.
“I thought they were both top-of-the-second-round guys,” he said. “The gap between the two is not much, and Jordyn plays bigger at the point of attack. Only place Queen was an upgrade was in matchup coverage.”
Let’s not devalue that last part. Coverage skills are vital for a linebacker in today’s NFL. But while Queen may have an edge there currently, that’s not to say Brooks won’t develop into at least an adequate cover man.
Brooks’ versatility should help him in that regard. He played as an outside linebacker for his first three seasons at Texas Tech before moving inside as a senior. John Schneider rebuffed the notion that Brooks’ skills in coverage wouldn’t translate to the pro game.
“He’s got great ball skill, and he’s got great feet,” Schneider told reporters Thursday night.
Seattle’s GM added that Brooks will need to work on his “speed on contact,” but there’s no reason to believe he can’t improve that trait.
Brooks and Queen, at least in Seattle, will be compared for the next several years. And I think that’s fair, given the Seahawks passed on Queen, and the LSU linebacker went off the board one pick later to the Ravens at No. 28.
But there’s no need to rush to judgement and condemn the Brooks selection. In fact, Seahawks fans have plenty of reason to believe it was the perfect pick and that Brooks will be a playmaker in the middle of Seattle’s defense for years to come.