The NFL combine was a showcase for several linebackers, and the Seahawks could certainly look to one of these players to need up their defense.
The big news in Seattle is all about Geno Smith getting a big new contract. While that changes the Seahawks’ draft strategy to some degree – i.e., they don’t have to draft a quarterback in the first round – they still might. But the Hawks have plenty of areas of greater need than their signal-caller, especially as they re-signed the NFL’s leader in passing percentage. Whether Pete Carroll and John Schneider will sign a QB early is a subject for another time.
For now, let’s address the situation Seattle faces at linebacker. Cody Barton is a free agent, and I’ll admit, he looked like the answer in the middle after stepping in for Bobby Wagner at the end of 2020. Obviously, the Hawks thought so too, as Wagner was released before last season. Listen, they saved $16 million, so I get it. But Barton simply wasn’t good enough. He may return to Seattle, but if there is any chance of getting Wagner back, Seattle needs to make it happen.
Seahawks could add coverage and pass rush with Daiyan Henley
The Hawks may not have star linebacker Jordyn Brooks ready in time for the start of the season, either. His recovery from ACL surgery will almost certainly wipe out his entire training camp. He could miss a few games at the start of the 2023 campaign as well. So it’s imperative that the Seahawks bring in at least one linebacker for the middle of the field if not two. I’ve already taken a deep look at players the Hawks could draft for the line and at the edge, so let’s cover the middle.
My first candidate to join the happy crew is Daiyan Henley, from Washington State. It’s never a bad thing to add a Cougar, right 12s? Carrol and Schneider have already interviewed him, so we know there’s some interest. Henley wasn’t the fastest linebacker in the 40 at the combine, but his 10-yard split was just .03 slower than the top time. He started his collegiate career as a wide receiver, moved to defensive back as a junior, then played his last two seasons – split between Nevada and Washington State – at linebacker.
Over those two seasons, Henley combined for exactly 200 tackles. He had 12 tackles for a loss at Pullman, along with four sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two. He didn’t blitz as much at Nevada and showed he was equally adept in coverage with three pass breakups and four interceptions, one of those a pick-six. At 6’1″ and 225 pounds, he’ll probably need to add a bit more muscle to his frame. Despite that, he’s projected as an inside linebacker. According to the NFL mock Database, he’s listed as the consensus fourth pure linebacker to go and would likely be around for the Hawks at pick number 52, their second of the second round.