Inexperienced Jets ‘Backers Look to Explode on to Scene
1. able or likely to shatter violently or burst apart.
Explosive. When discussing the tools required for an NFL edge rusher to be a disruptive force; to put a quarterback on his back consistently, he’s got to have “explosiveness”. As the definition above states; able or likely to shatter violently or burst apart.
It’s something the Jets haven’t had since the days of John Abraham, and something that on it’s own, would go a very long way in fixing what ails a defense that was beaten with great ease far too regularly in 2016. Opposing quarterbacks would consistently sit back in the pocket, unmolested, and pick apart an ineffective secondary.
Much has been made of the hiring of Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene coming on board to coach the Jets outside linebackers, but in the name of objectivity, one must ask what Greene has to work with.
Former NFL executive, host of Sirius XM radio’s movin’ the chains and author of Take Your eye off the Ball, Pat Kirwan offered a formula for determining a player’s explosiveness several years ago, and as with the case with any metric, it’s far from perfect, but has also spawned some solid results.
Kirwan’s says that by taking a player’s reps of 225 lbs + vertical jump (in inches) + broad jump (in feet), you add up the three numbers and come get your total score. If that player’s total is 70 or more, they’ve got the physical requirements to succeed in getting to the passer.
To see if Kirwan’s claim has any validity, we calculated the scores of every defensive player to amass 10 or more sacks last season, and with few exceptions, the list is primarily made up of players who come in at 70 or better, with a good number also finishing with an explosion score in the mid-to-high 60’s. Only one player, Markus Golden of the Arizona Cardinals, scored lower than 66 at 54.7.
1. Vic Beasley (15.5) – 86.8
2. Von Miller (13.5) – 68.5
3. Markus Golden (12.5) – 54.7
Danielle Hunter (12.5) – 71.5
4. Cliff Avril (11.5) – 68.7
Cameron Wake (11.5) – 75.5
5. Ryan Kerrigan (11) – 74.6
Chandler Jones (11) – 67
Nick Perry (11) – 83.8
Khalil Mack (11) – 73.6
6. Brian Orakpo (10.5) – 81.3
Joey Bosa (10.5) – 66
7. Dee Ford (10) – 74.8
Frank Clark (10) – 67.3
*combine and workout data was not available for all players with 10 or more sacks
So how do the Jets current crop of linebackers stack up when the formula is applied? Oddly enough, the ‘backers who many expect to start in 2017 come in behind some lesser-known backups who may finally get their shot to shine under Greene.
We’ve also included the explosion scores for the team’s starting defensive linemen to see how many meet Kirwan’s threshold of 70 points.
Freddie Bishop- 76.5
Leonard Williams 73.3
Josh Martin- 72.9
Sheldon Richardson- 71.6
Corey Lemonier- 69.9
Dylan Donahue- 65.1
Lorenzo Mauldin- 64.3
Jordan Jenkins 62.5
Muhammad Wilkerson- 61.8
Frank Beltre 61.5
Propelled by his 37.5” vertical and his 30 reps of 225, Freddie Bishop lands in to the top spot. Josh Martin is the only linebacker in the group to manage 30 reps of 225 with a broad jump of over 10′ (10 4”), giving him the second highest score among the team’s linebackers. Coming in at just a shade under 70 at 69.9, Corey Lemonier is the name most worth keeping an eye on.
Lemonier played his college football at a powerhouse program in Clemson where he earned high praise following a junior season in which he picked up 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Lemonier would see a drop-off in his final collegiate season, a year in which his totals dropped to 5.5 in both categories. As a result, he slipped to the third round of the 2013 draft where he was taken 88th overall by the San Francisco 49ers.
As far as Bishop and Martin are concerned, Bishop saw some playing time late in the season and while he held up against the run better than advertised, he didn’t manage to get to the quarterback. Meanwhile, Martin earned high praise for his work on special teams, but will likely be given an opportunity to increase his role on defense after re-signing with Gang Green this offseason.
With training camp under way, you may have an idea as to which names you’re likely to hear when it comes to pressuring the quarterback, but as previously mentioned, a high explosion score doesn’t guarantee success. Just ask Vernon Gholston and his score of 82.9 back in 2008.
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