(I’d like to start this by saying that I’m a big Joey Bosa fan, and he was my top edge defender in the 2016 draft class.)
Based on athletic potential, you can tell a lot about pass-rushing prospects.
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.
Using Force Players to split up different categories of pass-rushers, you’ll find that athletic draft prospects selected early in the draft are about twice as productive at their peaks as their counterparts.
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.
Using Force Players to split up different categories of pass-rushers, you’ll find that athletic draft choices selected early in the draft are eight times more likely to still be on their original team by their sixth year in the NFL (equivalent to seeing a second contract after a fifth-year option for this generation’s first-round picks.)
7.1 percent of those non-Force Players were still with their original franchise during their sixth NFL season. You’re 8.32 times more likely to still be on your original franchise in your sixth season in the league if you’re a first- or second-round Force Player compared to a non-Force Player.
You can also essentially pin down if a pass-rusher is or isn’t go to “make it” in the league by his productivity relative to his athleticism at the age of 23.
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.
So how does that help us view this draft class? Specifically looking at the 2016 pool, using first-round numbers alone (since 2005), we can claim that:
- There’s a 61 percent chance that Shaq Lawson is going to average around 13 sacks in his three best seasons in the statistic (about Shawne Merriman or Clay Matthews), while there’s a 39 percent chance that he’s going to average around 4.5 sacks in his three best seasons (about Manny Lawson.)
- There’s a 82 percent chance that Joey Bosa and Leonard Floyd are going to average around three sacks in their three best seasons in the statistic (about Derrick Harvey), while there’s an 18 percent chance that they’re going to average around 11 sacks in their three best seasons (about Chandler Jones.)
- Leonard Floyd, who is turning 24 years old before Week 1, should have been producing in the NFL at a seven-sack rate last season to be conducive to next level success, but he was instead playing as an off the ball linebacker in college football in 2015.
As pure pass-rushers, there odds seem to be against San Diego’s Joey Bosa and Chicago’s Leonard Floyd, but in favor of Buffalo’s Shaq Lawson.