In a year in which many defenders that do not play for the 14-1 Carolina Panthers have been overlooked, one man has shone through as an elite performer. That man is K.J Wright of the Seattle Seahawks. The outside linebacker sometimes receives little praise due to the fact he plays alongside guys like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman who are widely respected and seen as the best at what they do. Before the cap increase, Seattle were going to have to make sacrifices on the defensive end, and Wright was seen as one of the ones that may have to go. Luckily this hasn’t happened because he has blossomed to become the best 4-3 Outside linebacker in the NFL above the likes of Thomas Davis and Lavontae David. Wright can do everything, he is a great tackler, he can rush the quarterback at the same rate as a premier defensive end and he is as good at play recognition as any guy in the league.
K.J Wright is extremely useful for the Seahawks because of his general flexibility, he can play as an edge rusher at a good rate. He has only recorded one sack this year but when the Seahawks blitz he often forces an offensive line to collapse because he is just as deadly as someone like Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril. He is especially useful when teams run play action because he is quick to burst through the line of scrimmage and he reads the game excellently. It’s actually harder to prepare for Wright than someone like Bennett because he is more versatile and can do everything.
The greatest asset of Wright however is his play-making ability. He makes a lot of tackles and he can essentially fill in as a safety when Seattle drop into a deep cover two motion. The Linebacker has 110 tackles this year which puts him in the top 15 in the whole of the NFL, a lot are assisted but that is because the Seattle defence is well drilled and it works as a unit. Wright is just a very important part of this unit. The best thing the former Mississippi State Bulldog does is change his direction quickly, he has remarkable acceleration and it means he can tackle receivers and running backs quicker than anyone else on the Seahawks team. This, combined with the fact he is a tough and hard tackler are the primary reasons he is joint 2nd in forced fumbles with four, this is the most on the Seahawks and he is up alongside the likes of Jamie Collins and Von Miller who both get a lot more credit than he does.
The fact he has been excluded from the pro-bowl is frankly an outrage, barring Earl Thomas he has been the best Seahawks defender this season, it just proves the people deciding the pro bowl do not know their stuff and reputation plays too large a part. Wright has improved more than any guy on the Seahawks roster and definitely deserved a chance to be amongst the best in the League.
It is incredible that Wright was one of the players who was going to likely be sacrificed when the salary cap issues hit Seattle hard, a few years down the line it is hard to imagine this unit functioning without him because of his versatility and playmaking ability. He is luckily on a cheap Four Year $27 million deal which is an absolute bargain. The fact he goes under the radar is very frustrating but it does a lot of good for the Seahawks salary cap in the grand scheme of things. He is superb in the pass defence and does well against the run, Seattle can ask for no more from him as he complements the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett.