Seahawks load up on defense

The Sports Xchange
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Seattle wanted to get more speed on defense, and they achieved that by drafting the most pure pass rusher in the draft in West Virginia's Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall. Irvin ran a blazing, 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and totaled 22.5 sacks during his two seasons at West Virginia.

Coach Pete Carroll said he'll back up pass-rushing defensive end Chris Clemons, and play opposite him on third down.

Carroll also drafted a quarterback for the first time since he's been in Seattle, selecting Wisconsin signal-caller Russell Wilson in the third round.

The Seahawks like Wilson's skill set and leadership skills. And even though Seattle signed Matt Flynn to a multi-year deal in free agency, Wilson will get an opportunity to show how he fits into the quarterback competition with Flynn and Jackson once training camp begins in July.

BEST PICK

Running back Robert Turbin: The Seahawks needed a backup running back to ease the load for Marshawn Lynch, and they get another bruising runner in Turbin.

COULD SURPRISE

Outside linebacker Korey Toomer: The University of Idaho product is an athletic freak that could earn playing time in passing situations as a rusher.

A closer look at the Seahawks' picks

Round 1/15 - Bruce Irvin, DE, 6-3, 248, West Virginia

League observers believe Seattle reached by taking Irvin here, but the Seahawks say they've got the best pass rusher in the draft.

Round 2/47 - Bobby Wagner, MLB, 6-0, 241, Utah State

Wagner adds speed to the linebacker position and brings versatility, with the ability to play both inside and outside. He'll compete for the starting middle linebacker job left vacant by the departure of David Hawthorne in free agency.

Round 3/75 - Russell Wilson, QB, 5-11, 206, Washington

Somewhat of a surprise pick by Seattle, but the team loves his skill set and leadership skills. Don't be surprised if Wilson manages to make some noise at quarterback in 2012.

Round 4/106 - Robert Turbin, RB, 5-10, 222, Utah State

Seattle needs a bruising runner to lessen the load on Marshawn Lynch, and they appear to have gotten the guy in Turbin.

Round 4/114 - Jaye Howard, DT, 6-3, 301, Florida

Howard played under former Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn at Florida, where he serves as the Gators defensive coordinator. That should help in his transition to Seattle.

Round 5/154 - Korey Toomer, OLB, 6-2, 234, Idaho

Toomer ran a 4.53 40-yard time at his pro day and posted a 42-inch vertical jump, so Seattle likes his speed and athleticism.

Round 6/172 - Jeremy Lane, CB, 6-0, 190, Northwestern State

The Seahawks get a good athlete and physical defender who can press coverage on the outside and on the slot receiver as a nickel defensive back.

Round 6/181 - Winston Guy, SS, 6-2, 218, Kentucky

Guy will get a chance to compete for the backup strong safety job behind Kam Chancellor.

Round 7/225 - J.R. Sweezy, DT, 6-4, 298, North Carolina State

Sweezy played defensive tackle in college, finishing with 16 tackles and two sacks his final season for the Wolf Pack. But Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable convinced him to switch to offensive guard.

Round 7/232 - Greg Scruggs, DE, 6-3, 284, Louisville

A rangy, lanky athlete with loads of potential who can rush the passer and also back up Red Bryant at defensive end.

--For a second straight year the Seattle Seahawks shocked the league by drafting a player most NFL observers projected as a second-round pick.

After trading back in the first round, sending the No. 12 overall pick to Philadelphia for the Eagles' No. 15 pick, along with picks in the fourth (114 overall) and sixth round (172), Seattle selected speedy pass rusher West Virginia's Bruce Irvin.

Last year, Seattle selected Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter with the team's No. 25 overall pick, even though several draft analysts had him rated as a second-round prospect.

In need of pass-rush help after finishing tied for 19th in total sacks last year with 33, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll believes he secured the best pass rusher in this year's draft.

At 6-3, 245 pounds, Irvin finished with 22.5 sacks in 26 games at West Virginia, including 14 in 2010. Irvin was an All-Big East Conference first-team selection by the league's coaches as a senior.

Carroll said he recruited Irvin out of Mt. San Antonio Junior College while at USC and developed a relationship with the 22 year old from Atlanta, Ga.

"He's a fantastic football player," Carroll said. "He's a great pass rusher. The speed that he brings is so unique and so rare. When he had his opportunities to show it in college, he came out as the best pass rusher in America. That's something that we're really excited about.

"The fact that I've known him for so long and have background with the kid - I know what he's been through as John (Schneider) mentioned - I feel like we've got a guy that we had interest in from a lot of areas. This guy's going to be a great asset to the program."

One of the reasons Irvin was considered a second-round prospect was his troubled past. Irvin said he dabbled in drugs and crime as a teenager.

Irvin's mother kicked him out of the house during that time and he dropped out of school. He only played three games at wide receiver his sophomore year, and was ineligible the next two years at Stockbridge High in Atlanta.

But Irvin eventually turned his life around, earned his GED and made his way to Mt. San Antonio Junior College, where he developed into one of the best pass college pass rushing prospects.

"I went through a lot of stuff in my life," Irvin said. "I've seen a lot of stuff, man. If the average person went through what I went through, they would not be on this phone with you right now.

"I could have chosen right, but I chose to go left. And when I chose to go left, I told God that I wasn't going back to what was trying to suck me in. I just surrounded myself with a lot of positive people."

M Seattle considered trading back again at No. 15, but teams like the N.Y. Jets, Chicago and New England likely had Irvin in their sights in the second half of the draft, and the Seahawks could have lost their player if they moved back too far.

"We were extremely excited," Seattle general manager John Schneider said. "We didn't want to get too cute with it. Obviously we viewed him as the best pass rusher in the draft. ... There was a certain area we thought we could get to. And then we talked about going back again, but then we decided to just go ahead and lock it down.

"We had this guy rated as one of the top players in the draft."

Carroll compared Irvin to Denver's Von Miller in terms of his get-off and ability to rush the passer. But he understands that Irvin is not a finished product, and will have to learn the different aspects of playing pass coverage.

Irvin will backup defensive end Chris Clemons, and will line up opposite Clemons on third down, similar to how Seattle used Raheem Brock last year.

Carroll said he plans on using Irvin the same way he used Clay Matthews at USC, as mostly a rusher who drops at times into coverage.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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