An electrifying pass rusher who will fit as either a specialist DE or an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, Irvin uses a flurry of moves and his uncanny athletic ability to maneuver his undersized frame around and through offensive linemen to produce massive sack production in his limited views at West Virginia.
A player who is hampered by his size and amount of snaps taken at a high level, Irvin should be selected within the first two rounds of the draft by a team looking for a boost in their ability to get to the quarterback.
He is a stellar outside run defender and rarely lets plays get outside of him even though he struggles to hold an edge at the point of attack. His athletic ability is what allows him to be a read-and-react player in the run game, yet still be effective.
He can keep his balance even when shocked by much bigger linemen and is a reliable tackler when he gets to the ball. Bruce would be an ideal option at outside backer in a 3-4 defense where he can focus solely on rushing the passer.
He also, surprisingly, struggles when given the task of covering tight ends one on one, and up to this point has been widely considered a pass rush only option for the West Virginia defense."
Irvin completed his General Education Development (GED) test in December 2007, failed to make the team at Butler Community College, and then got his chance at Mt. San Antonio Junior College for the 2009 season. Irvin was late arriving to campus, so the team played him as an undersized defensive end asked to get after the quarterback. He garnered first-team All-American status (72 tackles, 21 for loss, and 16 sacks) in that role.
The Mountaineers also charged him which chasing the passer, which led to his second-team All-Big East 2010 campaign (14 tackles for loss, all sacks--which ranked second in the nation). Despite his lack of experience, Irvin's athleticism and toughness should give him a chance to be a pass rusher as a 3-4 linebacker at the next level, or possibly a defensive end for the handful of NFL 4-3 teams not minding his lack of size. If he answers questions about his past to NFL scouts' satisfaction, they may decide to take a chance on his potential in either role with an early-round selection.
Read & React: Has natural instincts for defense despite his lack of experience, though he is obviously still learning. Finds the ball regularly and has the change of direction ability to get to it.
Run Defense: Gives some effort to chase down running backs. Miscast as a hand-down player and played mostly in passing situations, but has some fair strength for his size and does not break down easily against the run. Should have no problems getting off tight end blocks at linebacker to contain against the run.
Pass Defense: Limited experience dropping into coverage, primarily used as a pass rush specialist. Has change of direction skills and hustle to track down ballcarriers in the open field, but will need to learn how to handle coverage responsibilities.
Tackling: Strong wrap tackler who can dislodge the ball with power and goes for the strip if his target is holding the ball low or loose. Brings down quarterbacks much bigger than he is. Very good motor, regularly chases down plays from behind. Used on special teams coverage units because of his tenacity and speed.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Best attribute. Extreme quickness off the edge, has flexibility to turn the corner. Shows toughness to get under the pads of tackles to bull them, club them upfield to get the inside lane, or fight through blocks to for secondary rush when passer steps up. Keeps feet moving after initial contact. Jumps inside as a counter to typical rush, but needs to show a larger variety of moves. Gets pressures on inside stunts, too explosive for college guards to handle.
Intangibles: Tough player, gets up from being planted and comes hard on the next play. Comes from rough background, almost threw away talent but earned GED, walked onto junior college team and continues to work hard towards his goal of playing in the NFL."
He's simply a natural pass rusher. He lacks great size and looks a bit narrow through his hips/upper body, but he possesses an athletic build and can really coil up and fire out of his stance. He exhibits natural flexibility in his hips and keeps his base down well off the snap.
Plays from a number of stances, but looks comfortable playing with his ball side foot back and exhibits an outstanding first step. He also keeps his base down off the ball, stays low and eats up a lot of grass quickly. Exhibits the speed to routinely threaten the edge, drop his pad level and turn the corner.
However, it's his savvy as a pass rusher and change of direction skills that makes him a bear to block. He extends his arms well into contact and loves to reach the edge and re-direct, using his club to slip the block and accelerate quickly inside.
Also, he knows how to set up blockers and slow play his pass rush, forcing them to over commit and lunge into contact as he displays impressive short area quickness in order to slip blocks. He gets a bit high when trying to slip, as he has a tendency to hop step toward the edge and lacks ideal power through contact.
He can initially be stalled when engaged and lacks ideal power to simply overwhelm on the bull rush as he gets upright. However, when he keeps his pad level down and extends those arms he can create an initial snap.
You can see him turn his speed into power on his outside rush when crashing back inside, and he possesses good natural power in his upper body when working the club move as he can really jar tackles for his size at times.
He's a glorified nickel rusher at this stage who isn't asked to play the run game often, but lacks the natural girth to anchor with his hand on the ground consistently at the next level.
Nevertheless, he is an excellent run and hit guy with a great first step with "plus" range and works very hard in pursuit. Demonstrates a good motor and the fluidity to breakdown on ball carriers.
Impression: A gifted athlete who has the initial burst to routinely reach the edge. However, lacks ideal size and doesn't have a real sophisticated pass rushing repertoire. Is going to make the move to a 34 OLB at the next level and might need a little time."
Lean-framed and needs to get stronger, particularly in his upper body, and is speed dependent at this stage of his development.
However, he is an athletic, agile natural bender with upside should he polish his technique and cultivate counter moves.
Is most natural in a wide-nine alignment with his ears pinned back and could carve a niche as a 3-4 rush 'backer/situational rusher."
Bruce Irvin is all about speed and suddenness with the ability to create a ton of pressure. He possesses an explosive first step that allows him to get up field and threaten the edge. However, it is his non-stop motor that really makes him dangerous as he never stops pursing the football. Offensive tackles really struggle to protect the edge against Irvin because of his quickness off the football.
Creating pressure is important but you need to be a complete player to really make an impact in the NFL. Irvin needs to spend time adding bulk and strength to his frame. His ability to improve his run defense will go along way to improve his draft stock. Irvin will also need to spend time learning the ins and outs of pass coverage as he is rarely asked to drop.
Overall, Irvin has all the physical tools to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL. He is athletic enough to make the adjustment from defensive end to outside linebacker. Improving his run defense and adding some new pass rush moves will be something evaluators look for this season.
Bold Statement: Irvin will have another highly productive season and kill it at the combine. He will be in the discussion as a late 1st round selection.
Games Viewed: NC State ('10), Maryland ('10), Pittsburgh ('10)
- Irvin is an extremely explosive player that excels at creating pressure
- He has an excellent first step which allows him to constantly threaten the edge
- Irvin is always giving 100% effort and moving at his top speed
- His motor is a major contributor to the pressure he creates
- Once he gets the edge, he has the 2nd gear to explode towards the quarterback and get the sack
- His suddenness helps keep offensive linemen off his body
- Irvin does a nice job maintaining leverage throughout the play
- He is able to quickly change direction making it tough for linemen to adjust to his inside move
- His quick hands help him keep clean as he pursues the football
- Irvin needs to add more bulk to his frame
- He is a true tweener without a definite position
- If a lineman gets into his frame he struggles to disengage"
freakish athlete who played WR in high school and was originally recruited by all the national powers as a safety; ended up going the JC route because of poor grades and emerged as a pass-rush force;
Has an explosive first-step and outstanding closing speed; more than a one-trick pony when rushing the passer, has good balance and can change direction on the fly; could get stronger, but has quick hands and has the punch to knock big OTs off balance;
Seldom asked to play the run, but has natural instincts and the speed to track down plays from behind;
Comes from a tough background and the fact he de-committed from both Tennessee and Arizona State before ending up in Morgantown will get a lot of scrutiny, but comes across as a grounded, focused kid with a solid work ethic."
With the Mountaineers, he had 14 sacks in very limited play in 2010.
So far in 2011, he only has 2.5 sacks as a full-time starter.
The reality is that while his pass-rushing potential is on the elite end of the spectrum, he's a very raw prospect who has had very little coaching and practice. He is only in his second year with the Mountaineers and whoever takes a chance on him will need to groom him into their defense.
The big concern now has to be why he has disappeared as a pass-rusher here in his second season. All the promise and hype he had entering the 2011 season is now dissipating.
Irvin won't show much on his game tapes, but scouts and general managers will like what they see at the combine, especially if he runs a sub-4.5 40.''