* Let’s start with the big trade. WAS now moves up to the #2 pick. STL drops down to #6. Here’s what we “know”:
1 – IND – QB Andrew Luck
2 – WAS – QB Robert Griffin III
3 – MIN – OT Matt Kalil
After that, things open up. CLE is basically on the clock. I lean toward them going for CB Morris Claiborne, but I think you have to mention a couple of other possibilities. You wonder if they think Justin Blackmon can be the playmaking WR they need. I’ve compared him to Anquan Boldin. I think Blackmon can be very good, but is he worth the #4 overall pick to a team with other holes?
The other possibility is taking QB Ryan Tannehill. Colt McCoy has shown flashes, but after 2 years he has yet to prove he’s “the guy”. The Browns should upgrade if possible. They could sign Matt Flynn as a FA. They did show a lot of interest in Brandon Weeden and he could be a target at pick 22. Or the team could go for Tannehill at #4. I don’t think Tannehill is worth pick 4, but as the Skins just showed…you have to overpay to get QBs in the NFL these days. Tannehill is ideally worth a mid-1st round pick.
What about Tampa with pick #5? That’s a team we don’t know about because they have a new coach. RB Trent Richardson would make a lot of sense, but do you spend the 5th overall pick on a RB in today’s NFL? If Claiborne gets to 5, he would make a ton of sense. Maybe the Bucs go for Blackmon.
The Rams would certainly love to get either Blackmon or Claiborne at #6, but there is a very real possibility that both will be gone. I know Jeff Fisher loves to run the ball, but I’m not sure he’d go for Richardson that high. The Rams have some good edge rushers, but could use an impact DT. Would they go for Dontari Poe or Fletcher Cox that early? OL could be a possibility, but the drop-off from Kalil is big and I’m not sure anyone else is worth a Top 10 pick.
Free agency will affect these plans quite a bit so nothing is written in stone. Lots of intrigue.
* * * * *
West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin is an interesting subject. He played WR in high school and then moved to defense in JC. He proved to be a dominant DE at that level, as you might imagine. West Va left him on defense.
Irvin is just 6’3, 245. You can look at him and see where he used to be a WR in HS. He still has a sleek, athletic frame. Irvin is a pure speed rusher. I don’t project him as a starter in the NFL. I don’t think he can be a functional run defender as a DE.
Even as a LB I’ve got my concerns. I just don’t see Irvin as a strong, physical player. I can’t imagine a 4-3 team would want him at SAM. 3-4 teams would love him as an edge rusher, but even they would want him to be a better run defender. 3-4 OLBs must be able to set the edge. Irvin hasn’t shown that he can do this.
Teams who value his pass rush ability may roll the dice anyway. Irvin had 22.5 sacks in 2 years. He also had 5 FFs. He is a very good athlete. He ran a blazing 4.50 in the 40 at the Combine. I think Irvin’s best role would be as a situational rusher. He is tailor made for the Wide 9 defensive front used by the Lions and Eagles. They let the DEs go out wide, get in a track stance, and fire off the edge (which is what he mostly did at WVa). You could also look at the way Seattle uses Chris Clemons as a role that Irvin could eventually handle.
If you don’t line him up wide, Irvin has to beat blockers with more than speed and angles. He struggles with that. Irvin doesn’t use his hands well. He’s not someone who will shed blocks with strength and leverage. He is at his best getting under/by blockers. He truly is a speed rusher.
Irvin could go as early as the 2nd or late as the 4th. It will be interesting to see where he goes and how they use him. Could be a heck of a role player for someone.