As the 27th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft approached, Seahawks general manager John Schneider was on the phone discussing a possible trade back, because, well, John Schneider likes to trade back in order to add more picks.
That potential trade didn't end up working out, however, so instead the Seahawks went with the top player on their draft board, and were thrilled to make Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks the newest member of the Seattle Seahawks.
With Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on the roster, linebacker wasn't exactly an area of need for the Seahawks, but this wasn't a pick made to fill a need, but rather a chance to get a fast, physical player who in their minds was the best one available when it came time to make a pick.
"Real excited obviously with Jordyn," Schneider said. "We took the best player on the board."
Schneider added that a potential trade fell through, "at the very last minute, and bang, he was still there, so it worked out great. We're really excited to add a real tough, great person. Jordyn's the youngest of seven, he's got a twin sister. He's been through a lot and he's overcome a lot. He's got a ton of grit. He's our kind of guy. He can fly at 233 pounds—he ran a 4.46 (40-yard dash). Just a great kid. He had a great formal interview at the combine. He's just a real passionate kid. Football is the deal for this guy."
While it's not yet clear exactly where Brooks will fit in in 2020—having played outside and middle linebacker, he said he's comfortable anywhere—Carroll and Schneider sound confident that their first-round pick will find a way to make a difference one way or another, just as he did over his four years at Texas Tech when he earned all-conference honors every year and was a second-team AP All-American last year.
"We just found a guy that could check all of the boxes," Carroll said. "We love his attitude, like John said, it's just his mentality. He's just really on it. His versatility—his first couple of years he played outside and in space. This past year, they changed schemes and he was really in a position where he was a lot of the time responsible for the quarterback and would chase the quarterback and spy him. He was up in the line of scrimmage and pressuring so we've seen him do a variety of things that give him the scope of ability to play inside or outside for us.
"We've got good players inside that we love. We've got Bobby and K.J. and we love what they've done. We'll give this guy a chance to see where he can fit in. We'll work the competition so that we can uncover exactly what's best. We really think that he's got a chance to be fighting for playing time right away. Cody Barton did a great job for us last year, so it'll be a very competitive situation, just like we like. Jordyn is all about competition, he's got a great head on his shoulders. I really like that he has a lot of respect for Bobby and K.J. He knows of them and he's followed them and he's looked up to those guys. The first call I got was from Bobby, he wanted his (contact) information so he could get to him right away. We always need to get faster and get tougher on defense, no matter what spot we're talking about, and Jordyn fit that perfectly. We're really excited to add him to our defense."
Carroll mentioned just how impressive Brooks was in his interview with the Seahawks at the NFL Scouting Combine: "I was in the interview at the combine and he really blew us away there. He was awesome. Confident, clear, he had a plan, knew how to express to us what was important to him. He was clear about all of that. He was really just on point… He kicked ass. It was really well done."
And in what will be a limited offseason due to the COVID-19 crisis, finding a player who is smart and professional could make a difference this year.
"In general terms, our philosophy was trying to try to get players, in the environment that we're in, that can come in and act like pros right away," Schneider said. "And this is one of them. There's no doubt in my mind this guy's going to come in ready to go, and, again we had buy-in from everybody—the defensive coordinator (Ken Norton Jr.) loved him. I think just in general, when you look at our division, team speed… We'll figure it out. That's not necessarily for today. The guy can fly and he's a running and hitting guy. He's actually a really good rusher from the inside stuff with the A gap too, and a just a very disruptive football player."
The more Carroll and Schneider talked about Brooks, the clearer it became how enamored they are with their first-round pick. No, it's not immediately obvious where he'll play—there is currently an open starting role at strongside linebacker with Mychal Kendricks still a free agent, though Seattle did add Bruce Irvin in free agency—but one way or another, the Seahawks are counting on Brooks to be a difference maker.
"Bobby plays in the middle, but the two other sides, the WILL and the SAM 'backer, if you watch our film last year, our guys are inside and outside coming off the edge, playing behind the line of scrimmage—they really have to do all of it," Carroll said. "That's a great attraction for this kid for us. He will definitely fit it, we're not even worried about it at all. Let's just situate the guys. It's really important for us to make good decisions with the young guys, particularly, possibly in a shortened offseason and an abbreviated preparation period, that we put them in the right spot and we don't give them too much to do so that he can play fast and play aggressive like he has shown in the past. That's the main thing for us to uncover as we get to him. Make sure that we do the right stuff for him to position him so that he can excel, and then he'll show us how far he can take it. Like I said, it's no problem at all. There's WILL and SAM linebacker in the system playing around Bobby, and K.J. had a great flexibility as well. We'll work it out to make sure that we're maximizing that between these guys so they can compete."
With the No. 27 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Jordyn Brooks, a linebacker out of Texas Tech.