Ben Burr-Kirven is staying in Seattle.
In the fifth round of the NFL draft Saturday, the Seahawks selected the former star linebacker from UW, who in 2018 put together one of the most decorated seasons ever by a Husky.
Burr-Kirven was the 142nd selection overall and the sixth UW player taken in this draft.
This is the second year in a row in which the Seahawks have taken a Husky in the NFL draft, following the selection of tight end Will Dissly in the fourth round in 2018. (Prior to that, the Seahawks hadn’t taken a UW player since Jerramy Stevens in 2002.)
In the buildup to the draft, Burr-Kirven had met with the Seahawks and was given a strong impression they wanted to draft him.
“I had my fingers crossed that this would happen,” Burr-Kirven said, “and it worked out real well. I’ve loved Seattle these last four years and I was definitely hoping to stay up there and be with the same fans and a great organization. It really couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Burr-Kirven led the nation with 176 tackles in 2018, the most by a Husky since 1987, en route to being named the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Burr-Kirven, from Menlo Park, Calif., was also named the Pac-12’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the first football player in conference history to win both highest awards for academics and athletics.
Burr-Kirven, 6-feet and 230 pounds, put on about 15 pounds this winter while preparing for the NFL combine, after finishing his senior season at UW around 215 pounds.
His smarts, speed and instincts made him a favorite for many NFL executives, but some believe Burr-Kirven’s undersized frame will limit him as a pro. But he almost certainly will have a chance to contribute on Seattle’s special teams right away, a role in which he excelled early in his career with the Huskies.
“It’s just being willing to come in there and compete and do everything they ask,” he said. “A lot of that’s going to start with special teams for me. I know I’m a guy who’s hopefully going to be a core special-teamer for them and do the dirty work — cover kicks, block, all that kind of stuff. That’s probably where it starts and hopefully earn the trust and earn the chance to show what I can do on defense too. …
“That’s how I earned my keep at UW when I first got there. You start on special teams and you have to show that you’re someone they can trust, and I think that’s the same thing with the Seahawks. It’s a great organization and they want you to show that you can compete every day.”
Seahawks GM John Schneider called Burr-Kirven to inform him of their selection Saturday morning, and then coach Pete Carroll jumped on the line.
“We’re expecting you to be the tackling machine you’ve always been, OK?” Carroll said.
“I will be, Coach. Don’t worry,” Burr-Kirven said.
This offseason, Burr-Kirven has worked out on occasion with Seattle’s veteran linebackers, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, at Ford Sports in Bellevue.
Wagner joined the phone call with BBK after Carroll on Saturday.
“He was asking how I enjoyed getting my ass kicked by him in their workouts so much that I wanted to come and do it for them full time. He was having a little fun with me,” Burr-Kirven said. “But I’m really excited. He’s the model for an inside linebacker in the NFL. It’s pretty incredible to be able to learn from a guy like that.”