Heading into the draft I explored a variety of types of pass rushers for Seattle to target. Speed, size, various combinations of the two; Bruce Irvin I highlighted as a speedy, athletic and high upside situational pass rusher the Seahawks should definitely consider. Though he had 22.5 sacks in two years at West Virginia, he is raw and by his own account has gotten by on his athletic ability as he wasn't coached on how to rush the passer. Heading into the first round I mentioned him as "fringe" first rounder that could creep into round one consideration, but admittedly in saying that I thought taking him was more likely after a trade to the late portion of the round - at 15 wasn't quite what I had envisioned.
Regardless, I love the Bruce Irvin pick and for a variety of reasons. Was it surprising at 15 sure, but when you hear that seven teams thought he would go in the top 15 (apparently the Jets were waiting to snag him at 16), there's the first reason. I think few would debate the expectation Seattle was going to add a speed rusher, a major position of need, somewhere in this draft; they didn't mess around and picked the best player available on the list that said "speed rusher" - who knows where he was on the overall board, my guess is near or at the top.
I am not concerned with where he was projected to go; I care that he was a commodity among front offices and Seattle snatched him up. I'm pumped that fans in forums are saying things along the lines of not being happy he's in the NFC West. If Seattle in fact knew teams were going to jump on him around 15, then I like that they pulled the trigger on their man. Preparation leads to an aggressive decision, as Pete Carroll noted they had extra background and he's been associated with Bruce for "so long," which contributed to taking a player John Schneider feels is "rare."
I don't want to forget how they got to pick 15 either, acquiring two day three picks - their favorite kind - to simply move back three spots. Last week I listed potential trade partners that could supply Seattle with late round picks; Philadelphia and their three, tradable sixth rounders (and a trade history with this front office) among the possibilities, so naturally I'm a fan of how they moved back - I do find some irony in the fact that Philadelphia has led us to potentially our second successful Leo of the Carroll era. In addition to Irvin they get two more attempts at a K.J. Wright or Richard Sherman, not to mention ammo to move around or pursue players/clumps of players. I think the flexibility added to the final two days is something to like about this pick.
Now it's about the organizations expectations. They'll give him a chance to earn his role and gain some responsibility as a situational player, opposite Clemons in Nickel and perhaps in tandem on early downs. He'll be given his fair share of opportunities as the coaching staff sees additional roles for his toughness and athleticism (according to Carroll). In fact he called Irvin the "fastest guy you would hope for to play this position (Leo)," they see him in the Jevon Kearse/Von Miller class. I'm just looking for consistent progression, seeing how the man who likes to eat quarterbacks is able to grow with coaching and the mentorship of the quarterback eating Chris Clemons.
And in terms of the off the field stuff; I look at this video that Field Gulls reader SeattleAztec passed along and read this story (passed on by Beekers) about the adversity Irvin has overcome and stand by my sentiment that this program, not to mention this home stadium, is an environment that will be conducive to launching Irvin to a successful pro career. I'm under the impression they see his rough upbringing as something that brings "character, toughness" and another strong teammate to the defensive unit. I can't wait to see it at the CLink on Sundays.
They may have paid a steep price for someone who at first is a situational player, but it's hard to argue with their willingness to put the resources in to finding an eventual heir to 22 sacks over the past two years - plus the two extra picks certainly makes the price for him better - in a player that could become much more than a situational guy and has an incredibly high ceiling. One could certainly argue there were more complete players on the board, but that doesn't mean they would be a better fit for the defense.
They believe he is the best fit to hopefully step into one of the most important roles on the defense. In an increasingly passing dominated league, sometimes a franchise needs to pay the price to get a player that has the upside as a premier pass rusher; the Jason Pierre Paul play, as he was also taken with the 15th pick. Seattle went into the offseason with the main priority being to upgrade the pass rush. I wouldn't count out looking for another rusher somewhere down the road or taking a player that has pass rush as part of their skill set, but regardless I appreciate the fact that the organization spent considerable resources this offseason making one of the weakest parts of the team better.