Sikkema’s Stat of the Week
There was a man born in Hodgenville, Kentucky who was raised in a simple life. The man was self-educated, for the most part, and built a reputation on becoming a renown wrestler more than anything else. Later in life, this man became a lawyer and eventually moved from his small town to Illinois. It was there the once forgotten Hodgenville boy got into politics. He attempted to become a U.S. Senator, but failed on his first attempt. Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of his story. The once over-looked man ran in politics again after his defeat, ultimately becoming the 16th president of the United States of America.
That man was Abraham Lincoln.
Okay, let’s try a more sports-themed example.
This man was born in Akron, Ohio. His family traveled around for a good deal of his early life. He found an interest in sports that occupied most of his time, but when it came to playing at the next level after high school, few wanted him. So, he ended up staying close to home where his family had moved in North Carolina because one coach told him he’d give him a chance; he saw a star in him. From there, he no longer was under the radar. He became a star of his school at Davidson and eventually went on to be drafted to the National Basketball Association, where he has since become the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the game of basketball.
That man was Steph Curry.
How about a football example to really drive the point home?
This man was born in Auburn, Alabama. At an early age, he loved being active. So much so that he got involved in football, basketball, baseball and track. But, due to the fact that he was never committed to one and his body type wasn’t ideal, at the time, few schools coveted him when the time came to go off to college. He ended up staying in a place close close to home in little Troy State University; it meant a lot to him and it was a place that gave him a shot in the sport he wanted to then dedicate his all. By the end of his four years there, his name was all over the school’s record books. In the end, this small-town, small-school kid was selected No. 11 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. He finished his career with the eighth most sacks in the league’s rich history.
That man was DeMarcus Ware.
I tell those three stories to set up the fact that it’s not always the ones who start in the spotlight that end up shining the brightest. Statistics say that the players who comes from the biggest school have the better chance at succeeding in whatever it is that they strive for – in this case, football. But, that’s not to say that, though numbers are stacked against them, there can’t be a few beams of light in the cracks of a sealed ultimatum of where you draft prospects from.
In this Cover 3, we’re going to take a look at non-Power 5 pass rushers in the NFL and, more importantly, the NFL Draft.
The draft is all about value. It’s about maximizing what you can get out of each pick relative to the talent level and the level in which they are coveted by other teams. That’s what makes small school guys tricky. With less exposure, sometimes you can make them last a round or two later and snag them up as a steal. But, there’s always a risk involved there. Then, of course, there’s the risk that the tape doesn’t match the production once their level of competition jumps to a whole new level.
The Buccaneers need a pass rusher – everyone knows this. But, with this pass rush class not so solidified at the top, chaos could ensue when looking for one after the first few. It’s basically North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb … and then everybody else. That brings non-Power 5 guys into play. We’ve seen non-Power 5 pass rusher have success, but we’ve also seen them fail. Is there a trend or is it just a game of roulette?
Over the last five years, these were the non-Power 5 pass rusher who have been drafted in and around the Top 100 of the NFL Draft.
- Vinny Curry, No. 59, 2nd round, 2012, Marshall, 22 career sacks
- Shea McClellin, No. 19, 1st round, 2012, Boise State, 8.5 career sacks
- Tyrone Crawford, No. 81, 3rd round, 2012, Boise State, 16.5 career sacks
- Ezekiel Ansah, No. 5, 1st round, 2013, BYU, 44 career sacks
- Margus Hunt, No. 53, 2nd round, 2013, SMU, 2.5 career sacks
- Jamie Collins, No. 52, 2nd round, 2013, Southern Miss, 13.5 career sacks
- DeMarcus Lawrence, No. 34, 2nd round, 2014, Boise State, 23.5 career sacks
- Khalil Mack, No. 5, 1st round, 2014, Buffalo, 40.5 career sacks
- Kyle Van Noy, No. 40, 2nd round, 2014, BYU, 7.5 careers sacks
- Kamalei Correa, No. 42, 2nd round, 2016, Boise State, 0 career sacks
- Haason Reddick, No. 13, 1st round, 2017, Temple, 2.5 careers sacks
- Tyus Bowser, No. 47, 2nd round, 2017, Houston, 3.0 careers sacks
- Trey Hendrickson, No. 103, 3rd round, 2017, FAU, 2.0 career sacks
- Larry Ogunjobi, No. 65, 3rd round, 2017, NC Charlotte, 1.0 career sacks
- Derek Rivers, No. 85, 3rd round, 2017, Youngstown St.. 0 career sacks
Ansah, Mack and Lawrence are obviously the guys that stand out the most, but they were also three of the higher picked players. No non-Power 5 players has really “busted” in the Top 15 over the last five years but that’s not to say there haven’t been disappointments shortly thereafter. McClellin was no good as a pass rusher, Correa was over-drafted because a team was chasing a non-Power 5 gem and Hunt was a Combine freak who wasn’t enough of a football player. Curry is a good player, but in his first two season he recorded zero sacks and then just four. This notes the learning curve, even for good players. Heck, Mack had just four sacks in his first season.
Another thing to notice is that, in 2017, there were five non-Power 5 players selected in the Top 103, since we’re counting Hendrickson with him being so close. That tells me that the NFL is in a trend where they’re not afraid to go after a non-Power 5 pass rusher in hopes of hitting it big.
With a fluid pass rush ranking after Chubb, there’s a chance we could see that non-Power 5 pass rush trend continue in 2018 like it did in 2017. If it does, there’s a player that is being linked to the Buccaneers in the first round that could start the movement…