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Finding an all-around defensive end in the draft

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In a previous article, I have denoted how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are missing a defensive end that is strong at stopping the run as well as generating sacks:  Defensive Line Needs Help

DE Pass Rush Specialists:  (stats from 2015)

Robert Ayers (9.5 sacks, 3 TFLs)

Jacquies Smith (7 sacks, 2 TFLs)

Howard Jones (5 sacks, 1 TFL)

DT Pass Rush Specialists:

Gerald McCoy (2015: 8.5 sacks, 1 TFL; 2014: 8.5 sacks, 5 TFLs)

Clinton McDonald (2015: 0 sacks, 3 TFLs; 2014: 5 sacks, 5 TFLs)

DE TFLs Producers:

William Gholston (2015: 3 sacks, 6 TFLs; 2014: 2 sacks, 8 TFLs)

DT TFLs Producers:

Gerald McCoy

Clinton McDonald

Tampa Bay Bucs
2012 - 2015 Sacks and TFL's with Football Outsider Def Rankings
Year Dline Sacks Total Sacks DL% of total sacks FO Def Rush Rank Dline TFL's Total TFL's DL% of TFL's FO Def Pass Rank
2012 17 27 62.96% 3rd 24 95 25.26% 26th
2013 20 35 57.14% 8th 36 58 62.07% 11th
2014 33 36 91.67% 8th 31 67 46.27% 23rd
2015 27.5 38 72.37% 9th 17 59 28.81% 26th
http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/stats/_/name/tb
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef

Tampa Bay ranked tied for 14th in the league with 38 sacks in 2015.  It increased its production from 2014, but at the expense of pass defense regression. From the chart above, we see the highest defensive line TFL production helped improve the pass defense. With the listing of our defensive line above the chart, we have only one TFL producer at the end with William Gholston. TFL stands for tackle for loss, implying a defensive player has tackled a runner behind the line of scrimmage.

The more the defensive line can stop the run by itself, the more players can remain to protect the pass, which in turns helps to improve pass defense. That evidence is provided in the aforementioned chart.

2016 DE Prospect Rankings
Sacks + TFLs in 2015 Productions
Rank Name College Total Sacks Total TFLs Sacks + TFLs
1 Shaq Lawson Clemson 12.5 25.5 38.00
2 Kevin Dodd Clemson 12 23.5 35.50
3 Carl Nassib Penn State 15.5 19.5 35.00
4 Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky 11.5 22.5 34.00
5 Bronson Kaufusi BYU 11 20 31.00
6 Emmanuel Ogbah Okla State 13 17.5 30.50
7 Victor Ochi Stony Brook 13 16.5 29.50
8 Yannick Ngakoue Maryland 13.5 15 28.50
9 DeForest Buckner Oregon 10.5 17 27.50
10 Shilique Calhoun Michigan State 10.5 15 25.50
11 Jonathan Bullard Florida 6.5 17.5 24.00
12 Joey Bosa Ohio State 5 16 21.00
13 Sheldon Day Notre Dame 4 15.5 19.50
14 Shawn Oakman Baylor 4.5 14.5 19.00
15 Charles Tapper Oklahoma 7 10 17.00
16 Alex McCalister Florida 9.5 6.5 16.00
17 Jason Fanaika Utah 4 10.5 14.50
18 Robert Nkemdiche Ole Miss 3 7 10.00
19 Dadi Nicolas Virginia Tech 2.5 7 9.50
20 Lawrence Thomas Michigan State 3 5 8.00
http://walterfootball.com/draft2016DE.php

Wow!  Clemson is boasting two very productive defensive ends at sacking and stopping the run. I used an old Walter Football's DE rankings, the only player differences are at the bottom of the list, but players move up and down the rankings. Here, I ranked them based upon the total sack and TFL productions.

Now, let us add a layer to this with combine numbers to give some depth to the rankings. A month ago, I did an article focused on defensive end pass rushers as well as which players could be possible Force players, players who are athletic before the draft and become under Olympic wunderkinds.

Power Rushers

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 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

Top Power and Bendy Rushers, showing Sacks and TFLs

2016 DE Prospect Rankings
Sacks + TFLs in 2015 Productions
Rank Name College Total Sacks Total TFLs Sacks + TFLs
1 Shaq Lawson Clemson 12.5 25.5 38.00
4 Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky 11.5 22.5 34.00
6 Emmanuel Ogbah Okla State 13 17.5 30.50
12 Joey Bosa Ohio State 5 16 21.00
16 Alex McCalister Florida 9.5 6.5 16.00
http://walterfootball.com/draft2016DE.php

Bosa may be living off of his sophomore year (2014) where he had 13.5 sacks with 21 TFLs, but his athleticism is still there. Ogbah is very athletic, but his numbers are low for such athleticism. Stephen White broke down Ogbah here: Jekyll and Hyde performances of Ogbah. Spence had off-field issues that got him kicked off Ohio State.  Lawson looks the likeliest of choice, except 2015 came out of nowhere and could also be a byproduct of having Dodd playing on the other side of him. And then there is Dodd, who is not in the top athletic rankings for power rushers or bendy rushers from the combine.

2016 DE Prospect Rankings
Ht, Wt, Arm Length (order by weight)
Name College Height Weight (lbs) Arm Length
Kevin Dodd Clemson 6'5" 277 34"
Emmanuel Ogbah Okla State 6'4" 273 35 1/2"
Shaq Lawson Clemson 6'3" 269 32 3/4"
Joey Bosa Ohio State 6'5" 269 33 3/8"
Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky 6'2" 251 33"
Alex McCalister Florida 6'6" 239 36"
Metrics from NFL.com, draft profiles

Hmmm...  From the biometrics chart, now I see why many pundits have Dodd skyrocketing up the draft chart. There is Ogbah near the top again, based upon weight. Ogbah has the second longest arm reach and is the most athletic amongst all of the DE's listed as a combine top producer with that mass!  Lawson is also in the mix.  Then there is the possibility Bosa may drop.  Can Spence be a three down end?

I would not want to be in the Bucs war room when their pick comes up in the first round.