Bruce Irvin suspension creates opportunity for Seahawks’ UDFAs
Since the draft, I’ve been wondering which of the Seattle Seahawks’ un-drafted free-agents has the greatest chance of making the team. Bruce Irvin getting caught with dirty pee creates added opportunity for the linebackers and defensive ends.
Irvin plays what Pete Carroll calls the Leo position: a hybrid LB/DE suited for an athlete fast enough for pass coverage, strong enough to take on offensive lineman and long enough to bat down passes. At 6-3 and 248 pounds, Irvin has the perfect build. The 4.43 40 yard dash he ran at last year’s combine makes him just the type of freak for the job.
Irvin’s four game suspension leaves an opening for another Leo. The Seahawks have four un-drafted rookies on the roster who benefit from this chance: defensive ends Kenneth Boatwright from Southern Illinois and Benson Mayowa from Idaho plus linebackers John Lotulelei from UNLV and Craig Wilkins from Old Dominion. I’ll introduce you to each of them then discuss who has the best odds to make the team.
Kenneth Boatwright - Southern Illinois
6-3, 254 pounds
4.77 40 Yard Dash
22 Bench Reps
34 ½ Vertical
Boatwright has the size but not the speed. He’s more DE than LB. His strength is not impressive. I don’t see him having the quickness and range to play the Leo position.
Benson Mayowa - Idaho
6-3, 236 pounds
4.73 40 yard Dash
19 Bench Reps
37 ½ Vertical
Mayowa’s 40 time isn’t amazing, but the coaches were impressed by his quickness. He’ll need to bulk up, but an NFL diet and trainers will add some muscle quickly. He played a Leo role for the Vandals, which will give him an advantage.
John Lotulelei - UNLV
5-11, 233 pounds
4.65 40 Yard Dash
25 Bench Reps
35 ½ Vertical
Lotulelei (not related to Star) stands out in terms of quickness and strength. He just doesn’t stand out in height. Distinctly more of an ILB build. I’d hope for a better pass-swatting wingspan, but he has all the rest.
Craig Wilkins - Old Dominion
6-1, 243 pounds
4.54 40 Yard Dash
28 Bench Reps
Wilkins leads this group in strength and speed. He’s in the middle in height, but pass defending is a lot about anticipation and not strictly about arm-length. Like Irvin, he started his career at safety then grew to linebacker size. He built a reputation as a nasty hitter.
Of course, it will come down to the things that are hard to measure: character, work ethic and ability to learn. But looking at raw ability and college history, I give the best chance to Wilkins. He’s the strongest and fastest, so I see him as the edge rusher who can fill Irvin’s role for the first month of the season. He’s a roving safety in a lineman’s body. If he can learn the Leo role, he has a good shot at a quality NFL career.
Mayowa is a close second in my mind. I don’t think his 40 accurately describes his speed. The Seahawks’ coaches mention his quick first step and his relentlessness. His experience at Leo will help him a lot. If he exhibits veteran composure, he could win the job.
Lotulelei seems like the right guy for the wrong role. Looking strictly at Irvin’s Leo position, I don’t think Lotulelei has the body for it. But he has all the makings of a great middle linebacker. He should hang around Bobby Wagner and mold himself into an understudy.
Boatwright is too much of a defensive end, I think, and not enough of a linebacker. I don’t think he has the necessary lateral movement and ability to play in space. With the addition of Michael Brooks, the Seahawks are deep at interior linemen. What they need are dynamic edge-rushers and I don’t see Boatwright fitting. Still, it often is about hard work and smarts. I wish him luck fighting his way onto the team.