Bobby Wagner Looking Forward to Mentoring, Working with Rookie LB Jordyn Brooks
College players can come into the league oozing with talent and ability but not know a thing about being a professional and playing in the National Football League. It's a whole different animal to have football become your profession and your full-time job. The spotlight is brighter and the stakes are higher.
It's not every day a player is drafted and immediately gets to learn from a future Hall of Famer at the same position. Luckily for first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, that is the situation the incoming Seahawks rookie walks into with fellow linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Brooks comes in with plenty of expectations after being selected 27th overall, which came as a shock to many given Seattle's other pressing needs. His college production adds further pressure, as he produced 108 tackles and a stellar 20 tackles for loss in 2019 at Texas Tech. The ability he showed going sideline-to-sideline, making tackles with ferocity has slowly won over the hearts of many skeptical Seahawks faithful.
After starring for the Red Raiders as a four-year starter, he joins a team with not one but two solid linebackers as K.J. Wright is a nine-year veteran and a former Pro Bowler himself.
Now entering his ninth season as the undisputed captain of Seattle's defense, Wagner hasn't been able to work one-on-one with Brooks just yet. Aside from a few phone calls and virtual team meetings, COVID-19 restrictions have prevented the two from connecting in person to this point.
But with players finally reporting on Tuesday for initial testing, Wagner hopes he will be able to start passing on everything he knows with his new apprentice on the field in the near future.
"I spoke with him a little bit when he got drafted," Wagner commented in a Zoom call on Wednesday. "Been able to be in meeting room with him, but a lot of it is just going over the defense, so he doesn't really get to talk much. I'm hoping we get through this first kind of phase and get a chance to get around him."
Wagner himself knows a thing or two about being drafted with high expectations at linebacker. Seattle selected the Utah State product in the second round in 2012, looking to replace the departed David Hawthorne. The California native became an instant starter, starting 15 games his rookie year and appearing in all 16 games, producing 140 tackles and three interceptions. Missing just nine games over the next eight years, he has piled up numerous accolades along the way.
Judging by how Wagner has carried himself on and off the field since being drafted, especially with his nomination as the Seahawks' representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award last year to go along with his five First-Team All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowl bids, young players should be lining up at his door to pick his brain.
Showing his maturity, Wagner displays an admirable attitude towards passing on all he has learned throughout his career, especially to those who may eventually replace him. He takes it seriously.
"This is bigger than just football to me," Wagner said about mentoring Brooks back in June. "This is young men getting a chance to live out their dream and provide for their family."
First in line at his door should be Brooks. Given the expectations and talent the Texas native possesses, he would be doing himself a disservice to not hang onto Wagner's every word.
Initially, Brooks will likely fill in at SAM and WILL linebacker on either side of Wagner. However, with Father Time still undefeated, Wagner won't be playing at an All-Pro level forever. With three years left in his contract, one might assume that Brooks is his heir-apparent at middle linebacker. The 22-year old certainly possesses the physical tools to make it happen.
Whether or not Brooks becomes a Pro Bowl linebacker himself depends on his willingness to learn from the best linebacker in football and a surefire Hall of Famer. It sounds like Wagner is certainly willing to part with his secrets of the trade and Brooks should take full advantage.