"With the 15th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Bruce Irvin, defensive end, West Virginia." It was announced at the perfect time. Amidst the frantic and frenzied flurry of trades, calls and excitement, Pete Carroll and John Schneider dropped a bombshell that saw the NFL world momentarily pause and look on in disbelief. "Bruce who?" asked 85% of onlookers whose draft knowledge extended to that of the mocks on nfl.com and ESPN. "That name doesn't sound like Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples. He must be a dud. Booo, you suck Seattle!" NFL experts triggered this farcical reaction. NFL.com's Mel Kiper branded the decision as "mind-boggling" and went on to claim that Seattle "baffles" him. Well-known draft writer Matt Miller tweeted "easily, worst draft grade goes to #seahawks so far". The public had a similar reaction. Only hours after the pick I had a handful of messages from people who told me the Seahawks had already "lost the draft" and "wasted their future". One individual even proclaimed he felt "so sorry" for me. The Seahawks' Facebook page went into overdrive too as fans sharpened their cyber pitchforks and lit their virtual torches. Well caress me gently with a chainsaw. Yes, the pick was a surprise. Yes, it's a move accompanied with an element of risk. But before the world starts slagging on the Seahawks for their "idiotic-ness", there are a few factors which suggest on face value the decision may not be too ridiculous. That is, if anyone cares to listen.
1. Speed, speed, speed. From the moment the 2011/2012 season came to an end, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll stressed one major area he was looking to improve: speed from his defensive linesmen. Not "strength". Not "craft". But speed. The Seahawks relied purely on DE Chris Clemons to apply pressure on opposing QBs last season. After an 11.0 sack performance, the team was content with his production. But he's not that quick, and if he goes down, the team's ability to rush the passer is in serious strife. Bruce Irvin typifies speed. He typifies agility. He typifies raw athleticism. Compare his combine stats with other recently-drafted defensive linesmen and see for yourself: [caption id="attachment_15103" align="alignright" width="273" caption="Bruce Irvin shows off his shiny new Seahawks jersey"][/caption] 40-yard dash
- Bruce Irvin: 4.43 seconds
- Melvin Ingram: 4.79 seconds
- Quinton Coples: 4.78 seconds
- Fletcher Cox: 4.79 seconds
- Bruce Irvin: 4.03 seconds
- Melvin Ingram: 4.18 seconds
- Quinton Coples: 4.78 seconds
- Fletcher Cox: 4.53 seconds
- Bruce Irvin: 6.70 seconds
- Melvin Ingram: 6.83 seconds
- Quinton Coples: 7.57 seconds
- Fletcher Cox: 7.07 seconds
2. Pete Carroll is the right guy to guide Irvin. It's well documented Irvin has had an interesting past. He got arrested back in 2007 and spent time in jail for burglary and possession of a weapon. He mixed with the wrong people. He was, in all senses of the term, at rock bottom. But Pete Carroll is a man who can transform a character and make them want to play for him. He is in no way prepared to ignore players with huge potential because of their [caption id="attachment_15119" align="alignleft" width="257" caption="Will Irvin's speed and agility be enough to solidify him as a bona fide NFL player?"][/caption] touchy past. He's a real 'player's coach'. Most of the criticisms were stemmed from the fact that Irvin is "too risky" because he's a "thug" and a "criminal". Spare me a dime. If anyone can turn this guy around, it's the former USC coaching hero. Look at Marshawn Lynch, for example. Carroll took him in despite some of Marshawn's previous mishaps with the law. And what does he get? A RB who produces a 1,200+ yard, 12 TD season, a historic 67-yard beast of a run against the defending Super Bowl champs in the 2011 playoffs and all the skittles he can fit in his oversized gameday hoodie. Mike Mayock may have put the situation best: "Pete Carroll has never been afraid of taking on a problem child."
3. We should trust Carroll and Schneider's decisions - These two men pick players not who they know are great athletes, but who they know will improve and contribute to the team. They are, after all, the guys who brought the following players to Seattle.
- S Earl Thomas (2012 Pro Bowl)
- S Kam Chancellor (2012 Pro Bowl)
- CB Brandon Browner (2012 Pro Bowl, 6 INTs in 2011/2012 - tied for second most last season)
- RB Marshawn Lynch (2012 Pro Bowl, 1,204 yards in 2011/2012 - seventh most last season, 12 TDs in 2011/2012 - tied third)
- DE Chris Clemons (11.0 sacks in 2011/2012).
- Undrafted rookie WR Doug Baldwin and LT Russell Okung.
4. Mike Mayock likes the pick. There are plenty of NFL 'experts' (and I use that term very loosely) out there, but none are better or as respected as Mike Mayock. He rated the Seahawks' selection of Irvin which pleased me greatly. This is what he said:
"[Irvin] might be the most natural pass rusher in the entire draft. He's only 245 pounds, he's got an explosive get-off, and he's an explosive player."This may not hold too much weight, but when Mayock speaks, all should listen. If he's happy, I'm happy.
Wrapping up. Yes, taking Irvin at pick 15 was a surprise. People are saying the Seahawks will look back on the 2012 draft and see it as the day they let Cox/Ingram/Coples get away. But until Irvin proves he isn't everything he was drafted to be - a player who puts immense and ferocious pressure on the opposing QB - I'm not prepared to engage in operation freakout just yet. Photos (in order) courtesy of:
- Ted S. Warren
- GARY A. VASQUEZ / ASSOCIATED PRESS