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NFL Draft 2016: Using combine data to find pass rushers

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Force on our side? No, no, no...  We are not talking about Star Wars. Justis Mosqueda has created a filter on edge rushers , 4-3 ends and 3-4 outside linebackers, that have a significantly higher "hit rate" of success at the NFL level called Force Players. A force player is an athletically gifted pass rusher who shows out at the combine, as defined by Mosqueda.  On his website, Zen Garden, Mosqueda has charted prospects from 2005 to 2015.

The conclusion is this:  the combine (and will add pro days because some players are still injured coming into the combine) identifies players who are gifted pass rushers, and players that ball out at the underwear Olympics session give teams a higher percentage of finding production. The draft is a finicky gamble, but according to Mosqueda's Force Players filter, a team can improve its chances.

Mosqueda has a specific formula, but I will use players who rank in the top five in more than one event as a basic way to identify possible force players. Hopefully, Mosqueda can revisit the Force players concept for the recent NFL draft prospects.

Let us see who are the possible Force stars in the 2016 draft. We will first introduce a control group of defensive ends that are athletically gifted, using Walterfootball.com's scout rankings. Then look at power rushers.  Afterwards, inspect bendy rushers.

Walter Football
2016 DE Prospect Rankings
Rank Name College Height Projected 40 Time Projected round
Ft Inches Wt
1 Joey Bosa Ohio State 6 6 275 4.72 Top 10 pick
2 DeForest Buckner Oregon 6 7 290 4.82 Top 16 pick
3 Emmanuel Ogbah Okla State 6 4 275 4.77 1
4 Robert Nkemdiche Ole Miss 6 4 296 4.81 1 to 3
5 Shilique Calhoun Michigan State 6 5 250 4.70 1 to 3
6 Noah Spenche Eastern Kentucky 6 2 254 4.72 1 to 3
7 Kevin Dodd Clemson 6 5 275 4.84 1 to 3
8 Carl Nassib Penn State 6 6 273 5.00 1 to 3
9 Shaq Lawson Clemson 6 3 275 4.77 2 to 3
10 Yannick Ngakoue Maryland 6 2 255 4.82 2 to 3
11 Jonathan Bullard Florida 6 3 283 4.78 2 to 3
12 Sheldon Day Notre Dame 6 0 286 4.95 2 to 3
13 Dadi Nicolas Virginia Tech 6 3 235 4.72 3 to 4
14 Bronson Kaufusi BYU 6 6 281 4.82 3 to 4
15 Alex McCalister Florida 6 6 239 4.82 3 to 5
16 Charles Tapper Oklahoma 6 2 276 4.82 3 to 5
17 Shawn Oakman Baylor 6 7 269 4.84 3 to 5
18 Victor Ochi Stony Brook 6 2 245 4.80 4 to 6
19 Jason Fanaika Utah 6 2 276 5.00 4 to 6
20 Lawrence Thomas Michigan State 6 3 281 4.80 5 to 7
http://walterfootball.com/draft2016DE.php

I like to use Walter Football's scouting report as the source of ranking of DE players, but you can use other people's scouting report rankings as well. It will not change the outcome of the combine.

The same author who came up with Force players also has written an article on "What scouts are looking for at the combine for pass rushers."  In that article, Mosqueda categorizes edge rushers into two groups:  power rushers and bendy rushers.

Power rushers would like to go through a tackle or take an inside lane to get to the QB. The tests for power rushers are ballistic type tests such as the 10 yard split, vertical jump, and broad jump. These tests reveal the fast twitch muscles in action. This is why the 10 yard split is pertinent than a 40 yard run for edge rushers. A parallel example is the difference between a sprinter and long distance runner.

Bendy rushers limit their body's surface area and twist their body as they keep their inside number aligned with and offensive tackle's outside number. The test for bendy rushers is the 3 cone drill.

The top five or so from every category were gathered from Pewter Report online, published by Scott Reynolds: NFL Scouting Combine News and Notes. Although, I did have to insert Noah Spence's 10 yard split time into the charts.

Power Rushers

2016 Combine Result
10 Yard Split
Rank Pos Name 10 Yd Split Walter Football Rank
1 DE Charles Tapper 1.59 16
2 DE Emmanuel Ogbah 1.59 3
3 DE Carl Nassib 1.62 8
3 DE Noah Spence 1.62 6
5 DE Kamalei Correa 1.63 NR
6 DE Shaq Lawson 1.64 9

2016 Combine Result
Vertical Jump
Rank Pos Name Vertical Jump Walter Football Rank
1 DE Dadi Nicholas 41 13
2 DE Emmanuel Ogbah 35.5 3
2 DE Jason Fanaika 35.5 19
4 DE Noah Spence 35 6
4 DE Matt Judon 35 NR
4 DE Robert Nkemdiche 35 4
4 DE Lawrence Thomas 35 20

2016 Combine Result
Broad Jump
Rank Pos Name Broad Jump Walter Football Rank
1 DE Alex Mccalister 10 ft 8 in 15
2 DE Shawn Oakman 10 ft 3 in 17
3 DE Emmanuel Ogbah 10 ft 1 in 3
3 DE Noah Spence 10 ft 1 in 6
5 DE Joey Bosa 10 ft 1
5 DE Shaq Lawson 10 ft 9
5 DE Romeo Okwara 10 ft NR

Compile the data and see which players rank high in more than one category.

2016 Power Rushers
Ranked in more than one Test
Player 10 yard Split Vertical Jump Broad Jump
Emmanuel Ogbah 2nd 2nd - T 3rd - T
Noah Spence 3rd 4th - T 3rd - T
Shaq Lawson 6th 4th - T

Bendy Rushers

2016 Combine Result
3-cone Drill
Rank Pos Name 3 - Cone Drill Walter Football Rank
1 DE James Cowser 6.80 NR
2 DE Joey Bosa 6.89 1
3 DE Shilique Calhoun 6.97 5
4 DE Alex McCalister 7.01 15
5 DE Bronson Kaufusi 7.03 14

Although we have only one chart for bendy rushers in the 3-cone drill, we can still identify which players showed up in more than one category.

2016 Bendy Rushers
Ranked in more than one Test
Player 3 Cone Drill 10 yard Split Vertical Jump Broad Jump
Alex Mccalister 4th 1st
Joey Bosa 2nd 5th - T

Conclusion

Ogbah has surprised many with his combine numbers than Spence, who looks to be the hot DE commodity still.  There are huge differences in play between the two DE prospects. With either player, the chances are they will be successful for the Bucs should they choose to draft either player at ninth overall.

Here is Bucs Nation's scouting report by Jason Kanno:  Draft Profile of Noah Spence.

Here is Mosqueda's early scouting report for: Emmanuel Ogbah.