Young lions: Seahawks passed on Attaochu, so is Irvin their future LEO?

Irvin and Attaochu

The Seahawks had three big needs entering the draft last May. They satisfied two in the second round, drafting wide receiver Paul Richardson 45th overall after trading out of the 32nd spot and selecting right tackle Justin Britt with the final pick.

The one position they did not address was LEO — their top pass-rushing spot. It’s not like they didn’t have a chance, though, and they will see one guy they could have had when they play Jerry Attaochu and the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Attaochu, Georgia Tech’s career sack leader, seemed like a great LEO option leading up to the draft, and the Chargers ended up taking him five picks after the Seahawks drafted Richardson.

Attaochu didn’t disappoint in his debut Monday night, notching a sack and blocking a punt against Arizona.

“When you turn on his film, whether it’s in college or on Monday night, that’s the way he plays all the time,” coach Mike McCoy said of the high-motor player from Nigeria. “‘He plays snap to whistle. You see him chasing the ball down from the backside. He works extremely hard as a young player.”

Meanwhile, the Hawks have been happy at how hard their once and — they hope — future LEO has prepared.

Bruce Irvin — the speedy 2012 first-rounder who has bounced from rusher to linebacker and now is working at both — is back from hip surgery and full go this week after playing in 31 percent of the snaps in the opener.

“He’s ready to go,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday. “We feel like he’s just had a terrific week. He seems to be full speed, so he’s going to be a regular part of the game plan.”

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Irvin is 10-12 pounds heavier and a more powerful pass rusher now than he was when he had eight sacks as a rookie. The Seahawks had him focus on learning linebacker last season, but they want to use him at both positions this season.

He’s always had great initial quickness, but he’s worked hard this offseason improving as a rusher,” Quinn said this week. “He’s going to be a big factor in our nickel rushes. He’s worked extremely hard at it, so I’m anxious to see him go.”

The Hawks are hoping like crazy Irvin becomes what they drafted him to be — as they face the likelihood of losing Cliff Avril to free agency next year. O’Brien Schofield, a rotational rusher this year, will be a free agent, too.

They didn’t draft Attaochu or another speed rusher this year, so if Irvin can’t prove he is capable of replacing Avril they probably will be looking for a new LEO next year.

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