(This series focuses on the x-factors/wildcards on the Seahawks roster who will make or break Seattle’s 2020 season.)
There are two narratives that are likely exhausting to most Seahawks fans: Seattle’s meager pass rush and the team’s inability to hit on first-round picks.
In regard to the latter, Jordyn Brooks is next in line to try and buck that trend. He’s actually going to be Seattle’s last hope to be a standout first-rounder for a while given the Seahawks dealt their next two top picks away in the Jamal Adams trade.
Nobody expected the Texas Tech linebacker to come off the board at pick No. 27 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Brooks was highly productive in college, leading the Red Raiders with 108 tackles and 20.0 tackles for loss in 2019. However, most draft experts gave him a second-round grade due to his perceived lack of coverage skills.
The combination of that perception, Seattle’s draft misfires in recent years and the fact that Brooks was taken over LSU’s Patrick Queen (a player nearly unanimously seen as a better prospect by media experts) means that fans might not have much patience with the Seahawks rookie.
That, of course, is to no fault of his own, but it doesn’t change the reality of his situation as he enters his first NFL training camp.
“They have whiffed so mightily on first-round picks in recent years that it would be a colossal failure if he isn’t starting right away, perhaps even by Week 1 but certainly by mid-season,” Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune said on a recent episode of the Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast.
Brooks deserves the benefit of the doubt that he’ll be able to earn gameday reps sooner rather than late. His prototype build and athleticism (he’s 6-0, 240 pounds and ran a 4.54 40-yard dash with minimal prep time for the Combine), coupled with his production in college, is why the Seahawks saw him as a perfect fit for what they seek in a linebacker.
But where will he get those reps? John Schneider intimated that Brooks could challenge K.J. Wright for the starting WILL linebacker job immediately. That’s the outcome Bell envisions.
“I think he’s going to start Week 1,” Bell said. “I think he’s going to be the weakside linebacker. I think they’re going to use him as the speed guy and move K.J. Wright to strongside.”
Brooks figures to be the long-term starter alongside Bobby Wagner with Wright entering the final year of his contract. Seattle’s defensive leader is yet to have the chance to get to know Brooks given the lack of an offseason program, but that will change in the coming weeks.
“I spoke to him a little when he got drafted,” Wagner said of Brooks on Wednesday. “I was able to be in the (virtual) meeting rooms with him. A lot of it was just going over the defense, and so we didn’t get to talking much (one-on-one). I haven’t been around him that much. I’m hoping that we get through this first phase and get a chance to get around him.”
Brooks is the definition of a wildcard, but he has the ability to elevate Seattle’s defense if he can get up to speed and produce as a rookie.