NFL Combine 2013 Tale Of The Tape: Making Sense Of The Defensive End Numbers

Joe Robbins

The defensive linemen had their day on Monday, and the NFL just released the full set of numbers from their drills. We take a very close look at the defensive end numbers and try to figure out whether there's anybody we really like in that group.

As we try to figure out what the defensive end numbers from the Combine could mean, we're going to use the same format we used for the offensive linemen on Sunday: We'll look at how each edge rusher performed against expectations in the various drills, and then look at a handful of metrics that allow us to perhaps understand the individual results better.

We'll follow up this post with a look at the defensive tackles tomorrow.

So let's start by looking at how the DEs fit the target test results for Combine measurements, with the Combine numbers for DeMarcus Ware and J.J. Watt included as a reference:

Drill Significance Defensive Ends
DeMarcus Ware J.J. Watt
40-yard dash Speed over distance 4.85 4.56 4.81
225-pound bench press reps Upper body strength 24 27 34
Vertical jump Explosiveness, leg strength 33 38.5 37
Broad jump Explosiveness, leg strength 9-9 10-2 10-0
20-yard shuttle Flexibility, burst, balance 4.30 4.07 4.21
3-cone drill Agility, change of direction 7.35 6.85 6.88

Watt weighed in 40 pounds heavier than Ware at the Combine, so his speed results are not comparable, but the explosiveness and agility markers are. You'll notice that Ware and Watt beat every single one of the six targets on this list, some of them quite significantly.

Football Outsiders have their own SackSEER metric to assess the potential of edge rushers. SackSEER uses four metrics: Vertical leap, short shuttle, adjusted sack rate in college and missed games in college. Here's what FO had to say about the short shuttle in the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac, and about the vertical leap on the FO website:

The vertical leap's importance is based on simple physics. If a 270-pound defensive end has the leg strength to jump 40 inches in the air from a standing position, it is very likely that he will be able to employ that same functional strength to burst quickly and powerfully off the line of scrimmage.

...

SackSEER’s other workout metric is the short shuttle run. The drill measures change-of-direction speed, burst, and hip flexibility, which are understandably important to rushing the passer. DeMarcus Ware had a jaw-dropping short shuttle of 4.07 seconds, Aaron Schobel ran the shuttle in 4.03 seconds, and Kyle Vanden Bosch ran the shuttle in 4.08 seconds. 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.

FO haven't released their SackSEER numbers for this year yet, but with the above in mind, let's take a look at the 2013 class of pass rushing prospects, paying special attention to their short shuttle and vertical leap results:

Defensive Ends, 2013 Combine measurables (click column header to sort)

Rank Player Height Weight Proj. Round 40 yds Reps Vert Broad 20 S 3 Cone Targets met
2 Werner, Bjoern 6.32 266 1 4.83 25 31 9'03" 4.4 7.3 3
4 Moore, Damontre 6.44 250 1 4.95 12 35.5 10'02" DNP DNP 2
9 Mingo, Barkevious 6.4 241 1 4.58 DNP 37 10'08" 4.39 6.84 4
16 Ansah, Ziggy 6.52 271 1 4.63 21 34.5 9'10" 4.26 7.11 5
25 Okafor, Alex 6.5 264 1 DNP 21 DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
26 Jordan, Dion 6.62 248 1 4.6 DNP 32.5 10'02" 4.35 7.02 3
32 Montgomery, Sam 6.32 262 1-2 4.81 DNP 34.5 9'06" 4.51 7.18 3
68 Simon, John 6.1 257 2-3 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP - -
76 Hunt, Margus 6.81 277 2-3 4.6 38 34.5 10'01" 4.51 7.07 5
82 Carradine, Tank 6.4 276 2-3 DNP 28 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
100 Goodman, Malliciah 6.35 276 3 4.87 26 31.5 9'06" DNP DNP 1
101 Williams, Trevardo 6.12 241 3 4.57 25 38 10'04" DNP DNP 4
115 Taylor, Devin 6.7 266 3-4 4.72 14 35 10'08" 4.3 6.89 5
126 Lemonier, Corey 6.33 255 4 4.6 27 33 9'11" 4.4 7.14 5
140 Gholston, William 6.62 281 4-5 4.96 23 28.5 9'02" 4.59 7.2 1
158 Edwards, Lavar 6.4 277 5 4.8 DNP 33 9'11" 4.51 7.03 4
171 Bass, David 6.37 262 5-6 4.84 20 30.5 9'03" 4.33 7.07 2
194 Powell, Ty 6.21 249 6 4.64 28 37 10'02" 4.4 6.98 5
202 Buchanan, Mike 6.53 255 6 4.78 22 33 9'05" 4.44 6.91 3
229 Maponga, Stansly 6.2 256 6-7 DNP 30 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
310 Kruger, Joe 6.62 269 7-FA 4.83 24 34 9'09" 4.46 7.17 5
339 Williams, Nate 6.3 241 7-FA 4.88 30 35 9'05" 4.44 6.99 3
357 Williams, Tourek 6.27 260 FA 4.92 38 33 9'04" DNP DNP 2
392 Bryant, Armonty 6.37 263 FA 4.86 DNP 31.5 9'10" 5 7.32 2


In this draft class, nobody had a faster 40-time than DeMarcus Ware, nobody beat Ware in the vertical jump or the short shuttle and only Barkevious Mingo bested Ware's broad jump. Granted, Ware was a fleet-footed OLB of 250 pounds, but even 290-pound J.J. Watt wasn't beaten in the short shuttle, and only Barkevious Mingo, Ty Powell and Trevardo Williams matched Watt in the vertical jump. All of that is a little disappointing, even if Watt and Ware are two of the best in the game.

But disappointment is a theme for the defensive ends here. Bjoern Werner did not stand out, Damontre Moore ran a slow 40 on his first try and hurt his hamstring on his second attempt.

And Monday also saw three big disappointments in the weight room. I don't know what happened on Moore's bench press, but 12 reps is not good for a supposed top ten pick. Similarly, Ziggy Ansah didn't exactly impress with 21 reps and Devin Taylor inexplicably recorded only 14 reps. Ansah and Taylor would have hit all six targets if they had managed the minimum 24 reps. However, both join Margus Hunt, Corey Lemonier, Ty Powell and Joe Kruger as athletes who stood out by meeting five of six targets. Barkevious Mingo, Trevardo Williams and Lavar Edwards would likely have been in the same category had they not had to skip some drills.

Some of the biggest disappointments for me include William Gholston, whom I had expected to excel, and David Bass who I had hoped would excel based on his excellent production ratio in college.

Let's now look at four different metrics to better understand the Combine performance, the definitions of which I'm repeating here for readers who may have missed the rundown of the offensive line numbers:

1. Kirwan Explosion Index: [BENCH PRESS REPS + VERTICAL JUMP + BROAD JUMP = EXPLOSION NUMBER]

First proposed by Pat Kirwan, this is a simple addition that adds up the number of bench press reps with the broad and vertical jump values. What this number gives you is an idea of the explosive strength of a lineman. An explosion number over 70 is considered a very good result. But since only five prospects exceeded 70, we'll make an allowance for this draft class and assume that anything above 65 is still good.

2. Explosive Power: (VERT+3.5*BROAD)*(WEIGHT/HEIGHT)/3000

This is a metric that was developed, as far as I know, by Tony Wiltshire, a writer for BuffaloBillsDraft.com. Where about half of Kirwan's Explosion Index (KEI) is made up of upper body strength, the Explosive Power metric focuses on lower body strength relative to a player's physique. This metric gives you a good idea of how strong a lineman is off the snap and the amount of pure physical force he can generate out of his legs. If you think of the KEI as horsepower, then think of the Explosive power metric as torque. A value over 1.05 is elite, a value over 1.0 is excellent, and anything over 0.95 is still very good.

3. Lateral Agility: [40-YARD DASH TIME - 20-YARD SHUTTLE = LATERAL AGILITY]

This number uses the differential between the 40-yard dash time and the 20-yard shuttle to get a better feel for the lateral agility of a player, as the differential provides information beyond simple long speed and short-area quickness. Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 or better is considered to have outstanding lateral agility, a quality highly sought after in interior linemen who usually operate in very tight spaces.

4. Speed Score: [(WEIGHT * 200) / (40-TIME ^ 4) = SPEED SCORE]

Not all players are created equal, and it doesn't make a lot of sense comparing 40-times of players who may have a weight difference of 60 pounds. The Speed Score takes into account both a player's time in the 40-yard dash as well as his weight. The ratio was initially developed for running backs, but works just as well for DEs. A good score for an edge rusher is 100 higher.

The table below summarizes the four sets of figures above for the 2013 DEs. The figures in bold show where a prospect exceeded the figures outlined above, the column on the far right shows how many of the four targets a prospect exceeded. For reference purposes, I've included each player's production ratio (sacks plus TFLs divided by number of games) for his last two college seasons.

Defensive Ends, 2013 Combine additional metrics (click column header to sort)

Rank
Player Height Weight Production Ratio Expl. Indx Expl. Power Lat. Ag. Speed Targets met
2 Werner, Bjoern 6.32 266 1.81 65.3 0.89 0.43 97.8 1
4 Moore, Damontre 6.44 250 2.38 57.7 0.92 - - 83.3 0
9 Mingo, Barkevious 6.4 241 1.30 - - 0.93 0.19 109.5 1
16 Ansah, Ziggy 6.52 271 0.70 65.3 0.95 0.37 117.9 3
25 Okafor, Alex 6.5 264 1.83 - - - - - - - - - -
26 Jordan, Dion 6.62 248 1.38 - - 0.85 0.25 110.8 1
32 Montgomery, Sam 6.32 262 1.61 - - 0.94 0.3 97.9 0
68 Simon, John 6.1 257 1.94 - - - - - - - - - -
76 Hunt, Margus 6.81 277 1.15 82.6 0.95 0.09 123.7 3
82 Carradine, Tank 6.4 276 1.50 - - - - - - - - - -
100 Goodman, Malliciah 6.35 276 0.87 67.0 0.94 - - 98.1 1
101 Williams, Trevardo 6.12 241 2.19 73.3 0.97 - - 110.5 3
115 Taylor, Devin 6.7 266 1.00 59.7 0.96 0.42 107.2 2
126 Lemonier, Corey 6.33 255 1.36 69.9 0.91 0.2 113.9 2
140 Gholston, William 6.62 281 1.48 60.7 0.86 0.37 92.9 0
158 Edwards, Lavar 6.4 277 0.63 - - 0.98 0.29 104.4 2
171 Bass, David 6.37 262 2.38 59.8 0.86 0.51 95.5 1
194 Powell, Ty 6.21 249 1.87 75.2 0.97 0.24 107.4 3
202 Buchanan, Mike 6.53 255 1.30 64.4 0.86 0.34 97.7 0
229 Maponga, Stansly 6.2 256 1.38 - - - - - - - - - -
310 Kruger, Joe 6.62 269 0.79 67.8 0.92 0.37 98.9 1
339 Williams, Nate 6.3 241 0.50 74.4 0.87 0.44 85.0 1
357 Williams, Tourek 6.27 260 1.54 80.3 0.91 - - 88.7 1
392 Bryant, Armonty 6.37 263 2.29 - - 0.91 -0.14 94.3 0

You'll notice that the players who did well here, Ansah, Hunt, Trevardo Williams, Powell (all hit on three targets) as well as Devin Taylor, Edwards Lemonier (2 targets) all received mention under the previous table as well. So those are your premier athletes. Whether that athleticism translates onto the field is an entirely different issue. But outside of Ansah, who has a terrible college production ratio, none of those guys are rated higher than the third round. Which brings me to my closing observations:

I don't know where teams had ranked Werner and Moore, but I think both will drop on the pundit draft boards. Werner's numbers would have you think he's a defensive tackle, not a premier edge rusher. Neither made a strong case at the Combine for being a Top Ten pick. Moore at least had a solid vertical and broad jump, but that forty time and rep number is downright scary.

I really like Devin Taylor as a developmental pick. But those 12 bench reps are very worrying. There might be a good explanation for that number; I haven't heard it yet. Still, as a mid-round pick, he does look enticing.

The most intriguing picks in this lot may be Trevardo Williams out of Connecticut and Ty Powell out of little-known Harding. Both are OLBs who were asked to work out with the DEs, but both put up some really nice numbers. They are also two of the lightest guys in the group so their numbers may not look so good anymore if they're asked to put on an extra 20 pounds.

We'll look at the defensive tackles tomorrow, maybe there'll be more players who stand out in that group. For now though, which DEs do you like out of this group?

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