## The Explosion Numbers for Linebackers from the 2012 NFL Combine

Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets recovers a fumbled snap in the second quarter against Von Miller of the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

For the final part of the trifecta regarding the Explosion Number series, we come to the Linebackers. I decided to cover both the Inside and Outside Linebackers and I hope it doesn't turn into an epic sized read. Since there are charts involved, I think it will be broken up enough to keep your attention. As is my wont, I will present the material, point out a few highlights, but generally leave most of the interpretation for you. In this way, I hope to not only educate, but improve the quality of your evaluations and ultimately make better Mock Drafters out of all who care to exercise their rationale.

To refresh. the Explosion Number comes from noted sportswriter Pat Kirwan and specifically, his book "Take your eye off the Ball." It is an easy read and very informative if you are interested

Bench Press Reps + Vertical Jump + Broad Jump = The Explosion Number (70 or better)

This formula states that combining the number of bench-press reps, the vertical jump, and the broad jump of a player together, equals a measurable of that players explosiveness at the snap and changing directions. If the total is 70+ you may have someone special on your hands.

I have another formula to introduce that may make the flow of this post wander a little bit, but we are covering both Linebacking positions and I will do my best to tie it all back together. My buddy Lars (One.Cool.Customer from Blogging the Boys) shared this formula with me last year. It's from an article by Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly.

Lateral Agility uses the differential between the 40-yard dash time and the 20-yard shuttle to get a better feel for the lateral agility of a player, as the differential provides information beyond simple long speed and short-area quickness. It goes like this:

40-YARD DASH TIME - 20-YARD SHUTTLE TIME = LATERAL AGILITY

By comparing a player's 40-yd dash and 20-yd shuttle, an opinion can begin to be formed about their speed relative to their quickness. The opinion would be honing in on the abstraction of "explosiveness." Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 is considered to have outstanding lateral agility. If the number is higher, it is an indicator that the player has more quickness, if it is lower, chances are you are dealing with straight line speed. In other words, players with low differentials are often viewed as more tight-hipped, which tends to allow them to perform better running the 40 than it would laterally in a shuttle.

Now to get the last evaluating table out there before we get to the players. Here are the Target Numbers for evaluating Linebackers at the NFL Combine.

Drill Significance ILB OLB
40-yard dash Speed over distance 4.80 4.70
10-Yd Split (40) Initial quickness 1.70 1.65
20-Yd Split (40) Maintain burst 2.75 2.70
225-lb. Bench press Upper body strength 24.0 23.0
Vertical jump Explosiveness, leg strength 33" 36"
Broad jump Explosiveness, leg strength 9'6 9'9
20-Yd shuttle Flexibility, burst, balance 4.20 4.10
60-Yd shuttle Flexibility, balance, endurance 11.7 11.4
3-cone drill Agility, change of direction 7.20 7.10

We'll begin with the Outside Linebackers. You will see a few names that may or may not belong on the Defensive End post earlier this week. In some cases, those players were ranked as OLB's in the draft rank sites and in others, that is the position they were invited to the draft as. I chose to put those players that fit the Outside Linebacker metric better, to project here. The only thing that really matters, is that they are listed. You can always go back and compare apples at the Defensive Ends post if you like. I added the Lateral Agility column on the right side of these charts, along with the Production Ratio. However, the players are sorted by their individual Explosion Numbers. Thus it will take some interpretation to filter through those numbers along with their Overall Rankings. It should give you a nice view into where these guys will fall in the draft.

OVR Name Exp. # Comb. 40 Bench Vertical Broad 20-Yd Shut 3-cone P. Ratio LA
86 Demario Davis 82.83 4.61 32 38.5 12'4 4.28 7.19 0.61 0.33
285 Miles Burris 80.67 4.73 31 37.5 12'1 1.32
383 Ryan Baker 75.25 4.88 30 34.0 11'3 4.35 7.21 0.50 0.53
109 Keenan Robinson 74.50 4.79 27 35.5 12'0 0.55
9 Melvin Ingram 73.25 4.79 28 34.5 10'9 4.18 6.83 1.12 0.61
82 Nigel Bradham 73.08 4.64 24 37.0 12'1 4.37 7.18 0.57 0.27
257 Darius Fleming 71.83 4.77 27 33.5 11'4 4.28 7.03 0.96 0.49
169 Emmanuel Acho 71.17 4.73 24 35.5 11'8 0.99
293 Tahir Whitehead 70.33 4.70 21 37.0 12'4 4.37 7.14 0.65 0.33
156 Travis Lewis 70.17 4.88 22 36.0 12'2 0.90
114 Kyle Wilber 70.08 4.86 25 33.5 11'7 4.31 7.11 1.14 0.55
363 Brandon Marshall 69.17 4.81 28 30.5 10'8 4.09 7.05 0.76 0.72
64 Bruce Irvin (DE) 68.75 4.50 23 33.5 12'3 4.03 6.70 2.06 0.47
194 Brandon Lindsey (DE) 67.58 4.93 23 33.0 11'7 4.28 7.36 1.02 0.65
45 LaVonte David 67.25 4.65 19 36.5 11'9 4.22 7.28 1.46 0.43
150 *Terrell Manning 65.83 4.79 22 32.5 11'4 4.43 7.18 1.04 0.36
80 Josh Kaddu 65.75 4.65 20 34.0 11'9 0.52
213 Tank Carder 65.58 4.69 19 34.5 12'1 4.18 6.89 0.61 0.51
134 *Jonathan Massaquoi (DE) 65.50 4.89 20 33.5 12'0 4.53 7.38 2.02 0.36
478 Nathan Stupar 63.50 4.78 21 31.0 11'6 4.28 6.84 0.38 0.50
426 Steven Johnson 62.25 4.78 16 36.0 11'3 4.38 7.32 0.41 0.40
55 Shea McClellin (DE) 62.17 4.63 19 31.5 11'8 4.33 7.07 1.05 0.30
233 Danny Trevathan 60.58 4.68 18 31.5 11'1 0.72 0

I can see just at first glance, there are a dozen players here that have the potential to help the Broncos Defense. And it looks like Melvin Ingram is the only one that might not make it to wear the Broncos have a selection. That wouldn't be a loss, especially since there are plenty of players here with similar metrics. This looks like another position that has some quality depth in it, and even though OLB is not a current immediate need for Denver, the flood of numbers would suggest we study this group, as the odds of one wearing Orange in 2012 are pretty good.

The next chart lists some of last years Outside Linebackers and their numbers. That way you have something familiar for comparison.

 Name Expl. No. 40 Time P. Ratio L.A. Von Miller 68.5 4.53 1.78 .47 Aldon Smith 63.8 4.78 2.00 .28 Akeem Ayers 58.7 4.80 1.78 .52 Justin Houston 76.8 4.68 1.61 .31 Brooks Reed INC 4.68 0.91 .40 Mark Herzlich 70.8 4.92 0.66 .45 Dontay Moch 73.7 4.44 1.99 .06 Jeremy Beal 59.3 5.16 1.62 .70 Lawrence Wilson 65.8 4.69 0.86 .19 K.J. Wright 62 4.75 0.65 .29

The Inside Linebackers are a scarce bunch this year, for whatever reason. That is why I went ahead and doubled up on this post. The dearth of talent is also the reason I think the Broncos need to address this position in Free Agency. It is not an indictment on Nate Irving, who is rumored to be progressing. But an upgrade at the MIKE is mandatory for the Broncos improvement on Defense. I would not call it a waste of financial resources to bring in a starter and let Irving beat out the veteran, or develop another year.

OVR Player Exp. # Comb. 40 Bench Vertical Broad 20-Yd Shut 3-cone P. Ratio LA
14 *Luke Kuechly 77.25 4.58 27 38.0 12'3 4.12 6.92 1.00 0.46
91 Mychal Kendricks 76.08 4.47 24 39.5 12'7 4.19 0.98 0.28
133 James-Michael Johnson 72.33 4.68 23 37.0 12'4 4.37 7.34 0.83 0.31
370 Caleb McSurdy 67.00 4.97 26 30.0 11'0 4.28 7.26 0.38 0.69
253 Shawn Loiseau 62.25 4.85 19 32.5 10'9 1.25
152 Audie Cole 61.33 4.81 15 35.0 11'4 4.29 6.96 0.90 0.52
191 Chris Galippo 59.08 4.87 19 29.5 10'7 4.10 6.90 0.33 0.77
61 Sean Spence 57.25 4.71 12 33.5 11'9 4.28 7.46 1.22 0.43
116 *Vontaze Burflict 5.09 30.0 10'4 0.80
29 *Dont'a Hightower 4.68 32.0 0.59
244 Najae Goode 4.64 35.5 11'7 0.59 0.00

As you can see from the chart above and below, Nate Irving would rank in the top three spots against this group. In fact, if the Broncos couldn't get Luke Kuechly, I would look elsewhere. Which is pretty much why I suggested Free Agency in the first place. Hightower is a 3-4 ILB and much too big for the typecast of a John Fox Linebacker. (He is similar to Mario Haggan in size).

Here are the Inside Linebackers from last year for comparison.

 Player Expl. No. P. Ratio 40 Time L.A. Aaron Curry 72.3 1.08 4.56 .05 Brian Cushing 75 0.81 4.66 1.24 Clay Matthews 68.5 0.41 4.62 .44 Rolando McClain 68.1 0.94 4.68 .30 Sean Weatherspoon 84.3 0.90 4.62 .24 Lee Robinson 65.8 1.53 4.88 Jason Hunter 67.2 1.25 4.88 David Veikune 77.2 1.03 4.72 .29 Nate Irving 67.3 1.40 4.74 .49

There you have it. Consume it, enjoy it and apply it to your next Mock. The next stop is Free Agency.

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