Force Players is an athletic threshold based off of combine performances of pass-rushers that I’ve been working on since 2011. It isn’t the end all be all for edge defenders, but it’s close. It works as a healthy risk analysis, based on a sample of the 2005 through 2015 draft classes.
I often get asked if Player X is a Force Player or not, so I decided to make a definitive list for the coming 2016 season, now that the draft is over. I included the the Prodigy status of individual pass-rushers and what their peak sack average is, taken from Force Players: Sack Study.
We can say that there’s a fairly definitive line for success for pass-rushers who are X athletic with X production at X age.
The trend is pretty simple, In just about every case, Force Players double non-Force Players in sack output of their best three seasons when split by round. Judging by the number of active players in each category and the success of pass-rushers from the 2015 and 2014 draft classes, the numbers should only rise over the next few years.
- Players who are 23-year-olds or younger were highlighted in the “Age” column.
- Players who have posted fewer than three seasons in the NFL were highlighted in the “Average” column.
- Players who began their NFL careers at the age of 24 or older were automatically placed in the non-Prodigy categories, but have been noted with “No-Age” in the “Prodigy Pass” column.
If this trend keeps up to the standard of the last decade or so, the players in make or break seasons are:
- Force Players: Frank Clark (Seattle), Randy Gregory (Dallas), Shaq Riddick (Arizona) and Trevor Bates (Indianapolis)
- Mid Tiers: Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh) and Stephen Weatherly (Minnesota)
Force Players need to hit a four-sack single-season mark before they begin a regular season as 24-year-olds before they’re on track for success, while Mid Tiers need to hit a 5.5-sack single-season mark.
Here are players who have similar athleticism when compared to best pass-rushers in the league, but are 22 years old or younger:
- Force Players: Shaq Lawson (Buffalo), Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona), Danielle Hunter (Minnesota-already passed Prodigy filter), Dean Lowry (Green Bay) and Tyrone Holmes (Jacksonville)
- Mid Tiers: Jonathan Bullard (Chicago)
One player, Bronson Kaufusi, is over the age of 23, and begins his rookie season with elite athleticism.