Bruce Irvin being selected as the 15th pick in the NFL draft has gotten plenty of coverage. Most national media has panned the pick because they see it as either much higher than Irvin needed to be drafted, or because Irvin does not appear to be an every down player. Lost in all that coverage is just how unique of a selection Irvin was for this Seattle franchise. Take a second and try to recall the last time the Seahawks drafted a defensive end who was known for his dominant pass-rushing ability. Not your late-round prayers like Dexter Davis or Nick Reed, or standard 2-3 down ends like Lawrence Jackson. When was the last time the Seahawks drafted a player that came into the league with expectations of 10+ sack seasons?
You could argue that it goes all the way back to 1980, when the team used the 10th overall pick on Jacob Green. Green was highly touted coming out of Texas A&M, and went on to become the Seahawks all-time leader in sacks with 97.5 over 12 seasons. Sure, there has been surprises like Michael McCrary, taken in the 7th round in 1993, who had a 13.5 sack season for the Seahawks before leaving for the Baltimore Ravens. Michael Sinclair was a 6th round pick in 1991 who went on to become the franchise’s second-leading pass rusher with 73.5 career sacks. Guys like Cortez Kennedy, Jeff Bryant and Joe Nash (all in the franchise’s Top 10 in sacks) were all defensive tackles. Rufus Porter was a terrific speed rusher who sits 7th on the franchise sack list, but Porter was an undrafted free agent.
Over the last decade, it’s been almost exclusively rent-a-sack, with names like DE Patrick Kerney, LB/DE Julian Peterson, and DT John Randle. The Seahawks have been so hard-pressed to find sack artists in the draft that a player could average 5.0 sacks for five years and become 10th on the franchise sack list. Peterson owns that spot right now after playing just three seasons in Seattle.
The need has been so great, Seattle has dumped millions on players like Grant Wistrom, and taken far-out risks on guys like Lamar King (1st round) and Anton Palepoi (2nd round).
Many of the biggest critics of Seattle’s choice of Irvin acknowledge that he could average 10+ sacks per season in the NFL. Nobody seems to be denying that. Folks, that would be a revelation. Only six drafted players in the history of the franchise have recorded 10+ sacks in a single season. Those players are:
– Jacob Green
– Cortez Kennedy
– Jeff Bryant
– Michael Sinclair
– Michael McCrary
– Randy Edwards
Of those, only two (Green and Sinclair) have accomplished the feat more than once. Irvin would join a select club if he can reach the double-digit plateau once, and a secret society if he can do it twice. If he makes a habit of it, he very well may wind up among the five best pass rushers in team history in 4-6 years.