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NFL Draft

Jordyn Brooks Doesn’t Look Like Such A Bad Pick Anymore

  • The Draft Network
  • August 24, 2021
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When the Seattle Seahawks took Jordyn Brooks 27th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the pick was met with a lot of criticism. Whether it be him going way before draft projection (Round 2 or 3), not filling an immediate position of need in Seattle, or even the fact that everyone seems to think that LSU’s Patrick Queen would fill a similar role in a much better capacity, plenty of media members (including myself) weren't exactly enthused by the selection.

Given Seattle’s disastrous first-round track record in recent seasons (Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier, etc.), it seemed like it was fair to critique the outside of the box pick—even if Seattle has been able to strike gold from their unorthodox ways from time to time.

Well, it turns out that this is one of those aforementioned times because Brooks is not only just looking to be a great use of a first-round pick, he might end up being one of the best linebackers in the entire league.

Now, what makes Brooks a bit different than some of Seattle’s recent busts is that although he was a “reach,” he was always an elite athlete whose physical gifts weren’t in question. Running a ridiculous 4.54 at a solid 240 pounds, it was easy to see how Brooks’ freaky movement skills would transition to the next level—at least when it came to blitzing, splitting gaps, and attacking downhill. Where questions mostly lied were in coverage and positioning, two traits that—after looking back—were pretty easily fixed in Year 1 in Seattle. It just turned out he needed to get away from a bad scheme and add a few All-Pro level linebackers to mentor him (Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright).

After all, although Brooks racked up four full seasons' worth of snaps at Texas Tech (and a massive 224 solo tackles along with it), playing in a horrid defense didn’t allow Brooks to realize his potential—something Seattle recognized and took advantage of come draft time. With the Red Raiders, Brooks had no clue where to drop in zone coverage, would misread run fits, and at points just looked plain lost in space. He also rarely played in man coverage, so his ability in that regard was a huge question mark for many evaluators (including myself) pre-draft. With very little film to go off of, it had to be viewed as a negative in his profile. A year and many man coverage reps later, let’s just say those concerns were pretty easily erased.

Learning from one of the best in Wagner—a similarly built freak athlete—Seattle’s plan to slowly usher Brooks in a year ago was executed to perfection. Although the long-term idea has always been to replace Wagner and make him the future at the MIKE position, they knew he wasn’t ready right away—and were completely okay with it. 

Playing mostly a two-down role but dabbling in both weak-side and strong-side play, he simply got better every single week, showcasing his elite upside and making Wright expendable in the process. With Wright having one of his best seasons to date a year ago, that was no small feat to accomplish. 

Now ready to replace Wright and play a full three-down role next to Wagner this season, Brooks has a huge task ahead of him, especially with major question marks at weakside linebacker. But already wreaking havoc this preseason and displaying, dare I say it, Fred Warner and Wagner levels of dominance against a mix of first and second-string players, he’s more than proven everything he’s had to and more, captaining the defense with Wagner out and shouldering the load of defensive calls in his brief absence.

In just a single season, Brooks has gone from developmental reach to budding star, proving draftniks wrong and (somewhat) validating Seattle’s go big or go home approach in the process.

The full-on breakout has yet to happen (completely reasonable for a guy just entering his second season), but it will happen in short order. And when he does, I’ll be the first of those that criticized the pick to eat my words and say I was wrong.

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