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2011 NFL Combine: Using The Explosion Number For Broncos Linebacker Draft Prospects

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Martez Wilson of Illinois works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Martez Wilson of Illinois works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Watching Monday's coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine, I have to admit being very impressed with Von Miller. I am not so sure it would be wise for the Broncos to select him with the second overall pick in the draft, but if the "three legged stool" that is the Denver brain trust believes he is the second coming of Al Wilson, then I'm all for it. However, if the EFX (Elway, Fox, Xanders) team are just looking for a pass rushing Linebacker, they should take a long hard look at Dontay Moch. That guy is the ultimate definition of "Tweener." Anyway, before I get caught up in favorites, let me show you how the top rated Linebacker prospects graded out using Pat Kirwan's Explosion Number equation. Ready Jump.

As noted in Kirwan's  book, "Take your eyes off the Ball," this number shows how explosive an athlete's first step is in comparison to the other prospects at the same position. It is not meant to be a teams primary factor in their rating system, but if they have one or more players with similar appraisals, the Explosion Number can be the deciding point. The principle looks like this:

Bench Press Reps + Vertical Jump + Broad Jump = Explosion Number

I will begin with the Outside Linebacker prospects, followed by some position players from the past two seasons and a few current Broncos whose stats I could find. I think you may find some surprises there. After that, I will list the prospects at the Inside Linebacker position. I also included the Production Ratio that I used in my earlier posts. So pass the Potatoes and don't forget to eat your peas, here comes the main dish.

OVR Name Pos. Bench Vertical Broad Expl. No. 40 Time P. Ratio
6 Von Miller OLB 21 37" 10'6" 68.5 4.53 1.78
16 Aldon Smith OLB 20 34" 9'10" 63.8 4.78 2.00
26 Akeem Ayers OLB 18 31" 9'8" 58.7 4.80 1.78
28 Justin Houston OLB 30 36.5" 10'5" 76.8 4.68 1.61
48 Brooks Reed OLB DNP 30.5" 9'5" INC 4.68 0.91
80 Mark Herzlich OLB 29 32.5" 9'4" 70.8 4.92 0.66
86 Dontay Moch OLB 21 42" 10'8" 73.7 4.44 1.99
102 Jeremy Beal OLB 22 28.5" 8'10" 59.3 5.16 1.62
107 Lawrence Wilson OLB 24 32.5" 9'5" 65.8 4.69 0.86
109 K.J. Wright OLB 20 32" 10'0" 62 4.75 0.65
125 Mason Foster OLB 22 21" 10'3" 53.3 4.75 0.98
157 Ross Homan OLB 32 35.5" 9'3" 76.7 4.65 0.41
172 Chris Carter OLB 27 36" 9'6" 72.5 4.62 1.17

The bold black numbers are optimal level and the red bold stats are at the fringe area. It should be noted that a poor number in one category only makes it more important to see if the trend continues across the table. You can see that Von Miller comes up a touch short of the ideal 70 Explosion Number and his Bench Press is rather low for a pass rusher. However, considering his leadership skills and the low 40 Time, one would have to look at how he uses his leverage. Dontay Moch had a less than ideal Bench number too, but he nearly lapped the field with the rest of his workout. Justin Houston looked very good and I'm sure he will move up a few spots. The big surprise has to be Chris Carter from Fresno State. They might not be a major college powerhouse, but those farm boys from central California can play tough football. Akeem Ayers put up an underachieving workout that couldn't have helped his cause, but he did a better job during the position drill session.

Now I have some Linebackers from previous drafts as well as  a few current Broncos for you to scrutinize.

Player Bench Vertical Broad Expl. No. 40 Time P. Ratio
Aaron Curry 25 37" 8'6" 72.3 4.56 1.08
Brian Cushing 30 35" 10'0" 75 4.66 0.81
Clay Matthews 23 33.5" 10'1" 68.5 4.62 0.41
Rolando McClain 24 35" 9'1" 68.1 4.68 0.94
Brandon Spikes DNP 29 9'3" INC 5.05 0.81
Donald Butler 35 DNP DNP DNP 4.62 0.70
Pat Angerer 26 35" 9'2" 70.1 4.71 0.45
Sean Weatherspoon 34 40" 10'3" 84.3 4.62 0.90
Lee Robinson 24 32.5" 9'5" 65.8 4.76 1.53
Jason Hunter 22 35" 10'2" 67.2 4.88 1.25
Mario Haggan 21 33" 9'2" 63.2 4.88 Unknown
David Veikune 35 33" 9'2 77.2 4.72 1.03
D.J. Williams DNP 38" 9'9" INC 4.54 0.70
Wesley Woodyard DNP 30" 9'10" INC 4.51 0.31

I'm betting that you are at least slightly puzzled after looking at the Bronco stats here. It's okay you can close your mouth now. It looks like the Linebacking Corps isn't as lacking as some thought. I do think a new Mike Linebacker is required in the Broncos new 4-3 look, and any position can always use an upgrade, but unless one of the better prospects drops in their lap during the middle rounds, they may have to wait until next years draft for some young meat and try to obtain one or two players in Free Agency, whenever that occurs.

OVR Name Pos. Bench Vertical Broad Expl. No. 40 Time P. Ratio
38 Martez Wilson ILB 23 36" 10'4" 69.3 4.49 0.76
58 Greg Jones ILB 21 31.5" 9'9" 62.2 4.75 1.21
89 Quan Sturdivant ILB 21 34" 9'7" 64.5 DNP 0.75
108 Colin McCarthy ILB 23 36.5" 9'11" 69.3 4.64 0.77
136 Kelvin Sheppard ILB 22 33.5" 9'2" 64.5 DNP 0.59
147 Nate Irving ILB DNP DNP DNP INC DNP 1.40
162 Casey Matthews ILB 13 DNP DNP INC DNP 0.79
200 Mike Mohamed ILB 21 32" 9'7" 62.5 4.73 0.54
245 Chris White ILB 17 34" 9'7" 60.5 4.68 0.90
264 Nick Bellore ILB 23 32.5" 9'1" 64.5 4.84 0.35
270 Scott Lutrus ILB DNP 38" 10'1" INC 4.68 0.79
288 Akeem Dent ILB 24 37.5" 10'3" 71.7 DNP 0.35
297 Greg Lloyd ILB 22 32" 9'1" 63.3 4.84 0.50

Martez Wilson and Colin McCarthy's numbers are strong all the way across the table until you get to the Production Ratio. It all depends on the scheme of course, but many Inside Linebacker's aren't called on to rush the passer, but hold their ground and make lots of tackles. In fact, for a little more depth, go over and look at the numbers from my
Production Ratio post  on the Linebackers. Go ahead, it'll only take a moment.

Alright where were we...Oh yeah.

It was reported that Casey Matthews hurt what was already a mildly dislocated shoulder during the Bench Press trial and had to end his Combine early. He won't require surgery, but it is unknown if he will be healthy enough for Oregon's Pro day, March 11th.
Sporting News is calling it a subluxation, or a partial dislocation of the joint.

I wasn't too impressed by LSU's Kelvin Sheppard during high profile games against Alabama and Auburn this season. He got caught in the wash during some plays and over pursued on others. He is a good tackler and was the Tiger's undisputed leader to rally around. IMO, he could excel with some good coaching. He certainly doesn't lack swagger.

Greg Jones had a rather disappointing Combine for being the second ranked ILB this year. I missed his positional workouts though, so I can't criticize him too harshly.

In review, the Denver Broncos possess the #2, #36, #46, #67, #184 and #194 overall picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. The current rankings suggest that the only Outside Linebacker worth grabbing at their current position is Von Miller and he would be bit of a reach at number two. Not a huge one, but a reach nonetheless. The Inside Linebackers that could fall into an optimal slot for the Broncos are Martez Wilson at #36 or #46, and Casey Matthews, whose injury could cause him to fall to the #184 or 194 picks. Otherwise, Quan Sturdivant, Colin McCarthy or Kelvin Sheppard would have to rise by the time Draft day rolls around. Scott Lutrus could be worth late round consideration too.

That's all I've got for now. I hope this helps your evaluation process for this year's Linebacking prospects.

Go Broncos!