Bruce Irvin has something to say to all those analysts who doubted that he was worth the 15th overall pick in the 2012 college draft: Thanks.
The Seattle Seahawks’ rookie defensive end has dealt with doubters before, and he tries to do so productively.
“I’m glad I was in that situation and they were taking those shots,” Irvin said Wednesday. “That kind of stuff, that make me work harder. … I watched it every day on ESPN. I seen those guys taking about different guys, and I just feed off that type of stuff. I’ve been feeding off that type of stuff my whole life. But it’s over with and it’s time to move on.”
Irvin has moved on to eight sacks with one game remaining in his first NFL regular season. That’s the most sacks by any rookie in Seattle team history, and the most by any NFL rookie this season. But he has higher goals in mind.
“It’s all right,” Irvin said. “It’s not where I want to be. I want 10. It is cool, but it’s not where I want to be.”
Irvin was among the most controversial picks in the 2012 NFL draft. During the ESPN draft broadcast, it was said he had projected as a second-round pick. Others said third.
His critics said off-field problems during his college career at West Virginia had cost him placement on some teams’ draft boards entirely. They also noted that his size – 6-foot-3, 245 pounds – would keep him off the field on first and second downs, limiting him to duty as a pass-rush specialist.
The Seahawks saw more. And now they say that Irvin’s rookie season is vindicating all that they saw in him.
“He’s had a very good year, and he’s a factor and you can tell (opponents) are doing things to take care of him protection-wise,” coach Pete Carroll said. “… The fact that he’s been able to play since the first game – the first third-down situation – and he’s backed up (defensive end Chris Clemons) all year long on first and second down. He’s worked out exactly like we had hoped.”
Irvin has played on 43 percent of the Seahawks’ defensive plays this season. Yet, he trails only Clemons in sacks and quarterback hits. Combined, Clemons and Irvin have 19.5 sacks, which ranks them fourth among defensive end tandems in the league.
Irvin picked up his first professional sack in the second game of season against the Cowboys. He had his first two-sack game on Monday Night Football against the Packers. He matched that in October at Carolina and again in November against the Jets.
The sack he got against Arizona this month was his eighth of the season, moving him past linebacker Leroy Hill, who had set the previous Seattle rookie record in the 2005 season, which ended at the Super Bowl.
“I’m happy he’s having a good season,” Hill said. “I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much thinking the same thing I was at that time: not really worrying about the record, It is what it is, we’d better keep winning. If it was a horrible season, you might be thinking, ‘Well, OK, I did something meaningful for myself.’ But at this point, he’s thinking, ‘Oh, man, we’ve got a chance to do something special.’”
As it happens, that is very much what Irvin is thinking.
“When I first thought about (the sacks record), it feels good,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it don’t even matter no more. We winning. We’ve got a playoff bid. That’s the biggest thing right now: compete for the Super Bowl.”