Bruce Irvin really intrigued me coming into the 2011 season. He’s a JUCO transfer who played spot-duty on third downs last year, but recorded 14 sacks and flashed elite potential as a pass rusher. He had the speed, the repertoire and the balance to be a legitimate pro-prospect. Taking on a new expanded role as a senior, expectations were high that Irvin could develop into an every down player.
For some reason, West Virginia’s coaches tried to fit him into a three man front – putting blockers in his way and not making the most of Irvin’s speed. He recorded one sack in his first five games, before going back to limited snaps and being mainly used on third down. He ended the season strongly with six sacks in the last five games.
Irvin is probably always going to be a specialist. He needs to play in space off the edge, he’s going to need lineman who take blocks so he can exploit 1-vs-1 match-ups outside. He’s going to struggle against the run playing at 245lbs so he’s often not going to be able to play in a four-man front on early downs. However, for a team like Seattle that’s looking for more pass rush and greater speed in its front seven – he could help. Even if Irvin only plays obvious passing downs, he will create problems off the edge. At the moment the Seahawks play three big bodied lineman alongside Chris Clemons and spell in Raheem Brock. Irvin could play the Brock-role while offering a greater impact with his fluid pass-rushing ability.
If Seattle is prepared to consider more 3-4 looks on defense, they could try and coach in some coverage skills to get the maximum out of Irvin and turn him into more of a regular feature. However, he’s the kind of player who’s always at his best without responsibility. You really want to say, “go get the quarterback.” Nothing more, nothing less. People will cringe at spending a high pick on a player who doesn’t feature in most of the defensive snaps every week, but if it helps the Seahawks get off the field on third down – would you really be averse to drafting the guy in round two or three? At the end of a season, ten sacks is ten sacks – right?
Game tape supplied to Seahawks Draft Blog by JMPasq