With Seahawks Training Camp set to kick off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 12 of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2020 season. Today we look at what kind of impact first-round pick Jordyn Brooks and the rest of the rookie class might make this year, and tomorrow we turn our attention to last year's rookie class and how that group will be expected to contribute more in 2020.
The Seahawks surprised plenty of people when they selected Jordyn Brooks in the first round of the 2020 draft, not because the linebacker out of Texas Tech isn't a very talented player, but because he didn't seem to fill an obvious need thanks to the presence of veteran linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
But listening to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider talk about Brooks since Seattle selected him with the 27th overall pick, it has become clear that the Seahawks plan to find a way to get the speedy playmaker on the field one way or another.
"We've got good players inside that we love," Carroll said the day the Seahawks drafted Brooks. "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."
So how does Brooks fit in? The Seahawks added linebacker/pass-rusher Bruce Irvin, but Brooks could be an option at the strongside linebacker spot, particularly if Irvin ends up being used more as a pass-rusher, even though that's a bit different than the role Brooks had in college. Brooks is similar, physically, to Mychal Kendricks, who held down that strongside role last year, and the Seahawks like what they got out of Kendricks before his season was cut short by injury.
"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… 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."
Schneider also revealed in a radio interview earlier this offseason that Wright was recovering from shoulder surgery, so if that injury limits him at all to start camp, Brooks could be a natural fit there.
And Brooks is far from being the only rookie the Seahawks expect to contribute right away, particularly on defense. Second-round pick Darrell Taylor and fifth-rounder Alton Robinson both could be big factors in the defensive line rotation, and were two of the players the Seahawks were most excited to get out of the draft.
"That was a big deal," Carroll said of trading up in the second round to get Taylor. "Because we thought maybe we had missed our chance in the sense that we really wanted to get him on the rush group. When we were able to hang through it and get him, that was a big pick for us. As I go down the list, every guy had something kind of special to him. But then again, I was really surprised that Alton was still there because he could be a big help for our football team."
On offense, third-round pick Damien Lewis has a real chance to win the starting job at right guard, while running back DeeJay Dallas will have a lot of chances to shine right away with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny coming back from injury.
As always, there will be a learning curve for all the rookies, and that's particularly the case this year with rookies not getting to go through a normal offseason. Carroll and Schneider both noted during draft week that drafting a lot of experienced players coming out of big college programs should help in a year where rookies will be playing catchup when training camp begins.
Schneider noted that there was an emphasis "to try to find people that will be able to click with our coaches and vibe with our locker room and be able to do that in a very, very quick manner. I thought our scouts did a very, very good job of emphasizing that and working with the coaches in terms of how they were going to fit for the 2020 Seattle Seahawks."
With the No. 27 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Jordyn Brooks, a linebacker out of Texas Tech.