The Seahawks claimed outside linebacker/defensive end O'Brien Schofield off of waivers from the Cardinals on Saturday, releasing T Jake Bsherer to clear a spot on the roster. Arizona waived the fourth year player this week after signing free agent John Abraham, and the Seahawks, somewhat weak depth-wise at the LEO position, saw an opportunity to take a chance on a player that has been troubled with injuries during his short career. O'Brien is set to make $1.323M in 2013 and had faced an uphill battle for playing time at the Cards' deep outside linebacker position.
I can't remember exactly what was said, but I do remember an interview with Pete Carroll from a year or two ago and he raved about Schofield - noting that the Hawks had him rated highly in 2010, the year the OLB out of Wisconsin was drafted. The Cards took a chance on Schofield in the fourth round after he tore his ACL in the Senior Bowl - ironically enough in the same round that the Hawks took a chance on chronically injured Walter Thurmond. Schofield, like Thurmond, has struggled to stay healthy, but when he's played, he's flashed some potential. He played in 16 games for the Cards in 2011 and registered 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and then in 9 starts in 2012, notched 4 sacks.
O'Brien Schofield had 4 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 9 QB hurries in 490 snaps last season. Not bad for a waiver pickup.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) July 27, 2013
Schofield joins the Seahawks LEO/SLB ranks as a guy that can rush the passer and drop back at times as well. At 6'3, 245, he's right in the same weight range as Irvin/Clemons (just a little lighter, probably) and Ty Powell, and obviously has some experience in a 3-4 scheme so he brings a versatility to do more than just rush.
Coming out of college at Wisconsin, he was known as an instinctive and smart pass rusher, and notched an absurd 24.5 tackles for a loss his senior year (2009), good for 2nd in the country, to go with his 12 sacks.
I've seen some reports out of Arizona that his teammates are sad to see him go, which lines up well with scouting reports on the guy when he was coming out of Wisconsin. Per CBSSports' scouting report,
"Schofield was looked up to by younger teammates and respected by all players and coaches. Leader by nature, growing up in Navy household and in junior ROTC while in high school. Pushes his teammates to match his standards in the classroom, weight room and practice field."
It's obviously been a few years since this scouting report was created, but you'll see why Pete Carroll and John Schneider were both so seemingly high on him back in 2010.
Read & React: Very good nose for the ball playing near the line or in space. Plays faster than his timed speed indicates because of his football IQ. Aware and reads misdirection on the edge. Gets his hands up to block passes near the line.
Run defense: Takes good angles to the ball and is a reliable tackler in the open. Stands his ground very well against tackles on either side of the line considering he is undersized. Explodes into double teams. Able to punch and disengage to chase down run plays run to his side, but will be engulfed regularly by NFL offensive tackles. Beats cut blocks with his hands, recovers quickly to chase down the ball.
Pass defense: Displays the speed needed to cover tight ends and running backs downfield and in the flat. Attacks plays in front of him, takes good angles and wraps securely. Aware of screens and can take out a running back before quarterback can throw the ball. Better receivers and tight ends will separate from him using their length. Must improve the fluidity in his backpedal and drop to get into position in coverage. Inexperienced recognizing routes and will need to prove he can make the interception.
Tackling: Always hustles to the ball whether the play is on his side or he needs to chase down the line or downfield. Uses his long arms to wrap up securely, can be explosive enough to knock the ball loose. Doesn't have the size or strength to make a lot of arm tackles. Former special teams ace with a future there because of his speed and willingness to throw his body into the fray.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Relentless pass rusher. Often double-teamed and works through blocks and traffic until the ball is away. Explodes from three-point stance or when standing up, although he will be the last guy off the ball at times. Gets the corner against slower tackles and tight ends, and can push them into the pocket using his lack of height to get under their pads. Strong hands to rip off blocks and force fumbles. Stays balanced after a spin or outside-in move. Nice backfield awareness; stays home on misdirection and can disrupt passing lanes with good vertical and arm length if unable to reach the quarterback. Explodes into running back blocks.
The bottom line with Schofield is that if he can get/stay healthy, he provides some nice depth at the position until Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin are able to return. He'll push rookies Ty Powell and Kenneth Boatright for the roster, I'd assume, while backing up Cliff Avril and perhaps K.J. Wright and/or Mike Morgan as hybrid LEO/SAM types. He certainly provides more experience at that spot for the first four weeks than a couple of rookies in Powell/Boatright would. I like the move, in theory, now it should be interesting to see how he does in the Seahawks' scheme.