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Matt Calkins: Seahawks say they took the ‘best player on the board’ with pick of Jordyn Brooks in NFL draft. But for now, it’s a head-scratcher.

UPDATED: Fri., April 24, 2020

Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks waits to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Charlie Neibergall / ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks waits to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Charlie Neibergall / ASSOCIATED PRESS)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Perhaps the most futile exercise in sports writing is trying to grade a draft pick immediately after it is made. Bleacher Report once did that with the Seahawks in 2012 – when they picked up Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and Bruce Irvin – and gave them an “F.”

So there will be no letters assigned to former Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks, whom Seattle selected with 27th pick in Thursday’s draft. But there will be one of these …

Huh?

There certainly doesn’t seem to be a need at linebacker for Seattle right now. Six-time Pro Bowler Wagner is under contract through 2022. One-time Pro Bowler and Seahawk mainstay K.J. Wright is also under contract and just got a million-dollar bonus last month for still being on the roster – meaning the team isn’t likely to part ways with him. Based on the opportunities they gave him last season as a rookie, the Seahawks also seem bullish on Cody Barton.

So why Brooks?

Simple. They thought he was too good to pass up.

“We took the best player on the board,” said Seahawks general manager John Schneider, who took Brooks with the 27th pick. “He’s real tough, he’s a great person. … He’s just got that grit that we always talk about.”

Brooks had 20 tackles for loss at Texas Tech last year and can play inside and outside linebacker. He also tallied three sacks last season and ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash at the combine in February. Perhaps the highest praise came from Texas Tech coach Matt Wells, who according to a tweet from Ross Tucker, said that Brooks was “the next Bobby Wagner.”

As Tucker noted, Wells coached Wagner when he was at Utah State.

Still, excited as the brass might be about Brooks, the ostensibly glaring hole on the edge remains unaddressed. With Jadeveon Clowney still unsigned, the Seahawks are in need of help in the pass-rushing department.

Yes, they added Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, but they lost Quinton Jefferson. And their leader in sacks last season was Rasheem Green, who had only four.

So should you be skeptical of the pick? Well, based on recent history, nobody would blame you.

Two years ago, the Seahawks made a surprise first-round pick by taking running back Rashaad Penny, whose health and productivity has been shaky. Last year, they made a surprise first-round pick in defensive end L.J. Collier, who barely stepped on the field last season.

This pick was equally surprising, and while Brooks might end up being the finest selection in Seahawks history, I suspect there were a lot of nails on scalps in Seattle when his name was called.

Not that that means anything to the Seahawks.

“We just found a guy that could check all the boxes. We love his attitude,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, adding that Brooks has a chance to fight for playing time right away. “We need to get faster and tougher on defense. Jordyn fits that perfectly.”

Though he had only three sacks last year, Brooks feels confident he can put pressure on the quarterback when necessary. Carroll added that he was effective in doing so in college.

He also has a compelling back story, having been homeless at one point in his youth.

Brooks said he wasn’t surprised that he went in the first round but was surprised that the Seahawks took him. He hadn’t heard from them since the combine and didn’t really feel like he was on their radar.

Well, he was.

Not since 2011 have the Seahawks kept their original first-round pick. This year, they pulled the trigger.

Will it work out? Nobody knows. But if you’re going, “Huh?” as opposed to screaming, “Yeah!” you’re not alone.

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