Posted by on January 7, 2015 11:34 am
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Categories: NFLPros

Coming out of college at WVU, many NFL scouts didn’t know whether to project Bruce Irvin as a defensive end or a linebacker. There was no doubt that he could play either one, but there’s a need to put a label on players in the NFL draft that go beyond the “hybrid” classification. Irvin, though, is settling in nicely with the Seattle Seahawks at strongside linebacker.

“I feel like I’ve made a significant stride to becoming a good, consistent ‘backer,” Irvin told the Herald of Everett earlier this week. “The biggest thing with me was just being consistent. Last year I’d have a good game, then fall off two games, then have a good game. So that was the biggest thing for me was to try to stay consistent, and I think I’ve done that pretty well this year.”

A year ago, Irvin’s role was slightly limited in the playoffs and he played just that: a role. He was brought in for certain situations rather than being an every-down linebacker. This year, though, that’s changed as Irvin has demonstrated the skills to not only rush the quarterback but to also drop back into coverage.

According to the Herald, Irvin has played 70.8 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps and 84 percent or more of the snaps in the team’s last three games.

He has 37 tackles, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions – both were returned for touchdowns. Last year at linebacker Irvin had 40 tackles with just 2.0 sacks and one interception. With any luck, Irvin will surpass 40 tackles and set a career-high in all three categories this season.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin celebrates his team's victory on the sidelines after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 24-14. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin celebrates his team’s victory during the playoffs last year. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)

The scariest part? He’s still improving.

“When you look up the picture of a linebacker, his face shows up,” linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. told the Herald. “We’re really excited, he’s going to do it all. He’s going to be rushing the passer, he’s going to be playing the run, he’s going to be buzzing to the flats, he’s going to be flying around.”

Irvin agreed that he’s made strides, and while he’d take a sack over a pick-six any day, he’s still working on becoming a more complete player at the linebacker spot.

“I’m just doing the complete opposite of what my biggest knock was coming into the league — I was a one-dimensional pass rusher who couldn’t play the run,” Irvin said. “I think I’m proving that I can play the run pretty good. Pass rushing is coming along, so I think I’m becoming a complete player if you ask me.”

Irvin should play an even bigger role this week as his Seahawks begin the playoffs with a game against Carolina, who boasts one of the league’s best running quarterbacks in Cam Newton. The last time the two teams played, Irvin sacked Newton twice.

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