The annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is a place for select players hoping to hear their names called in the NFL Draft to prove their worth. From Feb. 22-28, two Mountaineers will be poked, prodded, questioned, and put through a gamut of tests and drills by NFL coaches and scouts. Those players invited to the Combine are ones that the NFL deems most likely to be drafted in April.
Najee Goode and Bruce Irvin will represent the Mountaineers at this year’s Combine. Keith Tandy and Julian Miller were two surprise Mountaineers left off the invite list.
For Irvin and Goode, they both have much to prove. (I’ll have a Combine Preview on Goode in the coming days) Irvin is held in high regard as a freakish athlete who played on the defensive line during his two years at WVU and was one of the best pass rushers in the nation during that time. However, it is unknown how his game translates to the NFL. Could he be an undersized DE pass-rushing specialist? Or does his skill set translate more to a 3-4 defensive OLB?
Irvin says he has never been taught the nuances of being a pass-rusher. In WVU’s 3-3-5 stack, Irvin used a three-technique and a nice spin move to blow by blockers. In the NFL, it won’t be as simple. Over the past few weeks, Irvin has spent some time at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Disney, working with former NFL defensive linemen such as Brentson Buckner and Travis Johnson to learn proper technique.
Some of what Irvin learns in Disney may not show at the Combine, but it will later in individual private workouts with NFL teams. The one thing that I’m hearing that Irvin can do at the Combine to boost his Draft stock is to blow people away in the 40-yard dash. He ran a 4.37 at junior college combine a couple years ago. If he is able to run a sub 4.4, he will go down as the fastest LB prospect to go through the Combine in recent memory. He could also wow people in the jumping drills as well.
One area that teams will be looking at Irvin closely has nothing to do with his physical skills. Teams will be sure to question Irvin about his past. He was a high school dropout who turned to dealing drugs and armed robbery. He spent some time in juvenile jail and was kicked out of his house. One day, he decided he’d had enough of it, and got his GED before going to junior college.
Irvin has put all that in the past. He is now focused on his NFL future. His background and questions about what position he will play may cause him to slip in the Draft, but to Irvin, he knows where he fits in this Draft. One team that keeps showing up that has a big interest in Irvin is the Packers where they want someone to line up opposite of Clay Matthews.
“To be honest with you,” Irvin said, “I don’t think there are 32 players in the country who are better than me.”