Irvin Leaps To First Round

Every year, there's a surprise pick or two in the first round of the NFL Draft. This year, that spot was taken by West Virginia's Bruce Irvin, who was selected in the first round (#15 overall) by the Seattle Seahawks.

Irvin's talent as a pass rusher is undeniable, but several items contributed to widely varying predictions as to his draft status. Playing defensive end for West Virginia, Irvin racked up 22 1/2 sacks in two seasons, but his relatively slender build cast him as a "tweener" in the draft -- stuck between the defensive end and outside linebacker spot. As Irvin didn't drop into pass coverage at any point during his college career, opinions on his ability to do so at the pro level were mixed. However, a very good performance at the NFL combine offset those concerns, at least for the Seahawks, leading them to select him as a boost for their defense. Seattle plans to use him as a defensive end, however, defying the analysis offered by most draft watchers.

Irvin was rated as an outside linebacker by most draft analyses, with many of those tabbing him as a likely second round pick and among the top five to seven players at the position. His measurements (6-3, 245 pounds), along with a past that included two arrests (including one last month) were viewed as potential negatives, but his pass rushing ability was too much for the Seahawks to pass up.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll offered a pair of quick comments on Irvin via Twitter following his selection.

"He (Bruce Irvin) looks like a carbon copy of Von Miller rushing the passer. This is the type of guy that puts fear in offensive tackles," Carroll said via his Twitter account.

With the majority of the draft still to come, Irvin's final competition on the Seattle roster remains to be seen, but at the moment head coach Pete Carroll's squad lists no fewer than seven defensive ends. Some of those, such as Chris Clemons (6-3, 254 lbs.) and Dexter Davis (6-1, 244) are similar in size and style to Irvin, while the remainder are bigger, more conventionally-sized NFL ends. They include Pierre Allen (6-4, 273), Red Bryant (6-4, 323), John Graves (6-3, 286), Jason Jones (6-5, 276), and Lazarius Levingston (6-4, 292). Only Clemons, a nine-year veteran, has more than five years' experience in the league. Allen and Levingston have just one year of experience, while Graves (two years) and Davis (three years) are also still in the early stages of their careers.

Irvin is the ninth first round pick in West Virginia history, and the first since Adam "PacMan" Jones in 2006.

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