By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
April 26, 2012 10:49 PM
|Bruce Irvin produced 22.5 sacks in two seasons at West Virginia after transferring from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bruce Irvin was No. 73 on ESPN’s draft list, a projected second or third round choice by USA Today - many others had him in the same range – but it turns out Irvin was No. 1 on the Seattle Seahawks draft board.
Thursday night, the Seahawks made Irvin their top choice as the 15th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft being held in New York City. Irvin becomes the ninth Mountaineer to be selected in the first round and the first since Adam Jones was taken No. 6 overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Irvin is also the fourth Mountaineer defensive player to be picked in the first round, joining Jones, linebacker Renaldo Turnbull (14th, 1990) and linebacker Chuck Howley (7th, 1958).
Irvin made 8 ½ sacks and forced three fumbles as a senior in 2011 after a junior season in which he finished second in the country and first in the Big East with 14 sacks. In just two years at WVU, Irvin was fourth on the school's career sack list with 22 ½ and was named first team all-Big East in 2011 after earning second team honors in 2010.
Irvin’s first two years were spent at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.
Irvin’s stock rose during the NFL Scouting Combine when he ran the fastest time of any player at his position, officially registered a 4.5, but Irvin said he ran much faster in his personal workouts.
“There were some teams that had me at 4.39, 4.40, 4.41, so what everyone saw at the Combines was just for TV,” Irvin said earlier this week.
Irvin is exactly what the Seahawks were looking for - an edge pass rusher with the speed and quickness to get to the quarterback. Last year, Seattle only produced 12 sacks when sending four or fewer rushers, ranked 30th in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Seahawks were ninth in total defense allowing 332.4 yards per game, but were 19th in sacks.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock rated Irvin the best pure pass rusher in this year’s draft: "He's only 245 pounds, he's got an explosive get-off, and he's an explosive player, but there are red flags off the field,” said Mayock.
“This is the most interesting pick of the first round,” added ESPN draft expert Todd McShay. “The Seahawks move back and do a nice job of picking up a fourth and sixth-round pick, they address a need at defensive end, they get a pass rusher, but the player they took is surprising to everyone.
“Bruce Irvin from West Virginia … I’ll say this, he’s got the quickest get-off of any defensive lineman in this class and he absolutely explodes to the quarterback. The problem is, he’s undersized, he doesn’t play the run and he comes with a whole lot of off-the-field baggage so this is one of those picks that you have to track two, three, four years down the road.”
“In order for him to be the player he needs to be as a first-half of the first-rounder he has to be an every-down defensive lineman and really contribute versus the run, and right now he’s not there as a football player.”
Irvin continues West Virginia’s trend of having defensive players taken in the NFL draft. The Mountaineers had four players picked in last year’s draft and nine have gone since 2005.
Defensive teammates Keith Tandy, Najee Goode and Julian Miller could also be taken in this year’s draft. Earlier this week, Irvin talked about the current trend of WVU defensive players being selected.
“We had six last year get a shot (including free agent signs) and we’ll probably have four or five get a shot this year,” he said. “We are getting out there. (The coaches) have provided us with chances and it’s up to us to make the best of our chances and do what we do.”
That clearly holds true for Irvin.
The NFL draft will continue until Saturday.West Virginia’s All-Time First Round Draft Choices
2012, Bruce Irvin (Seattle), 15th overall
2005, Adam Jones (Tennessee), 6th overall
2000, Anthony Becht (New York Jets), 27th overall
1990, Renaldo Turnbull (New Orleans), 14th overall
1986, Brian Jozwiak (Kansas City), 7th overall
1966, Dick Leftridge (Pittsburgh), 3rd overall
1958, Chuck Howley (Chicago), 7th overall
1956, Joe Marconi (Los Angeles), 6th overall
1936, Joe Stydahar (Chicago), 6th overall
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