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“Obviously, we viewed him as the best pass rusher in the draft.”
As these 12 words from John Schneider confirm, fifteen picks into the first round of the NFL Draft – and three picks before the player generally considered the best pass rusher in this draft class was selected – the Seahawks got their man on Thursday night.
Still, the Seahawks tabbing Bruce Irvin was not only a surprising selection, the player selected was more surprised than anyone.
“They didn’t even visit me,” said Irvin, a pass-rushing dynamo from West Virginia with long arms (33 inches), a relentless motor, a ridiculously explosive get-off and 23.5 sacks the past two seasons.
“I didn’t have a workout, I didn’t even have a visit with them. So that’s what really shocked me.”
Just as startling was the way the Seahawks were able to keep the target of their attention under wraps until they had traded back three spots – from No. 12 to No. 15 – and made the pick.
But make no mistake; this is the pass rusher that coach Pete Carroll wanted. “Obviously,” as Schneider put it. Because when the Seahawks made the pick, they also had their choice of all the other pass rushers who had drawn more attention than Irvin – North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, who went to the New York Jets at No. 16; South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, who went to the San Diego Chargers at No. 18; Boise State’s Shea McClellin, who went to the Chicago Bears at No. 19; Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, who went to the New England Patriots at No. 21; and even Nick Perry, who played for Carroll at USC and went to the Green Bay Packers at No. 28.
Irvin was Carroll’s guy – another player with the unique talents that the Seahawks coach has been collecting since he was hired in 2010.
“This is the guy who really puts the fear in offensive tackles," Carroll said. "This is a rare guy, a rare chance to get a guy like this. What separated him from the other defensive ends was that he has extraordinary speed and tremendous flexibility.
"And he has great instincts and he has a great motor, all of the things that make up a great pass rusher. He's got incredible get-off, something that we cherish here. He chases the football. He's physical. He's got great effort."
Carroll has been on to Irvin since he was playing at Mount San Antonio Community College, and Carroll tried to recruit him to USC.
“Me and Pete have a different relationship. Me and Pete go way back,” Irvin said. “We’ve got more than just a coach-player relationship. I think we’re actually friends.”
Irvin did talk with Carroll at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. But that was the last time they communicated – until Thursday night.
“Since the combine, I haven’t heard from them,” Irvin said. “That’s what really shocked me, because I didn’t think they were really interested in me. This pick just shocked me. I can’t believe it. I’m just astonished right now.”
Asked what he knew about the Seahawks, Irvin offered, “I know my man Pete Carroll is the head coach. That’s about it.”
That’s also about to change. Irvin is scheduled to fly from Atlanta to Seattle on Friday and be presented at an introductory news conference at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Saturday.
That Schneider was able to add two more draft choices in the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, made Day One of the draft all the better. For moving down three spots in the first round, the Seahawks got the Eagles’ picks in the fourth and sixth rounds – which won’t be used until Saturday, as the second and third rounds will be conducted on Friday.
Yes, the Seahawks might have been able to trade back again, adding even more picks, but as Schneider put it, “We thought about doing it again. We just didn't want to get too cute. This guy is just too special of a football player.”
The selection of Irvin caused jaws around the league to drop and talking heads to babble the expected “What are they doing?” Carroll and Schneider greeted the reaction and the follow-up questions with smiles – almost smirks.
“We did a good thing today,” Carroll said.
That’s because Bruce Irvin was the pass rushers they were targeting all along.
About the only thing you really need to know about Irvin came in his response when asked to describe his game.
“Man, I love eating quarterbacks,” he said.