|Can the Patriots (or anyone) stop Bruce Irvin?||10.12.12 at 1:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Bruce Irvin was a surprise pick at 15th overall in the 2012 draft, but he’s looked every bit like a home-run pick for the Seahawks thus far.
The former criminal-turned pass-rush specialist [for more on that, click here] has presented a major challenge to offenses, and it’s shown with his 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble through five games. His upside as a speedy defender capable of getting to the quarterback was enough for him to be the first defensive end off the board, ahead of the likes of Quinton Coples and Chandler Jones.
So has Jones, who was viewed as a better and more complete prospect entering the draft compared to the seemingly one-dimensional Irvin, been keeping tabs on the other rookie pass-rushers? Does he put much into Sunday’s game matching two of the better young pass-rushers in the game against one another?
“I compete with no one but myself,” Jones, who played in the Big East against Irvin, said Friday at Gillette Stadium.
Though Jones might not be worried about Irvin, the Patriots’ offense and its coach sure are. In trying to prepare for Irvin, Bill Belichick said the team has had a player (he wouldn’t say who or which position they played) mimic the speedy pass-rusher in practice so the offense can be better prepared when they see the real thing on Sunday.
“We’ve tried to do that,” Belichick said. “We look at our roster and try to match up our scout team players similar to the type of players we’ll be facing that week when possible. Receivers, tight ends, pass-rushers, defensive backs. Yeah, we would take our guys that are more like their guys and try to put them in those positions, or somebody that would give us an approximate look of that person’s style of play, definitely.
“We do that every week. We take guys and talk about it with the staff, who’s going to be who, who’s going to be [Chris] Clemons, who’s going to be Irvin, who’s going to be [Sidney] Rice, who’s going to be [Marshawn] Lynch, who’s going to [Robert] Turbin, who’s going to be Leon Washington, who’s going to be everybody.”
It’s common practice for teams to have players play the part of certain opponents in preparation for that player. Last week, second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett played the role of Peyton Manning by mimicking the Denver quarterback’s on-field mannerisms.
“Sometimes it’s just by the position that that person plays and the person that we have that plays that position more familiar with it, so it helps our guys to take the reps for that,” Belichick explained. “Sometimes it’s to replicate their player. But our younger players, our practice squad players, some of the guys that don’t play as much, we also want to try to put them in a position where they can execute plays at their position rather than move them somewhere else and playing them out of position. We try to put them where they play so their reps are higher quality reps in their personal development.”
Irvin isn’t the only rookie who’s made an impact for the Seahawks. Not only is their third-round pick starting at quarterback in Russell Wilson, but fourth-round pick Robert Turbin has proven to be a capable backup for Lynch.
“They’ve got a lot of good young players,” Belichick said. “It seems like most of their team is under three years other than just a handful of guys. They’ve gotten good production out of [their rookies]. Turbin’s been impressive when he’s played in there for Lynch. Wilson obviously, Irvin’s been a good pass-rusher for them. [Bobby] Wagner‘s been very productive for them at middle linebacker. He’s made a lot of plays. It looks like they’ve got a good solid group.
Added Belichick: “They’ve drafted well. Pete [Carroll]’s put together a real good football team. I think he’s done a great job of turning that roster over. He’s got a lot of young players, but they’re good players. I’ve been real impressed with what he’s done, no question.”
|Winners, losers from first round of NFL draft||04.27.12 at 1:19 am ET|
With first round of the draft in the books, there’s time the breathe a sigh of relief and take in the hectic night, which featured the quickest first round in history. Now, we take a look at the five winners and losers of Day 1.
1. Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks – Many teams knew of Irvin’s explosive — but raw — pass-rushing skills, with some seeing him as the most talented pass rusher in the draft. However, Irvin had a lot of character concerns coming into the draft, leading some teams to take him off of their boards completely. Mock drafts anticipated him going anywhere between the late first and late second rounds, so his selection at No. 15 wasn’t too many picks ahead of where some had him going. What’s surprising is that Irvin was the first edge rusher off the board in what was perceived to be a decent class for the position.
2. Rams – During much of the draft process, the Rams made it clear to other teams that they were looking to trade down from the No. 2 spot and collect as many picks as possible to rebuild their roster. After trading down to No. 6 weeks ago and again to No. 14 on draft day, the Rams have picked up two second-round picks to use on Friday in addition to two future first-round picks. They also grabbed dynamic LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14 once they were finished wheeling and dealing.
3. Patriots fans – While a fan base tends to call for a lot of things heading into the draft, there was a near consensus with Pats fans as to what they wanted this year: They wanted Bill Belichick to draft a top-flight pass rusher early on, and they wanted him to stop trading down in the draft and to trade up to get an elite player. Much to their surprise, they got exactly what they wanted.
4. Cowboys — The Cowboys are always an aggressive team on draft day (Jerry Jones‘ trade up to No. 6 on Thursday night marked his 59th draft-day trade). However, the move to grab LSU corner Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick was a perfect strike in a draft class that was considered to have six ‘elite’ prospects. The ability to grab one of those six (the Cowboys reportedly had Claiborne as the second-best player on their board) at the last available spot all the way from No. 14 was a great move for the Cowboys, despite having to sacrifice a second-round pick for it.
5. Jets — The Jets had only a few basic needs heading into the draft: a premiere edge rusher and a safety, mainly. In the end, they landed Quinton Coples, possibly the most talented pass-rusher in this draft class, without having to trade up with their choice at safety long off the board. There are questions about Coples’ work ethic and there will always be concerns about a player who is a bit of a head case in that locker room. On the other hand, Rex Ryan having that type of talent at his disposal should be a concern for the Patriots.
|Bruce Irvin goes to Seahawks 15th overall, Jets draft Quinton Coples||04.26.12 at 9:39 pm ET|
The Seahawks pulled off the biggest surprise of the draft thus far by taking West Virginia pass-rusher Bruce Irvin 15th overall.
Irvin becomes the first pass-rusher off the board, ahead of Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram. He has exceptional speed and may be the best pure pass-rusher in this class, but he doesn’t have the bulk to do much else.
Irvin has has a very interesting story, which can be read here.
The Jets followed the pick by selecting Coples 16th overall.
|Some notes on the Patriots and Melvin Ingram, Bruce Irvin and Jordan Bernstine||04.11.12 at 1:16 pm ET|
Three very interesting college prospects have recently connected with the Patriots: South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram, West Virginia defensive end/outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and Iowa safety/return man Jordan Bernstine:
1) Ingram, who told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday night that he was headed to meet with the Patriots, is an intriguing name. He’s considered by many to be one of the best pass-rushers in the draft, and at 6-foot-1 and 264 pounds, has some positional versatility as a 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s likely to be a Top 10 selection, which would mean the Patriots, who have picks at No. 27 and No. 31, would have to trade up to try and draft him.
2) Irvin is one player who has seen his stock increase as the draft draws closer — one theory is that despite some initial concerns about his character, the West Virginia product is getting a chance to meet with teams, and because of those sitdowns, he’s taking advantage of the chance to nip any of those questions in the bud. According to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder is scheduled to take 12 visits to NFL teams, including the Patriots. Considered a hellacious pass-rusher, he projects to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Our DJ Bean wrote a great piece on him after talking with him at the combine in February.
3) The Patriots are one of three teams thus far who have conducted a private workout with Bernstine (that group includes the Eagles and 49ers, and he’s also reportedly scheduled a visit with the Raiders, according to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com). Considered to be a late-round/undrafted free agent possibility who could provide depth at safety and work as a special teamer, Bernstine has some interesting Pro Day numbers, which included a 6.98 time in the 3-cone drill. (And we all know how much the Patriots value a good 3-cone time.) The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder also has the Belichick University angle working for him as well — as a collegian, he was coached by former Bill Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz.
|Could Bruce Irvin’s remarkable story take him to New England?||02.25.12 at 12:20 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — At the NFL scouting combine on Saturday morning, West Virginia pass-rusher Bruce Irvin went to Podium C at Lucas Oil Stadium before a hand full of reporters and stated the obvious.
“I have a different story than a lot of these guys,” Irvin said.
Indeed he does. Unlike many of the other prospects trying to prove their worth to NFL teams, Irvin has been through two different lives. He used to be B.J. Irvin, a dangerous youth from Atlanta who dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and did jail time. He ran with the wrong crowd, had friends who were in gangs. He’s come a long way since being B.J., and when NFL teams ask him about B.J., he introduces them to Bruce.
“They’ve heard the story,” Irvin said. “They’ve read the articles, so they’re questioning me, which I don’t blame. I guess they kind of want to hear it from the horses’ mouth, the whole situation and how it happened.”
B.J. played only one year of high school football, as a wide receiver, but it wasn’t long before he was academically ineligible.
After dropping out and spending a few weeks in jail for two different charges, he got his GED and went to prep school. It was there that he met his mentor, Chad Allen. According to Irvin, Allen saved his life when his life clearly needed saving.
“He would come up there and just talk to the players and the kids and let them know, give them real-life experiences,” Irvin said. “I was homeless and he talked to me. We had a heart-to-heart and he was like, ‘I can’t let you go back to doing what you were doing.’ He opened his door to his house for me.”
Next for Irvin was junior college, and he wanted to get as far away from Atlanta as possible. He tried walking on at Butler Community College in Kansas, but he didn’t make the team. He finally landed in California, where he played at Mt. San Antonio.
It was there that he made the made the team as a safety, or so he though. He was unproductive as a defensive back, not understanding the position well enough to make an impact.
“Being that I only played one year of high school football, I was kind of slow to the game,” he said. “Picking up the coverages and all the extra stuff that it takes to be a free safety, it was just taking me a long time to grasp it and get the concept of it. One day at practice after like the sixth game — I was only playing kickoff and I was a gunner on team — after the sixth game, the coach was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to get you on the field some way.’ At practice he put me at D-end, and I just started running by people. Ever since then, I’ve just kept my hand in the dirt.”