In this blog entry, we are going to dive into the A2B™ for defensive ends. Overall, the A2B™ does a nice job of assessing this position and projecting NFL success. We found five unique Player Types that help to broadly characterize where players lie on the athletic spectrum. Further, examination of nearly 400 defensive ends since 2000 showed that multiple A2B™ domain scores predicted real NFL performance. More specifically, Overall Athleticism, Speed, SEP, and Strength were significant predictors and explained almost 13% of NFL Performance. Let’s walk through the A2B™ for defensive ends and see what it says about the 2016 draft class (warning: findings may differ from expected; take with food; do not operate heavy machinery while reading).
Development of the A2B™ for Defensive Ends
The A2B™ classifies defensive ends into 5 Player Types based on their athletic profiles.
Strong Explosive: These is one of the premier DE Player Types. These DEs are characterized by exceptional Size/Explosion/Power (SEP) and Strength. Many great defensive ends fall into this category including Mario Williams and J.J. Watt.
Speed: These is the second premier DE Player Type. As the name suggests, this Player Type is defined by players that are, well, fast. Good examples of Speed DEs are Dwight Freeney, Adalius Thomas, and Jadeveon Clowney.
Good Athleticism: These are your 2nd tier DE athletes. These players tend to show above average athleticism but are pretty average across the other domains. There have been a few successful DEs falling in this Player Type such as Elvis Dumervil.
Limited Speed: These DEs are good overall athletes with size, explosion, and power but these are severely lacking in the speed department. Since 2000, there hasn’t been a single notable DE falling in this category.
Low Athleticism: Pretty obvious from the chart above that these players are not very athletic relative to their peers. Like the Limited Speed DEs, there is not a single notable player since 2000.
Based on data over the past decade and a half, your best bet is going with a Strong Explosive or Speed DE. They have been, by far, the most productive NFL defensive ends.
Some Historical Context
Take a look some top A2B™ NFL Potential Scorers falling in the “Strong Explosive” and “Speed” DE Player Types…
Seven of these players made multiple Pro Bowls and the other DE was a number one overall pick (Clowney).
The A2B™ NFL Potential Scores are moderately negatively correlated with draft position (r=.38), meaning higher NFL potential is associated with an earlier draft position.
Several A2B™ Domains were significant predictors of actual NFL Performance…
2016 Defensive Ends
- The 2016 class of defensive ends consists largely of “Low Athleticism” and “Good Athleticism” DE Types.
- There are also a handful of the top-tier “Strong Explosive” and “Speed” defensive ends, which is a good thing.
Let’s take a look at this year’s “Speed” DEs…
A few things pop out about these “Speed” DEs
- Ogbah, Tapper, and Judon all have athletic profiles that put them in the Top 25% of DEs with regards to NFL Potential historically.
- Interestingly, Ogbah is the only Top 5 DE as ranked by the experts1.
- While we are confident in this classification for Ogbah and Tapper (confidence scores of 89 and 96, respectively), we aren’t as sure about Judon and Correa (confidence scores of 55 and 58, respectively).
- The confidence scores for Judon and Correa are low because they have lower Overall Athleticism compared to players we usually find in this group.
Interestingly, there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the Top 5 A2B™ NFL Potential DEs and the expert ranked Top 5 DEs1.
So there are quite a few things going on here…
- Again, Ogbah is the only prospect in the Top 5 of the A2B™ and expert rankings – Good job, big guy!.
- Even though Buckner and Lawson are not in the A2B™ Top 5, they still have good NFL Potential score that put them in the top 25% of DEs historically. This further supports their high rankings.
- Bosa’s athletic profile seems to translate to more average NFL Potential (score of 53), but Noah Spence’s NFL Potential score of 41 is low enough that it could be worth double-checking his tape.
- With expert rankings of 10-12 (2nd-3rd round projections), Oakman, Tapper, and Kaufusi have the athletic profiles needed for NFL success. They could provide teams with nice value depending on where they are selected.
- Dean Lowry, 24th ranked and projected 7th round/free agent pick, is intriguing. He isn’t an out of this world athlete, but his combination of strength and size appear to project well to the NFL. He would definitely be worth taking a closer look at.
- There are several players in our Top 5s that were hard to classify into a Player Type such as Bosa (confidence score of 51), Buckner (50), and Oakmon (50). The typologies are not especially accurate for these prospects so it would be better to focus on their Domain and NFL Potential scores.
That wraps up our discussion of the A2B™ with regards to the 2016 defensive ends. The 2016 DE class looks promising and there could be several nice value picks. Next time, we will highlight linebackers.
- CBS Sport 2016 DEs. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings/2016/DE