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?

Former Cowboys and Broncos Pass Rusher DeMarcus Ware – Photo by: Getty Images
Former Cowboys and Broncos Pass Rusher DeMarcus Ware – Photo by: Getty Images

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
Former Boise State pass rusher Kamalei Correa - Photo by: Getty Images
Former Boise State pass rusher Kamalei Correa – Photo by: Getty Images

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…

30 COMMENTS

  1. If Chubb is gone, and even if he is there depending on the trade package, I would trade back. The Bucs have so many holes to fill they need multiple picks on the first 2 days. Vea is a good choice, nothing says the pass rush cannot come from inside. Pairing him with GMC good make a formidable tandem. Also, I believe I read that Vea played all along the D line, even some DE. One player (to include Chubb) is not going to transform the Bucs into perinial winners, the overall strength of the roster needs to be upgraded. Since the success rate of most drafts hovers around 50% the more picks the better. The Bucs need lots of B and B+ players to build their roster.

    • I understand what you are saying Rich. However, with our current DLine and all of our pass rush currently coming from the middle with (McCoy/McDonald etc) you can see with nothing coming from the outside that the Offense only has to bottleneck our interior DLine for a few moments and go 1 on 1 with the outside or a chip from a RB or a TE and then they are off to the races and have plenty of time 5-8 seconds to wait out for the open receiver. Any kind of outside pass rush would greatly affect the interior pass rushers! We had that for a short period of time last year in the 2nd half and we ran off some outstanding games by this current defense.

      DE Chubb, DEKey 0r DE/DTBryan in the later 1st! Davenport in the 2nd as he gets swallowed up in the run game.

  2. I agree with Rich. The only picks I would be happy with at #7 are Chubb, Barkley, Fitzpatrick, and Nelson (in that order). If none of those guys make it to #7 then let’s trade back and take either Vea, Arden Key, or Davenport (in that order).

    I’m also all-in on taking Shaquem Griffin in a later round. Especially if Tampa is really considering moving to a 3-4. But he could also be a really valuable late round Mark Barron type strong safety too. This would be a great move for the fanbase in Orlando.

  3. I hope Chubb or Nelson are available at 7 because I sure don’t trust Licht to make the right move if they are off the board. The DBs being mentioned at 7 are more of the safety/nickel CB type which would not push this team over the top or address one of the major holes on the team. The trenches have to be addressed or drafting maybe Barkley if he fell would make sense given the obvious hole we have atop the RB depth chart. Davenport is raw and terrible against the run, no way he’s worth the #7 pick. The Bucs hopefully address the pass rush during FA where the chances of a player walking in ready to produce are much higher.

    • I really think Fitzpatrick is the next Jalen Ramsey. So I definitely would be okay with that choice. I don’t want Derwin James to be taken this high though as of right now. Also, there are currently very few solid defensive end options in free agency this year.

  4. This draft seems so deep at OG and OT that taking Nelson doesn’t make sense. Bucs needing more pass rush ≠ DE. M. Hurst, Vita Vea at 7 seem like upgrades to the D and pass rush. Key, Landry, Davenport all seem like they have questions… Let’s watch one or two of them slip into the 2nd and take the risk there.

    • Currently no one has Hurst or Vea as top 10 prospects. I just think it would be a bit of a reach. I’d be fine with dropping back in the first to get either of those guys. But 7 is really high when you know that you can get one of the top players in the draft in Nelson.

      • Hurst will move up mock draft boards as the off season moves on im sure of that, his tape is excellent. Reminds me of Michael Bennett play style i think he could play well at D end on first and second and move inside on passing downs.

  5. You guys must not be watching the games to suggest the bucs take a secondary player in the first round. Any and every corner and safety in the league who is stuck in the cover 2 will give up plays without pressure from the 4 smith sends every play. This team is getting worked up front every game. They must pick dline or oline in the first as long as they arent reaching or trading up. No more wasted picks to trade up please licht. N i say no way on davenport in round one, anywhere in round 1. Last thing this team needs is another project or a guy switching positions coming in. If they want to win games theyve gota be better up front, on both lines. They need a rb too but he can be had later than round 1. Theres alot of good qbs coming out and alot of needy teams this year. And there will be more teams trying to get into the top 10 to get their guy. So i wouldnt be surprised at all if chubb is still there. I havnt watched him enough to want him like everyone else it seems but no matter how good he has been he could still be there. I could easily see 5 qbs going in the first 10 picks this year. So calm down all you lovers of certain players who arent qbs, theres a chance your boy will be available at 7. Also I wana see what happens in free agency before I start my wish list. Having said that tho right now my top choice is nelson or trading back and getting more high picks. I think he will be an all pro very early. Need to run the ball to play keep away from smiths “defense”.

  6. At this point I do not know what we should do. I’d like to see how all this pans out after Indianapolis. Worst case we just go with best available player. This could finally be the year where we actually do quite a bit of trading down. Treasure is this overall draft considered to be a very weak one?

  7. Not sure where anyone see’s depth at Oline in this or any recent draft with the main focus on the spread now in college. Guess all the O coaches are just making shit up with their complaints that O linemen aren’t as physical and NFL ready as in the past. Now there are only 2 that most speak of and one’s a left tackle and Nelson at guard. Nelson is seen as a starter and one with the talent to be great sooner than later. It is well documented that DE’s seldom come in and are full time and productive. With that being said I’d rather gamble on Nelson. A need also albeit not a glamorous one. Winston is being hit way too much whether it’s considered a sack or not. I SO agree DE’s are needed beyond anything I can express but a first rounder should be a started if they’re not a QB in my humble opinion. I’m not immune to flash but as a older dude I guess I’m starting to understand doing the right thing can be somewhat painful at times. chuckle

  8. Horse, this is how it should be. Nobody knows what we are going to do. And the teams who are draft planning aren’t telling and the ones who are talking to the Kipers and McShays of the world probably aren’t telling the truth for obvious reasons.

    The Bucs never pick who PR suggests and god forbid they take my advice. It’s a dynamic process. The Bucs had no idea they would pick TE OJ Howard last year. The process leading up to the draft (mocks) should be nothing more than fan fun.

    So to all my PR fellow posters, don’t be shy, jump in and give your picks and opinions. They probably won’t be right but who cares? It’s not like the Bucs are going to send over and get our opinions as to what they should do – and please don’t suggest that’s what they’ve been doing lol. Licht has done a decent job with the draft and I expect he’ll do okay with this one. It’s free agency where we’ve heard that giant sucking sound. Lol.

    I am going to relax and wait for the Combine and wait to see who gets interviews – who gets private visits – who gets personal workouts etc. And even then, it’s still a wild a$$ guess. So in the interim, have some fun. Do a mock and like the lottery you will be lucky to get one number right. Go Bucs.

    • Well said Mac. To be a true Buc fan you have to be prepared for a thought provoking crap shoot during the offseason. Now that I am retired I look forward to the challenge of reconstructing what might have been with what possibly could be if only the impractical would happen on Tuesday. If only I were a physicist, but alas I’m just a Buc Fan and proud of it.

    • I always love your posts as you usually use logic as opposed to emotion which I appreciate. Now I don’t think what I’m about to propose will happen but it’s what I’d like to think could happen.

      First let me start by saying I think it’s a great time for the bucs to switch to a 3-4 but this is based on the assumption we stick to the base 4-3.

      In free agency we target any pass rusher with a pulse. Most rookie dlinemen don’t make a huge impact year one anyways so we can’t count on our rush from them. I don’t think we’ll get ansah or Lawrence but I heard Vinny Curry might hit the market and he’s started to come into his own. If we get him we should target at least 2 more defensive ends in free agency. Seems like they’ll be lesser known guys but maybe a change of scenery helps. Then I think we need to grab a corner to pair with Brent Grimes (although I think Hargreaves will have a good year and really come into his own, he just needs to play more aggressively). Maybe we get another older temporary guy but I don’t think talib will ever come back.

      Then my dream draft scenario would be Chubb at 7 because I think that the colts will target offensive line help and the browns will take Barkley and there will be 4qbs taken before we pick.

      In the second round I’m hoping for a stud defensive tackle. Someone with some get off. Not vea but maybe taven Bryant falls or that defensive tackle who’s been very good in the senior bowl that Trevor has been tweeting about.

      In the third I’d like us to take a RB. Someone that’s explosive. Maybe penny falls or we get the guy from USC Ronald Jones. The important thing is that whatever we get has to be able to take it to the house. I’m very tired of watching our RB always get caught from behind. I feel like overall the bucs have been a very slow team for awhile. . Then I’d like us to trade back into the third and grab a top notch o lineman. Maybe the guard Hernandez. After that take some chances with the remaining picks but I never expect anything from guys drafted after the third round.

      I think this is a way the buccaneers could get back to winning and hopefully begin to solidify the lines for years

      • Mr. Mayhew, I like the cut of your jib! I had similar thoughts in PR’s first Bucs 7 round mock. But it is very early and things will become clearer and will likely change. Some kid will probably smoke a joint between now and then – happens every year. lol. So you never know, but hopefully as you suggest, we get it right this year. Go Bucs!

  9. Last year Bucs picked the best player available and they got a Great TE. Unfortunately, they already had a great TE and so we got two TE’s with 6 TD’s each. As good as Howard is, I am not sure that helped us measurably. But I understand why they chose him. He was the best player available. I am hoping we use a little more strategy in this draft. I have always liked the idea of trading down, especially when you need more than one or two players to get your team where it needs to be. I am hoping we get a DE with first pick. But if we can trade down and add a 2nd or 3rd round pick and maybe get a starting DE, a Corner and a running back in the first three rounds and maybe a guard or LT we could turn this team around in a hurry.

  10. Imagine having Davenport on one side, and Noah Spence on the other. Trevor that thought scares me. Don’t tell me you’re counting on Noah Spence this year? Pairing Spence with another question mark on the other side would be the recipe for disaster. Licht made the mistake of moving up in the second round for Spence, don’t compound that by over drafting with the 7th over all pick for another question mark. I’m of the trade down crew, if possible, no one player in this entire draft is going to turn this ship around even Chubb. At least Chubb is a considered a top five pick.

  11. I will second Rich’s thinking here.

    What if Bradley Chubb was gone by the time Tampa picks and they could trade down.

    I would like to see us pick up defensive tackle, Vita Vea, 6-4, 340, Washington and then somehow get someone like defensive end, Harold Landry, 6-3, 250, Boston College or defensive end Marcus Davenport, 6-6, 250, Texas-San Antonio.

    Can you imagine the pressure up the middle along with decent pressure from the ends. The DEs would not have to be spectacular as such. I think they could move the defensive linemen around some and throw in some blitzes from our linebackers here and there. Our defense would improve dramatically overall.

    Hopefully they could get decent DB, RB and OL help with the remaining picks.

    _______________________
    Go Bucs!!!!!!

  12. Chubb would be fantastic, but we need so much on this team. Realistically we need three players on the DL. We need at least two on the OL. We need one maybe two running backs, one maybe two Corners and another Safety. Luckily our last draft and the one in 2015 were exceptional. IF we can continue on that streak, we might be able to pull off turning a mediocre team around in just one or two yrs

  13. If the Bucs take anyone in this draft over Quenton Nelson (If he’s available at #7 then shame on them. The Bucs O-line is a joke and a disgrace. How can you win big with a bunch of journey men. If a good LT was available in round 2, I draft him too. Then spend every remaining pick on defense. The Bucs might find they have better RBs than they think with an actual hole to run through.

    I also think a DT to go next to McCoy is a bigger priority than a DE. Of course you can scratch all this if a PK is available. The Bucs have managed to become a laughing stock once again. To win in the NFL you have to be able to force your will on your opponent and with the Bucs current O-line, that is not possible. McCoy’s window is getting close to shutting down because of the stupidity of the Bucs drafting. Taking a TE over an OT last year. That was a luxury and it was stupid. I don’t even watch the games anymore, because I fall asleep. It’s like watching baseball.