#23 – K.J. Wright

***UPDATE*** right on cue.

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Player A:  6’2, 255 pound outside linebacker, registered 68 tackles, 0 sacks, and 5 passes defended in 2011
Player B:  6’4, 246 pound outside linebacker, registered 65 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 passes defended in 2011

I’m usually annoyed whenever writers use this trope to compare similar athletes to make a point.  But, in this case, I’ll make an exception, because in my opinion, you can’t talk about K.J. Wright (Player B) at this point in his career, without comparing him to Aaron Curry (Player A).

Yes, Player B in this scenario is rookie linebacker (now 2nd year linebacker) K.J. Wright.  He was drafted in the 4th round last spring, meaning he makes considerably less money than 1st rounder (#4 overall in 2009) Curry, AND he’s three years younger than Curry.  Last season, after two games, the highly-touted, “Sure Bet” first round linebacker was replaced by the young, raw, athletic 4th round linebacker.  And, we essentially didn’t miss a beat.

With K.J. Wright, you have to love his size.  He’s tall, he’s not too heavy, he’s quick.  With Aaron Curry, you have to think that the stats we’ve seen out of him his first three seasons (each looking remarkably similar to one another) are what he’s topping out as.  Aaron Curry is a linebacker who will get you 60-something tackles, a small handful of sacks, and he’ll get out there and knock a few passes down.  With K.J. Wright, you’d LIKE to think last season was just a warm up; that he’s about ready to blossom into an impact player on this young and up-&-coming defense.

We’ll see.

Wright is a year into the program now, so he’s probably got things well figured out and can just go out and make plays.  Towards the end of last season, he had a couple of 8-tackle games, so hopefully that’s a sign of improvement over some of the earlier shakiness.

What I like best about Wright is the fact that these coaches were so confident in his abilities that they up and traded Aaron Curry in the middle of the season.  Wright was so much better than Curry, they didn’t even need the DEPTH he might provide!  That’s saying something.

K.J. Wright often gets overshadowed by what we’re hoping is a lockdown secondary (not to mention an improved defensive line that should still be good against the run while generating more quarterback pressure on third downs), but I wouldn’t overlook this kid.  I think he’s just getting started.  I think he can be an elite player in this league, one who will eventually overshadow the flashier elements of this team’s defense.

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