The Seattle Seahawks surprisingly used the 15th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on defensive end Bruce Irvin, but he made that investment look good by setting a franchise rookie record with eight sacks despite having a fairly specialized role. He has been suspended for the first four games of this season after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which makes a repeat of the success he had last season look unlikely.
More recent news suggests the Seahawks plan to move Irvin to linebacker this season, and he is expected to compete with Malcolm Smith for a starting job at outside linebacker. The team is deep at defensive end, with the offseason signings of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett as well as the possibility Chris Clemons could be ready for Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL during the playoffs, so moving Irvin to a spot where he can still make a significant impact makes sense. But is the move bad for his fantasy potential?
Irvin was not a productive tackler as a rookie, with just 17 total tackles despite playing all 16 regular season games. Some of that can be chalked up to the role he was deployed in as primarily a pass rusher, but he also does not seem well-suited to a full-time role as a 4-3 outside linebacker, where the ability to take on and shed blocks as a run defender will be more important.
Even with the move to linebacker, Irvin should still see time at defensive end and his fantasy value is driven entirely by his sack total. The suspension makes him undraftable in the majority of fantasy leagues that use individual defensive players, but Irvin could become a worthy waiver wire option in deeper leagues once he is able to play.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.