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2015 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

Outlining the top linebacker prospects as the 2015 NFL Draft approaches.

Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, which is set to take place from April 30 - May 2 in Chicago, Ill., will take a position-by-position look at this year's top prospects.

Along the way, we'll rehash the team's past draft picks at each position under Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll and also provide an outline of where the team currently stands at each spot.

Seattle owns 11 selections in this year's draft - one in the second round (No. 63 overall), one in the third (No. 95), three in the fourth (Nos. 112, 130 & 134), two in the fifth (Nos. 167 & 170), three in the sixth (Nos. 181, 209 & 214), and one in the seventh (No. 248).

We led our draft preview series with a look at the offensive and defensive lines before following up with the running backs on Wednesday. We continue today with the linebackers, a group that has netted Schneider and Carroll plenty of success stories.

Draft History (Under Schneider & Carroll)

LB K.J. Wright (No. 99 overall, 2011), LB Malcolm Smith* (No. 242, 2011), LB Bobby Wagner (No. 47, 2012), LB Korey Toomer* (No. 154, 2012), LB Ty Powell* (No. 231, 2013), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (No. 132, 2014)

** signifies a player no longer with the team *

Where The Seahawks Stand

Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith followed Seattle's former linebackers coach turned Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to the Bay Area in free agency. But the Seahawks didn't utilize Smith as much in 2014 as they did in 2013, as the team's starting linebacker trio primarily consisted of Bobby Wagner, who earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last year; K.J. Wright, who signed a four-year extension this past December; and Bruce Irvin, the team's 2012 first-round pick who transitioned to his current spot from defensive end. In 2015, Wagner, Wright, and Irvin all project to start for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks also extended the contract of linebacker and key special teams contributor Mike Morgan this offseason. Morgan, who enters his fifth year in the NFL after spending time under Carroll at USC, had six special teams tackles and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown last season. Carroll called Morgan's 2014 campaign the "best football he's ever played" and praised Morgan's ability to play all three linebacker spots.

Kevin Pierre-Louis will look to bounce back in 2015 after his rookie year ended on injured reserve (shoulder) this past November. A fourth-round pick of the Seahawks out of Boston College, Pierre-Louis showed promise at the position and displayed a strong commitment to special teams.

Outside of Wagner, Wright, Irvin, Morgan, and Pierre-Louis, Seattle's linebacker corps currently consists of Mister Alexander, Brock Coyle, Brendan Kelly, and Mike Taylor.

NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock shares his top five linebackers set to enter this year's draft. 

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Linebackers

1. Paul Dawson, TCU, 6-0, 235 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 2

Bottom Line (via Outrageously productive linebacker with a nose for the ball. Dawson averages a tackle every 5.3 snaps and either caused or recovered a total of 8 turnovers during the 2014 season. Evaluators understand that Dawson has been a handful while at TCU and that will turn some teams off to him completely. Dawson can play inside in a 2-gap scheme but is a natural fit at 4-3 WILL.

2. Eric Kendricks, UCLA, 6-0, 232 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 2

Bottom Line (via Kendricks is an intelligent leader with high football character. Scouts don't see the same explosiveness in Eric as they see in his brother Mychal (Eagles LB), but they do see the same level of production and desire. Eric Kendricks plays with plus instincts against the run and pass. He has the athleticism and demeanor to be an impactful, productive outside linebacker in a 4-3 for years to come.

3. Stephone Anthony, Clemson, 6-3, 243 lbs

Draft Projection (via 2

Bottom Line (via showed off his athleticism this post season and now the question becomes whether he can play fast all the time as a pro. He tries to get downhill and make plays, but more often it feels like he's guessing rather than instinctive. If he can play with more control and play to his traits, he'll be a starting linebacker in the league.

4. Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.), 5-11, 236 lbs

Draft Projection (via 2 or 3

Bottom Line (via down linebacker who can make plays against the run but will struggle if isolated in coverage. Perryman is a lunch-pail worker who enjoys the physical part of the game. Can be a highly productive NFL player but ceiling looks to be limited.

5. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, 6-4, 246 lbs

Draft Projection (via Round 2

Bottom Line (via Productive, steady performer in the middle with above-average size and length for the position but below-average agility. McKinney plays within the scheme and finds himself near the play frequently. He plays with strength and has an ability to take on offensive linemen and get downhill to finish his tackles. McKinney looks like an above-average NFL inside linebacker who could become part of a really good defense. He lacks star-making talent, though.


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