The Seahawks haven't drafted a linebacker since 2014 and just six overall since 2010.
In the first three drafts of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, the Seahawks drafted the best middle linebacker in team history, another linebacker who became an immediate starter and will also go down as one of the best at his position in team history, and another linebacker who became a Super Bowl MVP.
And then — after acquiring Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith — the Seahawks pretty much just stopped drafting linebackers.
With little need to spend much on inside linebackers with Wagner and Wright entrenched at those spots, and with the strongside linebacking position used less and less (it comes off the field when Seattle goes to a nickel), the Seahawks haven’t drafted a linebacker since taking Kevin Pierre-Louis in the fourth round in 2014.
In fact, Seattle has drafted just six linebackers overall during the Carroll/Schneider era.
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But that could change this year.
Wagner is right smack in the heart of his prime at age 27. But with two years remaining on his contact he is also a year away from likely wanting an extension that might surpass the $10.75 million per season on his current.
Even more urgent is the future of Wright, who turns 29 in July and is entering the final season of a four-year, $27 million deal signed in 2014.
Here’s a quick look at Seattle’s linebacking corps as we continue our annual review of each Seahawks position group heading into the draft.
Starters (as projected by the Seattle Times if the season started today)
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, weakside linebacker K.J. Wright, strongside linebacker Barkevioius Mingo.
Backups: Paul Dawson, D.J. Alexander.
Key offseason departures: Michael Wilhoite, the primary starter at strongside linebacker, remains an unsigned free agent; Terence Garvin, a key special teamer who started three games last year, signed with Miami.
OVERVIEW: As you can see, Seattle also simply needs some depth at linebacker with just five on the roster entering the draft.
Mingo is projected to be an SLB and edge rusher, a role similar to that played by Bruce Irvin during his Seattle tenure.
Dawson, who was re-signed last week after joining the team at mid-season a year ago, can back up Wagner while Alexander, acquired in a trade with the Chiefs for Pierre-Louis, backed up Wright last season, with each also expected to be key special teams contributors.
But Seattle has often kept at least six linebackers on its 53-man roster and figures to add a few either via the draft or as undrafted free agents.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 7.5.
POTENTIAL DRAFT FITS
Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State: Vander Esch, who had a private visit with the Seahawks at the VMAC, is one of the fastest-rising players in the draft, a 6-4, 256-pounder who could play either inside spot. A former walk-on who was not on the radar a ton before a standout 2017 season (141 tackles). Probably going early on the second day at the latest.
Harold Landry, Boston College: Landry is more of an edge/strongside linebacker type — think Irvin and the role Mingo will likely have for Seattle in 2018. Landry had a disappointing senior season dealing with some injuries and while some think he could sneak into the first round he might also be a guy to fall a little bit. While pass rushing would be his forte, he does have some experience dropping into coverage.
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech: If the Seahawks are really looking for a successor for Wright, then the 6-5, 250-pound Edmunds might be the guy. Lindy’s, in fact, used Wright as the comparison to Edmunds in its draft preview, stating “Wright’s rare combination of size, agility and instincts have quietly made him one of the better all-around linebackers in the NFL. Edmunds offers a similar skill-set with even better closing speed.’’ But Edmunds isn’t expected to last past the first round.
Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida: The twin brother of Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem Griffin was the breakout star of the Combine after running a 4.38 40. Played all over the place on defense at the Senior Bowl and a team that takes him may try him at a few different spots to see where he would fit best. But he’s generally considered as likely finding a home as an edge rusher/strongside linebacker. Where he gets taken will be one of the most intriguing stories of the draft.