Bobby Wagner, Linebacker
Wagner was an absolute terror for opposing offenses last season. His trick of leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks made him a terror on special teams, too. He led the NFL in tackles with 167–86 solo–in 2016, recorded 4.5 sacks, and generally shut down run plays all season.
Wagner is also an excellent cover linebacker, able to match up with tight ends and hold down the middle in coverage for Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard.
Perhaps what makes Wagner one of the scariest and most valuable players for the Seahawks defense is his anticipation. He seems to know what’s coming before the ball is snapped, a trait that the best middle linebackers all have. Not only does he know what’s coming, his extreme speed and quickness get him into the middle of any play–run or pass–the offense tries to execute.
The first-team All-Pro has been called the Seahawks defensive MVP of 2016, and with good reason:
Richard Sherman, Cornerback
Sherman of course caused waves this offseason with his various antics and rumors swirling about him being unhappy with management over various issues, but his play on the field has shown him to be one of the very best in the league over the past several seasons. His consistency since he entered the league in 2011 has been remarkable, and 2016 was no different.
Sherman added another four interceptions to his growing career total, now 30 in six seasons, and knocked down another 13 passes. There are very few defensive backs in the league who can be counted on as a lock-down corner year in, year out. Even when the Seahawks started moving him around the field, away from his customary role on the left side of the defense, Sherman was still effective in making quarterbacks think twice before targeting his man.
Tactically, Sherman allows Pete Carroll and Richard to match up man-to-man on the outside and unleash their fearsome pass-rush on passing downs. Sherman can be trusted to match up with the league’s best receivers time and time again. He’s routinely ranked as one of the top-five corners in the league with good reason.
One thing that makes Sherman unique is his run defense support. The man is simply not afraid to hit running backs in the hole, making him yet another versatile, smart player for this historic defense.