Just four picks away from their final selection on Friday evening, the Seattle Seahawks struck a deal with the Vikings to slide up to 88th overall, sending Minnesota picks 92 and 159 (and receiving 209, as well). With the 88th pick, the Seahawks selected Utah linebacker Cody Barton, the second Utes defender drafted by Seattle on day two.
I’ve previously written about the lack of Seahawk-y linebackers available in the 2019 NFL Draft, and Barton is no different. He isn’t as explosive as Seattle likes—34th percentile vertical and 47th percentile broad jump—but he does possess great quickness. Barton’s 82nd percentile three cone is great, as is his 96th percentile short shuttle. Though he doesn’t meet the Seahawks’ thresholds across the board, he’s a nice athlete.
Where Barton Wins
Barton wins where a modern linebacker should win: With outstanding range across and down the field, and the ability to finish when he gets to the ball (Barton had the lowest missed tackle percentage in the Pac-12 in 2018). Consistently in the right spots, Barton is simply a steady presence at the second level.
Where Barton Loses
A former safety and just 237 pounds (fine for a modern linebacker), Barton loses in traffic and in between the tackles. If Barton can be kept clean and off the line of scrimmage, he has a chance to be a really nice defender for Seattle. If he is asked to fill lanes and sort through traffic, he could be washed out of plays with ease.
Year One Role
Though things could change for Barton, if K.J. Wright again struggles with injuries and Mychal Kendricks does go to prison, currently he figures to be a special teamer as a rookie. Barton has the athletic profile that would suggest he’ll thrive in that role.
Best Case Scenario
Sideline-to-sideline range, and the ability to carry running backs and tight ends down the field, Barton has the skill set of a modern linebacker. Should the Seahawks be looking for a new running mate for Bobby Wagner in 2020, Barton could step in and offer Seattle two do it all defenders at the second level.
Worst Case Scenario
Similar to his college teammate Marquise Blair, Barton’s profile would suggest at the worst, he’ll be a strong special teams player. Certainly they’ll be hoping for an eventual starter as a third round selection, but Barton will at least carve out a role as early as year one in the third phase.
The Seahawks needed to add another linebacker through the draft, and the lack of players who fit their mold was going to make it difficult. Even still, they added a prospect who has the skill set of a linebacker who can play regularly in the modern NFL. Perhaps it was a reach, but Barton is a prospect worth feeling good about.