By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks, widely panned for a number of their selections, received a C-minus from Mel Kiper when the ESPN analyst assigned grades to each team following the 2012 draft. No other team received a worse grade.
Bruce Irvin, the 15th overall pick, showed promise as a pass rusher during his rookie season with the Seahawks. (AP)
Kiper has since changed his tune – on the Seahawks' draft as a whole, at least. The Seahawks were one of three teams to receive an A when Kiper re-graded the draft last week (his piece is available to ESPN Insiders only).
But he's still unsold on Irvin and the Seahawks' decision to draft him with the 15th pick.
"There's no question Irvin can rush the passer, but that's really all he can do, and I still don't see him as a good value at that spot because he's so one-dimensional," Kiper wrote last week.
Irvin, playing mostly as a situational pass rusher, led all rookies with eight regular-season sacks, only one coming over the final six games. He had one more in Seattle's playoff win over Washington. Irvin was less effective when an injury forced him into Chris Clemons' everydown role as the starting weak-side defensive end the following week against Atlanta. His performance in that game didn't exactly ease concerns about his ability to hold up against the run.
The strength of Irvin's rookie season is worth exploring – less for what it says about the decision to draft him 15th overall and more for assessing his viability as an everydown player.
The Seahawks drafted Irvin to be Clemons' eventual replacement. Clemons' knee injury could accelerate that process if he has to begin next season on the physically unable to perform list and Seahawks determine that Irvin is their best option.
"We shouldn't write off what they think Bruce Irvin's going to become," Mike Sando, who covers the NFC West for ESPN.com, told "Bob and Groz" on Monday. "I think to judge Bruce Irvin as Chris Clemons' replacement in the 'leo' off of the Atlanta game only or a game and a half late in the year of trying to make a total adjustment to the other side under less than ideal circumstance is premature, too.
"Maybe he makes an accelerated move into the lineup on that side and people will question it, but they also questioned it when they drafted him."
The video below includes additional thoughts on Irvin's rookie season from Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby.
You can listen to Tuesday's show here.