Immediately after Bruce Irvin was signed by the Raiders, he raved about Ken Norton Jr and how the switch to linebacker saved his career. That's where he is expected to line up for the Raiders and Tuesday in an interview with Sirius XM he let it be known that the Raiders were planning on using him the way he prefers to be used - as a pass rusher.
"I was drafted to be a pass rusher, but with the situation in Seattle, they brought in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett," said Irvin as reported by CSN Bay Area.
This turn of events took Irvin away from his role as a pass-rushing end and placed him in more coverage linebacker roles- such as the type we saw Neiron Ball fill when he was healthy last season.
Irvin succeeded in his new role in Seattle because he is extremely athletic and quick, but it isn't what he likes to do on the football field.
Irvin said that he felt that if he had stayed in the Seattle system that he would never "be the player I think I can be being a pass rusher." The interesting thing about Seattle's dealings with Irvin is that coming out of college he was considered solely a pass rusher, with no other NFL-level skills to speak of. Irvin showed that all of his skills were pro-level, but he hardly ever got to use his best one- his ability to rush the quarterback.
That will all change this season in Oakland. "Coach Del Rio watched film of me and noticed I was dropping into coverage a lot. That's one of the things he wanted to change," said Irvin.
Seattle had the luxury of using Bruce Irvin in a coverage role because their secondary is top-notch and they also got plenty of pressure with their front four. Oakland is likely to take a more aggressive approach and unleash both Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack in rushing roles on most plays, as we have seen Kansas City do with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali or Denver with Von Miller and Demarcus Ware.
We will see if Mack and Irvin can reach the standards set by their division mates, but Mack and Irvin should cause headaches for offensive coordinators and offensive linemen alike this coming season.