Nate Irving to Denver Broncos: 2011 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Thomas EmerickSenior WriterApril 29, 2011

Nate Irving's resilient college career ended with a strong senior year at inside linebacker for the Wolfpack, and helped him begin his pro career as a third-round pick by the Denver Broncos at No. 67. The N.C. State star's 2009 season ended early after a car accident sidelined the him with a broken leg, collapsed lung and a separated shoulder, but he came back strong in 2010 with 92 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks en route to a third-team Associate Press All-America nod.

Irving possesses good speed for an inside linebacker, and shows knack for reading plays both before and as they start to develop.The 6-1, 240-pounder has more the speed to play outside backer than he does the size to power through interior lineman and fullbacks, as further explained by in the USA Today NFL Draft Preview special edition.

"Irving has experience playing inside and outside linebacker. He has good instincts and responds quickly against running plays. He has good vision, balance and pure acceleration to shoot through gaps and tackle for a loss. He might lack the bulk and strength to play inside for a pro team."

New sherriff in Denver John Fox adds another piece to a defense that was miserable in 2010: first with linebacker Von Miller at No. 2, safety Rahim Moore at No. 45 and eventually Irving at No. 67. If Elvis Dumervil can recover to 2009 form when he led the league in sacks, this unit is suddenly primed for a turnaround under defensive wizard Fox.