Former West Virginia defensive lineman Bruce Irvin will make his return to his first home of Seattle when the NFL season resumes after bouncing around the league for a few years — and his return brings back memories about his first stint in the pros.
After amassing 22.5 sacks in two seasons with the Mountaineers, Irvin was drafted with the 15th overall pick by Seattle in 2012 in a class that included second-round linebacker Bobby Wagner and third-round quarterback Russell Wilson. This class was given noticeably low marks, including a C- grade from ESPN’s Mel Kiper and F grades from several other experts, including Bleacher Report’s Donald Wood.
“After one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t draft any positions of need or draft for the future….Not only was Bruce Irvin a reach at No. 15, the Seahawks proved they were oblivious to their madness by celebrating their selection,” Wood wrote. “As if the day wasn’t bad enough, Seattle selecting Russell Wilson, a QB that doesn’t fit their offense at all, was by far the worst move of the draft.”
Just a little digging reveals several different analyses that echo the same tone — Wilson is too short, Irvin is a reach and Melvin Ingram was a better pick.
That group was quick to prove the experts wrong, however. Irvin and Wagner went on to make the NFL All-Rookie team, before the Seahawks brought the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle behind Russell Wilson at quarterback and a defense fronted by both Wagner and Irvin in the box a year later.
Still, no amount of accolades or hardware will allow those Seahawks to forget their first welcome to the league.
“I look at it every time the draft comes on, I’ll always remember that for the rest of our lives around draft time,” Irvin said in his first press conference after returning to the Seahawks.
Irvin added that while they may not have spoken about it publicly, he and his teammates frequently mentioned the topic in private.
“I think we’ve really proven to people that their grade was obviously wrong,” he said. “I mean Russell is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and Bobby’s one of the best. I’m going on nine years and I’ve got fifty-something sacks.”
52 sacks, to be exact, as well as a Super Bowl ring.
As he’s become a seasoned veteran, he’s learned to tune out the noise and let his play on the field do the talking.
“It is what it is, man,” he said. “A bunch of people who grade stuff have never played the game and obviously they were wrong that year.”