Linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright embody the Seattle Seahawks’ desire to get bigger, faster, stronger – and younger – on defense.
Smith, a 22-year-old seventh-round draft choice out of the University of Southern California, created some buzz last week against San Diego with a couple explosive plays that had defensive coordinator Gus Bradley singing his praises on Thursday.
“The big thing I’ve talked about is don’t do the up-and-down, like you sometimes see rookies do,” Bradley said. “We’ve seen flashes for three and four days, and we’re saying, ‘OK, keep going, Malcolm, don’t fall into that.’ And so far he’s done a nice job.”
At 6-foot, 230 pounds, Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds on his pro day and gives Seattle another talented playmaker at linebacker.
“I bring a lot of speed to the position,” Smith said. “I’m definitely trying to work on everything. I feel like I cover pretty well. And I got a good feel for where the ball is, but I’m always trying to get better. I’m always watching to catch what other guys are doing and trying to get around the ball more.”
Wright, a 22-year-old fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, plays bruiser to the cat-quick Smith.
The Seahawks initially had the 6-4, 250-pounder pegged to play behind Aaron Curry at outside linebacker. But because of his intelligence and athleticism, Bradley put him at inside linebacker behind starter David Hawthorne.
And Wright excelled in his first exhibition, finishing with a team-high eight solo tackles against San Diego.
“You really don’t see many guys like that,” Bradley said. “But we wanted to try him in there because he’s so sharp and smart, and picks up things really quick.
“And as he’s progressed through training camp we saw some things. And then in the game it took off for him. He really did a nice job in there.”
Wright said his size helps him make plays in the interior.
“You’ve got to take on (offensive) guards and fullbacks all the time,” Wright said. “And I can also move, too. So it’s real good for me. I can use my body and use my long arms.”