The Seattle Seahawks selected Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
It's the first time since 2011 the Seahawks have made a selection with their original first round pick.
"Really excited to add a real top grade person," General Manager John Schneider said. "Jordyn is the youngest of seven (kids). He's got a twin sister. He's been through a lot. He's overcome a lot. He's got a ton of grit. He's our kind of guy. He can fly, 233 pounds and ran 4.46 (40-yard dash) and just a great kid."
Brooks was a four-year starter at Texas Tech and served as middle linebacker for the Red Raiders. As a senior he recorded 108 tackles with 20 tackles for loss en route to being named a second-team All-American. He was a finalist for the Dick Butkus award and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection. He's the first All-American linebacker for Texas Tech since Zach Thomas in 1995.
"We just found a guy that really could check all the boxes," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We love his attitude. Just his mentality. Just really, really on it. His versatility."
Schneider and Carroll raved about the meeting Brooks had with the team at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. Brooks had not heard from the team since those conversations two months ago.
“I hadn’t talked to them since the Combine, so I wasn’t really expecting them to pick me,” Brooks said. “I’m forever grateful and excited to be in Seattle.”
But while the Seahawks hadn't spoken to him since, they felt that meeting convinced he could be a great fit in Seattle.
"He had a great formal interview at the combine," Schneider said. "He's got that grit that we always talk about. That edge, chip on the shoulder, and we're excited to get him in the program. His junior year he played kind of out in space a little bit kind of like a little bit of a rover in the Big 12 and then last year he played inside and went through a new staff, the Utah (State) staff came down there and he really adjusted and did a great job. The strength coach did a great job working with him and he bought in and he really ripped it up this year. He did a great job after the season, throughout the season and then what he did at the combine was phenomenal. And a lot of guys with a lot of conviction on the guy, Josh Graff and Matt Berry, the two guys that went into the school had a ton of conviction on him."
Even if it wasn't necessarily expected to come with the 27th overall pick, the Seahawks did need help at linebacker. With Bruce Irvin back in town and Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright still in place as the benchmarks in the middle, all three of Seattle's starting linebackers have been in the league at least eight seasons. Wright was drafted in 2011 while Irvin and Wagner were the first- and second-round picks in the 2012 draft ahead of quarterback Russell Wilson's selection in the third round. Irvin and Wright are only under contract through the 2020 season while Wagner signed an extension prior to last season.
"We've got good players inside that we love," Carroll said. "We love Bobby and K.J and what they've done, and we're going to give this guy a chance to see where he can fit in. We'll work the competition so that we can uncover exactly what's best and really he's got a chance to be fighting for playing time right away.
Brooks has played both as an outside linebacker and in the middle and said he feels comfortable at either position.
"He played the first couple years and his playing time was outside, more in space," Carroll said. "This last year they changed schemes and put him really in a position where he was, a lot of the time, he was responsible for the quarterback and would chase the quarterback and spy him and so he was up in the line of scrimmage and pressuring. So we've seen him do a variety of things that give him the scope of ability that he can play inside or outside for us."
Matt Wells, the head coach at Texas Tech, was the quarterbacks and running backs coach at Utah State when Bobby Wagner graduated from the program. He progressed into the head coaching job at Utah State before taking the Texas Tech job in 2019. Maybe it was his coach's connection to Wagner that buried the seed of thought in his mind, but Brooks said that he views Wagner's game as similar to his own.
“I see myself with the style of play like Bobby Wagner,” Brooks said. “We’re kind of a similar build. I think I bring to the table just aggressiveness, passion, discipline. Those are some of my core values. The fans and the organization are getting a heck of a football player. I’m a linebacker, but I see myself as a football player who can do anything. I’ve got God-given ability that I’ve been blessed with. I feel like I can do anything and add a lot of value to the team."
Carroll said Wagner had already reached out to him to get Brooks' contact information so he could get in touch with the newest member of the linebacker group.
Schneider said the Seahawks did have a deal in place with the Green Bay Packers to trade down from the 27th pick that fell apart at the last minute.
"I was speaking with [Packers G.M.] Brian Gutekunst and too so he was cool. He was like 'hey, sorry man. We got a better deal' and all of the sudden they run the clock. It happens," Schneider said.
The Packers moved into the spot ahead of Seattle to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love and so the Seahawks had to make their pick at No. 27.
Given the uncertainties of the offseason and the potential for a delayed or shortened training camp as well, Schneider noted that Brooks is one of the guys that they evaluated that can come in with the expectation of being able to contribute without much issue.
"Our philosophy was trying to get players that, in the environment that we're in, that can come in and act like pros right away. And this was one of them," Schneider said.
Photo Credit: Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks awaits the snap of the football in a game against Baylor on October 12, 2019. (photo courtesy of Texas Tech University Athletics.)