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2012 NFL Draft: Looking At OLB Bruce Irvin

Despite the development of both O'Brien Schofield and Sam Acho, you really can never have enough players who can rush the passer. Plus, all teams need depth and young talent to develop. One position the Arizona Cardinals will likely try to address in the draft is outside linebacker, as the team will need to replace Joey Porter and because of the fact that Clark Haggans is not getting younger.

Since you cannot draft everyone in the first round, let's look at a player that will be available later in the draft and could fit for Arizona.

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Bruce Irvin

Position: OLB

Height: 6-2

Weight: 245

School: West Virgina

Projection: 2nd-3rd round

Background: Had a rough time growing up, unable to play football in High School due to academics he was heading to a tough life and after time in Juvie and living on the streets decided the football field was his way out. Irvin got his High School equivalency in the GED program in December in 2007 and then walked on at Mt. San Antonio Junior College in 2009 and quickly registered 16 sacks. He has spent the last two years at West Virginia rushing the passer and recorded 14 sacks in his first Div 1 collegiate season and followed that up with 8.5 as a senior.

Strengths: The quickest pass rusher available in the draft, he is lighting fast off the snap and has a tremendous first step. He has the flexibility to drop his shoulder, keep his pad level low and turn the corner with speed. Reads the game better than expected for a player in just their third season of full time football, flows to the ball well. Has great agility and change of direction skills. Has a good inside counter step and the agility to pull it off, but might not be able to do so against NFL linemen. Is a sound tackler who wraps up well. Relentless as a pass rusher with a great motor, works until the whistle and chases plays from the backside and behind until the tackle is made. Shows the fluidity and flexibility that should translate into ability to play well in space.

Weaknesses: He was never a three down player, and will need to add weight to become that in the NFL, even as an outside linebacker in the 34. He is skinny and not well built, especially thin across the shoulders and in the legs. Does not keep his pad level low consistently. Is almost a non factor in the running game easily contained by offensive linemen and often handled by tight ends. Needs coaching to develop technically, does not have any formal pass rushing moves, he does not use his hands well and does not have a bull rush of any kind. Little to no experience in coverage, though he has played some from a two point stance.

Overall: Irvin has the ability to be a really good pass rusher at the NFL level, but he is incredibly raw. His athletic ability flashes immediately and he should wow at the combine with his times in the forty yard dash (Would not be surprised to see him clock in the low 4.4's) and other drills. However whomever drafts him is getting a project player. He is not going to be able to have a lot of impact as a rookie other than possibly on special teams (Which he did play at West Virginia) or as a third a long pass rush specialist. Good coaching and a good weight room could turn Irvin into an absolute terror rushing the passer with his athletic ability and ability to read the game, but if he does not get bigger or develop technique he will not be long for the NFL. He is an outside linebacker in the NFL in the 34 or the 43.