Friday draft thoughts

Outspoken? Or just misunderstood?

Bruce Irvin on the 3-3-5

Over the last few days we’ve looked at two Bruce Irvin games (more on the way) and critiqued how badly he fit West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme. It was interesting to hear Irvin talk about his frustration in the system, when speaking to KJR after the draft. Thanks to Danny Kelly at SB Nation/Field Gulls for breaking down a few quotes:

“No disrespect to my coaches [at West Virginia]. They emphasize on stopping the run, and they were good at it. They developed me more as a player in my final year, but as a far as pass rushing – that wasn’t their thing. And I’m not the only player who would say that. It’s no disrespect to them but my coach wasn’t a pass-rushing coach . . . And like I said, just imagine if I get a coach who actually teaches me moves and teaches me counter moves and how to set up people. Man, I could be a double-digit sack guy in this league for a long time.

“It ain’t that I can’t play the run, it’s how they wanted me to play the run. We ran a 3-3-5 stack defense, I was 235 pounds and you got me in a three technique? I can’t help you. You got me going against two 300-pounders and I’m only 235? I don’t know anybody who could play the run against two 300-pound guys at 235 pounds. But you put me in a five technique and you ask me to hold center edge and don’t let anything get outside of me, I can do that. I think people just kinda misunderstood and didn’t really know the basis of our defense. We were the only team that ran a 3-3-5 stack in the country. I was a different type of player and that’s not a typical defense for me, but I feel like I was still pretty productive – 23 sacks in two years, so you know, I made the best out of the situation.”

First of all, I don’t mind that Bruce is being honest about the scheme. He’s not revealing any secrets here, because it’s blatantly obvious the system didn’t match his skill-set. In Seattle, his main responsibility will be rushing the passer. In year one, it may be his only responsibility as he adopts the Raheem Brock role. As time goes on, he’s going to need to avoid being a liability against the run as a full-time LEO, but he’s doesn’t need to be Red Bryant at the same time. He’s shown he’s comfortable in read/react versus the run and he’s harder to move than you’d expect for a guy his size. But it’s still one of the things he’ll need to work on.

I am hoping, however, that Bruce will keep future complaints to himself. People don’t need to hear reasons why the coaches got it wrong. Unless Irvin becomes an immediate all-pro, he’s going to experience growing pains in the NFL like any other rookie. There’s being honest, and there’s also getting on with the job. But then he’s not going to be lining up in a three man front, taking on a guard/tackle combo nearly every play and still being asked to make 20+ sacks for the Seattle Seahawks. So we’ll cut the guy some slack.

Russell Wilson’s story

Browns and Rams still drafting like the Browns and Rams

Sure, this is a Seahawks Draft Blog. But there are two other teams out there that I found pretty interesting this year.

One is division rival St. Louis, undergoing yet another re-start and re-build but benefiting from a bounty of picks courtesy of the Washington Redskins. The other is Cleveland, controlled by Mike Holmgren – a man many Seahawks fans wanted to see return to Seattle as some kind of football czar before the appointment of Pete Carroll.

St. Louis Rams

When the Rams traded with Washington for the rights to Robert Griffin III, they put themselves in position to rebuild a team that’s been associated with rank bad failure for years. I’m sure everyone on the blog wishes the best of luck to Jeff Fisher…

St. Louis have two first round picks in 2013 and 2014 and came into this years draft with the #6 pick and a pair of second rounders. They probably felt pretty good about that position. Then the trades started to happen. First, Cleveland swapped picks with Minnesota to secure Trent Richardson. If you believe the speculation – and I do – Fisher was very fond of Richardson. Never mind, if they want an offensive playmaker at least Justin Blackmon remains on the board.

The Vikings seemingly tried to trade down again from #4 but ended up settling for Matt Kalil – the obvious choice for that franchise. So that leaves Morris Claiborne for Tampa Bay, right? Wrong. They flip picks with Jacksonville, who for the price of just a fourth rounder secured the top-ranked receiver in the draft. Cue Jeff Fisher being caught on camera slamming his glasses onto a table in the Rams war room.

That move clearly caught St. Louis by surprise and they didn’t like it one bit. The reaction was a big trade down the board – eight spots in fact – before they finally drafted Michael Brockers. The move secured another second round pick, but it left the Rams without that big-time receiver for quarterback Sam Bradford.

Here’s what I don’t get about the Rams draft. Cleveland identified Trent Richardson as the guy they wanted and eliminated any doubt by trading up to #3. It cost them a fourth, a fifth and a seventh round pick, but they didn’t risk missing out. For the price of a fourth round pick, St. Louis had the chance to make a similar deal with Tampa Bay to get Blackmon. But they didn’t. They let Jacksonville get their guy.

If they’d stumped up the dough, they would’ve been looking at a two-round collection of: Justin Blackmon, one of Derek Wolfe/Kendall Reyes/Jerel Worthy and Janoris Jenkins. Instead they got Michael Brockers, Brian Quick, Janoris Jenkins and Isaiah Pead. Quick has potential and size, but he’s untested at the highest level of college football. Brockers also has a lot of potential, but is he significantly better than the other defensive tackles available in round two?

Tampa Bay weren’t the only possible trade partner either. Talk to Minnesota. Had they moved down to #6 – and with Blackmon going at #4 – there appears to be little chance Kalil would’ve left the board before the Vikings were back on the clock. And there appeared to be some enthusiasm in Minnesota to move back again.

I kind of feel like the Rams fudged this draft a little bit, despite a great opportunity to get this offense moving in the right direction. There were five top-end offensive players in this draft – Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon. The Rams came away with none of them, despite owning first the #2 pick and then the #6. For the sake of Isaiah Pead and a fourth round pick, I’m not convinced they did the right thing here. In a year when they had three high picks, they needed to come away with more than Brian Quick on offense. Sam Bradford might not enjoy 2012 any more than he did 2011.

Cleveland Browns

I love the move Cleveland made for Trent Richardson. As fans and followers of the draft, sometimes we can over-value picks. I appreciate that the Seahawks front office prides itself on working the magic in the later rounds, but sometimes you’ve got to tighten the belt and just make a move to get a special player. Kudos to Cleveland for being aggressive to ensure they got the third best player in the draft.

At the same time, I think an argument can be made for going in a different direction. Simply because of that #22 pick.

They’ve drafted well in the early rounds under Holmgren and Tom Heckert. The trio of Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and Jabal Sheard were all superb picks for the defense. On offense they have little in terms of playmakers, but they have Trent Richardson. Like I said, love the pick and the decision to move up and get him. But part of me just wonders – if you were always going to take Brandon Weeden at #22, why not also draft Justin Blackmon in round one? You’re betting a lot on a 29-year-old rookie quarterback hitting the ground running, otherwise he’s an automatic bust.

Weeden will be expected to start immediately. He’s going to try and not suck throwing to Greg Little, Mohammed Massaquoi and Ben Watson. Good luck, Brandon.

The two Oklahoma State stand-outs have a connection and an understanding. Weeden-to-Blackmon could’ve worked quicker than most other QB-to-WR combo’s. I personally wouldn’t have drafted Weeden that early, so I would never need to be in a position to fight the Richardson pick. But clearly Cleveland believed in Weeden and for those reasons, I maybe would’ve backed that judgement by hooking up the former team-mates.

The question is can Weeden become even a modest starter with the weapons at his disposal? That’s when the age becomes a factor because younger quarterbacks get some time. Weeden doesn’t have that luxury. There’s not getting away from how important it is for this guy to start fast because of the age factor. The Holmgren/Heckert partnership may not get another chance to draft a quarterback in round one, they have nailed their colors to the mast on this one. So they need to get it right.

There’s also an argument that suggests if Richardson dominates – which is possible – it’ll too make life easier for Weeden. I get that. But it’s maybe asking a lot to expect Richardson to carry the offense on his back to the extent Little/Massaquoi becomes a threat, especially when Cleveland has six games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Again, with a younger quarterback you can maybe afford to be patient to target another receiver in the future. I repeat… Weeden is 29 this fall. He needs to succeed now.

If the Browns really had to add a new running back to the roster, they could’ve realistically dipped back into round one. Denver merely flipped fourth round picks with Tampa Bay to trade out of the first. The Buccaneers took Doug Martin with the #31 pick. Had Cleveland not traded up for Richardson and taken Blackmon at #4, they would’ve had a cluster of picks to make a similar bargain move. Suddenly you’re looking at an offense containing Weeden, Blackmon and Martin. However good Trent Richardson is, that trio would probably make life easier for Weeden. Just my take on it.

Of course it’s very easy to sit here after the event and pick holes in the these two teams. These things never go according to the script. Both the Rams and Browns could prosper and make this write-up a bit of a faux pas on my behalf. But I did find both teams pretty intriguing last week.

Rant over. Back to the Seahawks.


  1. Doug

    I’m glad the Rams made those crucial mistakes, it’s going to help us.
    Cleveland got they guy, but Weeden pick is crazy in my view. McCoy must really suck…

    • Rob Staton

      The Rams will get a chance to make amends in 2013 & 2014, but I think they flunked this draft. They had a chance to come away with one of Richardson, Blackmon or Kalil – and ended up with Michael Brockers. Sure, defensive tackle was a need, but that offense is in a critical condition. They owned three high picks including the #6 overall and came away with Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead for the offense… hmmm…

      • josh

        jeff Fisher is a defensive minded coach. Thank God, it was irritating to watch fishers picks. A bunch of maybe type players and absolutely no weapons for Bradford and no protection either, I hope Sam is pissed, he’s had how many concussions so far? Yes he might not get hit so much with a new offensive coordinator but I just know with that porous line he’s going to get hit, and when he does there will be no ref to slow it down because it will be legal. I like Bradford and its unfortunate he has to play over there

      • dave crockett

        Add to that, Brockers really is a run-stuffing tackle who may never bring much to the table in pass rush. (He really plays through his chest; doesn’t use his hands.)

  2. JoeV

    I find our draft and the eagles draft kind of similar. Take out the turbin pick and both teams drafted a DE, ILB, DT, and QB in the first 4 rounds, first 3 rounds for the Eagles. Our needs apeared to match, just the order and value of the players differed. We could have had Cox and Kendricks had we not traded down twice. They might have then taken Ingram, Coples, or tried to trade up with AZ to get Brockers thus shifting the order to which they then drafted. Irvin would have been long gone for us in that senerio and we didn’t have 2 2nd round picks to make it a completly fair comparison.

    Would you rather have Cox, Kendricks, and Curry or Irvin, Wagner, and Howard? Even if Curry dosnt fit our system id take the Eagles picks over ours. This comparison has holes in it and these senerios are kind of silly to talk about, i just find the chain reactions fun to speculate like you are above. Good read.

    • Rob Staton

      Hey Joe,

      I think the thing about the Eagles and Seahawks really comes down to scheme. The Eagles run a system that really utilises a guy like Fletcher Cox. They have Trent Cole who is 6-3, 270lbs. They now have Fletcher Cox and will have packages for both, and also have packages mixed in so both play alongside Babin, Curry etc. Cox always looked like an ideal fit for the Eagles. I can only speak for my own opinion, but I never saw Cox as an ideal permanent three-technique. Teams have gone off the idea it seems of top-end picks at the five. For a long while I mocked Cox to Philly, I also had him falling a bit in a few mocks because he’s a lot more specialist than I think people maybe realised. But he’s a very, very good fit for Philly.

      In Seattle, there’s the LEO position. Bruce Irvin could be the ideal LEO pass rusher, as Pete Carroll has mentioned himself. The Seahawks have a need and a scheme to fit around a 245lbs rush specialist who still plays a lot of downs. Chris Clemons – a bad fit in Philly who never worked out for the Eagles – is a star in Seattle. At the same time, I’m not sure how Cox fits in the Seahawks scheme. He’d probably play the Jason Jones specialist role, but I don’t see him as an every down interior lineman. So really I think both teams went in the direction that best suites their scheme and both teams should be applauded for that.

      And considering the way Seattle seemingly reacted to Kendricks leaving the board, I guess they were quite keen to draft him. But I’m sure they felt comfortable about taking Wagner instead… they probably just would’ve shown a Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas level of enthusiasm had Kendricks been available in round two.

  3. ba_edwards24

    I agree with most of the article, but the basis that Cleveland was going to take Weeden at 22 so they should’ve taken Blackmon in the top 5 is weird and unsubstantiated. They were reportedly not looking at Weeden at that point until Kendall Wright was nabbed by Tennessee at 20. Sounds like they were interested at 37, but picking him at 22 was just a panic move. Kind of a oh crap we didn’t plan on this. What? What do you mean we threw away plan B? Oh well take the QB. I assume Curry wasn’t as high on their board as he was to me. Gus Bradley said they look at guys for the leo in the “4.6…maybe 4.7 range” (40 yard dash time). I think Curry ran in the 4.9s off the top of my head. And although his play shows pass rushing ability, it is power and stunts and 3 technique production, not beat you around the ege stuff. Similar to your boy John Simon, Rob! Not quite a fit for the leo.

  4. Misfit74

    I also wondered if the Rams screwed up by trading too far back to get Floyd. In fairness, the Rams also did land Chris Givens, who was rated higher by NFLDS and others, including Mayock, IIRC. So Quick, backup RB and potential successor to Jackson and Brian Quick is what they added to the offense, in addition to FA signing Steve Smith. It may not be as bad as it seems at first glance. Part of me wonders if the Rams just didn’t like Blackmon well enough to make the same type of move Jacksonville did. Interesting to think about how things might have been different.

    • Rob Staton

      According to speculation in the last two days, the Rams had AJ Jenkins and Brian Quick ranked above Floyd. A lot of teams didn’t like Floyd.

  5. Misfit74

    Another thing about Cleveland is that they were said to have been targeting Kendall Wright with their 2nd of two first-rounders but the Titans snagged him ahead of their pick, making CLE taking Weeden earlier than they wanted to rather than risk losing him (should have risked it, Browns!). I think they are in dire need of another play-making wideout besides just Greg Little and I’m also not that thrilled with the Weeden pick both the player and the value spent on the pick where they drafted him.

  6. TK

    I would just love to know who was going to take Weeden before the Browns pick in the 2nd round? The dude is 29, and has never played a snap in the NFL, so you pay him double what you would have had to pay him in the 2nd round? (or 3rd round?)

    • Misfit74

      Yeah, that decision, if true, is pretty dumb. But if they had their hearts set on Weeden…well they got their guy, which might at least turn out to be better than another season with Colt ‘Noodle-Arm’ McCoy.

  7. Steve in Spain

    Both the Rams and the Browns blew it by not consummating a deal with their original picks. The Rams would have walked away with their true #1 receiver in Blackmon and the Browns would have scored a premier franchise QB in RG3. By allowing the Redskins to get in the mix, both teams ended up short-changing themselves.

    • Johnny Slick

      I think the Rams made out like bandits by getting all those picks back for the #2. I’d have made that move too. What I also would have done though was traded some of that draft collateral back to get Blackmon. Or get Kendall Wright, who I think is going to be a total stud in the NFL.

  8. dave crockett

    I’m not so convinced about the CLE criticism. If we are taking as given that Weeden was their guy all along, that’s one thing. Still, Richardson is (potentially) a special player. I wouldn’t trade him for Blackmon under any circumstances.

    If you’re going to criticize CLE for not getting Weeden help look to the 2nd round. Holmgren passed on Rueben Randall, Stephen Hill, and Alshon Jeffrey to select Cal OT, Mitchell Schwartz. He chose Schwartz over Jonathan Martin and Cordy Glenn.

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