At this moment, the Seattle Seahawks current linebacker lineup consists of K.J. Wright (Sam), Bobby Wagner (Mike) and Malcolm Smith (Will). While it’s a strong group, there are some serious concerns heading into the 2013 campaign that must be addressed before the regular season rolls around.
First and foremost is the lack of depth. Outside of the starting three, the Seahawks have Mike Morgan, Allen Bradford, Korey Toomer, Kyle Knox, Heath Farwell, Ty Powell, Ramon Bucahanan, John Lotulelei and Craig Wilkins at linebacker.
Morgan has potential as a starting linebacker, but is still raw and needs more work before he becomes a reliable contributor. Bradford is extremely raw and might never make the full transition from running back. Toomer is an exciting player who can contribute, but hasn’t yet developed into a starting-caliber talent. Knox and Farwell are nothing more than special teamers at this point. Powell is a promising player, but the small-school prospect still needs more time to adjust to the speed and size of the NFL. Buchanan, Lotulelei and Wilkins are all undrafted rookie free agents as well as long shots to make the 53-man roster.
From a depth standpoint, that’s not a promising group of linebackers.
What happens if – knock on wood – Wright goes down? Or Wagner? Or Smith? Regardless of which starter falls to injury, the lack of depth poses an immediate problem. No matter who steps in, the Seahawks are left with an obvious weak spot in the middle of their defense. Considering that Seattle’s success is built around their elite defense, having such little depth at linebacker seems like an unnecessary risk.
Another potential problem is that there’s still some doubt about Smith being a full-time starter for the Seahawks. While he’s definitely a quality linebacker who can make plays against the run and pass, Smith has a modest ceiling and would be better utilized as a rotational/situational backup. It’s not a huge sore thumb, but having Smith in the starting lineup isn’t ideal either.
Even with 11 picks to work with during the 2013 NFL Draft, the Seahawks waited until the seventh round to address the linebacker position. Meanwhile, they used their first pick on a running back, a position that includes a top-tier starter and a quality backup. With so much ammunition that weekend, it just seems sloppy that they opted not to use an early-round pick on a linebacker who could contribute immediately.
With all of that being said, there are a couple of intriguing veteran linebackers still on the open market who could give the Seahawks some stability at all three positions. Karlos Dansby is a proven starter in the NFL, but might cost too much for Seattle to be interested. Another underrated free agent still waiting for a deal is Daryl Smith, who would bring versatility and production to the Seahawks assuming he’s healthy.
There’s still plenty of time for the Seahawks to address the situation. One way or another, though, Pete Carroll and Co. can’t be complacent and enter the 2013 season with their current lack of quality depth.