The term “one-percenter” has taken on a negative connotation in the culture. Not in the NFL draft, and not for Seahawks second-round pick Bobby Wagner.
“Teachers, coaches, family members — lots of people told me only one percent of guys make the NFL,” Wagner, a middle linebacker from Utah State, told Seattle reporters Friday. “The funny thing is, now I’m a one percenter, and I’ll graduate May 5.”
Smart, fast and strong, according to the scouting reports, the 6-0, 240-pound Wagner led the Western Athletic Conference in tackles three consecutive years despite playing football only since his junior year in high school.
He was taken with the 47th pick after the Seahawks traded out of the 43rd pick with the New York Jets, who sent Seattle two picks for the privilege of moving up — a fifth-rounder and a seventh-rounder.
A couple of days before the scouting combine in February, Wagner came down with pneumonia — “I threw up so hard I burst blood vessels in my eye,” he said — and missed the event.
“I was worried a little bit because coming from a smaller school,” he said, “you got to do everything right.”
He made up for it at Utah State’s pro day, when he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash. The Seahawks’ first-round choice Thursday, Bruce Irvin, who was hailed for his speed, ran a 4.41. Wagner was also named most valuable player of the Senior Bowl.
The Seahawks lost starting MLB David Hawthorne in free agency, so Wagner helps fill a need. A potential free agent replacement, Barrett Ruud from Tampa Bay, is recovering from three separate injuries last season.