My first reaction was not elation. Forget whether Irvin was a good choice or not. The simple fact that he was not a known name means we have months of hand-wringing ahead of us instead of months of anticipation. That’s deflating. It also felt like there were enough pass rushers left to trade back for more picks and still get Irvin or someone else. Then, the brain took over from the heart. What was the undisputed priority for the Seahawks entering this draft? Adding a pass rusher.
Chris Clemons becomes a free agent after this season, and will turn 31. He will not be back after this season, and there is some reason to think he might not be back this season (more on that in a later post). Clemons has accounted for over 31% of the Seahawks sacks in the past two years (over 33% last year). Finding someone to pair with him this season the way Raheem Brock did in 2010 was important, but the team needed more than that. They needed a long-term replacement.
The right skill set for Clemon’s LEO position is a pass-rush specialist who is able to pursue well enough to make plays against the run, and can drop into coverage on occasion. That is why Melvin Ingram was such an appealing possibility. He shows the potential to do all those things and slide inside if a coach wanted to use him as an interior rusher. Players like that are rare. If you were an Ingram booster, like me, you liked him for all those reasons. Take some time and read reports on Irvin from around the web. Here are a couple that are pretty representative:
Set aside the place where “experts” had him scheduled to be chosen. Pay attention to their analysis. In almost every case, they refer to Irvin as potentially the most gifted pass rusher in the draft. He was second in the nation with 14 sacks as a junior, and had 8 sacks as senior. He recorded 14 tackles for loss as a junior and 14.5 as a senior. His junior season was explosive enough that he started drawing comparisons to a certain Seahawk:
His athletic ability is undeniable. He led all defensive lineman in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.50. His hand-timed speed was 4.43, and he did it in 19 strides. Wide receiver Stephen Hill ran a 4.36 (tied for best among WRs) in 19 strides. Pete Carroll and John Schneider compared Irvin to Von Miller in their post-draft press conference.
ARMS: 33 1/2″
WEIGHT: 246 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.53
3-cone drill: 6.70
20-yard shuttle: 4.06
Sacks (combined Jr/Sr): 27.0
Tackles For Loss (combined Jr/Sr): 39
HEIGHT: 6’3″ (same)
ARMS: 33 3/8″ (same)
WEIGHT: 245 lbs (same)
40-yard dash: 4.50 (+0.03)
3-cone drill: 6.70 (same)
20-yard shuttle: 4.03 (+0.03)
Sacks (combined Jr/Sr): 22.0 (-5)
Tackles For Loss (combined Jr/Sr): 28.5 (-10.5)
The other player that Irvin reminds me of is Robert Mathis, who came into the league as a pass-rush specialist. Mathis is 6’2″ and 245 lbs. He has 83.5 sacks in his career, although it should be noted that he only had 3.5 as a rookie.