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One of the key ingredients to a championship team is the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback. The New York Giants would not have two Super Bowl championships in the last five seasons without a terrific front four disrupting some of the game’s best quarterbacks. Conversely, the Patriots just could not muster the pressure to prevent Eli Manning from calmly leading his team down the field for the winning touchdown in two Super Bowl losses.
The single best way to slow down today’s passing-friendly offenses is to speed-up the decision-making of the quarterback and not to let him feel comfortable in the pocket. Al Davis was correct when he stated that the quarterback must go down early and go down hard. The NFL has changed, but harassing the quarterback being a key to a sound defense will never go out of style.
This is why every NFL team highly covets a dangerous pass rusher. The problem is they are about as hard to find as a top quarterback is. A study of the 2005-to-2009 NFL drafts reveals just how low percentage it is to select a quality pass rusher:
2005 NFL Draft: Four quality pass rushers (DeMarcus Ware (99.5 career sacks entering 2012), Trent Cole (68 career sacks entering 2012), Justin Tuck (45.5 career sacks entering 2012), Shawne Merriman (44.5 career sacks)) were found in this draft class. Ware and Merriman were 1st round selections, but Tuck (3rd round) and Cole (5th round) proved to be bargains. The highest profile mistakes were Erasmus James (1st round), David Pollack (1st round, sustained neck injury), Dan Cody (2nd round) and Darryl Blackstock (2nd round).
2006 NFL Draft: Three quality pass rushers (Tamba Hali (53.5 career sacks entering 2012), Mario Williams (53 career sacks entering 2012) and Elvis Dumervil (52.5 career sacks entering 2012) were found in this draft class. Hali and Williams were 1st round picks. Dumervil proved to be a 4th round steal by the Broncos. The biggest misses from a pass rushing standpoint were Bobby Carpenter (1st round) and Manny Lawson (1st round).
2007 NFL Draft: Two quality pass rushers (LaMarr Woodley (48 career sacks entering 2012) and Charles Johnson (30.5 career sacks entering 2012)) were found in this draft class. Neither, Woodley (2nd round) or Johnson (3rd round) was a 1st round pick. The 2007 draft featured a number of pass rushing busts selected in the 1st round (Gaines Adams, Jarvis Moss, Quinton Moses and Jamaal Anderson). Anthony Spencer also was a 1st round pick in this draft. Spencer should not be viewed as a bust, but he has been a mediocre pass rusher and more was expected of him.
2008 NFL Draft: Two quality pass rushers (Chris Long (30.5 career sacks entering 2012) and Cliff Avril (30 career sacks entering 2012)) were found in this draft class. Long was a 1st round pick, but Avril slipped to the 3rd round. Vernon Gholston, Derrick Harvey and Lawrence Jackson were the biggest 1st round disappointments.
2009: Three quality pass rushers (Clay Matthews (29.5 career sacks entering 2012), Brian Orakpo (28.5 career sacks entering 2012) and Connor Barwin (15 career sacks entering 2012) were found in this draft class. Aaron Curry, Aaron Maybin, Robert Ayers, Everette Brown, David Veikune, Cody Brown and Larry English all left the teams that drafted them wanting much more from their 1st round investment.
The 2013 NFL draft could be loaded with potentially productive pass rushers if a number of talented juniors decide to turn pro early. Barkevious Mingo (LSU, Junior), Sam Montgomery (LSU, Junior), William Gholston (Michigan State, Junior), Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas, Junior), Michael Buchanan (Illinois, Junior), Brandon Jenkins (Florida State. Senior), Alex Okafor (Texas, Senior), Margus Hunt (SMU, Senior), Corey Lemonier (Auburn, Junior), John Simon (Ohio State, Senior), Jarvis Jones (Georgia, Junior) and Sean Porter (Texas A & M, Senior) all will be closely watched by NFL scouts this season.
However, as the past drafts indicated, there will be more disappointments than productive NFL pass rushers from this group. It takes a rare mix of speed, quickness, power, intensity and instincts to be a quality pass rusher at the game’s highest level. It also is hard to identify which skills will translate to the pros. Sometimes the bread and butter move of a collegiate pass rusher is less effective in the NFL and they have no other way to beat a professional offensive tackle. The reality is that probably only four (or 25%) of the dozen prominent pass rushers potentially available in the 2013 draft will deliver for the team that selects them. The teams that can spot the winners will be rewarded with a critical piece to a championship roster.
write by voeun say