FanPost

pass-rush DEs and the 2014 combine

Like I did last off-season, I am going to critically assess the defensive ends that got invited to the combine paying specific attention to the coveted edge-rushers that every team wants. While Q. Smith has the possibility of being another good edge rusher for the Broncos in 2014, I would not be surprised to the see the Broncos use a pick in the first three rounds on one of the guys that I am going to show here (or a late round pick on one of the small school rush DEs). I am not looking at the guys who are listed as LBs at the combine. Some of those guys (like Prince Shembo) play like DEs and are in the 250-260 lbs range, but they were classified as LBs for the combine. Howard Jones from Shepherd (D2) is listed some places as a DE and others as a LB. He is included here while Shembo is not. I find it strange Jones was grouped with the DEs, since his 235 lb weight makes him the smallest of the group by far.

First off, the defensive lineman (DE and DTs) did not do the 20-yd shuttle this year (not sure why) so I can't do my CoD (change of direction score) comparison with previous years. I will however be spending a fair amount of time talking about M10 (momentum at 10 yards in the 40 yd dash - which is a good measure of how quick a player's first step is). I am also going to leave out the guys who are not fitting what we need to draft (a pass-rush DE aka a weak-side DE). With Wolfe and Jackson we have two strong-side DEs under contract for next year, so guys like Tuitt, Pagan, Manumaeuna, Ramsey and Stinson (who are all 290+ lb DEs) are being left off the charts and out of the discussion. Unrein, Ayers and Mincey also might return if the market does not make them big offers, and they are all strong-side DEs who provide little in the way of pass-rush. We really don't need another strong-side DE.

The raw numbers

Height Weight Arm Length 40 time 10-yd split Bench Vert Broad 3-cone
Clowney 6-5 266 34.50 4.53 1.56 21 37.5 124 7.27
Clarke 6-6 271 34.68 4.72 1.63 22 7.26
Crichton 6-3 273 32.75 4.84 1.62 24 31.5 108 7.19
Ealy 6-4 273 34.25 4.92 1.66 22 31.0 114 6.83
Edebali 6-2 253 32.75 4.79 1.64 19 34.5 115 7.20
Enemkpali 6-1 261 33.13 5.01 1.75 28 34.0 112 7.67
Ford 6-2 252 32.88
Gayle 6-4 259 32.38 4.70 26 37.0 122 7.19
Hart 6-6 281 32.75 21
Jeffcoat 6-3 247 33.88 4.63 1.60 18 36.0 123 6.97
Jones 6-2 235 34.13 4.60 1.58 21 40.5 124 7.16
Lawrence 6-3 251 33.75 4.80 1.62 20 34.5 113 7.46
Lynch 6-5 249 34.00 18
Marsh 6-4 252 32.75 4.89 1.66 14 32.0 108 7.08
Martin 6-6 272 35.00 4.72 1.53 22 35.5 129 7.20
Mauro 6-6 271 33.00 5.21 1.75 21 32.0 116 7.43
Mims 6-4 260 33.50 4.95 1.69 17 27.5 109
Moore 6-5 269 33.75 4.84 1.56 23 33.5 123 7.41
Newsome 6-3 247 33.25 4.73 1.62 21 34.0 117 7.31
Sam 6-2 261 33.38 4.91 1.72 17 25.5 114 7.80
C. Smith 6-1 266 34.13 4.71 1.59 28 37.0 121 7.55
M. Smith 6-3 251 34.00 4.68 1.57 23 35.0 121 7.48
Uko 6-3 284 33.25 4.99 1.75 18 29.5 110
Webster 6-6 252 33.50 4.58 1.57 17 36.5 123 7.29
Westbrooks 6-3 267 33.25 4.90 1.75 19 29.0 110 7.30
Average 261 33.54 4.80 1.64 21 33.5 117 7.30
Min 235 32.38 4.53 1.53 14 25.5 108 6.83
Max 284 35.00 5.21 1.75 28 40.5 129 7.80

Clowney is fast, but so is Larry Webster. Kareem Martin has a really quick first step and some long arms. Michael Sam is weak and slow. Josh Mauro is really slow. Without the 20-yd shuttle, it's harder to compare short-area quickness, but Ealy and Jeffcoat both showed impressive quickness in their 3-cone drill (lower number is better int he 3-cone). They clearly stood out from the rest of the DEs. Not to pile on Michael Sam, but he was at or near the bottom in most drills and below average in every drill.

The Second Level Numbers

Height Weight Norm Bench Norm Vert True EN Effect on EN of Norm Speed
Clowney 6-5 266 23.4 38.3 72.0 3.2 126.3
Clarke 6-6 271 25.0 109.2
Crichton 6-3 273 21.7 33.0 63.8 -0.7 99.5
Ealy 6-4 273 23.9 32.5 65.9 3.4 93.2
Edebali 6-2 253 17.2 33.4 60.2 -2.9 96.1
Enemkpali 6-1 261 26.6 34.0 70.0 -1.4 82.9
Ford 6-2 252
Gayle 6-4 259 22.4 36.7 69.3 -3.9 106.2
Hart 6-6 281 19.0
Jeffcoat 6-3 247 18.7 34.0 62.9 -1.3 107.5
Jones 6-2 235 22.5 36.3 69.1 -2.8 105.0
Lawrence 6-3 251 20.5 33.1 63.0 -0.9 94.6
Lynch 6-5 249 19.0
Marsh 6-4 252 12.7 30.9 52.5 -2.5 88.1
Martin 6-6 272 25.8 37.1 73.7 5.4 109.6
Mauro 6-6 271 19.6 33.3 62.6 -0.1 73.6
Mims 6-4 260 16.9 27.4 53.4 -0.2 86.6
Moore 6-5 269 23.6 34.6 68.4 1.7 98.0
Newsome 6-3 247 20.3 32.1 62.1 -2.6 98.7
Sam 6-2 261 16.7 25.5 51.7 -0.3 89.8
C. Smith 6-1 266 29.9 37.8 77.8 2.7 108.1
M. Smith 6-3 251 24.3 33.6 67.9 -0.1 104.6
Uko 6-3 284 17.4 32.2 58.8 2.1 91.6
Webster 6-6 252 16.9 35.2 62.4 -1.4 114.5
Westbrooks 6-3 267 18.3 29.7 57.2 0.0 92.6
Average 261 20.9 33.5 64.0 -0.1 98.9
Min 235 12.7 22.8 51.7 -3.9 73.6
Max 284 29.9 44.3 77.8 5.4 126.3

If you've read my previous combine analyses, you know that I don't like the bench without normalization because it rewards guys with short arms while penalizing guys with long arms. The bench press test at the combine is measuring how many times you can press 225 lbs. This is a matter of simple physics that guys with longer arms have to do more work to raise the bar 25 times than guys with shorter arms. That is why I normalize bench results (normalized by arm length). I also normalize vertical jump results for weight. Lighter guys should be able to jump higher than heavier guys since gravity is a constant. So a 260 lbs DE than can jump 35 inches is no where near as impressive as a 300 DE who can jump the same distance. Both of these normalizations are done to give you a TRUE Explosion Number - TEN (this is to compare to explosion number, which is simply bench reps + vertical (in inches) + broad (in feet).

Notice that while Clowney was above average for this group of DEs, he was not the best in terms of TEN. Chris Smith, from Arkansas, had the best TEN of the DEs this year. While 77.8 is good, it is not in the top 10 for DEs over the past decade. Chris Smith definitely helped his draft stock at the combine. I'm curious to see how far up he moves.

M10

M10 is just another way to measure how good of a size/speed combo a player has. Momentum is velocity times mass. M10 compares how much momentum these guys have after their first ten yards of the 40 yards dash. The best 10-yd split at the combine this year was 1.46. That makes Martin's 1.53 even more impressive. The guy who ran the 1.46, Dri Archer, weigh 100 lbs less than Kareem Martin.

Weight 10-yd split M10 (kgm/s)
Martin 272 1.53 739
Moore 269 1.56 717
Clowney 266 1.56 709
Crichton 273 1.62 700
C. Smith 266 1.59 695
Clarke 271 1.63 691
Ealy 273 1.66 684
Uko 284 1.75 675
Webster 252 1.57 667
M. Smith 251 1.57 664
Lawrence 251 1.62 644
Mauro 271 1.75 644
Jeffcoat 247 1.60 642
Edebali 253 1.64 641
Mims 260 1.69 639
Westbrooks 267 1.75 634
Newsome 247 1.62 634
Marsh 252 1.66 631
Sam 261 1.72 631
Enemkpali 261 1.75 620
Jones 235 1.58 618

Notice that four guys got better than 700. This is pretty darn good for edge rushers. If you look back over the past 5 drafts you can see how these four compare to some of the guys who are harassing QBs currently in the NFL.

Rank Name 10-yd split M10
1 Johnston, B 1.51 754
2 Perry 1.51 746
3 Martin 1.53 739
4 Long, Chris 1.53 739
5 Langford 1.62 736
6 Clayborn 1.61 725
7 Sidbury 1.53 723
8 Gholston, V. 1.53 723
9 Ansah 1.56 722
10 Dunlap 1.61 718
11 Moore 1.56 717
12 Mercilus 1.53 709
13 Johnson, M. 1.56 709
14 Clowney 1.56 709
15 Melton 1.58 708
16 Orakpo 1.56 701
17 Crichton 1.62 700
18 Curry 1.58 700
19 Taylor 1.59 695
20 McClellin 1.56 693

There are some good/great players on here (Chris Long, Kendall Langford, Henry Melton, Brian Orakpo), some mid-late rounders who didn't pan out (Brain Johnston, Michael Sidbury), some guys who didn't even get drafted (Eric Martin) and some collossal busts (Vernon Gholston). The highlighted players are in the 2014 draft.

So of those four DEs with a really quick first step, Clowney will not be around when the Broncos pick so let's not even discuss him. Chris Hart has already profiled Crichton and Martin here so I am not going to rehash them. So let's take a look at the three others in more depth: Zach Moore, Chris Smith and Larry Webster.

Zach Moore - Concordia St Paul (D2 school)

Zach got an invite to the combine based upon his freakish physical talents and his status as one of the best defensive players in the country at the D2 level. His write-up prior to the combine is listed here . The bottom line is that he is raw, but talented and could blossom into a star if given time and coaching at the NFL level. His combine performance probably moved him from UDFA to late round pick. There is a precedent in the NFL for premium edge rushers to come out of small schools (Jared Allen played at Idaho St, Demarcus Ware played at Troy St). Moore might be a steal in the late rounds

Zach Moore #90 sophmore highlights (via King50deot)

Chris Smith - Arkansas

Chris played in 43 games while at Arkansas and accounted for the these "impact stats"

21.5 sacks

20 QB hurries

7 passes defended

30.5 TFL

So using my definition of impact plays - Smith got 1.84 impact plays per game in college. Playing predominantly against SEC offensive lines, that is pretty impressive. Chris' pre-combine evaluation is here. He gets knocked for only having a speed rush, but there are few NFL edge rushers who have made a career off of little more than a speed rush. Here is some video highlights of Smith playing against LSU

Chris Smith vs LSU 2012 (via JPDraftJedi)

Larry Webster III - Bloomsburg St (D2)

Larry is the son of former NFL player Larry Webster, Jr who played eleven seasons for four NFL teams. Here is his pre-combine profile at NFL.com. Much like Julius Thomas, Larry only played two season of football in college (JT only played one) where his main sport was basketball (he is 6'6"). Bloomsburg is in the same conference as Kutztown St where former Bronco, John Mobley, played. Webster, is very raw, but for a team with time to develop him, he could turn into a steal. Again, he may go undrafted, or if he does it will probably be in the 6th or 7th. Some people project him as a player who could be converted to TE - very much like JT or Antonio Gates.

Larry Webster vs Shippensburg (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

Outside of Clowney, who, if any, of these guys are you interested in (sound off in the comments)?

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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