A Metrics Breakdown of Top Pass Rushers: Tier 2

Photo: Bleacher Report

The first tier of this analysis focused on some of the pass rushing prospects that could go in the first round. However, given the depth of this draft, prospects picked in the second and third rounds could be just as important.  Unlike some of the first tier players who have very clean statistical profiles, each of these prospects has at least one minor flaw. We’ll delve into those flaws and the positives as well in this piece. Remember, none of these statistics are gospel. Stats are always best utilized as a complement to film study, so use them as such.

All of the data was collected and retrieved from the STATS ICE system, which has a large selection of data charted from every BCS game this past year. Knowing that, you can be confident the data is solid and we can focus more on the analysis.

How Often Did They Get to the QB?

A little explanation here.

Pressures are considered hurries + knockdowns to give the total effect on the QB. The first stat in the chart is labeled “SPP” and that stands for Snaps Per Pressure. What that tells us is how many pass rush snaps it takes for each player to get to the QB. That is, a lower number means that the pass rusher affects the QB more often and is more efficient. SPP combines sacks and pressures, but isn’t weighted towards one or the other.

SPP 12.09 10.13 14.09 12.00 9.11
Pressures 17 28 17 19 35
Sacks 5.5 11.5 6.5 8 9
Snaps 272 400 331 324 401
  • There’s a reason these prospects are considered the second tier: almost all of their SPP’s are higher than the tier one prospects. That means they reached the QB less often over the duration of the season.
  • Damontre Moore may be the most prolific pass rusher on this list and his SPP was about average over the entire season. He garnered a high amount of pressures and sacks but only did so over a large amount of snaps. This indicates his falling draft stock may be justified; however, you have to take into account the quality of his opponents as well.
  • John Simon racked up the most total pressures of any draft prospect in both tier one and tier two with 35. He was also fairly efficient doing so, reaching an SPP of 9.11. Simon started 37 games over the course of his career and had a high snap count of 401 throughout the 2012 season. Clearly his experience and playing time is valuable.
  • Datone Jones is a guy who’s been considered a riser in the past few weeks of discussion. His numbers certainly don’t bear out that idea. Out of these ten prospects, he had the lowest SPP at 14.09 and had the same amount of pressures as Dion Jordan in 97 more snaps. Of course, Jones’ value may not be as a pure pass rusher, so that may have to be taken into account.

How Much Help Did They Get?

The stat below, EPG stands for Extra Pressures Per Game. It incorporates how often each pass rushers’ teammates affected the QB, the number of average rushers on their pressures, and a few other minor factors. The goal is to describe how much help each player got from their teammates. A lower number means their teammate’s provided less pressure and that the pass rusher did more on their own. Avg Rush is the number of rushers each team brought on each play. The number in the bottom row “%Blitz” tells how many of each rusher’s pressures came when their team blitzed.

Lemonier Moore D. Jones Montgomery Simon
EPG 2.21 2.27 5.61 3.98 2.68
Avg Rush 4.04 4.23 4.05 4.26 4.11
%Blitz 17.60% 39.30% 5.90% 36.60% 22.90%
  • The help Damontre Moore received is interesting. Texas A&M blitzed on a large percentage of the plays in which he got pressiures. However, the EPG suggests he received the second least help of all pass rushers. Outside of Sean Porter, Moore didn’t have quality pass rushers, which is likely why they resorted to blitzing so often.
  • Corey Lemonier has the lowest EPG and help of all pass rushers in the study. Even though his SPP wasn’t great, the lack of help he had and strength of schedule indicate that he could have had more pressures and sacks had he been in similar environments as other pass rushers.
  • Jones’ EPG is off the charts at 5.61. That’s largely due to the effectiveness of Anthony Barr, who dominated PAC-12 opponents. You can see that UCLA blitzed on only 5.9% of his pressures, so we know that the majority of other pressures was coming from an excellent supporting defensive line.

How Good Were Their Opponents?

Listening to pundits and perusing blogs, you always hear that this guy went up against the best competition or that guy had an easy time. I’ve created a strength of schedule that combines Sagarin ratings and sacks allowed by opposing offensive lines to quantify this.  A higher number means they gained their pressures against stronger competition.

Lemonier Moore D. Jones Montgomery Simon
SOS 50.14 51.10 44.53 50.70 35.69
  • This grouping of pass rushers had a significantly higher SOS than tier one. I don’t think that means these prospects are underrated, but they did face tougher opponents on average, mostly SEC teams.
  • Moore’s SOS of 51.1 is second highest of this class behind only Alex Okafor. Garnering sacks and pressures against some of the nation’s toughest SEC teams, he has proven that he can line up against future NFL competition and win. This may partially mitigate his average SPP.
  • The SOS for Lemonier further makes my point  about him being underrated. Not only did he have little help from a bad Auburn team, but had the fourth highest SOS of all prospects. Once you realize those two things, you likely would want to go back and watch his film to see his future potential rather than past production.
  • John Simon’s Big Ten competition was mostly weak. This of course isn’t his fault, but he had the lowest SOS of all 10 prospects. Looking at his SPP of 9.11, we may have to be wary given that he faced such easy opposition. The numbers don’t suggest he was a bad player, they just don’t show any outstanding potential. He is what he is.

When Did They Get Their Pressures?

I tried to develop a “clutch” stat to find out which player was a better rusher in important moments in the game.  I tried using scoring margins, quarters, and downs, but every combination came out to be relatively similar for every player. So I’m just going to put this chart down that shows what percentage of pressures and sacks came on third and fourth down without comment.  You can form your own opinion and if it means anything to you.

Percentage of sacks on 3rd and 4th downs

Lemonier Moore D. Jones Montgomery Simon
% Pressures 37.78% 45.57% 17.02% 29.63% 45.45%