Bruce Irvin   LB   West Virginia    

TALENT BOARD

 Round 4


STRENGTHS

Bruce is a tremendously athletic player who has been playing out of position even for his college team.  Right now in the NFL, he would be considered as a specialty player with the potential to be a starter in the NFL.  He has good size, excellent speed and burst to the ball and is a strong tackler.  He can rush the passer (given a free pass to the quarterback) and gives good effort on every play.  He shows quick feet and  change of direction skills  and I would think that Bruce could do just about anything you ask of him athletically on the field.  I suspect that Bruce could play more than one linebacker position at the NFL level in any style of defense and have a big impact on the special teams cover units, but as we all know, it takes more than athletic talent to play in the NFL.

 

CONCERNS

Bruce runs around on the field like a chicken with its head cut off.  He goes full force and is used strictly as an undersized pass rushing defensive end in a 3-4 defense to attack and cause havoc in the opponents' backfield.  Bruce doesn't have any pass rushing skills or techniques, he is just relentless and a better athlete than most players he goes up against.  One thing I'll say about this kid is he has one gear on the field and that gear is all out.  He is not very good against the run because he doesn't acknowledge that anyone is going to run the ball at him.  He just ignores it completely.  He has so much to learn about playing linebacker and might not be any more than a pass rushing specialist because of the deep learning curve and his ability to be coachable.

 

BOTTOM LINE

I think Bruce can learn to be a linebacker at the next level, but it's up to him.  It's obvious that learning football hasn't been that important to him until this year.  I see excellent potential in Bruce, but not until his first contract is up because he has so much to learn about how to be a linebacker in the NFL.   As long as you don't make the mistake of drafting Bruce too early in this draft with the expectation that he will be starting for you in the near future, drafting him makes a lot of sense.  He is a developmental player with excellent athletic talent that lacks the football instincts or football intelligence to be a starting linebacker, but with time could be surprisingly strong.   That's what the draft is all about!  He can help rush the passer and should be an excellent special teams player as he learns, but at some point you will have to put him on the field to learn.  At that point you will have to deal with his mistakes and hope he has the ability to not make those same mistakes over and over again.  Its obvious to me (in Bruce's play on the field) that he has lived off his athletic talent all his life.  He has terrific survival instincts on the football field and has carved a niche for himself with his college team.  I don't doubt that he can do the same with an NFL team, but it will take time and as long as a team doesn't make the mistake of drafting Bruce too early and expecting him to become this all encompassing linebacker, he just might do the same thing at the NFL level.  When drafting Bruce, think of him as a kid learning the game of football for the first time only with this unique athletic talent that could turn into something special.  Remember, the draft is all about POTENTIAL and Bruce has that in large quantities.    

 

 The BS Detector 

 Drew Boylhart  March /12