If you were watching the NFL draft last night when Roger Goodell came to the podium to announce the #15 pick of the draft, you may have found yourself asking the question…Who the Hell is Bruce Irvin? If you’re an avid NFL fan but maybe don’t follow College Football or even a casual watcher of college games, you were probably confused by the pick; If you were a Seahawks fan, you may have even felt sudden onset depression that your team just botched a top 15 pick. I have to admit, I myself couldn’t help but feel perplexed when Goodell announced that Seattle had selected Bruce Irvin, a pass rush specialist from WVU who no one had going in the first round, with the 15th pick of the draft. But before we bring down the hammer of judgement on Pete Carroll and his crew, let’s take a minute to examine the pick and learn a little bit about today most talked about draft pick.
Bruce Irvin- Irvin’s high school career can be summed up in one word: Incomplete. He dropped out of Stephenson high school during the middle of his junior year and was sentenced to Jail time not long after. After his release from Jail, Irvin got his GED and eventually ended up at MT. San Antonio where he played football and recorded 72 tackles, 16 of which were sacks. Irvin, now rated as a JUCO All-American, then transferred to West Virginia to finish out his career. What most people may not know, is that Pete Carroll coveted Irvin even back then. Carroll had recruited Irvin and was itching to get him in a USC uniform; due to grades, Irvin did not qualify to make the transfer to USC. So you want to know who Bruce Irvin is? Ask the QB’s who were victim of his 22.5 sacks in 2 seasons at WVU. For comparison, that is more sacks in 2 seasons than Quinton Coples (17.5), Melvin Ingram (19), Courtney Upshaw (15.5), and Shea McClellin (15.5). All of which were rated higher than Irvin.
So what makes Irvin a good pick? Irvin tests off the charts, finishing as the second fastest DE/OLB at the combine with a 4.50 40, second only to Michael Kendricks from Cal who ran a 4.47. Irving was also the top performer in the 3-cone drill and the 20 yard shuttle, in fact, Irvin ran the second fastest 3-cone drill of the entire draft, second only to Florida’s Chris Rainey who is a RB/WR that is about 70 pounds lighter than Irvin. What do these numbers mean? They mean that Bruce Irvin is lethally explosive and has the hip flexibility and knee bend to turn the corner fast, making him a terror coming off the edge. Irvin displays a lightning quick first step, and out of all the LB’s in this draft, displays the best lateral movement. Unlike some players, I’m talking to you Vernon Gholston, Irvin’s numbers translate to the field, and if you don’t believe it, check out some of his highlights and watch how impressive his closing speed is. Bottom line, Irvin can rush the passer, and he can do it well. Irvin has the ability to get low and overpower a bigger OT by getting up under his chin; he also has the balance necessary to fight off the O-lineman’s push when he dips low to turn the corner.
Irvin, like any player, is not without weakness. He is undersized, weighing in at only 245lbs, and will initially have a hard time against some of the big athletic tackles in the league. Irvin is very inexperienced when it comes to being a 3 down player, and will be a liability in the run game, at least in the beginning of his career. Irvin will need to increase his football IQ if he wants to succeed at the next level.
Final Word- The Irvin pick remains controversial and will continue that way until September when we get a chance to see how his game translates to the NFL. But let me leave you with a few things to think about. Irvin is a guy who messed his life up early, he spent time in jail, and he was probably written off by most people. But when he got out, he dedicated himself to achieving a goal, to becoming more than what most people thought he would. Irvin worked hard, and payed his dues at the JUCO level before finally getting his chance on the bigger college stage, and has continued to work to get to where he is now. So my question is this, out of all the busts or wasted picks we’ve seen over the course of many years, how many of them were guys who really wanted it, who fought through adversity and showed patience at every level, knowing that one day they would get there chance? Even if the best Irvin ever becomes is a pass rush specialist who get’s his team 15+ sacks a season, I think the pick will be worth it. If Irvin can provide the pressure off the edge that Carroll believes he can, he will force more rushed throws, and ultimately more turnovers, and that is why after the shock wore off, I think that Bruce Irvin at #15 was not a bad pick. Only time will tell
Highlights- Highlights are not a good way to evaluate a prospect as they only show strengths of the player and not weaknesses, but if you’ve never seen Irvin in action, here are some things he can do. Fast forward to 1:50 to see him in pass rushing mode