If the Seahawks have a “secret superstar,” it’s middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. The kid had an amazing rookie season in 2012, and not nearly enough people are talking about it.
Despite playing only half-time for the first 4 games as the Seahawks eased him into the NFL, as well as losing considerable time to backups in the 3 blowout wins, Wagner still finished the year with 139 tackles, 7th most in the entire NFL. He also 58 stops (tackles made in the backfield or within 2 yards of the ling of scrimmage), which was 5th most in the NFL.
That’s an amazing season for anyone, but to do that as a rookie is another thing entirely. That’s the type of season that deserved Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, though sadly Wagner was overlooked by the voters.
So what should we expect from Wagner in 2013? I expect him to be better now that he has a year under his belt, but seriously, how much better can he be?
It is entirely possible that Wagner will play better in 2013, but actually have worse stats to show for it. That’s the thing about defensive stats, so much is dependant on the score and the opposing offense’s play calling, things that are out of the control of players like Wagner.
Besides, Seattle’s D-line run stuffers will be healthy again. When Red Bryant and company are dominating up front, there’s just no reason for teams to try and run the ball the ball. That will likely lead to less chances for tackles for linebackers like Wagner.
Ultimately, the area where we’re likely to see the most improvement out of Wagner is in his pass coverage skills. While this wasn’t a weakness for him, it’s the one area where there is ample room for growth.