The modern version of the game we know as football centers around the quarterback position. More than in the past, the quarterback is not only the field general who manages the game, but rather the engine that drives offense-a consequence of the emphasis on developing a potent passing offense. With this emphasis on passing offense, defenses will naturally place a premium on elite pass rushers with the ability to disrupt the vital rhythm desired to move the ball through the air.
For this reason (among others), measuring the efficiency of a particular pass rusher should account for more than just sack stats. This brings us to the Pass Rusher Rating (PRR).
If you happened to see this chart for last year’s prospects, then I hope you will be pleasantly surprised to find the project has grown in its scope, enough that I now have provided data for more than just the top 10 or so players at their position.
Before settling in to enjoy the chart, here is a quick synopsis of how the PRR is calculated:
- Sacks=1 point
- Strip sacks, sack fumbles=1 point
- Hurries and hits=0.75 points each
- Drawing a holding penalty=0.75 points
Total up these stats, then divide by the number of pass rushing snaps (screen passes and plays where player has contain responsibilities are excluded). This new number is the PRR, which roughly equates to a percentage of the time that a player pressures the quarterback.
Today’s chart includes edge rushers (outside linebackers and defensive ends) and my film study of them through 3/4 of this season. Interior linemen data will come in a separate article.
Pressures/Total # of snaps
|Demarcus Lawrence||Boise State||8/30||23.33||4|
|Kyle Van Noy||BYU||13/51||19.61||4|
|Shilique Calhoun||Michigan State||9.5/48||16.67||1.5|
|Scott Crichton||Oregon State||6/45||10.56||0|
|Jadeveon Clowney||South Carolina||15/121||10.33||4.5|
|Chaz Sutton||South Carolina||12/107||8.88||3|
|Stephon Tuitt||Notre Dame||9/80||8.75||2|
|James Gayle||Virginia Tech||3/28||8.04||2|
Now that you’ve seen the ratings…are you surprised?
Going into this project, I was thinking the big namers like Jadeveon Clowney, Anthony Barr, and Stephon Tuitt would be blazing the trail as the leaders. Despite quality play and garnering more attention from opponents, Clowney and Barr especially have been overshadowed by the brilliant play of the top players on this list.
The top 8 players on this list jump off the page, simply because I can’t say enough good things about them.
-Atop this list is a small-school guy from Buffalo, Khalil Mack. But make no mistake, his dominance translates even to the top level of competition. When he faced off against Ohio State, his PRR rating was 35.0, the highest single game rating that I recorded. Mack can consistently play the run, cover in space, and pressure the QB-a complete linebacker. From what I’ve seen so far, he has special, special skills, and I am excited to monitor his progress.
Second, Demarcus Lawrence, the Boise State Bronco is a force in run support with 4 tackles for loss (TFL). He is a high effort player who plays bigger than his 245 pound frame. And he can get to the quarterback in a multitude of ways, demonstrating a handful of finesse moves that he mixes up to the dismay of his opponents.
Kyle Van Noy is a player who shows fast play diagnosis and couples that with impressive athleticism. Of the players I’ve watched, his movement and bend remind me a bit of Von Miller while he was at Texas A&M. Van Noy’s numbers are not close to Miller’s, but he is very disruptive nonetheless.
On the flip side, Stanford’s Trent Murphy is a big, tall and powerful pass rusher, but is reallllly smooth and effective covering athletes in space! Unlike Van Noy and Lawrence, he is mainly a power rusher, and a good one at that.
Speaking of power rushers, Michael Sam from Missouri is one of the most intriguing players to me, and I’ll tell you why. He is intense. He is fast. He is productive. He is explosive enough to simply run by the blockers. He could be just scratching the surface, and if he diversifies his moves, learning to play with the power evident in his build, then yikes.
Clowney and Barr
Of the two, Barr has been producing stats more consistently this season, especially by forcing turnovers in the run game (which doesn’t show up in the PRR). The expectations are exceedingly high for these two young men, and Clowney especially is receiving the lion’s share of attention from offensive coordinators this season. His 15th best rating sounds low, yet one must consider that he is producing fairly well against constant double teams. Nevertheless, he still has much room to grow as a player.
This looks to be a deep group of pass rushers, particularly for teams looking for athletic pass rushing outside linebackers with great coverage skills.