Nobody likes to read, watch or hear draft analysis that slams their team for making a dumb pick. Everyone knows that draft analysis, even after the whole draft is complete, is rarely more accurate than the draft predictions before the draft starts. The new format of spanning the draft over three days encourages even more pointless over-analysis (look no further than this blog) of a single pick. What is your impression of the Seahawks draft class from last season? The team added Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter, John Moffitt, etc. Here was Mel Kiper’s write-up after the draft:
Carpenter fits a need, but was a reach with better tackle available. Moffitt can help this offensive line, but I didn’t see guard as a top need. Wright was a reach on my board, as was Durham, a wideout out of Georgia who may have been around much, much later. The Seahawks then made some sensible picks in the secondary, but at what impact that late? They did nothing really to help the defensive line and their sense of value was questionable. The positive might be that this is a very young team, and you suspect Pete Carroll expects improvement. I just don’t know if he added much this weekend.
ADDRESSED NEEDS: C GOT VALUE: D OVERALL GRADE: D+ (link)
It was the lowest grade Kiper gave any team. He was not alone. Almost every analyst slammed the Seahawks for what they deemed major reaches. The jury is still out on that draft in terms of players like Carpenter, Moffitt, Durham, Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. Sherman and Wright appear on track to be high quality long-time starters. Sherman’s upside is All-Pro. Wright’s upside is less clear, but Pro Bowl is not out of the question. Any draft that adds two players of that quality is a good one. Carpenter and Moffitt were on track to be long-time starters before their injuries. Their play will determine whether 2011 was a great draft.
Pete Carroll said he has been searching for a player like Irvin since he started coaching. People can doubt Carroll’s approach, philosophy, personality, sincerity, or game management. Nobody can question his defensive chops. If he is this excited about a player who he also has a long history with, there should be little reason to doubt great things are ahead. Mike Mayock, Rob Rang, Todd McShay all describe Irvin as the best pure-pass rusher in the draft. Seattle has never had a player of his burst coming off the edge at CenturyLink. Michael Sinclair was a prolific pass rusher back in the 90s, but was not a speed rusher. Rufus Porter is the closest thing Seattle has had to a player like Irvin. He was a terror in front of the 12th man. Irvin should be too.
It is easy to picture him coming off the edge and causing mayhem, but Carroll could very well have bigger plans for him. A player like Irvin could be a roaming pass rusher that could rush from a two-point stance as well. If Dexter Davis pans out, the team could put him on the field with Irvin and Clemons and Jason Jones. That’s before we even see if the team adds a great speed linebacker in the second round like Lavonte David, Sean Spence or other. Carroll has made a point to value unique attributes in players, giving him different weapons for different scenarios. Irvin is a new weapon in that arsenal.
The idea that Irvin can only play on 3rd downs is ridiculous. Seattle reportedly played as much as 60% of their defensive snaps in a nickel or dime package last season. By that calculation, Irvin could be on the field more than off. Teams are putting three and four receivers on the field with regularity. Aldon Smith was a “situational” pass rusher last year that threw 14.0 sacks on the board. Many pundits called Smith the biggest reach of the 1st round last year. ESPN’s scouting report gave Smith a grade of 3 for pass rush skills, meaning average.
It won’t be fun to hear everyone make fun of the pick. It won’t be fun to read about how great San Diego did by getting Ingram two picks later. There are plenty of reasons to believe it is going to be a ton of fun watching Irvin play this season.