Friday, June 17, 2011

SEAHAWKS: State of the Linebackers

David Hawthorne
Over the last couple years, the Seahawks linebacker crew has proven to be the deepest, most talented group on the roster.

Whenever we talk Seahawks linebackers, the first man that comes to mind is Lofa Tatupu. The 3-time Pro Bowler has been banged up the last three years, which might have something to do with his small (for a linebacker) 6 foot, 250 lbs frame. But when healthy, Tatupu is a force to be reckoned with. The Samoan has elite tackling abilities, top-notch closing speed, and most of all, is one of the smartest players in the NFL. He’s currently in the third year of a seven-year, $42.52 million contract, so expect him to be around for a while.

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Aaron Curry is a bit of an unknown player at this point. When the Seahawks drafted him with the no. 4 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft (the highest ever for a linebacker), Seahawks fans expected Curry to be the next Lawrence Taylor. Well, let’s just say he’s had his ups and downs.
One play Curry will use his freak athletic ability to blow up a blocker and get to the quarterback, but then the next play he’ll jump offside.

Because of his erratic play, some Seahawks fans already want to pull the plug on the 25-year-old. I can understand that, but it’s too early to dump a guy who has shown flashes of his true potential. Give him another two years, and then a decision can be made.

David Hawthorne is the unsung hero of the Seahawks defense. Actually, he’s probably the most underrated player on the team. When Lofa Tatupu went down during the 2009 season, little-known second year TCU linebacker David Hawthorne had to step in. All he did was rack up 117 tackles, 4 sacks, and three interceptions and in the process becoming a regular on the defense. He’s the best form tackler on the defense, even better than Lofa Tatupu.

But the linebacker core wouldn’t be complete without the backups. Will Herring has filled in nicely for any of the starters when needed. Will isn’t great in anything, but isn’t terribly bad at anything either. Once the lockout ends, Herring will be a free agent.

In this year’s draft, Pete Carroll decided in the fourth round to select K.J. Wright, a linebacker out of Mississippi State. He’s 6-3, 246 pounds and fairly athletic, but needs to work on his fundamentals.

And finally, in the 7th round, the Seahawks selected Malcolm Smith, a linebacker from USC. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about this guy, as there was very little scouting reports on Smith. The only reason I would think Pete Carroll would take him is, well, because he went to USC.

Starters: Aaron Curry OLB, David Hawthorne OLB/MLB, Lofa Tatupu MLB Backups: Will Herring OLB, K.J. Wright OLB, Malcolm Smith, OLB

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