Having chronicled the bottom of the 3-4 OLB barrel, our resident scout/draftnik extraordinaire Seth Cox mentioned I should take a look at, in so many words, players people actually care about! A logical conclusion no doubt, and that is what I have done (and will be doing up until the draft). Why did I start at the end and am now working my way up? Well, I just can't get all that excited about anyone in the middle of this class. I understand what they mean when they say it is a weak pass-rushing class. I don't think there will be a Sam Acho sitting in round 4 waiting to light up a team's draft grade.
There are seven guys I'm working on reports for but since they are a little higher on the totem pole than my previous reports, we have more information to go through for each. For everyone's sanity, I will be breaking them up into two-a-days (after this introductory post). Once we've gotten through them all I'll write up a brief conclusion and we can figure out who we want for the Cardinals.
First, I would like to establish the benchmarks that we will be judging these players by, which begins with this handy-dandy table:
Approximate median values, as per ProFootballWeekly.com and NFLDraftScout.com.
What we have here are some interesting statistics regarding notable 3-4 OLB's currently active in the league. These guys set the pace for performance on the field, may as well let them set the pace for timed speeds as well, right? I figured out the average of all these players and posted it in italics after explaining each category.
Height and weight are obvious, but interesting -- pass rushers come in all different shapes and sizes.
Arm length is important because the longer your arms are, the easier a time you will have keeping big, NFL-sized offensive linemen away from your body.
"Okay" arm length for an NFL offensive tackle is 33".
40 is a measurement of straight-line speed. The 10Y(ard dash) is more important for these guys as it is purely a measurement of speed off-the-snap.
40: 4.67 seconds
10Y: 1.60 seconds
BP measures upper-body strength, fitness (bench press). It's not a good general measurement of a player's strength, however. Lower-body and core strength are crucial as well. A lot of college players seem to have one set going for them but not the all-around package.
BP: 25 reps
Broad jump and Vertical leap reflect a player's lower-body strength. It is a measure of their explosiveness and can indicate a player's ability to "anchor" against run-blocking offensive linemen.
20s is a player's short shuttle; it is a measure of acceleration and hip flexibility. Of note from FootballOutsiders.com, "No elite edge rusher has emerged from any round of the NFL Draft since at least 1999 with a short shuttle slower than 4.42 seconds." I should mention that the quote was taken before Aldon Smith ran a 4.55 20s!
20s: 4.30 seconds
3Cn is a measurement of a player's agility and quickness.
3Cn: 7.00 seconds
Thus, the average, elite, three-down, pass-rushing linebacker's athletic table would look like this:
I have to note that a player being worse-than-average in any particular category is not necessarily condemning. I would suggest that the more categories you are worse-than-average in, the more you have working against you, but if Aldon Smith can make it work, so can anyone.
A couple things I find interesting:
- Clay Mathews' 10 Yard Dash is as fast as Patrick Peterson's. It shouldn't even be possible for a man to move that quickly at 240lbs (Peterson himself is cornerback-big at 219lbs.)
- You may have never heard of Connor Barwin but he's the guy who made Mario Williams expendable in Tennessee. This table gives you one piece of that puzzle.
- Hali is pretty big at 275 and, honestly, falls short in all categories except the 20s where he is one tick over the average (pretty good at 275). I believe he is also a guy that took a couple years to find much success in the NFL. Could be it took them a while to get him to his ideal weight?
- Our very own Sam Acho put up the best 3 Cone for a linebacker probably ever, and he did it at 263lbs. People weren't happy with his athleticism when we drafted him. I'm still pretty content with it!
- I still cry a little every time I read Von Miller's line, though.
- Dumervil is short for this group. I really wonder what his arm length is -- definitely the guy to review if you're an undersized prospect. Looks like he compensated with muscle. 257 is as big as it gets for a 6'0" linebacker and 30 reps in the bench press? Not too shabby.
- Fully extended and leaping, these guys can almost reach up to 12' in the air. How do any passes make it past the line of scrimmage in the NFL?
If there's something I messed up or that you disagree with or, perhaps, a player you think should be in this table, let me know.