DavidSeven wrote:I don't think the move has as much to do with Bruce's strengths and weaknesses as it does our increased depth on defense. Last year, we were thin at DE. This year, we've loaded up with the additions of Avril and Bennett. Bruce has too much unique talent to keep him off the field, so Pete's going to find a way to get these guys looks. Theoretically, with Bruce at OLB, we could have a package that features Clemons, Avril, Bennett and Bruce on the field at the same time. Can you imagine being an opposing QB or O-lineman in that situation? Also, OP's quote points out that he'll still get looks at the DE position in obvious passing situations, so he still retains his role from his rookie season. Looks like we're training him to be an even more versatile weapon on D.
I think it's pretty clear that Irvin is being moved because of his strengths and weaknesses.
First, you don't move a 1st round pick to a new position in year two to help fill out the depth chart a little better. If Seattle needed LB help, they had the entire offseason to work that out. It's worth noting too that Seattle did not sign a single LB in free agency, not even for the minimum, and they did not spend a single draft pick on a LB in the draft either, instead opting to wait for UDFA. During the combine, Pete Carroll spoke openly about his comfort and satisfaction with the Seahawks depth chart at LB. Clearly, Pete Carroll feels pretty comfortable about his LB situation.
Second, we are much thinner at DE than we are at LB.
Our LB corps is actually pretty loaded top to bottom, and there will be some starter caliber LBs who won't make the cut for us already. Smith is starter caliber and is stuck on the bench. Bradford showed some really good things in his preseason debut last year (and Pete Carroll noticed it). Morgan is a good linebacker that can play all 3 spots. John Lotulelei was one of the most athletic LBs in the 2013 draft, and I'm very high on fellow UDFA Craig Wilkins, who runs in the 4.50s but is a pain to block. There's also Korey Toomer, who has top shelf physical talent and is a decent bet to make the team during Irvin's suspension as he has good pass rush ability.
At DE, Avril is not really a complete LEO, he's more like Irvin than Clemons- he's a pure edge rusher. He's also got a foot problem. Though Bennett would make an awesome 5-tech, it sounds like he'll see most of his reps inside at 3-tech, similar to Jason Jones. He also has a lingering shoulder problem. Clemons is 32 years old, weighs 265 pounds (listed as less online, but during broadcasts last season he was listed in the 260s), and just tore his ACL in January. That's not a recipe for a quick recovery, most likely. You look at this roster, and they'd be crazy to move Irvin away from DE if he had the same LEO capability as Chris Clemons.
Third, LB really does suit a player like Irvin much better. When given open space, he's a deadly pass rusher, but it's "game over" when a tackle wins the initial arm battle at the line. In college, Irvin compensated for that weakness with a surprisingly strong bull rush, but as is typically the case, his bull rush didn't translate to the NFL. It typically doesn't translate even for most 300 pound DTs, so I'm not surprised it didn't translate for a 245 pound featherweight DE. Getting Irvin in more open space situations where he can exploit speed is exactly the right way to handle him, IMO.