If there was any doubt remaining that Bobby Wagner was one of the best middle linebackers and defensive players overall in the NFL, it was erased last season when he posted a league-best and Seahawks-record 167 tackles along with 4.5 sacks. Wagner was named first-team All-Pro for the second time in three years—he also earned second-team honors in 2015—he is a three-time Pro Bowler, and the NFL Network just named him one of the top 40 players in the league. In other words, players, fans and media across the league have come to realize what the Seahawks quickly discovered when Wagner arrived in 2012 as a second-round pick—that he is a special talent.
All of that being said, Wagner is hardly satisfied with his play in 2016, and he isn't about to relax now that he has established himself as an elite talent. Goal No. 1, Wagner says, is to make sure he doesn't fall off from his level of play in 2016.
"I like to be consistent, so I like to challenge myself with consistency," he said. "Anybody can do it once; can you do it again? I felt like I had a lot of good plays last year, but I felt like there was a lot I left out there too. I feel like I'm still getting better and I feel like there's still room to grow."
As good as Wagner was last season, he says he can become even better in 2017. In particular, he pointed to pass coverage and finishing on blitzes as two areas where he's hoping to improve.
"Coverage—man-to-man coverage, recognizing routes," Wagner said. "I watched all my film from last year and I just feel like those are the areas that I could get better at. I had a lot of QB pressures but not a lot of sacks, so turning those pressures into sacks, hopefully, so whenever I get my name called, I hope to have a sack instead of a pressure."
Wagner holds himself to such a high standard, even after a dominant 2016 season, because he isn't content just being one of the best linebackers of his era. He someday wants to be remembered as one of the all-time greats to have played his position.
"My goal is to really be a dominant player in this league and have nobody question it," he said. "That's what I strive for. I strive for being great. I watched the guys before me like Ray Lewis and Derrick Brooks and Brian Urlacher and all those guys. When all is said and done, that's where I want to be, in that area, in that room. That's what I strive for. I strive for being one of those guys."
The Seahawks held their fifth of seven Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday, June 6 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.