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2016 NFL Draft Preview: Will The Seahawks Look To Draft Bruce Irvin's Replacement?

A look at where the Seahawks' roster currently stands at linebacker, and at some of the top prospects in this year's draft.

With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand with Seattle's roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

Seattle currently holds nine picks in the 2016 draft, which begins on Thursday, April 28 in Chicago. 

Round 1 | Pick 26 | No. 26 overall

Round 2 | Pick 25 | No. 56 overall

Round 3 | Pick 27 | No. 90 overall

Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 97 overall*

Round 4 | Pick 26 | No. 124 overall

Round 5 | Pick 34 | No. 171 overall*

Round 6 | Pick 40 | No. 215 overall*

Round 7 | Pick 4 | No. 225 overall (from Dallas) 

Round 7 | Pick 26 | No. 247 overall

* - Compensatory Pick (compensatory picks cannot be traded)

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines and running backs; today we shift our focus to linebackers.

Draft History (Under Schneider and 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

The Seahawks have a vacancy at strongside linebacker with Bruce Irvin leaving for Oakland in free agency, but while a draft pick could end up filling that role, long-time backup Mike Morgan re-signed this offseason and has shown he is capable of holding down that position. Eric Pinkins, a converted defensive back, also has flashed potential at that spot, so the Seahawks have options there without feeling like they have to find the answer in the draft. If the Seahawks do draft a potential linebacker to replace Irvin, or if Pinkins or Morgan wins the job, it's worth remembering that that player probably won't take over all of Irvin's duties. Irvin's athleticism, as well as his background as a defensive end, allowed him to be a linebacker in the base defense and a pass-rusher in nickel packages. There's a good chance that in 2016, one player is the base strongside linebacker, while someone else such as Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh or Chris Clemons takes Irvin's pass-rush snaps.

The other two starting jobs are in very good hands with Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker and K.J. Wright at weakside linebacker, and in Brock Coyle and Kevin Pierre-Louis, the Seahawks have two more quality backups who are also big special teams contributors. If the Seahawks do draft a linebacker, that player will almost certainly be expected to make immediate contributions on special teams, as that position group tends to produce some of the best and most versatile special teamers.

Take a look at NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 linebackers in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Linebackers

*1. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): In this day and age of "tweeners" being labeled "hybrid" players, Smith is the rare commodity who is truly hybrid in the sense that he has the athleticism, speed and physical makeup to play any linebacker spot in either the 3­-4 or the 4-­3. Smith was productive but slightly miscast in the middle of the Notre Dame defense and is better suited to play in space as a 4­-3 outside linebacker. However, his length and upfield burst could draw the attention of a 3-­4 team looking to transition him into a rush linebacker while utilizing his rare cover skills. News regarding Smith's injury and potential issues surrounding recovery have created doubt regarding his draft stock and his final landing spot will be determined by a team's medicals. Without the injury issues, he's one of the top player's in this draft.

2. Myles Jack, UCLA

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Upper echelon explosiveness with the desire, speed and aggression to find his way into play after play. While UCLA asked Jack to do a little bit of everything, an NFL team is more likely to simplify his tasks and set him into attack mode to maximize his outstanding physical traits. If he bounces back from the knee injury, Jack could become a high-­end talent early on in his career.

3. Darron Lee, Ohio State

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Lee's level of NFL success might very well be tied to scheme fit and his ability to add more muscle to his frame. His athletic traits and ability to make plays should make him a starter, but he won't unlock his full potential unless he gets strong enough to handle the rigors of an NFL linebacker.

4. Reggie Ragland, Alabama

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Thumping inside linebacker with throwback size and tone-­setting mentality. Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run­-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game. Ragland has some coverage and speed limitations, but his instincts and overall awareness should be able to mask those issues.

T-5. Deion Jones, LSU

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Three-down linebacker prospect with outstanding athleticism and a willing, aggressive mindset for the position. Jones lacks the playing experience that most linebackers in this draft will have so he might need a year of tutelage on the NFL level to help him expedite his learning curve. Jones could be a fit at ILB for a 3-4 team or as an outside linebacker in a 4­-3. Jones’ potential as a special teams cover man gives him a shot to get early playing time.

T-5 Jatavis Brown, Akron

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Most teams might see a player as a 4-3 WILL linebacker or a box safety in sub packages. Brown has real closing burst and play speed that translates to the NFL, but his frame and inconsistency as a tackler against bigger running backs will hurt his cause. Brown's athleticism has NFL teams feeling some type of way, which means he's likely to go late Day 2 or early Day 3.

RELATED

Take a look at NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 edge rushers in the 2016 NFL Draft.

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