2015 NFL Draft: Edge rusher comparisons

Who is the best edge rusher that are expected to come out for the 2015 NFL Draft? We break it down and rank them in dozens of categories.

With National Football League teams placing much more emphasis on speed along their first- and second-level lines of defense, it has become imperative for teams to have quality edge rushers with the ability to play the “Buck” and/or “Sam” spots in those alignments. Teams are looking for those blue-chip hybrids – players capable of eluding big blockers coming off the edge and still have the power to take on double teams and shoot the inside gaps.

Ideally, they are looking for athletes who not only have the raw power to play through trash, but also those who are quick enough and agile enough to drop back and handle linebacker chores, when the scheme requires them to cover backs, tight ends and slot receivers in the short-to-intermediate areas on the football field.

Prior to the start of the 2014 season, The NFL Draft Report hailed Missouri’s Shane Ray as the best option for teams looking for this all-around type of athlete. With the regular season coming to an end, we stand by our assessment of this Missouri Tigers standout, a budding star in the mold of Denver’s DeMarcus Ware and Philadelphia’s Connor Barwin.

Below, these charts compare Shane Ray’s 2014 season performance to date, to those of college football’s other elite rush ends/outside linebackers that are eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft, using their current 2014 season statistics for this project. To compile this report card, I examine each athlete’s performance in detailed categories listed below. Statistics are based on average for games played only.

The 2015 NFL Draft Class is expected to include Vic Beasley (Clemson); Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State); Alvin Dupree (Kentucky); Dante Fowler (Florida); Randy Gregory (Nebraska); Kau’Oli Kikaha (Washington); Lorenzo Mauldin (Louisville), Dadi Nicolas (Virginia Tech) and Nate Orchard (Utah). All are expected to be drafted within the first three rounds.

RUSH OUTSIDE LINEBACKER TALE OF THE TAPE
PLAYER SCHOOL CLASS HEIGHT WEIGHT 40-YD
RAY, Shane MissouriJunior 06:02.6247 4.52
BEASLEY, Victor “Vic” ClemsonSenior 06:02.1236 4.58
CALHOUN, Shilique Michigan State Junior06:03.5 2564.62
DUPREE, Alvin “Bud” KentuckySenior 06:03.6267 4.63
FOWLER, Dante Jr. FloridaJunior 06:02.5266 4.84
GREGORY, Randy NebraskaJunior 06:05.5247 4.76
KIKAHA, Hau’Oli Washington Senior06:02.5 2504.74
MAULDIN, Lorenzo Louisville Senior06:03.2 2434.78
NICOLAS, Dadi Virginia Tech Junior06:02.5 2374.46
ORCHARD, Napaa Lilo Fakahafua “Nate” UtahSenior 06:03.5255 4.76

Point system: Players are rewarded points for where they rank within each category…The point system used rewards 10 points for a player that ranks first in a particular category; nine points for ranking second; eight points for third; seven points for fourth; six points for fifth; five points for sixth; four points for seventh; three points for eighth; two points for ninth and one point for finishing in last (tenth) place.

RUN DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
  STATISTICS
Player TK SO AS TFL NG
RAY56 4216 20.0-11410
BEASLEY26 215 15.5-0921
CALHOUN33 249 11.0-0975
DUPREE68 4028 10.5-0473
FOWLER53 2231 11.0-0484
GREGORY50 2129 10.0-0695
KIKAHA63 4716 23.5-1253
MAULDIN41 3011 13.0-0557
NICOLAS53 2924 15.0-0734
ORCHARD79 5029 20.0-1183
RUN DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
  PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE RUN
Player ATT YDS TD LG YPC 1st 3rd 4th RZ/GL
RAY54 -660 8-1.22 09 300/00
BEASLEY23 -431 20-1.87 34 001/00
CALHOUN33 -721 8-2.18 213 211/06
DUPREE57 1222 222.14 1011 209/03
FOWLER52 461 70.88 69 011/09
GREGORY48 311 160.65 89 110/02
KIKAHA47 -241 12-0.51 69 203/01
MAULDIN38 -80 8-0.21 14 005/03
NICOLAS53 -610 6-1.15 29 122/14
ORCHARD76 321 140.42 1117 109/09

NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…SO indicates solo tackles…AS indicates assisted tackles…TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…ATT indicates plays made vs. the run…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the run…TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the run…LG indicates longest rushing attempt gain vs. the defender…YPC indicates average yards per carry by the opponent vs. the defender…1st indicates carries by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…RZ/GL indicates plays made by the defender inside the red zone/on goal-line plays vs. the run.

AGAINST THE RUN COMPARISON
PLAYER GP TKA RK TFLA RK NG RK
RAY11 5.095 1.822 0.911
BEASLEY11 2.3610 1.414 0.0910
CALHOUN11 39 18 0.454
DUPREE11 6.182 0.9510 0.277
FOWLER10 5.33 1.17 0.45
GREGORY10 56 18 0.53
KIKAHA12 5.254 1.961 0.259
MAULDIN10 4.18 1.36 0.72
NICOLAS11 4.827 1.365 0.366
ORCHARD11 7.181 1.822 0.277
AGAINST THE RUN COMPARISON
R/AVG RK 3/4S RK RZ/GL RK PTS TOT
-1.224 1.094 0.189 412
-1.873 0.3610 0.0910 1910
-2.181 1.362 14 383
2.142 1.183 0.825 374
0.8810 0.98 1.12 318
0.659 15 13 326
-0.516 0.926 0.258 326
-0.217 0.49 0.57 279
-1.155 0.917 21 355
0.428 1.641 0.825 421

NOTES: GP indicates games played by the athlete…TKA indicates average tackles per game…RK indicates rank in that category…TFLA indicates tackle-for-loss average per game…NG indicates tackles of ball carriers for no gain…R/AVG indicates opponent’s average gain per rushing attempt vs. the defender…3/4S indicates third and fourth-down stops vs. the run…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed.

PASS DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
  STATISTICS
Player TK PB INT SACK PR
RAY56 10 13.5-089 12
BEASLEY26 20 09.0-076 8
CALHOUN33 00 06.5-079 8
DUPREE68 20 06.5-036 5
FOWLER53 10 04.5-034 15
GREGORY50 31 07.0-067 16
KIKAHA63 20 17.5-116 0
MAULDIN41 30 06.5-042 7
NICOLAS53 10 07.5-060 29
ORCHARD79 20 17.5-113 1
PASS DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
  PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE PASS
Player ATT NO YDS PCT TD LG 1st 3rd 4th IC
RAY33 27 6.060 40 121 13
BEASLEY8 228 251 221 30 0
CALHOUN23 24 8.70 40 60 10
DUPREE19 959 47.370 271 31 2
FOWLER22 37 13.640 81 131 4
GREGORY22 351 13.640 222 90 5
KIKAHA16 1034 62.50 81 20 4
MAULDIN17 417 23.530 101 41 3
NICOLAS35 211 5.710 111 231 3
ORCHARD21 760 33.331 165 31 2

NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…PB indicates pass deflections…INT indicates interceptions…SACK indicates sacks recorded/lost yardage…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…ATT indicates number of passes attempted in the defender’s area…NO indicates number of passes caught by an opponent vs. the defender…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the pass…PCT indicates percentage of passes completed vs. the defender…TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the pass…LG indicates longest pass completion vs. the defender…1st indicates receptions by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass…IC indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play).

AGAINST THE PASS PERFORMANCE CHART
Player GP SKA RK PRA RK 1st
RAY11 1.233 1.094 0
BEASLEY11 0.824 0.735 0.09
CALHOUN11 0.598 0.735 0
DUPREE11 0.598 0.458 0.09
FOWLER10 0.4510 1.53 0.1
GREGORY10 0.75 1.62 0.2
KIKAHA12 1.462 010 0.08
MAULDIN10 0.657 0.77 0.1
NICOLAS11 0.686 2.641 0.09
ORCHARD11 1.591 0.099 0.45
AGAINST THE PASS PERFORMANCE CHART
Player RK 3/4SA RK PDA RK IC RK PTS TOT
RAY1 1.183 0.098 1.181 461
BEASLEY4 0.279 0.183 010 316
CALHOUN1 0.555 010 0.912 354
DUPREE4 0.367 0.183 0.188 289
FOWLER7 1.42 0.17 0.44 335
GREGORY9 0.94 0.41 0.53 422
KIKAHA3 0.1710 0.176 0.335 308
MAULDIN7 0.56 0.32 0.36 316
NICOLAS4 2.181 0.098 0.277 393
ORCHARD10 0.367 0.183 0.188 289

NOTES: SKA indicates average of sacks recorded per game…RK indicates rank in that category…PRA indicates average of quarterback pressures per game…1st indicates average amount of passing first downs defender allowed an opponent per game…3/4SA indicates average of third/fourth down stops made by the defender vs. the pass per game…PDA indicates average of passes defended (interceptions/ pass break-ups) by the defender per game…IC indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play)…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed.

NEGATIVE PLAYS CHARGED AGAINST THE DEFENDER
PLAYER GP 1STR 1STP PEN TDR TDP
RAY11 00 40 0
BEASLEY11 31 11 1
CALHOUN11 20 31 0
DUPREE11 101 22 0
FOWLER10 61 21 0
GREGORY10 82 11 0
KIKAHA12 61 11 0
MAULDIN10 11 10 0
NICOLAS11 21 20 0
ORCHARD11 115 11 1
NEGATIVE PLAYS CHARGED AGAINST THE DEFENDER
10+R 20+R 10+P 20+P NP AVG PTS TOT
00 00 40.36 101
10 01 90.82 65
00 00 60.55 83
11 01 181.64 38
00 00 101 47
20 21 171.7 29
10 00 100.83 56
00 10 40.4 92
00 10 60.55 83
30 30 252.27 110

NOTES: 1STR indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on running plays…1STR indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on passing plays…PEN indicates amount of penalties charged to the defender…TDR indicates touchdowns defender allowed on running plays… TDP indicates touchdowns defender allowed on passing plays…10+R indicates running plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+R indicates running plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…10+P indicates passing plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+P indicates passing plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed.

POSITIVE PLAYS MADE BY THE DEFENDER
PLAYER GP TFL NG FUM PR PD
RAY11 2110 212 1
BEASLEY11 161 28 2
CALHOUN11 135 18 0
DUPREE11 123 05 2
FOWLER10 144 215 1
GREGORY10 105 116 4
KIKAHA12 253 30 2
MAULDIN10 147 17 3
NICOLAS11 224 129 1
ORCHARD11 216 31 2
POSITIVE PLAYS MADE BY THE DEFENDER
PLAYER 3DS 4DS TDSR TDSP RZ NP AVG PTS TOT
RAY21 46 42 837.55 92
BEASLEY7 11 01 393.55 110
CALHOUN8 13 111 514.64 47
DUPREE14 32 09 504.55 38
FOWLER22 14 111 757.5 83
GREGORY18 11 010 666.6 74
KIKAHA11 23 03 544.5 29
MAULDIN8 11 05 474.7 56
NICOLAS32 211 122 12511.36 101
ORCHARD20 25 19 706.36 65

NOTES: TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage (total of solos and assists)…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…FUM indicates total of fumbles recovered/ caused…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…PD indicates pass defended (break ups/interceptions)…3DS indicates total amount of third-down plays made (pass/run)… 4DS indicates total amount of fourth-down plays made (pass/run/punt return coverage)…TDSR indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the run…TDSP indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the pass…RZ indicates plays made inside the red zone…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other four players listed.

FINAL REPORT CARD
PLAYER GP AR RK AP RK NP RK PP RK PTS RK
RAY, Shane 1141 246 110 19 2106 1
BEASLEY, Victor “Vic” 1119 1031 66 51 1057 10
CALHOUN, Shilique 1138 335 48 34 785 3
DUPREE, Alvin “Bud” 1137 428 93 83 871 8
FOWLER, Dante Jr. 1031 833 54 78 376 6
GREGORY, Randy 1032 642 22 97 483 4
KIKAHA, Hau’Oli 1232 630 85 62 969 9
MAULDIN, Lorenzo 1027 931 69 25 672 7
NICOLAS, Dadi 1135 539 38 310 192 2
ORCHARD, Napaa “Nate” 1142 128 91 106 577 5
AVERAGE 10.8 33.4   34.3  5.6   5.5  77.8

NOTES: This chart lists the statistics compiled by each defensive lineman during their respective seasons…AR indicates points scored in the above Against the Run Comparison category…AP indicates points scored in the above Against the Pass Performance Chart category…NP indicates points scored in the above Negative Plays Charged category…PP indicates points scored in the above Positive Plays Charged category…PTS indicates total points scored from all of these categories…RK indicates final ranking, based on total points scored.


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