Rookie Impact: 2014 IDs

How did 2014's rookie interior defenders stack up to past seasons and how does that set expectations for the 2015 class? Ben Stockwell explores.

| 1 year ago

Rookie Impact: 2014 IDs

rookie impact IDThe last four seasons have seen some of the league’s most destructive defensive linemen enter the NFL. Matters started with a 2010 class of 3-tech defensive tackles that continue to raise the bar but in terms of rookie performances three players to enter the league since then have only raised the bar further. Defensive tackles and 3-4 defensive ends are starting to enter the league with greater fanfare as a result and the pressure is high on them to pick up the gauntlet laid down by Messrs Watt, Richardson and Donald. Is the purple patch for rookie interior defenders coming to an end?

Rookie Interior Defenders - Click to Enlarge

Rookie Interior Defenders – Click to Enlarge

2014 Class Review

  • Only two interior defenders, Aaron Donald and Justin Ellis, played more than 500 snaps last season; tied for the fewest by a draft class in the last eight years.
  • Any time a rookie comes in and plays immediately at a Pro Bowl level you know you’re seeing a very special player. Can Aaron Donald (+34.4) follow in the footsteps of J.J. Watt and Sheldon Richardson and build on this spectacular rookie season?
  • Of those interior defenders who played at least 100 snaps only Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan earned positive grades.
  • The five interior defenders selected in the third round played a combined 764 snaps, the lowest for any third round group in the last eight years.

Best Class

  • Highest Combined Grade: 2011 (-29.1 overall)
  • When a class featuring J.J. Watt (+18.8) nets a negative overall grade it shows you just how tough the position is to play for rookies.
  • Most Snaps Played: 2012 (7,608 snaps)
  • Seven rookie interior defenders topped 500 snaps in 2012 including three players (Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers) taken within the space of four picks.

First Round Outlook

  • Average Playing Time: 530 snaps
  • Average Overall Grade: -2.9
  • 500+ Snap Seasons: 18/32 selections
  • Best Rookie Season: Aaron Donald (2014), 724 snaps, +34.4 overall
  • Worst Rookie Season: Tyson Jackson (2009), 700 snaps, -52.4 overall

Mid Round (2nd and 3rd) Outlook

  • Average Playing Time: 286 snaps
  • Average Overall Grade: -4.1
  • 500+ Snap Seasons: 9/63 selections
  • Best Rookie Season: Kawann Short (2013), 528 snaps, +11.9 overall
  • Worst Rookie Season: Terrell McClain (2011), 481 snaps, -22.1 overall

Late Round (4th to 7th) Outlook

  • Average Playing Time: 136 snaps
  • Average Overall Grade: -2.5
  • 500+ Snap Seasons: 5/90 selections
  • Best Rookie Season: Pernell McPhee (2011), 364 snaps, +20.5 overall
  • Worst Rookie Season: Chris Jones (2013), 792 snaps, -35.5 overall


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

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