We continue our 2017-18 NFL previews by examining Oakland Raiders’ Bruce Irvin’s past, present, and future.
The Past: Irvin joined the Raiders last season after spending his first four seasons with Seattle. In 2016, Irvin enjoyed his most productive year as a pro after being reunited with defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Irvin combined for 57 tackles and 7.0 sacks, led the NFL in forced fumbles with 6 (also breaking a team record).
The Present: The Raiders are one of the favorites in the AFC this season, and Irvin is a key cog in an improving defense. He and Khalil Mack combine to make one of the most fearsome pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Not only that, but the two players combined to lead the NFL in stops last season with 79.
The Raiders placed Irvin on the NFI list with an undisclosed injury to start training camp, and he has yet to practice with the team.
The Future: While we have had our eyes on Irvin for the past five seasons, others around the league are starting to take notice of his improvement, fit in the Raiders’ defense, and athletic talents. So much so, in fact, that NFL.com’s Marc Sessler predicts that Irvin will make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career:
Bruce Irvin, edge rusher: It’s somewhat surprising Irvin was never included in the annual haul of Pro Bowlers in Seattle. This could be the former first-rounder’s time, though, with the quarterback chaser coming off a seven-sack season for a buzzy Raiders team with Super Bowl aspirations. Playing across from Khalil Mack will only help as teams dedicate extra resources to shutting down Oakland’s young All-Pro. Irvin has the talent — and is in the right situation — to put up double-digit sacks for a club that will spend all year in the spotlight.
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Adam Pacman Jones