RENTON, Wash. —
Once again, Pete Carroll did nothing conventionally.
Carroll and Seattle general manager John Schneider pulled off a major first-round stunner on Thursday night, selecting pass rush specialist Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia with the 15th overall pick.
Despite off-field issues that included jail time as a juvenile and an arrest earlier this year that was only recently dismissed, Seattle looked past those problems and at what Irvin could bring as a dynamic pass rusher who fits in Seattle’s defensive system.
“This is the kind of guy that puts fear in offensive tackles,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks’ selection was made after Seattle traded with Philadelphia, moving down from No. 12 to No. 15 and acquiring two picks in the later rounds of the draft, where Schneider and the Seahawks have been so successful in the past two seasons.
But no one could have guessed Irvin would be Seattle’s selection.
Irvin played two seasons at West Virginia and had 14 sacks as a junior and another 8 1/2 sacks his final season. He’s expected to be solely a pass rush option for the Seahawks as he’s undersized at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, but Carroll and Schneider both raved that Irvin is the best pure pass rusher in the draft.
“I love eating quarterbacks,” Irvin joked during a conference call.
Along with the size and freakish athletic ability comes baggage. Irvin was academically ineligible to play high school football and did a stint in juvenile jail for burglary. He eventually earned his GED and landed at Mt. San Antonio College in California where he was first used as a safety before being moved to outside linebacker and becoming one of the top junior college prospects in the country.
That’s where Carroll was first introduced to Irvin as Carroll tried recruiting him to USC. That relationship, one that Irvin called a friendship, was useful background the Seahawks used.
“I thought we had special information,” Carroll said.
Irvin believed there was a chance he would be a late first-round pick. But his conversations with the Seahawks were limited to a long talk at the combine. There were no visits to Seattle or special meetings arranged. Schneider said Seattle considered trading back past No. 15, but didn’t want to get too cute with the situation and have someone else jump up to grab Irvin.
“I’m just happy they gave me an opportunity and overlooked all the negative stuff that was being said about me,” Irvin said.