The dominant defense of the Seattle Seahawks appears to be set, except at one of the outside linebacker positions While Bobby Wagner is the certain starter at middle linebacker and K.J. Wright will be one of the outside linebackers, the third linebacker spot on the strongside is still up in the air. The player with the best chance at earning that starting job is Malcolm Smith, who is entering his third season in the NFL.
Smith was pretty solid last year, appearing in 16 games and racking up 22 tackles in limited time on the field. He looked good whenever he was on the field and while he likely won’t play at the level of Bobby Wagner, he could certainly hold his own as a starting linebacker in the NFL. He started three games last season when veteran starter LeRoy Hill (no longer with the team) was out with an injury.
At a mere 6’0″ and 226 pounds, Smith is pretty small for an NFL linebacker, but he makes up for his lack of size with his blazing speed. At his pro day at USC, Smith ran the 40-yard dash in an incredible 4.45 seconds, a time that would be considered good for a running back or a wide receiver. This kind of speed makes Smith very valuable to the Seahawks and is one of the key reasons he is expected to earn the strongside linebacker job.
If Smith can come in this season and learn on the fly under the tutelage of two other young linebackers like Wagner and Wright who have found early success, then there is no doubt that he can help this young Seattle defense to maintain its identity as one of the best in the NFL.
Follow Connor Hutyler on Twitter @ConnorHutyler.