CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Bobby Wagner proved to be one of the bargain picks of last year's NFL Draft, a second-round choice who provided first-round production as the starting middle linebacker of an excellent Seattle Seahawks defense.
Around The League caught up with the Los Angeles native during his visit to NFL Network studios on Tuesday. We asked Wagner if he was disappointed to lead the Seahawks in tackles and not capture Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly beat out Wagner by a healthy margin.
"I was disappointed. I thought I was going to win," he said. "I felt like I had the stats, I thought the team success we had would have put me over the edge, or at least made it a closer margin. But Luke had a great year so I wasn't surprised when he won.
"I had a lot of talented guys around me, probably had the top secondary in the league," he went on. "We had a pretty productive D-line, I thought to stick out in a group like that was significant."
The Seahawks' narrow playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons was a bitter disappointment for Wagner, who was looking forward to playing the San Francisco 49ers in his home state for a shot at the Super Bowl. Considering the beating the Seahawks put on the Niners in Week 16, we asked Wagner if he sees Seattle as the best team in the NFC West going forward.
"I consider us the favorite," he said. "I think we can beat any team that's on the field with us as long as we're doing our job and everybody is taking care of what they need to do."
We had to bring up what we consider the most fascinating aspect of Wagner's life: His obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wagner is known to wear a TMNT backpack and collect toys associated with the popular cartoon. He's seen every movie and he sheepishly copped to knowing the words to Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap."
It's all kind of weird, and totally endearing.
"My parents introduced them to me when I was 2, and I always watched them growing up," he said. "The older I got, they thought it was going to decline, but my dad is like fifty-something, he's still a huge James Bond fan. I see that as the same thing. He's into James Bond, I'm into Ninja Turtles just as much.
"They remind of myself sometimes," Wagner said. "A lot of them are sarcastic. They like to have fun, love pizza. My mom is always like, "If you love something, keep it around you."
Wagner is different than your typical middle linebacker -- and that's not a bad thing.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.