The Seattle Seahawks came into the NFL Draft with a shopping list for wide receivers, defensive ends, guards, tackles, and linebackers. With nine picks in the draft, Seattle was able to cross off each need from their list.
In the fourth round with the 132nd overall pick, the Seahawks selected linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis from Boston College. He is the team’s best pick for several reasons. Pierre-Louis is quick and has proven he can affect the game on either the strong or weak side of the play. He also comes to the team at a near perfect time with veteran contracts soon to expire.
A four year starter, Pierre-Louis played 44 games and made 360 tackles. The 6-foot, 236-pound linebacker had four games with double-digit tackles his senior year. In Boston College’s win over Army, he had a season-high 18 tackles.
His senior year, Pierre-Louis changed to the strong side. The change occurred when Boston College needed a replacement for Mark Herzlich who filled the spot before graduating. The school’s new head coach, Steve Addazio, thought Pierre-Louis was ready to fill the position. Pierre-Louis proved his coach made a great decision by having 108 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Pierre-Louis was a top performer at this year’s combine. He ran a 4.51 second 40-yard dash, bench pressed 28 reps of 225 pounds, reached 39.0 inches in his vertical jump, and had a broad jump of 128.0 inches.
The fourth round pick is listed as being “undersized” for an NFL linebacker, but he resembles the Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. Pierre-Louis compares favorably to Smith in that they are both the same height, but Pierre-Louis is ten pounds heavier, and was able to shave 0.15 seconds off Smith’s 40-yard dash time.
Throughout his career, Smith has been known for making game-changing plays. In order for Pierre-Louis to compare to the Super Bowl MVP, he will need to focus on anticipating plays faster and more consistently. He has the speed, so it should be easy for Seattle to help Pierre-Louis diagnose plays faster with the necessary work in the film room.
At minicamp, the Seahawks had Pierre-Louis working on the weak side where he is learning from 2011 seventh round pick Smith, and three-year veteran and fourth round pick K.J. Wright. He is also taking notes from middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and strong side lineman Bruce Irvin.
While it seems as though the positions are filled with all-pro players, there may be some vacancies after this next season. Wright signed a four-year, $2.5 million, $486,000 guaranteed contract in 2011. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Smith will also be an unrestricted free agent in 2015 after his four-year, $2.1 million, $45,900 guaranteed contract expires.
Wright and Smith are not likely to get extensions past 2015. For Wright, he missed the latter half of the season last year after breaking his foot. Without him, Seattle made the playoffs with Smith filling in as his replacement.
Speaking of the Super Bowl MVP, he will be seeking a huge contract after 2015. He currently ranks 188th among the league’s guaranteed salaries for linebackers. Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews contract guarantees him $20.5 million and Denver Broncos’ Von Miller will be getting at least $21 million. Smith will likely seek more money than Miller considering he was on the winning Super Bowl team and has the MVP title. Smith may even stretch to make more than the highest paid linebacker, Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs, who makes a guaranteed $35 million.
Smith has proved he can play at several positions and make game winning plays, such as catching the unforgettable tip by Richard Sherman in the NFC Championship game. Given his 2014 season goes well, teams will be eager to offer him the big bucks that Seattle may not be able to afford as they will be locking up players such as Russell Wilson, Byron Maxwell, and Jermaine Kearse.
As for Pierre-Louis, it’s probable he won’t become a starting linebacker until 2015. Until then, he can make his mark on special teams. If Wright suffers another injury this season, there’s no doubt that Seattle will give Pierre-Louis every opportunity to demonstrate that he is another middle round pick by the Seahawks who can contribute to their vaunted defense.