Let's move on to the first defensive unit in our series.
Seattle's linebackers -- like much of the team -- are exceptionally young. Bobby Wagner is 23 years old (he'll turn 24 later this month). K.J. Wright is 24 (he'll turn 25 in late July). Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith is 24 (he will turn 25 in July). Rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis is 22. Bruce Irvin is the old man among those listed as linebackers at age 26.
Irvin is also the biggest question mark, at this point. Looking lost at times last season when he transitioned to linebacker, Irvin's role in the Seattle defense appears to be reverting back to full-time rush end and less linebacker. We include him in this intro because he's still technically listed as a linebacker. Though, we'll leave him out of the depth chart, since he's expected to be a LEO again.
So, to the group:
StartersK.J. WrightBobby WagnerMalcolm SmithOverview: Wright and Smith played strongside and weakside last season as injuries warranted. In this set up, Smith would likely be the strongside backer with Wright and his coverage skills on the weakside. Wagner has compiled 260 tackles in his two seasons and appear to just be getting started. Smith made two of the biggest interceptions in franchise history last year, including hauling in Richard Sherman's tip during the Immaculate Deflection. The trio of Smith, Wagner and Wright will make a combined $2,857,618 in base salary next season. Smith and Wright can become unrestricted free agents in 2015. Wagner can become an UFA in 2016.
Primary backupsKevin Pierre-Louis (R)Heath FarwellKorey ToomerOverview: Rookie Pierre-Louis played two years as a weakside linebacker for Boston College before being moved to strongside his final season. He's been working at weakside in OTAs with Toomer as a strongside. Toomer, coming off a knee injury, has drawn praise from Pete Carroll during OTAs. The veteran Farwell will be pushed by Mike Taylor in the middle.
On the outside looking inMike MorganBrock CoyleHorace Miller(We're putting O'Brien Schofield in that same LEO spot)Overview: Morgan has weakside and special teams experience, but will be pressed for his spot by younger players this year. He's primarily used for special teams and expendable. Out of Montana, Coyle is a linebacker many thought would be drafted. The Seahawks were able to bring him in for rookie minicamp as an undrafted free agent. The Seahawks signed Miller, out of UTEP, after extending him a tryout invite to rookie minicamp.