By John Boyle
Well, the first round of this year’s NFL Draft is in the books, and it came with plenty of trades and surprises. The Seahawks were involved in both, trading from 12th back to 15th while adding a fourth and sixth round pick, and then using that No. 15 pick to take West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin, a player a lot of people expected to hang around until the second round.
And it wasn’t like the Seahawks reached on him because they felt like they had to get whatever pass rusher was left. When they took Irvin, all the top-rated guys were still available such as Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, Nick Perry and Whitney Mercilus, all of whom went later in the first round.
“Obviously we viewed him as the best pass rusher in the draft,” Seahawks GM John Schneider said.
Pete Carroll said Irvin “Looks like a carbon copy of Von Miller rushing the passer.” Miller, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, was named Defensive Rookie of the Year after piling up 11.5 sacks for the Broncos. Carroll said Irvin will be more than just a third-down rusher—though he’ll be a regular in those passing situations—and that the Seahawks will find ways to get both Irvin and Chris Clemons on the field at times.
Carroll went on to say that he has known Irvin since recruiting him out of Mt. San Antonio. Irvin didn’t end up qualifying academically for USC, but that background made Carroll comfortable with picking Irvin, who has had his share of trouble in the past.
So what did Irvin think about getting a phone call from Carroll today?
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said on a conference call. “When I saw a Washington number, oh man, words couldn’t explain how I felt. I’m just happy they gave me an opportunity, overlooked the negative that was said about me.”
The negative Irvin refers to is a history that includes a 2007 arrest for burglary and an arrest last month for misdemeanor destruction of property (he said he was in court on Tuesday dealing with the latest charge). In both cases, the charges were dropped, and Irvin says those troubles are behind him, and that he is better for his struggles.
“I’m going to tell you like this,” he said. “I went through a lot of stuff in my life, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. If the average person went through what I went through, they wouldn’t be on this phone with you right now. I could have went the other way, I could have went right, but I chose to go left. When I chose to go left, I told God that I wasn’t going back to what was trying to suck me in. I just surrounded myself with a lot of positive people, man. They supported me and we did what we had to do to make it here, and I’m here talking to you all today.”
Irvin went by B.J. until he went to Mt. San Antonio in 2008, when is when he started going by Bruce. Asked why the change, he said, “Because B.J. was the one that was getting in trouble. That’s two different people, man. I hate when people say I’ve got character issues. I can see it if I was getting in trouble in Junior College, failing drug tests, but I’ve never been suspended, I never failed a drug test in junior college. I had a recent little hiccup, but that’s it. So I’m just happy Pete Carroll trusted in me and believe in me. Deep down in his heart, he knows I’m a changed person. He knows Bruce. Pete Carroll didn’t even know B.J., he knows Bruce, so that’s all that matters.”
Irvin says he is just scratching the surface of what he can do (though he kind of threw his college coaches under the bus in doing so).
“I know you all heard I’m a one-trick pony, but the crazy thing is I got 23 sacks in two years and I’ve never been coached,” he said. “That’s all athletic ability. If I get a little coaching in me, just imagine what I can do… The sky’s the limit for me.”
Asked to describe his play, Irvin said: “Man, I love eating quarterbacks. I have I high motor.”