Pass Rushing Productivity, Interior Defenders

Following Tuesday's look at the edge rushers, Khaled Elsayed shares the data on the best and worst at getting after the quarterback from the defensive interior.

| 3 years ago

Pass Rushing Productivity, Interior Defenders

2013-PRP-DIOn Tuesday we had ourselves a look at who the most productive pass rushing “edge defenders” were throughout the 2013 season. Well, it stands to good reason, therefore, that we follow up by looking at who the most productive pass rushing interior defensive linemen have been.

That means taking all 4-3 defensive tackles, nose tackles and 3-4 defensive ends who rushed the passer over 200 times during the 2013 regular season and applying our Pass Rushing Productivity formula that measures sacks, hits and hurries by the amount of pass rushes a player has (with sacks weighted more heavily than either hits or hurries).

Watt on Top

Apparently J.J. Watt had a down year. You know why? Because the Texans aren’t as hot as they were and his sack totals fell off. Well, despite this down year and with some teams paying him extra attention he still saw his quarterback disruptions rise from 76 to 85, and he did it despite rushing the passer 56 fewer times than he did in 2012. That isn’t a down year, that’s improvement and it led Watt and his 12.8 Pass Rushing Productivity score to have the highest number of all defensive interior linemen.

2013-PRP-DI-inset-curryBut yeah, that’s a down year, right?

It’s more of a surprise to see who finished second with the Eagles’ situational pass rusher Vinny Curry finally shedding that bust label to deliver some real production. His 32 QB Disruptions on 217 hurries highlight a player who really needs more playing time to make his mark.

He’s marginally ahead of the interesting case of Cameron Jordan who spends a significant portion of his time playing as an edge rusher in the Saints’ multiple-fronts defense. For the purposes of this study he was classed as interior linemen in much the same way Michael Bennett was an edge rusher.

Here are the Top 10 interior rushers from 2013 by PRP:

# Name Team Pass Rush Snaps Total Pressure PRP
1 J.J. Watt HST 518 85 12.8
2 Vinny Curry PHI 217 32 11.6
3 Cameron Jordan NO 525 76 11.5
4 Gerald McCoy TB 561 80 11.1
5 Kyle D. Williams BUF 533 69 10.3
6 Ndamukong Suh DET 543 72 10.2
7 Brandon Mebane SEA 240 32 10
8 Justin Smith SF 462 56 9.5
9 Geno Atkins CIN 290 34 9.3
9 Malik Jackson DEN 364 43 9.3


In keeping with the kind of year it’s been, no rookies featured in the Top 10 and you have to jump all the way down to the 21st spot to get one. That man? Panthers rookie defensive tackle — another homerun for David Gettleman — Kawann Short who added some much needed penetration up the gut. Working as a backup and situational tackle he notched an impressive 36 combined sacks, hits and hurries and we’d expect that number to jump significantly next year along with his playing time.

Down at the Bottom

2013-PRP-DI-inset-rubinUnlike what happens with edge rushers, there’s a clear divide between those defensive tackles who can rush the passer, and those who are chiefly in for there run defense or holding up at the point of attack. So while you see names like Akeem Spence, Phil Taylor and Domata Peko in the Bottom 10, don’t fault them for their limitations because they bring other things to the table.

But guys like Ahtyba Rubin and Stephen Bowen? As guys who have been used in every-down roles you have to look at the output and think both men should be delivering more than they are.

Here are the Bottom 10:

# Name Team Pass Rush Snaps Total Pressure PRP
1  Akeem Spence TB 334 7 1.6
2  Alan Branch BUF 229 8 2.6
2  Letroy Guion MIN 209 7 2.6
4  Ahtyba Rubin CLV 308 12 3.1
4  Phil Taylor CLV 284 11 3.1
6  Roy Miller JAX 250 11 3.3
7  Cam Thomas SD 237 11 3.5
7  Domata Peko CIN 325 14 3.5
7  Nick Hayden DAL 489 23 3.5
7  Stephen Bowen WAS 258 12 3.5


Free Agent Watch

2013-PRP-DI-inset-hatcherIf you haven’t seen our FA Tracker then we seriously recommend it. A list of all free agents broken down by team and by position with grades and snaps. What more could you want? For those interested in the most productive free agents out there, the first man up is Jason Hatcher who finished 13th overall and is poised to get the kind of contract he so richly deserves after picking up 51 combined sacks, hits and hurries.

Down at the other end is B.J. Raji who finished with the 11th-worst score and if rumors are to be believed, he pings some of that on how he is used and is why he turned down the kind of contract his recent play on the field has not deserved.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • rajiagent

    a 330+ pound guy who can’t even play the run – turns down 8 mil a year?


  • pbskids4000

    Vinny Curry never had the bust label.

  • Dave Erhardt

    This should be a much higher scoring game then the Hawks. I won’t be able to watch much of it, but I do predict that the hometown teams will sweep these games, the Broncos should win 35 to 31 in a truly high scoring game.