Nate Irving, LB, NC State
6’1 230 lbs #56 Redshirt Senior
10/2/2010 – Virginia Tech at NC State
Say what you want about his size, but Nate Irving somehow finds a way to keep blockers off of him. He has the physicality to hold his ground at the POA, but he also has the athleticism to keep himself clean in space. In the first quarter Virginia Tech ran a simple dive with David Wilson. The play set up perfectly for the Hokies because both DTs got washed out of the play by the OGs while Senior OC Beau Warren was able to reach the 2nd level to man up on Irving. Warren tried to engage Irving, but Irving pulled off a Dwight Freeney-esque spin move that left Warren in the dust. Unfortunately, Wilson made a nice move in the hole to avoid Irving’s tackle, but Irving displayed impressive agility and athleticism with that effort. This guy is just a thumper. On the very next play Virginia Tech ran a playaction pass, but there was nothing open downfield. Tyrod Taylor was forced to dump the ball off to David Wilson, and who is there? Nate Irving to lower the boom. Wilson is completely stopped in his tracks and the crowd erupts. He doesn’t stop there. On the very next play Virginia Tech ran a delayed handoff to David Wilson and Irving read it perfectly. NC State ran a cross blitz with Irving and Terrell Manning and it happened to be the perfect play call because Tech didn’t have enough blockers to pick both of these guys up. Manning got blocked, but Irving was left unaccounted for. Just as Wilson received the football, Irving was able to knife through the line to take Wilson down for a loss. Irving’s instincts are tremendous. Interestingly enough, NC State even uses him as a situational pass rusher with his hand in the dirt. Late in the 1st quarter with Virginia Tech looking at a 3rd and 8, suddenly you see Nate Irving move from his LB spot to the line in a 3 point stance at LE. Irving wasn’t able to get after Tyrod Taylor, but he commanded a double team. Late in the 2nd quarter he made another bone-crushing hit to rile up the crowd once again. Virginia Tech called a designed roll-out and Tyrod Taylor had trouble finding someone open. The tremendous coverage by the Wolfpack secondary allowed Nate Irving to track Taylor down and he just laid him out. As Taylor threw the ball, Irving lowered his shoulder and he just ran through Taylor’s chest. It was a punishing hit that left Taylor on the ground sucking wind. On the very next play Irving was able to get to Taylor before he got the ball away and he flung him down for the Sack. What a dominating performance. He ended the day with 13 total tackles, 3 TFLs and a Sack.
- Short area quickness and agility
- Plays the game with a mean-streak
- Awesome instincts
- Needs to bulk up
- Terrible injury history
- Average speed
On June 28th, 2009, Nate Irving’s life flashed before his eyes. After visiting his family in his hometown of Wallace, North Carolina, Nate Irving decided to drive back home to NC State’s campus in Raleigh. A sleep-deprived Irving attempted to make the late night trip back home, but he never made it. 30 miles away from Raleigh, Irving fell asleep behind the wheel and his SUV drove off the side of the road and hit 2 trees. His car was completely dismantled. He woke up in a Raleigh hospital with a separated shoulder, a collapsed lung, cracked ribs and a compound fracture in his left leg. He was lucky to be alive and his football future was in serious doubt. With a tall mountain to climb, Irving never quit. He fought his way through a grueling rehab process for 8 months and by March of 2010 he was ready to get back on the field. It took him a while to get his legs back, but by the 4th game of the season (at Georgia Tech) he was officially back. He ended that game with a career-high 16 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and 2 Sacks. With that performance he was named the National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. His resilience is inspiring and now that his legs are underneath him, his draft stock is on the rise. He is a true physical presence and he has the ability to play multiple LB spots in the NFL. He is a punishing hitter that plays much bigger than his listed weight. His short area quickness and agility allow him to be an absolute force at the LOS. He not only can stack and shed in the hole, but he can also run around you. I don’t see him wowing at the combine, but on the field he plays fast and downhill. He plays the game with an attitude and his aggressive demeanor comes through with every hit that he makes. His incredible instincts allow him to dissect plays quickly which makes him even that much more dangerous. With all that being said though he’s only listed at 230 pounds and that will hurt his stock. He will need to bulk up if he wants to hold up in the NFL. His injury history will also scare some teams as well. He suffered multiple injuries in that terrible car crash and in 2008 he also missed nearly every game in October with various ailments. In short areas he is incredibly quick, but his straight line speed is only average. His timed speed won’t help his stock. It’s not a popular opinion, but I honestly believe that Nate Irving is the best MLB prospect in this draft. His style of play screams immediate contributor. If I am a team in need of a LB in the 2011 draft, whether it’s at ILB or OLB, I am looking long and hard at Nate Irving.