Looking at the Seahawks’ draft needs: linebacker

With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis, it’s time to take a look at the Seahawks’ roster and see where they might be looking to add talent. Like any good team, the Seahawks will tell you they don’t draft strictly by need, but the current roster does influence how general manager John Schneider and his scouting department put together a draft board. Not every need will be filled in the draft—free agency is coming up in March—but the draft remains the single most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a roster, which is why last month’s Senior Bowl, this week’s combine and all the other elements of draft preparation are so important for the Seahawks and every team in the league.

Throughout this week, we’ll look at where the Seahawks stand at each position prior to the draft and free agency.

Linebacker

Level of need: Low to moderate

Why: All of Seattle’s starters are still under contract, and Bobby Wagner is likely to get a long-term deal soon, meaning he and K.J. Wright would be locked up for several years. But even if the Seahawks don’t need starters, they could lose some depth and important special teams players this offseason. Malcolm Smith, their top backup linebacker and a key special teams contributor, is an unrestricted free agent, and very well could decided to go elsewhere to find a starting job. Mike Morgan, another special teams standout, is a restricted free agent, and Heath Farwell is likely headed towards retirement after missing all of last season with a groin injury. The Seahawks do have Kevin Pierre-Louis, who they drafted in the fourth round last season, but even if they like what they have in him and Brock Coyle, they need more depth.

Don’t, however, expect the Seahawks to address linebacker early. Other than Wagner, a middle linebacker who was drafted in the second round to fit a clear need, the Seahawks have not picked a linebacker before the fourth round (though 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin was later moved from defensive end to linebacker).

Top players available*:

1. Paul Dawson, TCU

2. Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

3. Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.)

4. Eric Kendricks, UCLA

5. Stephone Anthony, Clemson

*—According to the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.

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