RENTON — On draft night, when the Seahawks took Cody Barton in the third round with the 88th overall pick out of Utah, coach Pete Carroll said the plan was to use him initially at weakside linebacker.
“I was like ‘OK, I’m cool with that,’’’ Barton said Saturday.
But truth be told, while he is willing to do whatever the Seahawks ask, the weakside spot is not where his heart is.
So as good as the last week has been, it became even better when he got on the field Friday for the beginning of the team’s rookie minicamp and the team told him to line up at middle linebacker, where he has played for almost every snap of the first two days of the three-day camp.
“I love it,’’ Barton said. “My last year at Utah that’s what I was. So I love (middle linebacker).’’
Putting Barton in the middle, though, has meant that for now, Washington’s Ben Burr-Kirven is a weakside linebacker.
Burr-Kirvin played mostly the middle for the Huskies, so not only is he making a big leap from college to the NFL but also now an adjustment in position.
“It’s pretty different, honestly,’’ Burr-Kirven said. “At UW I was playing the true middle spot. I’m playing the (weakside) here which is a little bit different, so I’m doing a little bit more stuff outside the box, getting out on receivers, that kind of stuff. So there is definitely differences.
“. … It’s just playing in space more. Mike (middle) you are really in the box sifting through traffic more. At the (weakside) you are more in space, playing running backs in the flat, covering receivers a little bit. So just a little bit more of a space-driven game.’’
The Seahawks have said that each will eventually learn every linebacker spot, and the pairing for now may be in part about simply finding the best way to get the two used to playing on the field together.
Burr-Kirven sees the value in that.
“When you play linebacker I think it is one of the most important positions to really build a relationship with the guy you are playing next to because so much of what you do is predicated by what he is doing,’’ said Burr-Kirven, listed by the Seahawks at 6-foot, 230.
The fierce UW-Utah Pac-12 rivalry meant that the two have known of each other for years.
But they never really talked until the NFL scouting combine, when they spent four days together with the rest of the linebackers going through drills, meetings and workouts.
Working with the 6-2, 237-pound Barton for a few days with the Seahawks has only enhanced Burr-Kirven’s admiration of his new teammate.
“He’s asking questions about stuff we haven’t even put in yet,’’ Burr-Kirven said. “So just the way his mind is working he is just ahead of the game, every day a little bit farther ahead than anybody else. He just wants to be that guy that runs that show.’’
Barton got an iPad from the Seahawks with the playbook shortly after the draft. His initial thought, he said, was “kind of just like ‘the hell?’’’
A phone call with linebackers coach Ken Norton helped clarify what the team wanted him to study, and Barton said he then just started taking “tons of notes. Just notes and notes and notes for hours.’’
The studying has appeared to pay off as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Friday said he was amazed at the command Barton and Burr-Kirven had of the defense and their ability to get everyone lined up correctly.
“Both he (Burr-Kirven) and Cody were really impressive just throughout the first day to have so much command of what we were doing,” Carroll said. “I kind of tie those guys together, that they’re impressive just going to be able to learn the whole thing.”
There’s a long ways to go, of course, for each to prove themselves as NFL players.
But should the team think that Barton and Burr-Kirven can be a viable inside linebacker tandem it could have some pretty interesting implications going forward.