Every down players don't play every down. The NFL has evolved, the days of coaches that run exclusively 4-3 or 3-4 are over. You're nickel DB plays more often than your linebacker half the time. The defensive lines rotate in and out every couple of plays to keep things fresh and the safeties are often bouncing around in coverage all over the place depending on what packages the offense is coming out with.
I'm going nuts right now trying to find some advanced stats for NFL substitution percentages so I'm going to be forced to go off memory and what i've read on twitter tonight as an argument, you're just going to have to trust me. To say Bruce Irvin "isn't an every down player" is not only pointless in regards to his draft position, it is also false. NFL offenses employ three wide looks more than half the time, and most the time they are not they've got a tight end in that looks like a teenage mutant ninja turtle mated with Calvin Johnson. Passing is the answer these days, and offenses are finding ways to do it as well as they can. Greg Cosell said the Seahawks ran a nickel package 60% of the time last year. That means nearly two thirds of the time we were coming up to the line with the intent to stop the pass first. A guy like Bruce Irvin will definitely be a part of any defensive package that is being used to stop a quarterback from completing a pass. Clay Matthews is a good example of what I'm talking about, both because he's a great example of a pass rusher that if used properly can greatly change the way an opposing quarterback approaches passing and because he is more like Bruce Irvin than you'd imagine. Take a look at their combine numbers
|Combine #'s||Ht||Wt||40 yd||20 SS||3-Cone||Vert||Broad||Bench Reps|
|Matthews||6' 3.5"||240 lb||4.67 s||4.18 s||6.90 s||35.5 in||10' 1"||23|
|Irvin||6' 3"||245 lb||4.50 s||4.03 s||6.70 s||33.5 in||10' 3"||23|
Pretty similar, Irvin even has him bested in a couple places (Irvin actually best the top CB Morris Claiborne in the 3 cone and tied him in the 40 yd dash). I'm not here to say Bruce will be a better player than Matthews I'm just noting that they're similar in stature and physical athleticism. That's not the only reason I used Clay as an example however. Pete coached him at USC before coming to the Seahawks in '09 and likely sees the same similarities I do. Just for kicks I threw together stats for these guys' college careers. Bruce played in the Big East which is a markedly worse group than the Pac-12 but it's not like he barely edged out Clay either. His numbers are ridiculous, look for yourself.
|Matthews||solo||assist||total||TFL||Sacks||pass def||hurry||fum forced||games|
|Irvin||solo||assist||total||TFL||Sacks||pass def||hurry||fum forced||games|
Irvin's sack total dropped nearly 50% from 2010 to 2011 but I've read that's in most part due to his positioning. WVU used him as an end in a 3-4 look for a large part of the year which is a tough spot to get sacks from when your speed is your best asset.
In watching tape this evening I see a guy that can get past a tackle if he makes a false move. In some cases he was able to bull rush a guy or duck inside because the tackles appeared to be so worried about setting the edge. This my friends is exactly what I'd like to see from a defensive end in today's NFL. Speed off the edge. Pete is no dummy, he knows how to adapt. He traded away an every down defensive end to the Eagles for Chris Clemons and found an immediate increase in production from the position. One does not simply draft an end that can rush in elite fashion and stuff the run. Those guys only come along once in a blue moon, and they all sign with the Buffalo Bills once their rookie deal is up anyways. The idea of an "every down player" is dead guys, you can get over it... Or sit there like Kiper livin' in 1990, where above average running backs are still worth first round picks and Jeff George is worth trading up for. If you haven't already, you really should check this guy out. He never quits, high motor kind of guy that just keeps going and going. Reminds me of Grant Winstrom, if Grant Winstrom ran a 4.5 forty.
Bruce vs Clemson. Not overly impressive but I really like the awareness on the QB option pass play as well as the fumble forced. Never stops chasing the play.
Junior highlight reel kicks in at about 1:20 in. Just blowing away tackles on the edge.