The Seattle Seahawks have a number of interesting storylines as the season draws ever closer. Obviously the situation with Percy Harvin is on everyone’s mind, but there are other narratives that will continue to be fascinating. One of those is the progress of Bruce Irvin.
Irvin is a former first-round pick that started out as a question mark — or at least, the NFL community scratched their collective heads when he was taken by the ‘Hawks. No one questioned the raw speed, but there was concern that Irvin was not big enough (6-foot-3, 248 pounds) to play defensive end.
He was considered a reach, but Pete Carroll has heard that before.
Needless to say, the NFL world is giving Carroll and GM John Schneider the benefit of the doubt these days. During his rookie year, Irvin had some highlight moments and he did compile eight sacks. Not bad for a rookie, but you could kind of tell that Irvin was never going to be an every-down defensive end.
With the departure of Leroy Hill and the position shift of K.J. Wright to weak side linebacker, there was an opening for Irvin to change positions. On paper, the switch to linebacker makes sense. The speed and body type just makes him a better fit.
Even so, questions remain. Specifically, there is the looming challenge of the four-game suspension that must be served at the beginning of the season. He has to get comfortable with the defense … and then sit down for a month. Assuming that Irvin is the best at that position during training camp, do you basically tell Malcolm Smith that he has four games to prove that no one should take his spot?
What if Smith turns out to be the natural fit at linebacker? After all, the position is different than playing on the line, and Irvin must shift his mindset in order to play in the defensive scheme. There is also the possibility that Irvin will still see some time at defensive end, which will give Seattle some interesting options.
Obviously if Smith and Irvin both play well in camp and the preseason, it is a good problem to have. Winning in the NFL is about depth, and the Seattle defense is built on speed and athleticism. Having more than one effective player at certain positions is crucial for keeping a fresh defense on the field.
Still, there may be some bumpy transitions. The defense may adjust to Irvin’s style just in time for him to take a four-week break.