Continuing our positional season previews, we look at the Seattle Seahawks linebackers. Led by Bobby Wagner, they could be one of the best linebacking units in the NFC.
Emerald City Swagger continues our Seattle Seahawks positional previews. The Seahawks linebackers are lead by a four-time Pro-Bowler, his almost as talented wingman, and an unbelievable rookie.
To catch up on the other position previews, click the link.
Defense – Defensive Line, Linebackers (9/7), and Defensive Backs (9/8)
Special Teams (9/9)
This preview may be second easiest to write, behind the quarterbacks. The Seattle Seahawks have an excellent core of linebackers that will put some bite into their front seven. The group’s leader is unquestioned and the talent top-notch.
Seattle plays a base 4-3 defense under head coach Pete Carroll. In recent seasons, the Seahawks haven’t had to rely on their linebackers as much as they will in 2018. With the high profile departures of key defensive lineman and defensive backs, this unit will lead the defense.
More from Seattle Seahawks
- Seattle Seahawks: To rest or not to rest, that is the question
- Seattle Seahawks: 12s still waiting to exhale
- Seattle Seahawks: 4 Takeaways from 26-23 Loss to the 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks: Four Takeaways from Week 14 21-7 victory
- Seattle Seahawks: Three Takeaways from the Week 13 43-16 victory
The conversation starts and ends with Bobby Wagner. As he should be, Wagner is the focal point of this year’s defense. Why not? He’s led the team in tackles the past two seasons. What makes him so good is not only does he tackle well, but he’s also the signal caller. He communicates well on the field and leads by example.
Over his six-year NFL career, Wagner has played in 88 of 96 possible games, starting 87. In that time he’s tackled 507 ball carriers, recovered seven fumbles (three for touchdowns), sacked the quarterback15.5 times, and made four Pro Bowls. If there is one man Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. want out there running the show, it’s him.
Wagner had better stay healthy because the Seahawks other mike linebacker is an untested player. As of now, Austin Calitro is number two on the depth chart. In two years as a pro, Calitro has been with four teams and never played a regular season down. If Wagner were to go down long term, his replacement would be the next featured player.
Left outside linebacker K.J. Wright is the Scotty Pippen to Wagner’s Michael Jordan. He has been with the Seattle Seahawks since they drafted him in 2011. Before this week, Wright had only missed five out of 112 games, in seven years. He’s a good enough pass rusher that he can get to the QB, but can also cover running backs out in the flat. Wright has 455 career tackles to go along with 10 forced fumbles and a Pro Bowl selection (2016).
On the right side is one of the most intriguing rookies in the NFL. Seattle drafted Shaquem Griffin (brother of cornerback Shaquill) in the fifth-round, after his stellar senior season at the University of Central Florida. Why did such a great college player go in the fifth round? Griffin had his left hand amputated as a child. It never stopped him from playing football.
Since moving to linebacker from DB his junior year, Griffin made 166 tackles (33.5 for loss), with 18.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two picks. If you have any questions about his heart, watch his combine bench press. Carroll has already named Griffin the week one starter.
Barkevious Mingo is the primary substitute on the outside. He signed a two-year $6.8M free agent contract with Seattle in March. For a sixth overall draft pick (2013), his career has been disappointing. As a reliable, sometimes starting linebacker, he’s only missed two games (both early in his career), Mingo is a player the Seahawks want as their fill-in.
Rounding out the linebacking corps are this year’s sixth-round pick Jacob Martin, and Jermaine Grace, who was claimed off of waivers on September 3.