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)
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
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.
|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|
|OVR||Name||Exp. #||Comb. 40||Bench||Vertical||Broad||20-Yd Shut||3-cone||P. Ratio||LA|
|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|
|134||*Jonathan Massaquoi (DE)||65.50||4.89||20||33.5||12'0||4.53||7.38||2.02||0.36|
|55||Shea McClellin (DE)||62.17||4.63||19||31.5||11'8||4.33||7.07||1.05||0.30|
|Name||Expl. No.||40 Time||P. Ratio||L.A.|
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|
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.
There you have it. Consume it, enjoy it and apply it to your next Mock. The next stop is Free Agency.