So who do you think is the most productive pass rusher in the NFL on a per snap basis? Is it the master of the spin move, Dwight Freeney? Hard hitting outside linebacker James Harrison? Or maybe it was NFL sack leader DeMarcus Ware? Well they all featured near the top, but you’d be wrong if you answered any of them.
Now, if you had answered “Tamba Hali”, then you would have been the winner of this fun, but sadly prize-less contest. Yes indeed, the Kansas City Chief outside linebacker (who didn’t even make the Pro Bowl) tops our Pass Rushing Productivity chart. Hali follows in the footsteps of last year’s leader Freeney, and 2008’s top dog John Abraham.
For those not yet clued in to what Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) is, it’s the result of a simple study investigating how much pressure a pass rusher gets, and how many snaps it takes him to get it. In a bit more detail here’s our classic explanation:
First, we total what we refer to as “QB Disruption Points,” which values sacks over hits and pressures:
QB Disruption Points = Sacks + Hits (0.75) + Pressures (0.75)
We arrived at that balance after a general audit of our grades and tracking over the past three seasons, and found that hits and pressures represent about 75 percent of the value of sacks.
Then, to arrive at a score that measures productivity per rush, its simple:
Pass-Rushing Productivity = QB Disruptions Points / Number of Pass Rushes x 100.
Easy enough? So back to telling you what makes Tamba Hali so special. For a start, he had more QB disruption points than any other (with 75.7). Even though he had ample rushing opportunities (524 snaps), his 14.41 PRP Rating was a world away from all others. Perhaps more of a surprise would be who finished second overall, and atop our defensive end rankings. Anybody out there think Charles Johnson of the Carolina Panthers would have such a good season? He ended the season with a PRP of 13.25 and was often the lone bright spot in a dismal season for the Panthers. That’s a free agent a lot of teams will want to get their hand on.
Also in the top five, we have a long standing favorite of the PRP system, John Abraham. He finished 4th overall (behind Hali, Johnson, and Ray Edwards) in a season where many said he reclaimed his burst as a pass rusher. We’re not often likely to say we told you so, but last year Abraham was still 7th here, even when his sack numbers fell off. He’s an excellent example of why you can’t quickly write players off simply because they are bringing down the quarterback less often; the pressure can still be there.
Top 10 Overall
|Tamba Hali||KC||3-4 OLB||524||14.41|
|Charles Johnson||CAR||4-3 DE||481||13.25|
|Ray Edwards||MIN||4-3 DE||416||12.98|
|John Abraham||ATL||4-3 DE||363||12.67|
|Lamarr Woodley||PIT||3-4 OLB||427||12.65|
|DeMarcus Ware||DAL||3-4 OLB||509||12.38|
|Manny Lawson||SF||3-4 OLB||218||12.04|
|Cameron Wake||MIA||3-4 OLB||445||12.02|
|Trent Cole||PHI||4-3 DE||500||11.90|
|Jason Babin||TEN||4-3 DE||433||11.89|
It’s always going to be tougher for guys working on the inside to get pressure as consistently as those coming off the edge. As you would expect, their PRP ratings are generally lower, but the achievements of the interior men shouldn’t be overlooked. Credit is due to New England’s Mike Wright for earning the highest mark of any interior defensive lineman. The Patriot finished with a 9.98 rating, putting him just ahead of the Packers’ 3-4 DE Cullen Jenkins (9.65), who registered more total pressure than Wright, but also rushed the passer 81 more times.
While it isn’t a surprise to see the ever-excellent Justin Smith high up on the list at No. 4, how about the consistent pressure Antonio Garay brought this year? A revelation since pushing his way into the Chargers starting lineup, Garay finished third overall and significantly ahead of all other nose tackles. By way of comparison, Garay earned a 9.30 rating, and Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff ended up with a 5.69 rating, good enough for the 26th spot among interior defensive linemen.
Top 10 Interior Defensive Linemen
|Cullen Jenkins||GB||3-4 DE||298||9.65|
|Justin Smith||SF||3-4 DE||499||8.87|
|Wallace Gilberry||KC||3-4 DE||387||8.14|
And what of all the rookies? If we told you Ndamukong Suh ranked only 23rd of all interior linemen would you believe us? He did, and a large part of that owed to the fact that no other player rushed the passer as much as Suh (though Chris Long matched his total.) Instead, a guy like Geno Atkins was more productive on a per play basis, finishing with the 6th best PRP for an interior lineman and also 6th among rookies, regardless of position. Interestingly, only 12 rookies rushed the passer the necessary 200 times to figure into this analysis; Eagle Brandon Graham ended up with the highest rating, finishing 21st overall and ahead of guys like Clay Matthews and Robert Mathis.
Top 5 Rookies
|Brandon Graham||PHI||4-3 DE||271||10.52|
|Koa Misi||MIA||3-4 OLB||253||9.98|
|Carlos Dunlap||CIN||4-3 DE||216||9.49|
|Lamarr Houston||OAK||4-3 DE||332||9.41|
|Greg Hardy||CAR||4-3 DE||217||8.87|
Pass Rushing Productivity isn’t all about looking at the good. It paints an equally clear picture for players who have struggled to consistently generate pressure, in particular some rotational guys for the Colts. Two of those, who each kick inside on passing downs, have the 3rd worst (Eric Foster) and actual worst (Keyunta Dawson) PRP ratings of all defensive ends and outside linebackers. If there’s any consolation, they can look at how Raheem Brock turned things around when he moved on from the Colts. Brock went from finishing 145th in 2009, to 17th in 2010 with Seattle.
Bottom 10 Defensive Ends / Outside Linebackers
|Frank Zombo||GB||3-4 OLB||218||4.93|
|Clark Haggans||ARZ||3-4 OLB||315||4.92|
|Tim Crowder||TB||4-3 DE||348||4.53|
|Robert Geathers||CIN||4-3 DE||450||4.39|
|Tyler Brayton||CAR||4-3 DE||332||4.29|
|George Selvie||STL||4-3 DE||204||4.29|
|Calvin Pace||NYJ||3-4 OLB||304||3.87|
|Eric Foster||IND||4-3 DE||376||3.66|
|Kentwan Balmer||SEA||4-3 DE||243||3.40|
|Keyunta Dawson||IND||4-3 DE||339||3.32|
If you’re interested in finding out more about your team’s players, get in touch with PFF_Khaled on twitter and he’ll be more than happy to oblige.