Understand that Mel Kiper is rating the minute, not the results over time. He is doing the worst kind of analysis, situational and opinion based. Mel Kiper does not care that the player actually develops into a real productive player, only that the team draft to his opinion.
Football Outsiders tries to use statistics to find the truth about players. This is their study of players measurables in terms of sack productivity as a projection of the next five years. They call it SackSEER and it does a good job of sorting out pretenders. Predicting success is more elusive because motivation plays a big role. SackSEER can tell you probability.
The SackSEER says there are four dimensions of predicting NFL quality sack artists; Vertical Leap, the Short Shuttle, Sacks per Game in College, and Missed Games in College.
The vertical leap measures leg explosiveness, the Short Shuttle measures change of direction and ability to stay on your feet, the other two are past productivity numbers.
Let me focus for a bit on the Short Shuttle. Here is the explaination in their own words:
The short shuttle run measures change of direction speed, burst, and hip flexibility. DeMarcus Ware had a jaw-dropping 4.07 second short shuttle, and Jevon Kearse ran the short shuttle twice with an average time of 4.12 seconds. No elite edge rusher has emerged from any round of the NFL Draft since at least 1999 with a short shuttle slower than 4.42 seconds.
Lets look at a few candidates in the draft and see their combine numbers and prediction of the future:
Jason Pierre-Paul: Vertical Leap: 30.5, Short Shuttle: 4.6 seconds.
Derrick Morgan: Vertical Leap: 34″, Short Shuttle: 4.46 seconds.
Gerald McCoy: Vertical Leap: 30.5″, Short Shuttle: 4.48 seconds
Ndamukong Suh: Vertical Leap: 35.5″, Short Shuttle: 4.44 seconds
Jerry Hughes: Vertical Leap: 34″, Short Shuttle: 4.18 seconds
Tyson Alualu: Vertical Leap: 35″, Short Shuttle: 4.28 seconds
In college, Tyson Alualu had about as many starts as Derrick Morgan and never missed a game that I saw. Tyson Alualu had as many starts as Gerald McCoy and more sacks. In short, according to the model developed by Football Outsiders, Derrick Morgan is a 50/50 draft choice to become a good solid NFL pro, Jason Pierre-Paul is a pretender and Tyson Alualu has a high probabilty of success. He might put up 4-5 sacks per year over the next 5 years. Jason Pierre-Paul (as in Quentin Groves) will get maybe 4 sacks in the next five years. Not 4 per year, 4 total.
Notice the numbers of Jerry Hughes. He also was the champion at the combine in the three cone drill. The three cone drill is the 5-10-5 drill, five yards, change direction, 10 yards, change direction, five yards. Right behind him was Tyson Alualu. Bill Polian gets credit for drafting good players, Gene Smith is ridiculed.
Just so you understand how bad 4.6 Short Shuttle is, here is an observation of Jason Pierre-Paul by DraftScout:
Only fair change-of-direction agility for his size; he ends up on the ground too often when ballcarriers elude him.
Gets to the pocket in a hurry against most tackles, but struggles to turn the corner against better linemen because of a lack of flexibility
only capable of going outside and can bull rush effectively against lesser competition
A little better review is for Derrick Morgan by DraftScout:
Good lateral agility and balance to string out the play and keep containment.
And this is Jerry Hughes observations by DraftScout:
Run defense: Undersized defensive end likely to move to linebacker. Hustles downfield and through trash inside to make tackles — promising if he plays linebacker. Avoids cuts and when he doesn’t avoid, he can recover quickly enough to chase down backs five or six yards downfield.
Pass defense: Not exceptionally fluid or quick but has just enough speed and change-of-direction agility to stay with running backs and tight ends in the flat — and run with them down the sideline.
And the description of Alualu by DraftScout:
Good lateral agility and balance to slide down the line against the toss and make the tackle at or near the line of scrimmage. Uses his natural leverage advantage and overall strength to anchor at the point of attack. Good upper-body strength to stack and shed in the running game
The point being, there is a difference between fast and quick. Quick denotes ability to recognize and change momentum toward the direction of the play. Fast is just straight ahead speed. Fast is good in the backfield, quick in needed along the line and in traffic. You want your linemen and linebackers able to read and react and their body has to be flexible to allow that. Tyson Alualu is quick, very quick. Quick enough to stop Chris Johnson up the middle? I hope so. This year we get to see Chris Johnson and C.J. Spiller and Ryan Matthews. This will be fun to watch.
My apologies to Gene Smith for acting like Mel Kiper in my initial reviews. Gene and his team clearly did their homework and studied these players. Tyson Alualu was a top ten pick had he played for Oklahoma, Florida or Alabama. If Jason Pierre-Paul was rated ahead of Tyson Alualu to Mel Kiper, the problem is not Gene Smith, it is Mel Kiper. Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul were taken 5 and 6 spots later to absolutely no complaints. Do you think Gene Smith was the only GM to notice these performance numbers? Is it possible the Jaguars taking Tyson Alualu caused the teams behind to trade down? This article says I might be right. I doubt Mel Kiper is right.
Next week my camera comes out and I visit mini-camp. We will see what all the draft picks look like in real life. Then, the Oklahoma drill… I can’t wait for that. Tyson Alualu verses Eben Britton! See you there!
– Terry O’Brien