Draft Spotlight: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia

April 13th, 2012 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Written by Kip Earlywine

Bruce Irvin is one of the draft’s most intriguing athletes.  He’s also one of the draft’s most interesting stories.  Irvin dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, ran in with the wrong crowd, and on two occasions missed jail time by the narrowest of margins.  If you have a bit of time, I’d encourage you to read his story.  Its pretty amazing.  He also sat down and gave an interview about his difficult past and how he turned his life around.

Irvin was recently in trouble for knocking a sign over and breaking it, but it sounds as if Irvin did not intend to break the sign and you could probably just chalk up that incident as innocent horseplay.  After working so hard to come this far, its pretty hard to believe he’d actually want to throw that away for no reason a month before the draft.  It may have been stupid, but I don’t think it was malicious.

Irvin played running back and wide receiver in high school, and when he later joined a junior college football team, he was initially a free safety.  Irvin was later moved to defensive end, and in his first full season at end he totaled 15 sacks.  This caught the attention of coaches for several major programs, and Irvin was eventually recruited by West Virginia.  Irvin had 14.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his first West Virginia season (2010).  He posted 8 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2011.

The drop in production is a direct result of West Virginia switching to a 3-3-5 scheme last season and attempting to use Irvin as part of a three man line.  Irvin is a deadly pass rusher, but only when his contact with offensive tackles is minimal.  By Irvin’s own admission, his coaches never really taught him pass rushing techniques, and only used him as a pure athlete rushing the passer.  As a result, Irvin produces plays almost exclusively by running around or inside of offensive tackles- almost like a running back who’s attempting to run around a defensive lineman.  He resists engaging and when he’s caught in the tackles grasp he looks even more helpless than Melvin Ingram, which is saying something.  By putting Irvin in a three man front, it gave him less of an angle to use when running around the tackle.

Now, I’m not saying that to excuse Irvin’s shocking lack of technique, but it is what it is and West Virginia should have known better.  Irvin isn’t truly a pass rusher, he’s an great athlete posing as one.  Lining him up as a five technique for most of his snaps last year wasn’t a great idea.

There is some good news for Irvin though.  He’s got decently long arms- arms that are nearly a full two inches longer than Melvin Ingram’s.  Whereas Ingram’s struggles to disengage scare the heck out of me because his arms won’t get any longer, Irvin’s problem was lack of coaching and technique.  Irvin’s problems could certainly be fixable.  Irvin is also a bit like Mychal Kendricks in that they both have a bad habit of sinking their shoulders into blockers hoping to drive them back when instead they should be using proper arm technique.  If trained to hand fight and disengage, Irvin would benefit tremendously.  On the downside, if he fails to learn how to do this, he probably won’t have any future as a three point stance player in the NFL.

Normally, a player as raw and as lightweight as Irvin wouldn’t be drafted very highly.  The reason Irvin could be drafted as early as the 2nd round is because he’s a special athlete.  His 4.50 forty time was among the very best among front seven players at the combine, as was his 6.70 three cone time.  Those times are both nearly identical to those put up by the draft’s fastest linebacker, Mychal Kendricks.  Its not easy to accumulate almost 40 sacks over three college seasons without any technique.  That speaks very highly of Irvin’s raw athleticism and intriguing potential.

Irvin plays his ass off on every down, and never quits on a play.  Because of his inability to disengage, a very high number of his sacks were of the hustle variety.  That’s a backhanded compliment at best, but if there is such a thing as having talent for hustle sacks, Irvin’s got it.

Irvin is a liability in the running game.  He struggles to shed blocks against the run just as badly as he does against the pass.  At best, he’ll occupy space and hope for a teammate to make the stop.  On the positive side, I was pleased to see Irvin was at least able to hold his ground without being driven back by single blockers.  Irvin can be swallowed up in the running game, but at least he’s not getting blown back and opening running lanes on a consistent basis.  Irvin may not have strong arms, but isn’t without power in his lower body, and that helps him hold the point of attack surprisingly well for a 244 pound player.  Overall, I personally think Irvin’s run defense issues have a lot more to do with technique and strength than size.  Which is good because those kinds of things can be worked on.  With improved hand use and some increased upper body strength, its not unthinkable that Irvin could develop into a passable run defender a couple years down the line.

Its crucially important that wherever Irvin goes, he has a coach that quickly and effectively coaches him up in the art of pass rushing and hand use.  Irvin skated by at the college level on his elite athleticism alone.  That won’t continue in the NFL.

In conclusion:

Despite some massive flaws, Bruce Irvin is my favorite pure pass rusher in the 2012 draft.  He reminds me of a (much) smaller Jason Pierre-Paul with a bigger heart for the game.  The Giants drafted JPP in the mid first round hoping they could coach him up and reap the rewards of his amazing athleticism.  They succeeded, and now JPP is one of the league’s elite pass rushers.  For a team that doesn’t need pass rush help right away and is willing to take a chance, Irvin makes  a lot of sense at some point after the first round.  Buffalo in particular would make a lot of sense as a potential landing spot as they have their short term pass rush needs addressed but are thought to be looking for long term developmental pass rushers to play behind their current $140 million duo.

The Seahawks are another team that could make sense for Irvin.  Though interest in Irvin is mostly limited to 3-4 teams looking for outside linebacker help, unconventional 4-3 teams with time and patience could be suitors too.  Seattle is an unusually good place for Irvin by 4-3 standards since the team’s LEO position is a 9 technique which is ideal for a player like Irvin that does so well in open space as a pass rusher.  It is also a position that values run defense a little less than a base 4-3 end normally would, which is another good fit for Irvin.  With Chris Clemons under contract in 2012 and a free agent in 2013, it gives Irvin a little time to develop while hopefully grabbing the reins of the LEO spot in 2013 or 2014.

While I do not expect Seattle to show any interest in Irvin during the first three rounds, if he falls to Seattle’s 4th rounder, there is a chance Seattle could pull the trigger.  When Pete Carroll wants to fix something, he doesn’t do it half-assed, as evidenced by taking offensive line with his first two picks in the draft last year and then later signing Robert Gallery in free agency.  Drafting a 1st round pass rusher and then a second pass rusher later is certainly a possibility.  Irvin also fits the profile of the intriguing but flawed mid to late round prospect that Carroll and Schneider have repeatedly targeted in the last two drafts.

Irvin has double digit sack potential in the NFL, but he also has a disturbingly high chance to be a complete bust with little to no redeeming value.  He has the speed and athleticism to play multiple positions on both sides of the ball, but he’d have to learn how to play those as well.  The risk and uncertainty that comes with Irvin could keep him out of the 2nd or even 3rd round despite his gifts.  That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if things will work out and Irvin ends up delivering some metaphorical Muay Thai asskickings every Sunday.

Video sources:

JMPasq:  Bruce Irvin vs Maryland (2010)

JMPasq:  Bruce Irvin vs Pittsburgh

JMPasq:  Bruce Irvin vs Marshall

JMPasq:  Bruce Irvin vs Clemson

48 Responses to “Draft Spotlight: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia”

  1. peter says:

    I just watched the Clemson tape and was surprised by how many blockers that are put on Irvin, followed by on eplay at the 1:43 mark against Clemson, he doesn’t do anything remarkable, but gets taken out of the play only to continue to work tirelessly back towards the ball carrier. As noted above it does show his heart and his desire to play.

    ANother thing I noticed is his run defense is pretty suspect, but it’s almost like he knows in advance when the QB is going to do a playfake and take off. Irvin crouches, and cuts, like perhaps his former RB self and anticipates the QB movement, those plays are a negatives for Clemsons QB.

    I like this guy a lot, and I’ve been banging my own “football at the NFL level still requires coaching,” drum. I think Irvin in the fourth, or in some kooky trade down scenario with an additional 3rd, you may have to pick him there. Iactually do hope the seahawks use multiple picks on the passrush, be it DE’s, powerful DT’s, LB’s, hybrids…I do not care. If you can spend 3 picks on a your Oline in two drafts, you certainly can spend two picks in a draft on Rush options…And though I like other players for other reasons (Russel Wilson, for example) and to use picks to bolster the team everywhere, this year maybe it’s necessary to just tighten up the defensive rebuild and spend two picks on DE/LB and two on the secondary….boring I know

  2. Hawkfaninmt says:

    Love him and I am really hoping the Hawks get him in the 3rd…

    Nick perry in the 2nd, Irvin in the 3rd and our pass rush issues are solved IMO

  3. seattl says:

    Irvin really seems like a fit for us, in that he has the perfect set of tools to play leo, and in that Clemons gives him time to grow into it (I think Clemons has another 2-3 years of high-level play). His shortcomings in size and technique create a nice groove for him to fit our system, and be worth more draft capital than he would be somewhere else.

    I’m hoping we go all-in on pass-rush, speed and LB on Day 1, unless someone good falls.

  4. Leonard says:

    This guy might be an ideal pick for the Hawks as the “Leo” DE of the future. As long as he can be had in the 3rd. Maybe even good enough to trade up a little from our 3rd round pick. His first step and burst off the edge are flat out elite. His insticts seem pretty good too if he really didn’t get any coaching on pass rush moves. He already finds more ways to get to the QB than Chandler Jones and some commentators (Mayok) have started to out think themselves and call Jones a first rounder because he has long arms.
    This guy seems like the definition of raw. At first Irvin will be nothing but a pass rush specialist (which the Hawks really need). If a tackle gets his hands on him then it is over. With a couple of years of good coaching this kid could very well be a 12-14 sack guy who is decent against the run. That potential is why I would take him a little higher than Kip. If he produced like that with little to no coaching, think what he could do after a couple of years being coached up by the Hawks.

  5. Jayson says:

    I like the thought of Irvin joining the hawks but I dont see us taking him before the 3rd round or even later than that. I think there is another team out there that will take him befoer we will.

  6. Chavac says:

    I see him more as a pass rushing linebacker than a LEO. Has always reminded me a little of a poor man’s Von Miller coming around the edge.

  7. Misfit74 says:

    What I like about Irvin is his ceiling as a pass-rusher. I think he has all the tools to succeed as a constant force pressuring the QB. He’s very different that a guy like Upshaw, for example.

    Upshaw’s limited athleticism overall could not only be exposed at the NFL level, but also give him a shorter career of being productive. Lofa Tatupu is a good comparison pick-wise. Lofa was polished (along w/ many other Ruskell-esque traits) and really just good enough athletically to be a very good player. When he began to decline – even ever so slightly – it happened very fast because he didn’t have much room to decline. He was never a high-ceiling player due to that limited athleticism. I view Upshaw similarly. I don’t think Upshaw will ever be great other than defending the run and occasional success bull-rushing. He’ll never be a speed-rusher or a guy who can bend the edge for you. Power-only game. He’s too stiff and slow to not be exposed in any coverage situations, as well, though that’s not likely to be a position his DC wants him in, it will happen as offenses scheme to take advantage of his weaknesses.

    This is why I tend to favor the guys in this class who have that big upside as pass-rushers first and foremost. That’s what we need – and all teams need – to win in this league. Guys like Andre Branch get me a lot more excited than the guys who have managed to overcome their short-comings in college already, such as Ingram and Upshaw, but have physical limitations that could cause them to wash out of the league at worst, but be ‘solid starter/contributer’ at best. I liked Jason Pierre-Paul a ton last year for the same reasons and didn’t care much for Derrick Morgan. Take the high-upside guys. They’re obviously young and have time and room to grow to a much greater player than some guys who are ‘more NFL ready’ as they say. I don’t know if Ingram will be able to overcome his height and arm-length which can be serious disadvantages, and I’ve already discussed Upshaw (above). Give me the less-polished guys with All-Pro potential and let them play and develop.

  8. andy says:

    Agreed. Strictly in terms of pass rush i also like Irvin, Branch, Mercilus and Coples. Just really nervous about the Upshaw/Ingram types. But would love to be proven wrong if that’s who the Hawks take!

  9. Misfit74 says:

    The thing about Couples is that he’s a ‘power end’. A guy who typically would play over the strong-side (TE side) on a 4-man line. He’s not a premiere pass-rusher but more of a power player who is so big he can really show up vs. the run. I think we have that guy already in Red Bryant, though that’s not to say Couples would play the 5-tech in our defense. I just think he’s a big upside/big risk DE who might not be the best fit in our defense to get enough meaningful snaps, depending on what the coaches do as far as scheme and personnel flexibility this season. If we’re going to play a lot of 4 down linemen, then I can see Couples fitting in but he’s still the power-side guy instead of the weak-side guy that is usually the best pass-rusher. If we need pass-rush, I’m not sure Couples is the best guy for us. Huge upside, though, and he has the ability to develop as an elite pass-rusher, which is the intriguing part about him. He has a body type not too dissimilar to Mario Williams.

  10. Doug says:

    I just spent the last hour watching Upshaw film. I would be very OK with drafting him. I don’t know that he would solve the overall lack of speed problem, but the guy has a knack of disruption in a serious way. If he lines up with Red, it will be a serious threat from that side that the opposing teams WILL have to gameplan for.
    I’m going to go against my own grain for a moment here in speculating some scenarios that I could see happening with this guy, as he issn’t fast, but I see that he has a deceptive quickness about him right before impact. He sort of falls forward and launched with his legs to cover 3 or 4 yards in a very quick move, and then he forces something to happen.

    I think that between the 5 rushers, the other teams are going to be forced to go with quicker routes that will shrink the field a bit that will allow for a tighter coverage, and possible more turnovers/ints/fumbles/tipped passes.

    Rather than being a reactive defense, we will be a proactive D, that will force other teams out of what is comfortable for them. They won’t have the time they are used to, and they will be forced to keep a TE/RB/FB in the box, similar to what everybody did to us last year.
    Along the same lines, with much of the league gearing personnel for big passing attacks, they will not be manned up to defense against a massive power running game like we will be playing.
    So I think part of Pete’s game theory is to staff up for a different ball game that the majority of teams will be playing, and forcing them to play our style of ball. By being bigger and more physical, imposing our will will wear out the other teams more quickly, and they will begin to be sitting on their heels as the beasts come at them again and again. This is why another beastly back will come in round two.

    I predict a gnarley physical grinding style ahead, lower scores overall, and a team that will actually be marked on opposing teams calendars. Only this time, it won’t be marked for a easy soft game, but rather for a seriouly physical beating they are not looking forward to.

    Anyways, that is my Upshaw theory

  11. Hawkfin says:

    Don’t turn to the Dark side Doug. :)

    Just because everybody say’s Upshaw here and theory’s to support it, doesn’t mean you have to force love it. You’re evaluation of him before was probably more accurate.
    ;)

    Speed is what PC has said he wants. Coverage LB’s is what’s lacking.
    Both things Upshaw doesn’t have.

    The Def is a Hypothetical thing that we don’t even run. We don’t use 5 down lineman. It’s based off a rumor/source and it’s probably a mix up between Elephant/Leo.
    I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that you can have 5 down linemen as a norm and I don’t see Upshaw as a DE.

    Upshaw would have to go into coverage and transform to a LB of some type in my views of him. Probably a MLB that doesn’t do a lot of coverage things.
    He’s a risk pick. He doesn’t solve our pass rush as he’s limited with speed and rush moves. He’s never showed he can be an edge rusher like a DE. He just clogs up things in the middle at the college level.

    I’m not saying he will be a bust or bad player, but I don’t see the connection with the Hawks.

    I think you’re trying to talk yourself into liking a pick of Upshaw. I’m betting we go Ingram before Upshaw anyway. He at least gives us the speed portion and some coverage skill set.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t see the pick.

  12. Rob says:

    Hawkfin – Upshaw is ranked higher than you think with this team. Much higher.

  13. Misfit74 says:

    Or so someone is being led to believe.

    Dis-information is entirely possible no matter the messenger, be it Mayock, Peter King, or even Rob.

  14. Rob says:

    No, Misfit, we are not being fed bad information.

  15. Tom T. says:

    Rob or Kip, how would you compare Upshaw to Brian Orakpo? I may be way off base, but they seem a little similar to me…

  16. Rob says:

    I think they are different types of pass rushers, Tom – Orakpo has always been a more athletic player. When he was going into the draft I was a little concerned that he was maxed out – he went from around 210lbs to what he is now during college and looked ripped. On tape he appeared to always suit the 3-4 in space, which is the role he’s had a lot of success in. He’s achieved more than I expected pre-draft. Upshaw is more adept against the run, he’s a power player rather than that big time athlete. At the LOS he’ll be a dominating run defender who will read/react and cover ground to stretch a play. He’ll make a ton of plays in the backfield, even if he’s not a sack artist.

  17. SHawn says:

    “He’s never showed he can be an edge rusher like a DE. He just clogs up things in the middle at the college level.”

    How much tape have you watched? Obviously not enough. The guy CONSISTANTLY collapses his side of the pocket.

    He isnt a pure speed edge rusher, no. He has a fantastic bull rush and can contain the run. He also has amazing field vision and sniffs out screens and outside runs all the time.

    He is not fast enough to cover TEs like Graham or Davis. He will knock them on their ass if they arent careful at the snap. Hard to catch a TD pass on your ass I think.

  18. Seatown80 says:

    It seems like Chandler Jones is creating quite a bit of buzz as of late (mostly mid to late 1st round 3-4D teams). Is there any possibility that he fits as a potential LEO for the future with the ability to come in on pass downs for Red? At 6’5″ 266 he certainly seems too big to play 4-3 LB.

    It gets really difficult this time of year gauging some players stock with so much information/misinformation out there.

  19. Doug says:

    Fin,

    don’t worry, I haven’t gone to the dark side on you, I’m just trying to open my mind to what he could bring with what he has, as opposed to what he doesn’t have. We KNOW he isn’t a speed guy, but he is quicker than I used to think, and in short space, quick is good. Think power quick. And when he unloads, lots of people fall down, think bowling ball. He can’t cover to save his life, but if he knocks the TE on his ass, or stops him cold on his route, then he is covering him in a different way.

    My problem is that I just imagined him and red together blowing up the strong side like this weird tsunami wave thing, and the backfield just starts running for their lives…

    He scaress me on one hand, but when I see the evil he can bring, I start wringing my hands together and start up with the muuahahahahahaha evil laugh thing…

  20. Stuart says:

    Chandler Jones is rising big on the draft sights. Have you ever watched his combine run and cones drill. I just did and next up was Fletcher Cox. Jones appeared awkward and clumsy and Cox was well, WOW. If I was making the call on draft day, Coples is my #1 choice followed by Fletcher Cox if Coples is gone. But I am afraid both will be gone by our pick.

    If that is the case, PLEASE TRADE DOWN. On the NFL.com website, Charlie Casserly does not even have Upshaw going in the first round. Of the 4 analyist mocking, Upshaw went 18, 27, 28 and 2nd round. If he is the guy, we can trade down and still get him, my opinion.

    If it’s going to be Upshaw, fine, but maximize your options. JS will make up all happy. He admitted he reads mocks too. Not that he mocks affect what he does but the added insight cant hurt, 13 days, I cant wait!

  21. CFR says:

    Rob – Is there an email address for this site that I can reach you at? You mentioned that you encourage readers to make their own mocks and I just finished making one. I was wondering if you could look it over and tell me what you think. If you would want to put it on the site, that would be fine with me too! Thanks a lot

  22. CFR says:

    Nevermind – It’s on the right. Don’t know how I missed it

  23. SHawn says:

    Holy crap guys, when are we doing pick # 9 for the Panthers? There are only 13 more days.

  24. Hawksince77 says:

    Rob,

    I don’t understand why Upshaw would be so highly considered by the Seahawks. If they take him at 12, that will mean a great deal; one, I don’t know shit about football, and two, they see how Upshaw can really contribute to the Seahawks defense, and for that I will be grateful. I won’t understand it, but I will be happy top picks are being used on that part of the team.

  25. Ryan says:

    Unrelated: We need a new photo on the front page!

  26. Stuart says:

    Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End/Linebacker, Alabama

    Initially, it was thought that Courtney Upshaw translated well to playing outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. While this may still be the case, there are a lot of questions about his ability to drop back into coverage from the middle of the front seven.

    This has sparked speculation that Upshaw isn’t going to be as highly valued as we first thought when the draft comes around.

    There were some that had Upshaw as a top-10 pick just a month ago. Now it seems that the former Alabama standout is more of a mid to late first-round pick.

    While Mel Kiper and websites like Draft Tek believe that Upshaw is going to go to the New York Jets at No 16, which would still be a steep fall, that isn’t guaranteed at this point.

    One thing is for sure: Upshaw will not get past the San Diego Chargers or Cincinnati Bengals if the Jets do decide to go in another direction.

    Bleachers

  27. A. Simmons says:

    Five down lineman is the 5-2 concept the Jets have been using based on Buddy Ryan’s great Bears defense of the mid 80s. They lined up 5 to rush the passer and play the run often. So it can be done.

    I think we’re looking for more scheme diversity. If you look at the classic Elephant/Leo archetype Charles Haley, you see he’s mostly a pass rusher. I don’t necessarily believe that we intend to always rush five, though we will probably do so quite often. Instead we want a versatile player that can do both. So it is easier to disguise what we’re doing.

    If you look at what Jim Johnson did with the 4-3 in Philadelphia, you see what we’re trying to do in Seattle with hybrid players. More diversity in the pass rush so there is less telegraphing of where the pressure is coming from. Jim Johnson was very successful with this formula in Philly for years. There is no reason to believe Pete doesn’t know how to do the same thing with a 4-3.

    That means bringing pressure from all over the field any time in the game. Which a hybrid DE/LB will be able to do be it Upshaw or another. We will see anything from 3 to 6 pass rushers going after the QB as the build the pressure packages. The more guys we have that can effectively rush the passer, the better chance we have of slowing down an offense.

    This is also a principle the New York Giants use in a 4-3 scheme. We’re building something similar with Pete’s own twist on it learned from San Franiciso. Pete’s twist tends to make our defense stouter against the run. If we get the right player, we’ll still have a high powered pass rush. Haley retired with a 100 sacks and five Super Bowl rings. A unique situation I know. But if we get a guy about three quarters as productive, he’ll improve our pass rush.

  28. Rob says:

    CFR – rob@seahawksdraftblog.com

    Shawn – Will have it up Saturday. Busy busy busy at the moment.

    Ryan – Will do this weekend.

  29. Steve in Spain says:

    Rob, it’s tough to take your source at face value about Upshaw after he so badly misinformed us about the team’s supposed lack of interest in Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn.

  30. NMD says:

    Doug – That’s exactly what I think of Upshaw, the strengths he would give this team make me giddy, I realize his weaknesses but if PC makes the pick then we know he’s confident he can mask Upshaw’s deficiencies in the scheme. I’ve realized I’m drawn to front 7 players that have the closing burst like you described with Upshaw, that’s what guys like Hightower, Kendricks, and Spence show on tape and it makes them seem faster then they time. I’d be plenty happy with the Upshaw pick but I’m fully in on the Donta Hightower bandwagon and at this point will root for him to be the pick at #12 if there is no trade down.

  31. pqlqi says:

    Upshaw in the first, then a cover LB specialist like David, Brown, or even Wagner in the 2nd (although if McClellan is still there at 43, you have to pick him up too). Imagine Upshaw, McClellan, and Irvin in rounds 1,2,3… scary to be an NFCW QB.

  32. James says:

    Upshaw is the perfect player for a very narrow and specific kind of defense. If it is true that the Seahawks intend to select him at #12, then it will mean that Pete is somewhat changing/expanding his scheme. Upshaw cannot play DE in a 4/3 (too short), cannot play Leo/9 tech in Seattle’s current D (not a speed rusher), and cannot play OLB in a standard 3/4 (cannot cover in pass D). What he can do superbly as a specialized talent is play elephant. Alabama did not run an elephant, but Nick Saban ran a 3/4 with Upshaw always on the line of scrimmage as an OLB who never played coverage but always charged into the backfield and wrecked havoc. Bama plays mostly nickle and dime with one of the ILBs controlling the middle and blitzing (Hightower) and the other ILB exceptional at coverage (Mosely). Every player in their D could beat his man head on and they were absolutely dominant. In the right scheme, Upshaw is a nasty, brutal force who lives in the QB’s face, will body-slam him down on his throwing shoulder a half dozen times a game, and who controls the run on his side of the field. Sam Bradford will never survive. You just can’t ask Upshaw to do anything “traditional.”

  33. Colin says:

    I couldn’t agree more James. When you look at how many non traditional players are on this team, you can’t help but think that they’ll find a way to make Upshaw, or any player they select, work for the best.

  34. Billbo says:

    Rob – I appreciate what your sources are telling you, but can you give some insight into the other side of the ball? I believe Pete said in his end of year presser that he wanted to improve the pass rush AND get TD makers. In my mind, their are 4 first round talents the Seahawks could be interested in as TD makers: Richardson, Blackmon, Floyd and Fleener.

    With Richardson and Blackmon most likely gone, I’d love to get your impression of Floyd and Fleener as possible Seahawks. How would they fit in, what it would do to the offense and so forth. Thoughts?

  35. Kip Earlywine says:

    Some good commentary in here, too bad most of it is about Upshaw, heh.

    Then again, Upshaw is probably 100 times more likely to be a Seahawk than Irvin is, so maybe its not a bad thing after all.

  36. Madmark says:

    I have Bruce Irving as going in 3rd round. I have him gone before 75. My problem is i m lock in on Nigel Bradham who i have going at 90 if i wait till 106 i think he’ll be gone. At 75 do i do Bruce Irving to spell Clemens and maybe after a year take over for him or do i reach for Nigel Bradham in 3rd who can play Mike but i see more WILL. He could at begin season as MIKE or spell Leroy Hill at Will position and replace next year.
    with 3rd round and later picks, I don’t mind player learning a year behind a veteren. Lawyer Milloy and Kam is the best example of what i m talking about. I m sure Milloy was instrumental in helping Kam become what he is now.
    Bruce Irving 3rd or 4th but he’ll spell Clemons and take a year to coach up for leo positions. I can’t see him anywhere else.

  37. Rob says:

    Steve in spain – my source provided zero information on Matt Flynn. That was Scott Enyeart, who wrote a whole article (linked on here) about Seattle having no interest in Flynn. I was told from my source Seattle would not be major players for Manning. That is all. It proved to be the case. We were told that where Manning ended up could lead to a trade of some kind, but the deal was always dependant on which team Manning went to. Clearly this trade never materialised.

    Billbo – They want another running back. You should expect to see one drafted in rounds 1-3. But the only one likely to be taken in round one is a certain Alabama runner who won’t get out of the top six. I wouldn’t expect to see any offensive players drafted in round one.

  38. Misfit74 says:

    I’m not saying I agree with everything, but if you haven’t read this on Upshaw you might check it out:

    http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2012-03-18/nfl-draft-2012-alabama-courtney-upshaw

    I must qualify by saying that I rarely agree with Sporting News’ ‘rankings’. Nick Perry the #1 overall DE, for example, so take it FWIW (top link). Just thought I’d share.

    Also, without one on Bruce Irvin yet, here is something on another guy I like a lot:

    Andre Branch
    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/shutdown-50-34-andre-branch-olb-clemson-043231299.html

  39. GF Observer says:

    I for one am glad to see the Upshaw talk. James put it perfectly. It’s hard to know what position the play him at but you do know you have to play him somewhere. His game tape just screams backfield disruption. Actually its more than disruption….Havok might be a better term. He elevates Seattle’s defense in year one. Stop focusing on what he can’t do. The things he can do far outweigh the negatives.

    By the way, Bruce Irving is shiny toy sitting in the shop window but I can’t see the price tag.

  40. Steve in Spain says:

    Rob, it’s a known fact that the Seahawks were very seriously interested in Peyton Manning. Your source was flat-out wrong on that point. Which by itself isn’t a problem – the source has been right on other occasions. Still, the source is not 100% correct – nor could we reasonably expect it to be perfect.

    Anyway, my comment isn’t about drudging up the past but looking forward and seriously considering the possibility that DE and Trent Richardson aren’t the only realistic options in the first round. I mean, Billbo asks a good question about Fleener, a guy we know the FO has shown interest in at his pro day, and it makes sense for us to be interested because we have a hole at TE after the departure of Carlson, we’ve been bringing in quite a few TEs for visits, and the draft seems pretty talent-poor outside of Fleener. And your answer is “I wouldn’t expect to see any offensive players drafted in round one.” Why so definitive? I suppose your answer is based on your source. Could you provide some analysis independent of your source? Why isn’t it a realistic scenario for the Seahawks to pursue trading down a bit in the first, taking Fleener, grabbing LBs and RBs in the second and third rounds? Can you really foreclose any possibility that we’ll end up taking an offensive player other than Richardson in the first?

    I hope this website can be inclusive enough for people who don’t take everything your source tells you at face value but nevertheless want to participate in some of the best NFL draft conversation on the internet. I sincerely think you are one of the best amateur NFL mock drafters around. But I find all too often that alternative lines of thought are shut down just because they don’t jibe with what your source is feeding you.

  41. Rob says:

    The source was not wrong, Steve. At no point were the Seahawks ever a major player in the Manning sweepstakes. Did Seattle want a meeting? Sure. Did they pursue a meeting? It seems that way. Where they ever major players, did the organisation ever expect to be major players and a realistic option? No. Was Peyton Manning ever going to be a Seahawk? No.

    I don’t divulge everything I’m told. I offer some thoughts here and there as a guide, usually in the comments section. If someone asks me a direct question like – ‘will we draft a R1 guy on offense’… I’m not going to lie. But sometimes there’s only so much I’m prepared to offer, and others there’s only so much I ‘can’ offer. I think we generally strike a balance between tidbits of info and overall analysis and it’s all inclusive, I don’t know why anyone would feel otherwise.

  42. Madmark says:

    I’ll tell ya why i m not doing another R1 pick to the offense. I have 2- R1tackles, R3 guard, and 2 multidollar FA and i don’t have even a full year of playing film from any of them to evaluate.

  43. Misfit74 says:

    I don’t understand the 5-down linemen talk.

    Seattle ran a 4-3-4 or 4-2-5 for 91% of all defensive snaps in 2011. 5 down linemen: 0%. So while they may have some plays that use 5 down linemen, I wouldn’t expect it. No other team played 5 down linemen at even 1% of the time or greater, other than BUF, who used 5 on 7% of plays. From Seattle I wouldn’t expect it other than an occasional wrinkle, if at all.

    Numbers from: http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/04/11/fantasy-defensive-personnel-packages-%E2%80%93-part-1/

  44. Rob says:

    It’d be a hybrid role, DE/LB. We have been over this a few times now.

  45. Misfit74 says:

    Yeah, I was responding to Hawkfin about the 5 down linemen, Rob.

    I understand that we use a Leo and another X-factor role that’s not really all that defined. I just wanted to clarify that we haven’t used 5 down formations and it’s highly unlikely we do moving forward.

    I have to think – and agree – that if we draft an ‘extra’ pass-rusher he’ll stand up or roam for mismatches rather than have his hand in the dirt unless another player is taken off the line and field in different looks. It’s too easy to block 5 down because you know where they are or can field an extra OL or TE to account for them. Our extra rusher would keep them guessing and not always play – or rarely play – a traditionally defined role. That’s part of the fascination (and confusion) about it.

  46. Hawkfin says:

    I agree we don’t use 5 down linemen Misfit and probably won’t. That’s pretty much what I said too. All this does is make my point that drafting Upshaw is no different then drafting Coples or Whitney, unless Upshaw transforms into a LB.

    Others keep saying we will use Upshaw on the line as a primary. So unless we are taking out one of our main four up front, then he’s a 5th linemen OR a LB right?
    To me, he can’t play LB in coverage and he’s not worth the pick to try to transform him into one. It should be Hightower instead, who is almost as good of a rusher anyway.

    IF he’s going to play DE in our front 4 then that means we have to take somebody out right? Why not get a true DE of the future then, that plays traditional hands in the dirt?

    To me Upshaw lacks speed to be that “pressure guy” we are wanting at DE. He’s not an edge rusher. He won’t give us any more pressure then what we got now with our front four. Plus that means he’s also just a rotational player or transforms into that LB where I have lots of questions. OR he’s the extra 5 linemen that we both say doesn’t happen much at all.

    IF he plays within the 4 linemen, then somebody has to come off still.
    If he plays hands up (Isn’t that 5 linemen then?) If not, somebody still comes out.
    If he’s not a limited role player, then he’s got to do coverage.

    I’ll take a true DE if he’s going to be on the line. (Whitney) – You can still ask him to come in and rush at any time if that’s what you want to do.

    If our player is going to be asked to do coverage and also rush like they wanted Curry to do, then I’ll take the similar player to Upshaw that can also do coverage as well (Hightower)

    The hybid player must play coverage and move around. Hybrid is what Upshaw is labeled because he has no position fit.
    But, he’s basically a slower type DE that stuff’s the run OR a LB that can’t cover and stuff’s the run.
    He’s a misfit and not worth the #12 pick.

    If we do play this Elephant thing – Then isn’t that basically Red? Are we going to play 2 Elephants? This goes against the comment by PC saying he wants “speed”.
    We are already stout against the run – It’s every down pressure we lack. Our DE’s are misfits already and used to there best abilities, but shouldn’t they be replaced soon with a great speed edge rusher who has a handle on the natural fit of a DE.
    Not another misfit?

    The more I watch Upshaw, I see why people love him. He shows a ton of power and a mean streak, and he’ll probably be a good player. He may even be a DE in the Pro’s.
    But, I want this kind of player at my MLB. I want the speed edge rusher like Freeny.

    I don’t see this guy being a high pressure/sack artist that I would prefer to have.
    Just my thoughts.

    And I understand Rob went all over this – I just don’t really see us going with it, understand it, and don’t see it working well. I feel Red is our Elephant already.
    But, I wanted to clarify what I meant when talking about 5 down linemen.

  47. Rob says:

    There’s absolutely no reason why Upshaw can’t act as an aggressive SLB and a DE on certain calls. We can spend the next ten days talking about coverage, but we already saw how it’s such a small percentage of Von Miller’s responsibility. He plays run/pass rush. Upshaw’s role would be similar. Different types of players, similar roles. Think outside of the box people, because that’s what this team and staff is all about. Nothing is orthodox. Chris Steuber on Twitter today: “I’ll continue to say Alabama DE/LB Courtney Upshaw is the most undervalued 1st Round prospect. Don’t dissect him, watch him play.”

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