RENTON, Wash. — During their 14 years together with the Seattle Seahawks, John Schneider and Pete Carroll stayed in their respective lanes when it came to handling draft-day questions from reporters. The general manager would usually take the ones about a player’s traits or college tape, while anything related to the role they envisioned for him would be the head coach’s to answer.

Schneider and new coach Mike Macdonald mostly followed that MO during their first draft together, with one exception. It came when Schneider was asked about Tyrice Knight, the inside linebacker from UTEP whom Seattle drafted in the fourth round.

“That’s a good one for Mike,” he said. “Mike’s more the linebacker guru.”

Schneider didn’t just defer to Macdonald on the question because of his background coaching linebackers, which he did for the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons before becoming Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2021. It was also because, to some degree, Schneider had deferred to Macdonald on the pick itself.

Knight had become a favorite of Macdonald and his defensive staff after the team brought the prospect to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on a pre-draft team visit. The coaches preferred Knight over a cluster of other inside linebackers the Seahawks figured would be available early on Day 3. He was projected by some to last until later in the day — ESPN’s Jordan Reid and Matt Miller both had him going in Round 6 in their seven-round mock drafts — but Schneider took him at No. 118 overall, fearing that the Seahawks might miss out on a player that their coaching staff loved.

“The first thing that pops out on the tape is he sees the game quickly, so key and diagnose,” Macdonald said. “Instincts, I guess, is a good way to put it, but like moving where the ball is going kind of before everybody else maybe is a good way to describe it. He stays square.

“I think he brings some thump at the point of attack and then when we brought him in, we got to meet him and we just really liked the person and the competitor. His demeanor is soft-spoken right now, but I think he’s a very clear communicator and then just a guy throughout the process we started to really like.”

Knight joins an inside linebacker corps that will look completely different from last season, though the Seahawks have kept the door open for a reunion with Jamal Adams with the thought that he’d play that position as opposed to safety.

Seattle lost Jordyn Brooks in free agency and let Bobby Wagner walk — the team’s top two tacklers in 2023 — before replacing them with Jerome Baker ($7 million base value) and Tyrel Dodson ($4.26 million), each on one-year deals. The backups consisted of young players who have mainly played special teams, meaning there was a need for both depth and another long-term starting option.

Knight, who’s just under 6-foot-1 and weighs 233 pounds, ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at the combine, a solid but unspectacular time that ranked eighth-fastest among linebackers. Macdonald’s scheme asks a lot of its Mike (middle) and Will (weakside) ‘backers, and he believes Knight has the head to handle those responsibilities even if he doesn’t have off-the-charts measurables.

“I do think he can improve his hand usage, but I just think he sees the game and it’s slow for him,” Macdonald said. “We’re going to ask our guys to man the middle of the defense, and I think he can do that eventually.”

After transferring from Independence Community College, Knight racked up 386 tackles during his four years as a starter at UTEP. That was fourth most in FBS in that span. Last season, his 24 run stops (a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage on a designed rush) were tied for fourth most in FBS. He recorded 2 interceptions, 17 passes defensed and 8.5 sacks (including 4.5 last year) in 45 games for the Miners.

“Linebackers are paid to make tackles,” Macdonald said. “He makes a lot of tackles, so that’s a good thing.”

The Seahawks’ plan all offseason has been to use Dodson at Mike and Baker at Will, though both can play either position and Macdonald’s scheme gives them the flexibility to switch spots depending on the defensive call. Macdonald said Knight will likely learn Will first.

Seahawks sources have emphasized that if the team brings Adams back, it will be to play weakside linebacker in a part-time role. Given their tight financial situation ( lists them with around $1.5 million in cap space after restructuring cornerback Mike Jackson’s contract) and the fact that Adams is coming off three straight injury-plagued seasons and has zero sacks since 2020, it would likely be for something close to the league minimum.

The Seahawks told Adams when they released him in March that the move was purely cap-related and that they’d be open to bringing him back later in the offseason if he was willing to play linebacker. He might also need to be willing to play special teams.

A reunion isn’t considered likely, but it’s a possibility the Seahawks planned on discussing internally after the draft.

For now, though, Knight is the newest member of that new-look group.

“He hasn’t done all the things that we’re going to ask him to do schematically, but nobody ever does,” Macdonald said. “So you’re looking at how he moves and how he thinks and try to project it the best you can.”


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