Brian Orakpo The Most 'Explosive' Defensive Player From 2009 Draft Class, According To Formula


As we all know, it's tough times right now trying to have meaningful discussions about the NFL during this labor crisis. Fans and media alike have their destiny in the hands of the NFLPA and NFL representatives at the bargaining table (and in the courtroom, for that matter). 

So what's a football junkie to do? For me, a little reading and doing some research certainly can't hurt. So my latest piece  of literature I've dug into is Take Your Eye Off The Ball by Pat Kirwan, who is the senior NFL.com analyst and a former NFL coach and executive. In the book he essentially gives his take on various issues about the game, from current day quarterback play to when it is appropriate to switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense and vice versa.

When discussing defensive players,he went over some traits he uses to judge college prospects during the draft process. 

One of the formulas he came up with was the 'Explosion Number'. This measures some of the data from the NFL Combine to measure a players explosiveness as a defender.

That formula? 

Explosion Number = Bench Press Reps+ Vertical Leap Height+ Standing Broad Jump Distance

According to Kirwan, any player who has a number over 70 are likely to be top picks in the draft.

A random looking formula? A little, but looking at the explosion numbers of the 2009 draft class, there are some interesting correlations between their scores and where they were drafted.

Chart below the jump.

Player Position Team Bench Press Vertical Leap Standing Broad Jump Explosion Number
Tyson Jackson DE KC 20 28-6 8-6 57.0
Aaron Curry LB SEA 25 37-0 10-4 72.3
B.J. Raji DT GB 33 32-0 8-7 73.6
Aaron Maybin DE BUF 22 38-0 10-4 70.3
Brian Orakpo DE WAS 31 39-6 10-10 81.3
Brian Cushing LB HOU 30 35-0 10-0 75.0
Larry English LB SD 24 36-0 8-11 68.9
Robert Ayers DE DEN 18 29-6 8-6 56.0
Ziggy Hood DE PIT 34 33-0 9-0 76.0
Clay Matthews LB GB 23 35-5 10-1 68.5

It's very interesting to see that Orakpo did this well in these 'crucial' areas that determine explosiveness. But this list certainly didn't tell the story of the type of production these players could have in the future.

That's why Kirwan later referred to what he called his 'Production Ratio'. 

That formula was:

Production Ratio = Sacks + Tackles For Loss/ Number of Games Played.

If your P Ratio was 1.0 or higher, once again you are likely to be someone who could be a first rounder, as it measuring not only how many plays you made in your college career, but how many were made in each game.

Orakpo's 'Production Ratio' was 1.17, which was fourth among the group.He had 23 career sacks to go along with 34.5 TFLs in 49 games at Texas.

Obviously these two indexes aren't huge measures of a draft prospects potential success in the NFL, but it does give a clue as to the type of player he was from both a physical and production standpoint coming out of college.

Of course, you have to factor in character and work ethic into the equation when judging a player. There are some big time busts on the above list and it looks like the Redskins made the right pick not only because of his physical skills, but his character and work ethic.

What about Ryan Kerrigan?

So now that we have some formulas that could measure the type of player a certain prospect is, why don't we apply those on first rounder Ryan Kerrigan?

At this year's NFL Combine, Kerrigan notched 31 bench press reps, had a 33.5 vertical leap, and a 10-02 broad jump number. 

So that measures to a .....(31+33.5+10.17) = 74.67 Explosion Number for Kerrigan, good enough to be considered first round worthy.

As for his production ratio?

Kerrigan registered 33.5 sacks and 57.0 tackles for loss in 48 games played at Purdue.

That means his P Ratio is (33.5 + 57.0)/48 = a staggering 1.88 P ratio, higher than anyone from the 2009 draft class noted in the book.  

Those two numbers alone give you a clue as to what the scouts and pundits have been saying about Kerrigan this entire time: That he's an athletic kid who's production at Purdue paired with his workmanlike attitude make him a very safe pick by the Redskins.

And now we know Kerrigan is paired with another prospect who fared well when measured using these two formulas.

Now let's see if these two guys can actually play the game of football well together at the next level.

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