When you trust your gut over stats...
How important is pass rush win %?
🧓 Mel Kiper had his latest mock draft out, this time a two-round mock. He had the Jets selecting Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, USC receiver Drake London, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and Iowa State running back Breece Hall.
🇬🇧 The Jets are hosting a draft party in London this year as well as hosting their annual one at MetLife 🇺🇲
🎩 Former Jet Anthony Becht has been named as a head coach for the rebirth of the XFL in 2023. Becht was with the Jets for 5 years catching 17 touchdowns.
🧐 Something has been on my mind recently and it revolves around Jermaine Johnson. Myself, Andrew Golden, and Matt “Zazzy” have been on the JJ train for a while, when people saw a 2nd round talent we saw a top-10 talent, now people see a top 10 talent we still see a top-10 talent.
His base stats are outstanding, his 11.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for a loss, and 70 total tackles stand up with the best of the best, they actually go beyond the best of the best, but his pass rush win % is poor, in fact, it’s one of the lowest rates among highly rated edge prospects in the draft.
I’m a numbers guy, always have been, but I also tend to trust what I see as well. When I watch Jermaine Johnson I see a long and explosive athlete, an athlete with a great moto and a varied range of pass-rush moves. He’s also an outstanding run defender, but you don’t take an edge in the top-5 because he’s good against the run, you take him to disrupt the passer…so why is his pass rush win % so low?
I took a look at some film I had and I struggled to explain, he was doubled a lot, and I mean more than Aidan Hutchinson and more than Kayvon Thibodeaux, at least to my eyes but I can’t prove that as I can’t seem to find double rates for college athletes.
So instead of trying to understand why his rate was at 14.1% (second lowest on the chart above), I instead started to think about the correlation between pass rush win % and NFL sack production. Is this college stat a good indicator of performance at the next level? Is it a stat that should scare people away from Jermaine Johnson and Travon Walker (10.2%)? Here’s what I found.
I looked at the NFL sack leaders from the 2021 season and then looked at their pass rush win % in college. There were 17 players in the NFL last season who recorded 10 or more sacks, very different players and different guys win in different ways. Some guys rushed the passer more in the NFL than they did in college, so when available I’ve put their pass rush production number as well which takes that into consideration.
I have some issues with all the pass rush stats that are provided by PFF, they don’t account for double teams, they also may count a win in a scenario where the play wasn’t affected at all, so a pass rusher could beat his man but run himself out of the play, which is actually a negative grade in general, but a positive for a metric like this.
Sometimes you just have to trust what you see, and I trust what I see with Jermaine Johnson. He’s a double-digit sack guy in the NFL who can also defend the run, he’s a player you want on your team and I for one would be delighted if the Jets decide to go that way in the first round if Kayvon Thibodeaux is unavailable, as I expect him to be. His base stats are outstanding and I’m not going to let this one stat in isolation overrule what I’ve seen over the last year with JJ.
Don’t forget that JJ also had an outstanding week at the senior bowl, had outstanding tape all year, and also tested well in terms of his relative athletic score (9.23)
I know people are going to be concerned with JJ and that pass rush win % stat and I understand, I get it. If anything I’ve given more fuel to that fire today.
I’m just choosing to trust my own instincts on this one and the instincts of two guys that I trust in Andrew and Matt.
💯 My Final Top-10 Wide Receivers
It’s that time of the draft process when I start to release my final positional rankings and the first one is the wide receivers.
Garrett Wilson - Ohio State
Chris Olave - Ohio State
George Pickens - Georgia
Drake London - USC
Jameson Williams - Alabama
Jahan Dotson - Penn State
Treylon Burks - Arkansas
Christian Watson - North Dakota State
Skyy Moore - Western Michigan
Alec Pierce - Cincinnatti
Wilson and Olave are basically 1a and 1b, I could flip them both around and be just as happy but for me they are the two best receivers in this class. Wilson’s acceleration and burst are elite and his long speed is better than most give him credit for. Olave is the man that has been growing on me the most, and these two graphs by Matt Harmon show why (give him a follow by the way, well worth it).
The above outlines the diversity of the route-tree that he ran at Ohio State and when you consider he’s head and shoulders the best route-runner in the draft, this becomes significant, especially when paired with the below, which is the success by route:
Olave can beat you any number of ways, and he wins on pretty much every single route in the tree. Pair that with his ability to high point the ball, good speed, good body control, and the ability to do damage after the catch, I’m struggling to see why Olave isn’t higher on most people’s boards, he’s my 1b and if the Jets grab him I’d be pretty pumped about him.
Some people won’t like me having Skyy Moore above Jalen Tolbert, but I love Skyy Moore for two main reasons, his release off the line and his ability to beat press-man coverage. Below is a fine compilation of Skyy’s release and how he wins off the line immediately.
The other player that I have higher than most is George Pickens and his stats don’t warrant being the #3 player on this board, but some players perform better as pros than they do college athletes and I firmly believe that Pickens is one of those guys. He has the perfect combination of flexibility, body control, toughness and competitiveness to make it as a real X receiver in the NFL.
He tested well athletically and when you pair 4.47 speed with 6’3 size you have a very interesting prospect. As far as I’m aware the Jets have yet to meet with George Pickens, but not all meetings get reported.
Of the receivers in my top-10, the Jets have met with Olave, Wilson, Burks, and Jameson Williams.
🔗SI.com’s Albert Breer found similarities between the Jets off-season and the Bengals saying "Don't look now, but the Jets have had a pretty nice offseason, in flipping their tight end room, adding Laken Tomlinson to the offensive line and getting Jordan Whitehead to replace Marcus Maye," Breer wrote this week in his Monday Morning Quarterback column. "And as we've said before, it smacks of what the Bengals did the last two years in free agency, in targeting veterans from winning programs to change the mentality of a place."
🔗Jack Bell of the official Jets website caught up with Joe Douglas who said Free-Agency is far from over: "Free agency is not over, there are opportunities in trades and now you're zoning in on the draft, a huge weekend at the end of April and we're sitting there with four picks in the top 38," Douglas told Eric Allen on a recent edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "It's a pretty unique and cool situation to have four picks so high, and even after that there's a lot of meat left on the bone [with, at present, five additional picks]. We have a unique opportunity to add a lot of difference-makers to this team."
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