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Rookie edge rushers aren't very productive

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will draft an edge rusher this season -- and they'll probably do so in the first or second round of the 2016 NFL draft. They'll need to. Their current group of edge rushers is lackluster, consisting of William Gholston, Robert Ayers, Jacquies Smith, Howard Jones, George Johnson and some practice squad candidates. The only one who's come close to double-digit sacks in that group is Ayers -- and he did so in part by playing defensive tackle on passing downs.

So the Bucs need some edge rush help, and they'll try to find it in the draft. Problem: drafted edge rushers don't do all that much as rookies, as Adam Stites figured out for SB Nation.

That's an ugly chart, and it's not because all the productive pass rushers were drafted after the first round. In fact, the last rookies to top 10 sacks were Von Miller and Aldon Smith in 2011, likely the best pass-rushing class in the history of the NFL. Only 12 rookies have managed 10 or more sacks in the past 15 seasons, and that includes defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Kevin Williams. No one approaching the talent level of any of those four players is available this year.

That's a problem the Bucs are going to have to overcome. This is not a reason not to draft a rookie edge rusher, of course: they need to get young edge rushers, even if they won't be productive as edge rushers. But it is a very good reason to be cautious with expectations for whoever the Bucs draft, and not to expect a suddenly reinvigorated pass rush this year.