LB BRUCE IRVIN – WEST VIRGINIA – 6-3, 245
Irvin is an interesting subject. He played WR in high school and then moved to defense in JC. He proved to be a dominant DE at that level, as you might imagine. West Va left him on defense and he was a star pass rusher for the Mountaineers.
Irvin is just 6’3, 245. You can look at him and see where he used to be a WR in HS. He still has a sleek, athletic frame. Irvin is a pure speed rusher. I don’t project him as a starter in the NFL. I don’t think he can be a functional run defender as a DE.
Even as a LB I’ve got my concerns. I just don’t see Irvin as a strong, physical player. I can’t imagine a 4-3 team would want him at SAM. 3-4 teams would love him as an edge rusher, but even they would want him to be a better run defender. 3-4 OLBs must be able to set the edge. Irvin hasn’t shown that he can do this.
Teams who value his pass rush ability may roll the dice anyway. Irvin had 22.5 sacks in 2 years. He also had 5 FFs. He is a very good athlete. He ran a blazing 4.50 in the 40 at the Combine. I think Irvin’s best role would be as a situational rusher. He is tailor made for the Wide 9 defensive front used by the Lions and Eagles. They let the DEs go out wide, get in a track stance, and fire off the edge (which he did plenty of at WVa). You could also look at the way Seattle uses Chris Clemons as a role that Irvin could eventually handle.
If you don’t line him up wide, Irvin has to beat blockers with more than speed and angles. He struggles with that. Irvin doesn’t use his hands well. He’s not someone who will shed blocks with strength and leverage. He is at his best getting under/by blockers. He truly is a speed rusher.
Irvin does have some serious character issues. He dropped out of high school and then got into trouble. Spent a little time in jail. Decided that wasn’t the life for him so he got his GED and then went to Junior College. Seemed to have put his past in the past, so to speak, but did get arrested shortly after WVa’s Pro Day for a knucklehead incident where he broke a sign at a Jimmy John’s. Might be much ado about nothing, but isn’t the sign you want to send to teams less than 50 days from the draft when you have a less than stellar past.
Irvin could go as early as the 2nd or late as the 4th. It will be interesting to see where he goes and how they use him. Could be a heck of a role player for someone.