Since the end of the NFL draft, Seattle Seahawks rookies Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson have both received the lion's share of attention on both the local and national stage. I don't expect that to change much over the coming months, as both present juicy storylines that any writer would find too appealing to pass up when discussing the Seahawks.
Both rookies were brought in to address arguably the team's two biggest needs this past offseason, quarterback and the pass-rush.
Yet, as the 'Hawks gear up for this season, another rookie could help fill a significant role for one of the team's more pressing issues.
Second-round pick Bobby Wagner, the man drafted between Irvin and Wilson, will probably get very little press this summer, but he might end up the most important pick for the Seahawks this season.
Even before the departure of David Hawthorne to the New Orleans Saints this past offseason, the Seahawks' linebacking corps was arguably the weakest link on a young, up-and-coming defensive unit.
In free agency the 'Hawks re-signed long-time starter Leroy Hill, as well as reserves Heath Farwell and Matt McCoy, and they added veteran Barrett Ruud; however, these signings come with as many questions as answers. In regards to the team's long-term plans, second-year starter K.J. Wright looks to build upon a promising rookie season and should play a key role.
In short, the door is open for just about anybody to step in, as Carroll explained to the Seattle Times at last weekend's rookie camp.
";The (MLB) spot is wide open and we have to see what happens. This is what Bobby is putting his sights on, but we'll have to see how it goes,' Carroll said."
In his report earlier this week, B/R's own NFL Draft Lead Blogger Sigmund Bloom took this point further.
"If Wagner can perform well enough in camp and preseason to beat out Ruud and Matt McCoy, the speed he adds to the Seahawks defense should create even more excitement and happiness among the Seahawks faithful," Bloom wrote.
Fair enough, but to me, that's selling the situation a bit short. With all due respect to Ruud and McCoy, if Wagner is for real, he shouldn't have too much trouble beating them out.
Bottom line, if the 'Hawks intend to contend, Wagner will need to be more than a starter. He won't need to be a force of nature immediately, but it would certainly be a big help as he develops over the course of this year.
In the coming weeks at training camp, all eyes will likely be on the quarterback competition and Irvin, but I suggest keeping a close eye on Wagner. If he can emerge as a leader in the middle of the defense while showcasing the skills that helped get him to Seattle, he could end up being the team's most important rookie after all.
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