UPDATED: 2009 NFL Draft Defensive End/3-4 Rush Linebacker Projections!


Since I am at least slightly more reliable than a Detroit Lions first round draft pick, as promised, I am updating my Defensive End/3-4 Linebacker Projections with the release of Rick Gosselin's Top 100 list. Rick Gosselin's Top 100 list is the most historically accurate gauge of how highly NFL scouts value players.

Most changes to the projections are slight. However, teams seem to be trending slightly towards the model: Maybin is slightly up, Orakpo is slightly down, Ayers is slightly down, and Everette Brown is way down. Cody Brown, who ProFootballWeekly projected as a late second round pick, loses his projection entirely because Gosselin does not even rank him in the top 100 players. However, the biggest revelation is the entrance of two new pass rushing prospects, whose projections I list below. First, however, here are the updated projections:

Aaron Maybin
Original Projection: 45.85 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 46.37 Sacks by Year 7

Brian Orakpo
Original Projection: 37.61 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 37.26 Sacks by Year 7

Larry English
Original Projection: 33.34 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 32.99 Sacks by Year 7

Michael Johnson
Original Projection: 30.47 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 26.49 Sacks by Year 7

Lawrence Sidbury
Original Projection: 19.45 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 18.93 Sacks by Year 7

Everette Brown
Original Projection: 23.71 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 18.00 Sacks by Year 7

Robert Ayers
Original Projection: 9.07 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: 8.90 Sacks by Year 7

Cody Brown
Original Projection: 28.65 Sacks by Year 7
Updated Projection: No Projection

And now for the newcomers:

Connor Barwin, DE/OLB, Cincinnati
Projection: 48.50 Sacks by Year 7
Projected Draft Position: #40 Overall
Vertical Leap: 40.5"
Short Shuttle: 4.18 Seconds
Adjusted College Sacks/Game: 78.57%

The model projects Connor Barwin to be the best pass rusher in this draft. His projection is the strongest of any second round pick since 2001, with the exception of Aaron Schobel, who projected to have 49.99 sacks and who in fact had 67 sacks by his seventh year. Barwin has the ninth highest projection of any player in the data set, just edging out Terrell Suggs'. As an added bonus, Barwin is apparently also strong against the run. Connor Barwin was not originally included because ProFootballWeekly projected him as a third round pick. However, Gosselin has put him squarely in the second round, which seems to be more in line with the consensus on Barwin.

I have some reservations about whether Barwin will be able to meet his projection. Barwin has had only one year of playing defensive end. Barwin has less starting experience than any pass rusher in my data set. However, although there is some correlation between games played or started in college and NFL productivity, the correlation is not statistically significant. Barwin and Maybin will pose a great test case whether there is a "critical value" of playing time that a pass rusher needs in college to be successful. The fact that Barwin played for a smaller school may also make his projection more volatile.

Barwin's versatility may also preempt his projection. At the Football Outsiders forum, a Bengals fan and an Eagles fan, respectively, have noted that David Pollack and Chris Gocong were moved from the "pass rusher" position to linebackers in the 4-3, where their sack opportunities are obviously diminished, despite what would have been high projections by the model. Barwin has played defensive end, tight end, and various positions on special teams. Hopefully the team that drafts Barwin doesn't move him to kicker.

All in all, Barwin is a fascinating prospect and I am more eager to see how he turns out than any other pass rusher prospect in this draft.

Paul Kruger, DE, Utah
Projection: 20.38 Sacks by Year 7
Projected Draft Position: #36 Overall
Vertical Leap: 32.5" and 32"
Short Shuttle: 4.47 Seconds
Adjusted College Sacks/Game: 57.69 Sacks by Game 7

I am puzzled as to why Kruger is considered a high second round pick, and moreover, why he is more highly rated than Barwin. Kruger is obviously less atheltic than Barwin and was less productive than Barwin in college--posting 0.5 a sack less than Barwin in twice the playing time.

Interestingly, Kruger was one of the few pass rushers who did the vertical leap drill at both the combine and his pro day and actually posted a worse number at his second go.

7/15 Edit: Fixed typos and original post incorrectly stated that Barwin went to a non-BCS school.



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