The 2021 NFL draft kicks off next week, though as things currently stand, the Seahawks will be sitting out Day 1 of the draft having traded their first-round pick to acquire safety Jamal Adams last summer. While the Seahawks could always add more picks via trades, for now they have just three picks due to the trades made to acquire Adams, defensive end Carlos Dunlap II and guard Gabe Jackson. And whether the Seahawks end up making just those three picks or if John Schneider works his magic and they end up selecting more players, there will still be opportunities to add talent to the roster, so over the next two weeks, Seahawks.com will take a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 11 drafts under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.
So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, running back, safety, receiver, cornerback and tight end, and today we take a look at where things stand at linebacker. Tomorrow, we'll turn our attention to quarterback.
Seattle's 2021 Draft Picks: Round 2, No. 56 overall; Round 4, No. 129 overall; Round 7, Pick No. 250 overall.
Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: K.J. Wright (No. 99 overall, 2011); Malcolm Smith (No. 243, 2011); Bobby Wagner (No. 46, 2012); Korey Toomer (No. 154, 2012); Ty Powell (No. 231, 2013); Kevin Pierre-Louis (No. 132, 2014); Shaquem Griffin (No. 141, 2018); Jacob Martin (No. 186, 2018); Cody Barton (No. 88, 2019); Ben Burr-Kirven (No. 142, 2019); Jordyn Brooks (No. 27, 2020).
Where The Seahawks Stand
The Seahawks have invested pretty heavily in linebackers over the past few drafts, including the selection of Jordyn Brooks with last year's first-round pick, so there's no shortage of depth and talent in that position group behind All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and, should he re-sign, K.J. Wright, a 10-year starter for the Seahawks.
And that brings us to the biggest question facing the Seahawks at linebacker in 2021. If Wright, who is currently an unrestricted free agent, re-signs for an 11th season in Seattle, then the Seahawks head into the season with a great starting trio of Wagner, Wright and Brooks, as well as quality depth pieces like Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. If Wright signs elsewhere, however, the strongside linebacker spot is suddenly wide open. Barton would be the most likely in-house candidate to fill that spot and has started there in the past, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Seahawks add to the competition there.
Even if Wright were to re-sign, the Seahawks could always look to add more depth at linebacker both with an eye to the future, as well as for the immediate contributions linebackers can make on special teams—Barton and Burr-Kirven have been two of Seattle's top special teams contributors over the past two seasons.
NFL.com's rankings of the top linebacker prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL.com's Top 5 Linebackers
1. Micah Parsons, Penn State
Overview (via NFL.com): Performance-grade inside/outside linebacker prospect possessing an NFL-ready frame and explosive speed that could make him a highly productive talent at the next level. He's most impactful when he's kept clean and allowed to run and chase the action, but carries no physical limitations into the pros. His instincts and play recognition need to catch up with his physical gifts in order to play downhill and find the most efficient routes to the football. His rush talent is a potential wild card in how teams decide to use him, but he's likely to show rapid improvement and should be a Day 1 starter.
2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Overview (via NFL.com): It's hard to see Owusu-Koramoah's explosive traits, versatility and playmaking ability on display and not get excited about what is to come. Concerns will be raised about his lack of size and occasional lapses in fundamentals, but neither should detract from his rare potential as a game-changing talent. Not only is he fast to range and help control the outside running game, but he has an instant downhill trigger paired with a willingness to take chances, which should lead to big plays near and behind the line of scrimmage. He has the athletic ability to handle man-cover duties on a variety of positions and his rush potential as a wild-card blitzer bolsters his value. There is still a need to harness and control his energetic playing style and his field discipline is still a work in progress. However, his athletic traits, versatility and playmaking demeanor give him a chance to become the most impactful defender in this draft.
3. Zaven Collins, Tulsa
Overview (via NFL.com): Combines rare size and athleticism as a big outside linebacker. Collins is a team-oriented defender willing to plug gaps and spill the action wide for teammates to run down. He's rangy with the burst and length to track and capture his prey from the back side or out on the perimeter. His athletic gifts help him overcome his tardiness in diagnosing the action. There is still room for improvement when it comes to taking on blocks and pursuing with proper leverage so cutbacks don't cross his face. The second effort is evident with how frequently he's able to recover from an early block and still make plays. He's aware and dangerous in spot drops with the read and reaction to jump the passing lane. Collins could use more aggression in his play demeanor, but his combination of talent and traits should make him a productive pro starter.
4. Jamin Davis, Kentucky
Overview (via NFL.com): Lightly experienced, but ascending inside linebacker prospect with excellent blend of size, length and pursuit talent. Davis plays with his pads squared to the line of scrimmage, operating with quick, lateral scrapes and a nose for finding the ball-carrier. He needs to improve his technique in taking on blocks and constricting run lanes. His vision, focus and field awareness are innate strengths that all play a part in his ability to play past blockers with his eyes and pursue with consistent fluidity to the direction of the running play. He can cover big tight ends. He also plays with anticipation and an above-average catch radius to make quarterbacks pay for taking him lightly in zone. Davis could use more seasoning before he's ready for full-time snaps but he should become a starter.
5. Nick Bolton, Missouri
Overview (via NFL.com): When you think about strong, forceful inside linebackers, Bolton is the type of player you might be envisioning. He's going to fall below typical NFL starter standards from a size standpoint, but his rugged frame and forceful demeanor help make up for it. Play recognition and pursuit instincts help carry him to the football and he's a message-sending striker when he gets the runner squared up. He has functional short-area burst between the tackles but will struggle to run down the outside run if he's not close enough to the action. He will need to lean heavier on his instincts to help speed him up because of size and speed limitations. Bolton plays with good field recognition when dropping into zone and has a history of making plays on the football in coverage. He's a three-down linebacker who can make an immediate contribution on special teams and has the potential to become a future starter.