Seattle Seahawks

Bobby Wagner razzes workout partner Ben Burr-Kirven on Seahawks’ draft call to UW linebacker

The Seahawks used their first choice of the fifth round in the NFL draft Saturday to select University of Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (25). Here he celebrates doing what he did a lot at UW: delivering a hit, this one Colorado’s Tony Brown (18) in an October game at Husky Stadium.
The Seahawks used their first choice of the fifth round in the NFL draft Saturday to select University of Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (25). Here he celebrates doing what he did a lot at UW: delivering a hit, this one Colorado’s Tony Brown (18) in an October game at Husky Stadium. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Ben Burr-Kirven has spent offseason-workout time training with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.

That worked against Burr-Kirven Saturday—in a fun way he absolutely does not mind.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll called Burr-Kirven Saturday morning to tell the Washington Huskies’ All-American and Pac-12 defensive player of the year for 2018 they had selected him in the fifth round of the NFL draft.

Then Schneider and Carroll let Wagner get on the phone.

The newest Seahawk could have guessed what was coming next. Burr-Kirven has worked out with Seattle’s All-Pro linebacker at the Tracy Ford sports-performance center in Bellevue.

“He was giving me a little junk to me, you know: ‘You enjoyed getting your ass kicked by me in workouts so much you want to come and do it full time?’” Burr-Kirven said a few minutes after the linebackers’ smack talk.

The Seahawks used their 142nd-overall choice in the fifth round to select UW’s thumping inside linebacker. The 6-foot, 230-pound Burr-Kirven was the Pat Tillman Pac-12 defensive player of the year last season, and the Pac-12’s football scholar athlete of the year, too.

“It’s incredible,” Burr-Kirven said of the Seahawks keeping him in Seattle.

Linebacker isn’t a position of need for Seattle in the immediate future. Not with Wagner about to get a top-of-the-market contract extension from the team, and after the Seahawks re-signed veteran starters K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks last month to start on the outside again in 2019.

But the Seahawks must look to plan beyond Wright, their longest-tenured defensive player who turns 30 this summer. The starting weakside linebacker re-signed for only two years, and has said he’s basically guaranteed only this one.

Friday, Seattle selected Utah’s Cody Barton in the second round. Barton will begin by playing middle and weakside linebacker in Seattle’s 4-3 defense, coach Pete Carroll said Friday night.

The 6-foot, 230-pound Burr-Kirven knows his path into the Seahawks’ plans begins on special teams.

“I’m a guy who hopefully’s going to be a core special-teamer for them,” he said.

“That’s how I earned my keep at U-Dub, on special teams.”

Even after Burr-Kirven became a full-time starter in the middle of the Huskies’ defense a couple years ago he remained on UW’s punt and punt-return teams.

Burr-Kirven participated in the Seahawks’ local-prospects day earlier this month. At that, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., a former Super Bowl-winning linebacker for the 1990s Cowboys and 49ers, told Burr-Kirven Seattle was keenly interested in drafting him.

“I had my fingers crossed that this would happen,” Burr-Kirven said. “And it worked out real well.”

He’s from Menlo Park, Calif., in the Bay Area. But Seattle is definitely his football home.

Even more so now.

“It’s awesome. I’ve loved Seattle these last four years,” Burr-Kirven said. “I was definitely hoping I could stay up there, and being with the same fans.

“It couldn’t have turned out any better.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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