The loss of Bruce Irvin in free agency could compel the Seahawks to look to draft a linebacker in the upcoming NFL draft.

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Having had enviable stability at the linebacking spot the last three years — specifically, the same starters in Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin — the Seahawks haven’t had to spend much draft capital at that spot lately.

Seattle has responded by taking just two linebackers in the last three drafts, only one above the seventh round — Kevin Pierre-Louis in 2014.

But with Irvin having departed this year as a free agent, as well as utility linebacker Malcolm Smith after the 2014 season, Seattle could be in the market for a player at that spot this year.

Here’s a closer look.


Projected starters: MLB Bobby Wagner, WLB K.J. Wright.

Key off-season losses: SLB Bruce Irvin (signed as free agent with Raiders).

Others on roster: SLB Mike Morgan, WLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, MLB Brock Coyle, SLB Eric Pinkins.

OVERVIEW: Wagner and Wright are about as much of a sure thing as any players in the NFL at their respective positions.

But the strongside linebacking spot is a question with Irvin now gone. One thing to recall is that the SLB spot typically becomes a rush end in nickel situations, which can be more than half the time in any given game these days.

Coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks could look to use multiple players to fill Irvin’s snaps — Frank Clark, for instance, could get more time as a rush end.

As for the regular SLB snaps, Mike Morgan could be first in line for that role of the returners after recently re-signing. And Carroll has said Cassius Marsh, a 2014 draftee officially listed a defensive end, might also get used there.

As for the rest of the roster, Coyle has been Wagner’s backup the last two years while Pierre-Louis has mostly worked as a backup to Wright (he got his lone start a year ago as weakside linebacker when Wright move to the middle to replace the injured Wagner against Carolina). There had been a thought that Pierre-Louis could also be used at strongside linebacker, but the Seahawks have not really done that during his first two seasons and Pierre-Louis has yet to do enough to prove he can definitively hold down a significant role.

DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 7. While the Seahawks have some obvious in-house candidates to replace Irvin — if not necessarily just one person to do it all — they unquestionably will want to add to the competition to that spot.

POSSIBLE DRAFT FITS: Should the Seahawks look to draft a linebacker of any type, here are five they might consider:

Reggie Ragland, Alabama: Ragland was reported to have made a pre-draft visit to the Seahawks. And while he’s regarded as a classic middle linebacker, he weighs in at 247 pounds and has also played every linebacker position during his college career. He may not be there when the Seahawks pick at 26 but if he is Seattle could have a tough decision.

Kamalei Correa, Boise State: If the Seahawks are looking for a direct replacement for Irvin they could do worse than Correa, regarded as a prototype rush end/linebacker. But an arm length of just 31-5/8 might scare off the Seahawks.

Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt: Checking in at almost 6-5 and 267 pounds, Weatherly intrigues as a player who has defensive end size while also potentially being able to play linebacker.

Travis Feeney, Washington: Feeney was one of the breakout stars of the combine after running a 4.41 40. At 230 pounds he’d probably be more of a situational player to begin his career but could factor into pass rushing roles. It’s probably also worth noting Feeney’s UW teammate, Cory Littleton, who some scouts regard as potentially making just as big of an impact.

Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame: Smith is one of the real wildcard players in the draft, regarded as a sure top 10 pick before suffering a knee injury prior to the Fiesta Bowl. He likely won’t be able to play in 2016 but some team will gamble that it could essentially get a redshirt year from him and then get a player as good as any in the draft.

Christian Fench, Oregon: French is regarded as likely to have to go the undrafted free agent route. But the Seahawks are known to be intrigued by the 6-5, 245-pounder who played both defensive end and outside linebacker at Oregon.