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Seahawks 2022 NFL Draft Primer: Linebackers

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Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

We don’t yet know what the future holds for Bobby Wagner in relation to his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Could he return in 2022? Sure. But will he? TBD.

Either way, Seattle could (probably) use another linebacker in 2022. And there will be some good ones available when Seattle is on the clock near the top of the second hour of the 2022 NFL Draft’s second day.

Per Pro Football Focus’ beautiful and detailed 2022 NFL Draft Guide (v2), these are the top 8 linebackers available this year:

  • Brian Asamoah (Oklahoma)
  • Leo Chenal (Wisconsin)
  • Nakobe Dean (Georgia)
  • Christian Harris (Alabama)
  • Devin Lloyd (Utah)
  • Chad Muma (Wyoming)
  • Brandon Smith (Penn State)
  • Channing Tindall (Georgia)

Two of those 8 linebackers, Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean, are projected to come off the board in the first round. That should leave 6 linebackers for the Seahawks to choose from on Day Two, should they be so-inclined., PFF is currently projecting 2 of those 6 linebackers as Round 2 selections with the final 4 expected to hear their name called in Round 3.

Note: As with my previous Draft Primers (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DT, EDGE), this one is limited to the players in the current version of PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Guide.


Brian Asamoah

Position Ranking: 5 | Overall Ranking: 48 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: David Long

2021 Stat Line: 68 tackles on 589 snaps (7 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Serious range. Tracking down running backs on wide runs was easy money for him.”

“Violent tackler. Attacks ball carriers with no fear.”

“Asamoah is a pure space player. He’s such a smooth and explosive mover for the position who can match/mirror the athletic playmakers in the league.”

FTR’s take: PFF gave Asamoah a 9/10 for both Speed and Change of Direction. They gave him a 7/10 for Physicality and Awareness. The knocks on Asamoah (by PFF and others) are his Frame (3/10), the fact that he is “built like a safety,” and a perception that he “has to be protected as a weakside linebacker or dime safety.” Personally, I like Asamoah; just not as much as I like some most of the other linebackers in this class.


Leo Chenal

Position Ranking: 3 | Overall Ranking: 35 | Projection: Second Round | Comp: Bart Scott

2021 Stat Line: 74 tackles on 607 snaps (12 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“You want Chenal working downhill as much as possible. A scheme utilizes him in a 50-50 split as blitzer and coverage player would be ideal, similar to Micah Parsons’ off-ball usage for the Cowboys.”

“Those that covet a brick wall coming downhill won’t find a better option in the class.”

FTR’s take: Two of the advanced stats that PFF includes in their Draft Guide are Run-Stop Rate and Pass-Rush Win Rate. Chenal was #1 in both categories (among these 8 linebackers) - and he was #1 in run-stop rate by a very large margin. Add Chenal’s size (6-2, 261) to that, plus his reputation as a THUMPER and ... I’m intrigued. Chenal shouldn’t be expected to “replace” Bwagz (or even K.J. Wright), but a linebacker version of Kam Chancellor sounds like fun!


Nakobe Dean

Position Ranking: 2 | Overall Ranking: 14 | Projection: First Round | Comp: Devin Bush

2021 Stat Line: 54 tackles on 663 snaps (10 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Dean plays like a mad dog. He might not test as the fastest, but he’ll play as the fastest.”

“He sees the game at a high level. He sniffs out screens and misdirection with ease.”

“Dean is like a running back flipped to the defensive side of the ball. He sees where plays are going and can run with the best of them in space.“

FTR’s take: Dean is an exceptional athlete - PFF gave him a 10/10 for Change of Direction, a 9/10 for both Awareness and Speed, and an 8/10 for Physicality. But he’s a little guy (6-0, 225 - aka “Ben Burr-Kirven-sized) and he’s not going to have Georgia’s defensive line playing in front of him (and protecting him) in 2022.

Note: Both Bwagz and Jordyn Brooks are listed at 6-0 as well, but both weigh 240+.


Christian Harris

Position Ranking: 7 | Overall Ranking: 61 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Christian Kirksey

2021 Stat Line: 61 tackles on 914 snaps (14 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Played versatile, pro-style role in Alabama’s defense. Asked to do a lot of things.”

“Harris is going to be coveted not for a certain role, but because he can fill any role. His skill set will allow him to be a scheme-diverse, do-it-all linebacker.”

FTR’s take: Despite the pedigree, I’m not overly high on Christian Harris. One of the knocks on Harris is that he has tunnel vision - i.e., he focuses on the ball carrier or the quarterback and doesn’t see the play developing - and I think I have a bit of tunnel vision too because what I see is a linebacker gave up 4 touchdowns (with no INTs) and 455 yards in pass coverage. No other linebacker on this list allowed multiple TDs and the second-most yards allowed was 283. And it wasn’t just because Harris was targeted the most or gave up the most receptions (both of which are true), his average yards per reception is also the highest among the linebackers on this list.


Devin Lloyd

Position Ranking: 1 | Overall Ranking: 11 | Projection: First Round | Comp: Fred Warner

2021 Stat Line: 90 tackles on 849 snaps (14 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“He’s built to play in space with his change of direction and balance.”

“This is your modern middle linebacker. He’s the guy who you will never have to take off the field on passing downs and can execute whatever role you want him to between the tackles.”

FTR’s take: From this year’s class, Devin Lloyd would my pick as a “direct replacement” for Bobby Wagner. Hands down, no other choice comes close. Alas, without an R1 pick, Seattle has no chance at landing him.

Interesting tidbit: The University of Utah (where Devin Lloyd matriculated) and Utah State (where Bwagz matriculated) are 68 air miles apart as the crow flies and 86.9 road miles apart as the car drives.


Chad Muma

Position Ranking: 4 | Overall Ranking: 47 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Bobby Okereke

2021 Stat Line: 115 tackles on 899 snaps (13 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Tackling machine with a nose for the ball. Only 8% career missed tackle rate.”

“Exceptional at staying square to the line of scrimmage and not over running plays.”

“Muma is a three-down linebacker who can fill whatever role a team wants. He may not be the guy you want taking on a fullback in the hole, but he’s not a liability in that regard either.”

FTR’s take: For a guy who’s 6-3, 242 and played in the Mountain West Conference, I would have expected better numbers and more eye-popping highlights. Not that his numbers weren’t good, just that they don’t exactly inspire confidence when projecting him to the NFL. He may end up being a quality starter, but I will be surprised if that happens in 2022.


Brandon Smith

Position Ranking: 6 | Overall Ranking: 59 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Germaine Pratt

2021 Stat Line: 64 tackles on 789 snaps (15 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Ideal frame for off-ball linebacker. Long and well proportioned.”

“Played the overhang/slot role in 2020. Rare to see from a player at 240-plus pounds.”

“He can run with tight ends or running backs in man coverage with ease. Those are skills you can’t teach.”

FTR’s take: Smith reminds me of K.J. Wright. Smith is 6-5, 227; Wright is 6-4, 246. Both are “effortless movers” and “can range to the flats in a hurry.” On the one hand, this seems like the type of linebacker Seattle could use (especially against screen passes). On the other hand, the Seahawks declined to re-sign K.J. Wright last offseason despite his wanting to return and finish his career in Seattle. Given the Seahawks’ shift in defensive priorities, my guess is that Smith won’t even be on Seattle’s draft board.


Channing Tindall

Position Ranking: 8 | Overall Ranking: 82 | Projection: Third Round | Comp: Daryl Washington

2021 Stat Line: 41 tackles on 474 snaps (5 missed tackles)

PFF’s take:

“Tindall wins hunting down ball carriers. He runs like the terminator, seemingly picking up speed with each step. He is the kind of player who can set a physical tone for a defense.”

“Georgia’s scheme really played to Tindall’s strengths, allowing him to blitz on about one-third of pass plays and having him spy on a good number more. He’s a weakside linebacker in a blitz-heavy defense.”

FTR’s take: The first PFF quote makes me think, “Yes!” The second one, not so much. The Seahawks aren’t exactly a blitz-heavy team. Then there’s the fact that Tindall was never a starter for the Georgia Bulldogs and didn’t see meaningful playing time until his senior season (he played 474 snaps in 2021 after playing 133 combined in 2019 and 2020). Unless he seriously WOWS folks at the NFL Combine (3/1 to 3/7), I don’t see the Seahawks having any interest in him.



Bonus Coverage

For those that want a deeper dive into the numbers and/or enjoy highlight videos ...

Size and (approximate) age:

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Rankings and projections:

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PFF Grades, 2019-2021:

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Standard Stats:

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Highlights

Brian Asamoah

Leo Chenal

Nakobe Dean

Christian Harris

Devin Lloyd

Chad Muma

Brandon Smith

Channing Tindall