I think right about now, Casey McLain at the very least is in the hunt for a new remote control, if not an entire wall of his home. That said, I think it’s safe to say that the first two days of the Seahawks draft have been … controversial? Maddening? Confusing? Remember that first time you were with a girl, and discovered the deceptive horror that is the ultra-padded/stuffed bra? “Wait … wha? I’m so surprised. I’ve been tricked. But … I still kind of … like it?”
That’s the Seahawks draft. So, let’s break this thing down, and try to turn this 32A of a draft into a at least a full C, shall we?
Round 1: Bruce Irvin- DE/OLB- West Virginia
So much to say.
The minutes leading up to this pick were some of the most exciting that I can ever remember on a draft day. We had just moved down from twelve to fifteen, in what appeared to be a genius move. The three teams Seattle moved back behind didn’t come close to touching any player it would have an interest in. We knew the Seahawks were looking to upgrade their upfront pass rush, and if they wanted, Quinton Coples, and Melvin Ingram were still right there. Also sitting there was David DeCastro, the very highly regarded OG out of Stanford, who I envisioned paving the way for Seattle runners for years and years to come.
All the excitement. Wondering. What’s to come? Another trade down? A big name pass rusher? Our offensive lineman of the future?
Then the selection comes, and the words out of Roger Goodell’s mouth leave every draft-centric room in the Seattle area a stunned silence.
All the excitement and anticipation and unabashed glee, which could have rivaled that of a seven year old boy standing outside the gate to Disneyland, just whooshed out of the room, and was replaced by my head in my hands, wondering what Pete Carroll and John Schneider had done.
Then, the shock and awe continue, as draft experts label the pick a huge reach. I learn that not only is Irvin a mid to late second round selection on most boards, but he’s had off-field issues, is a high school dropout, and was arrested less than a month ago.
Now, I’m here to tell you that after researching this pick, IF it pans out — which is a big if — it will be a genius move that people will talk about for years.
The first thing I looked at was game highlights. I had read the sub-4.5 40 yard dash time, but glossed over it, as these things are often irrelevant. Not so with Bruce Irvin. He has some of the most explosive moves I’ve seen at the college level. This is a player that is as pure an edge rusher as you could ask for. He uses every bit of that speed to move around the edge, through a gap, or just plain run over a lineman. In one interview, he was asked about his lack of size, which is a very good thing to ask about, as he stands 6’3″ 245 lbs. He replied, “if I’m off the ball and in your gap by the time you get out of your stance, what you gonna do?”
Irvin is a guy who likes to keep it simple on the field. He is a very confident player, and it’s clear that there is only one thing on his mind: killing quarterbacks. The Seahawks have had a need for a guy like this for years. There is a lot being said about Irvin only having the ability to rush the passer, and not being able to do much else. First of all, I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment. He came from a defense that focused almost purely on run defense. For a player to rack up 23 sacks over two years in a defense that’s focused on the run is remarkable. And just say that he is only one-dimensional. So what? There are eleven players on the field. If there is just one thing that he’s good at, and it can result in game changing plays, and devastating hits on the quarterback, that’s a hell of a thing to be good at. Let the other ten guys worry about the rest. Also, I think he’ll be able to use his speed to stretch run plays to the outside. Finally, when you see the tape, it’s very apparent that when this guy gets his hands on you, you’re going down. Every time. Without fail. His hands and arms are tremendously strong.
With all those features, it’s easy to ask why he went at pick fifteen, and was graded even lower than that. While much of that can be chalked up to lack of size, I would say the majority of the questions come from his off-field behavior. Irvin dropped out of high school in his junior year, and took to a life on the streets. We’re talking full-fledged drug abuser, and someone who did jail time for robbing a drug dealer’s house. But something happened for Irvin that doesn’t happen for so many whose life turns to the streets: he got a second chance. He turned away from his criminal life, got his GED, and went to junior college. Eventually, he transferred to West Virginia, where he played the last two years. Irvin definitely got here the hard way. At one point he wouldn’t even go home to visit, because some of the people he had previously associated with were still there, and he didn’t want to get sucked back into his dead-end lifestyle. For someone who’s worked as hard as he has to leave all that behind him, there is a large part of me that thinks he’s going to keep it behind him. I hope so, anyway. Then, there’s another part of me that says if this guy has the stones to go and rob the house of a drug dealer … that’s the kind of guy I want chasing down quarterbacks for my defense.
Bruce Irvin is one of those players that will show us instantly whether he will succeed or not. This is the ultimate boom or bust pick. Either he’s going to use his quickness and athleticism to put up big numbers, or he’ll get swallowed up by offensive linemen. A huge risk for Seattle. But the reward COULD be even bigger.
Round 2: Bobby Wagner LB- Utah State
With the player I really wanted Seattle to take with this pick off the board, — Alshon Jeffery WR- S. Carolina — I don’t think there’s anything they could have done that would have made me raise my eyebrows. Wagner was taken with the thought that he can step in and play the middle linebacker position.
After looking at the film on Wagner, you can see what Carroll and Schneider like about him. He has a decent motor, and a good combination of quickness and power. Just watching him play, there are a lot of similarities you can draw to Seattle’s last starting MLB, David Hawthorne. The only difference is, Hawthorne was a hidden gem who was found in the undrafted rookie class. Wagner was a second round pick.
Middle linebacker is a position that Seattle needed to address, and Wagner could be the guy to do it. I think his abilities are a bit raw, and I hope he’s able to adjust to a vastly different game than the one he played at Utah State. I can definitely see him struggling, but there is a lot of upside if he can catch up.
Round 3: Russell Wilson QB- Wisconsin
One of the most polarizing players in the entire draft, Russell Wilson is who the Seahawks took with their round three pick. I don’t mind it.
The beauty about this year’s draft is that other than addressing the pass rush and holes at linebacker, Seattle really is just looking to add depth. That gives the Seahawks the leverage to search for projects that they can develop. Wilson is one of those projects.
As a quarterback, he doesn’t have the size you look for — he stands under 5’11” — but his athleticism (there’s that word again, I’m starting to see a theme with all these picks) and intelligence make him a project that could pan out. This offense features a lot of pocket movement. Rolling out, using the tight end, short passes, etc. That’s the kind of offense that Wilson could thrive in. If he’s moving a lot, which is when the throws his best, his size really is a non-factor. When it comes to this pick, think Seneca Wallace, but with better football sense and intelligence. Wilson is a player who succeeded in two different offenses in college. I don’t think he’s ever going to be your number one type player, but what Seattle may have here is somebody who can play the back-up quarterback effectively. A guy like that is someone that teams covet.
All in all, with all the head scratching and second guessing the first two days of the draft have brought us, I think it could have gone worse. There are a lot of question marks in the first three rounds, but a lot of potential as well. Of course none of what we think at this stage matters one iota, but in a draft where the team is looking to add depth and a pass-rush attack, I think there’s a lot of good potential.
Overall, I grade the first two days a C+, but there is a very good chance that needle could move toward the A range if these players pan out.
For Saturday, look for the Seahawks to add depth at TE, OG, CB, S, and RB/FB.