Ranking the NFL Pass Rushers

I decided to fool around with my pass rusher rankings the other night and thought it might make an interesting post as we wind down the season. The way I try to look at pass rushers is a bit different so I’ll explain the methodology using the Chiefs’ Justin Houston, who rates as my most efficient pass rusher for the positions I looked at (34OLB, 43DE 3DE).

Using stats maintained by Pro Football Focus we can determine that when a QB drops back to pass without pressure he completes a pass 67.4% of the time. We consider that a success and anything else a failure on the play. When facing pressure a QB completes just 44.2% of his dropbacks that do not result in a sack. Using that data we can determine how many failures should result from a players pass rush attempts and how many theoretically occurred because of the pressure.

Houston has rushed the passer 300 times this year. On 300 dropbacks the QB should fail to complete a pass 97.9 times. However, only 242 of Houston’s snaps had no pressure. 14 plays resulted in a sack and 44 others resulted in a pressure. From those numbers we can estimate that 78.9 non-completions occurred without pressure, 14 failures occurred because of sacks, and another 24.6 non-completions because of pressure. For Houston that means his failures totaled 117.5, an increase of 20.1%. We can also say that this means Houston creates a failure 6.5% of the time.

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Who are the best in the NFL this seasons besides Houston?  Connor Barwin ranks 2nd with an 18% increase followed by Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, and Mario Williams.   JJ Watt is the highest ranking 34 Defensive End with a 15% increase. Watt has rushed the passer a ridiculous 426 times according to PFF, which no doubt drives his numbers down since he is likely rushing on many plays that he would have no chance to generate a pressure.

It is probably worth noting that the most effective pass rusher on the season is Brandon Graham of the Eagles who didn’t make my list because he had less than 150 pass rush opportunities. The Eagles have never shown any faith to use him in more situations but generally his numbers jump off the page despite the limited opportunities.

Name value players not doing so well this year include Red Bryant (102/106), Haloti Ngata (94/106), Ahmad Brooks (85/106), Mathias Kiwanuka (83/106), Muhammad Wilkerson (79/106), and Michael Johnson (71/106).

We can also look at the players salary cap figures and compare their salary and performance to the average of the group to determine how much value was received by the team this year. Ideally we would be comparing this against the individual positions and separating veterans and rookies, but for our purposes this should do.

Our most undervalued players were Houston ($6.5M gained), Ayers ($5.7M), Pernell McPhee ($5.6M), Alex Okafor ($4.8M), and Aaron Lynch ($4.5M). The most overvalued are Ngata (-$13.8M), Williams (-$12.4M), Brian Orakpo (-$8.1M), Tamba Hali (-$7.7M), and Calais Campbell (-$7M).

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Here is the complete list. You should be able to sort the table by clicking on the headers

Rank Name Team Rush Snaps % Failure Increase Failures Per Rush Cap Charge True Value Gain/Loss
1 Justin Houston Chiefs 300 20.1% 6.5% $1,598,812 $8,130,428 $6,531,616
2 Connor Barwin Eagles 248 18.6% 6.1% $4,900,000 $7,522,482 $2,622,482
3 Elvis Dumervil Ravens 264 17.4% 5.7% $3,375,000 $7,045,370 $3,670,370
4 Robert Ayers Giants 210 17.1% 5.6% $1,250,000 $6,931,917 $5,681,917
5 Mario Williams Bills 314 15.8% 5.2% $18,800,000 $6,400,202 -$12,399,798
6 Pernell McPhee Ravens 238 15.4% 5.0% $681,140 $6,249,239 $5,568,099
7 Jerry Hughes Bills 315 15.3% 5.0% $3,995,000 $6,214,686 $2,219,686
8 JJ Watt Texans 426 15.0% 4.9% $4,575,567 $6,090,168 $1,514,601
9 Junior Galette Saints 300 14.5% 4.7% $2,950,000 $5,890,328 $2,940,328
10 Ryan Kerrigan Redskins 307 14.2% 4.6% $2,774,639 $5,746,904 $2,972,265
11 Ziggy Ansah Lions 269 14.1% 4.6% $4,226,023 $5,701,705 $1,475,682
12 Trent Cole Eagles 275 14.1% 4.6% $6,600,000 $5,692,273 -$907,727
13 Cameron Wake Dolphins 322 13.9% 4.6% $7,285,000 $5,649,490 -$1,635,510
14 Alex Okafor Cardinals 188 13.4% 4.4% $613,607 $5,428,936 $4,815,329
15 DeMarcus Ware Broncos 341 12.7% 4.2% $9,666,666 $5,157,483 -$4,509,183
16 Chandler Jones Patriots 185 12.5% 4.1% $2,229,136 $5,064,789 $2,835,653
17 Aaron Lynch 49ers 228 12.4% 4.0% $469,500 $5,006,614 $4,537,114
18 Cliff Avril Seahawks 287 12.3% 4.0% $9,250,000 $4,981,477 -$4,268,523
19 Erik Walden Colts 189 12.3% 4.0% $4,250,000 $4,972,407 $722,407
20 Jason Hatcher Redskins 299 12.2% 4.0% $3,750,000 $4,946,229 $1,196,229
21 Clay Matthews Packers 260 12.2% 4.0% $10,943,750 $4,933,835 -$6,009,915
22 Vinny Curry Eagles 207 12.2% 4.0% $922,318 $4,930,628 $4,008,310
23 Jacquies Smith Buccaneers 158 12.0% 3.9% $395,294 $4,853,667 $4,458,373
24 Everson Griffen Vikings 347 11.9% 3.9% $8,200,000 $4,835,293 -$3,364,707
25 Quinton Coples Jets 197 11.8% 3.8% $2,400,763 $4,770,482 $2,369,719
26 Osi Umenyiora Falcons 205 11.7% 3.8% $4,750,000 $4,738,543 -$11,457
27 Michael Bennett Seahawks 331 11.5% 3.8% $4,000,000 $4,675,991 $675,991
28 Robert Quinn Rams 322 11.4% 3.7% $3,002,357 $4,601,619 $1,599,262
29 Paul Kruger Browns 334 10.9% 3.6% $8,200,000 $4,411,152 -$3,788,848
30 William Hayes Rams 230 10.8% 3.5% $3,845,000 $4,360,947 $515,947
31 Julius Peppers Packers 307 10.8% 3.5% $3,500,000 $4,357,112 $857,112
32 Jason Worilds Steelers 270 10.7% 3.5% $9,754,000 $4,334,539 -$5,419,461
33 Jeremy Mincey Cowboys 273 10.6% 3.5% $1,250,000 $4,297,159 $3,047,159
34 Calais Campbell Cardinals 299 10.6% 3.4% $11,250,000 $4,280,930 -$6,969,070
35 Willie Young Bears 278 10.6% 3.4% $2,666,666 $4,273,193 $1,606,527
36 Charles Johnson Panthers 329 10.5% 3.4% $11,220,000 $4,257,952 -$6,962,048
37 Terrell Suggs Ravens 329 10.5% 3.4% $7,800,000 $4,232,431 -$3,567,569
38 George Johnson Lions 202 10.4% 3.4% $570,000 $4,224,416 $3,654,416
39 Mike Daniels Packers 241 10.2% 3.3% $645,146 $4,150,286 $3,505,140
40 Carlos Dunlap Bengals 371 10.2% 3.3% $8,600,000 $4,149,209 -$4,450,791
41 Olivier Vernon Dolphins 323 10.2% 3.3% $759,520 $4,141,280 $3,381,760
42 Kroy Biermann Falcons 244 10.1% 3.3% $4,083,334 $4,087,787 $4,453
43 Derrick Morgan Titans 253 9.8% 3.2% $3,541,668 $3,953,434 $411,766
44 Whitney Mercilus Texans 282 9.7% 3.2% $2,082,026 $3,945,711 $1,863,685
45 Malik Jackson Broncos 276 9.7% 3.2% $623,403 $3,937,216 $3,313,813
46 Dwight Freeney Chargers 277 9.7% 3.2% $4,007,813 $3,933,107 -$74,706
47 Mario Addison Panthers 204 9.6% 3.1% $865,000 $3,873,036 $3,008,036
48 Jurrell Casey Titans 339 9.6% 3.1% $4,674,359 $3,869,070 -$805,289
49 Cameron Heyward Steelers 326 9.5% 3.1% $2,133,418 $3,855,148 $1,721,730
50 Brian Robison Vikings 335 9.5% 3.1% $5,700,000 $3,837,600 -$1,862,400
51 Tamba Hali Chiefs 315 9.4% 3.1% $11,464,706 $3,797,918 -$7,666,788
52 Rob Ninkovich Patriots 368 9.4% 3.1% $2,850,000 $3,791,491 $941,491
53 Khalil Mack Raiders 296 9.4% 3.1% $3,395,818 $3,787,456 $391,638
54 Corey Liuget Chargers 291 9.2% 3.0% $2,645,918 $3,724,649 $1,078,731
55 Jared Allen Bears 340 9.1% 3.0% $3,000,000 $3,704,639 $704,639
56 Sam Acho Cardinals 154 8.8% 2.9% $1,549,607 $3,555,416 $2,005,809
57 Calvin Pace Jets 171 8.6% 2.8% $2,500,000 $3,489,899 $989,899
58 Jason Jones Lions 293 8.4% 2.7% $3,683,333 $3,413,716 -$269,617
59 Sheldon Richardson Jets 302 8.4% 2.7% $2,285,000 $3,398,138 $1,113,138
60 Brian Orakpo Redskins 179 8.3% 2.7% $11,455,000 $3,365,198 -$8,089,802
61 Chris Clemons Jaguars 313 8.2% 2.7% $5,187,500 $3,335,015 -$1,852,485
62 Cameron Jordan Saints 368 8.2% 2.7% $2,459,991 $3,329,244 $869,253
63 Jason Pierre Paul Giants 343 8.2% 2.7% $4,611,000 $3,328,012 -$1,282,988
64 Justin Tuck Raiders 198 8.2% 2.7% $5,000,000 $3,319,226 -$1,680,774
65 Antonio Smith Raiders 278 8.2% 2.7% $4,946,875 $3,307,064 -$1,639,811
66 Lamarr Houston Bears 244 8.1% 2.7% $5,040,000 $3,295,465 -$1,744,535
67 Brooks Reed Texans 201 8.1% 2.6% $1,496,015 $3,283,610 $1,787,595
68 Wallace Gilberry Bengals 344 8.0% 2.6% $1,800,000 $3,250,838 $1,450,838
69 Shaun Phillips Titans 176 8.0% 2.6% $1,975,000 $3,242,920 $1,267,920
70 William Gholston Buccaneers 225 7.9% 2.6% $595,136 $3,189,515 $2,594,379
71 Michael Johnson Buccaneers 235 7.8% 2.5% $9,000,000 $3,152,598 -$5,847,402
72 Justin Smith 49ers 299 7.8% 2.5% $6,936,666 $3,143,093 -$3,793,573
73 Trent Murphy Redskins 211 7.7% 2.5% $813,236 $3,114,724 $2,301,488
74 Bjoern Werner Colts 276 7.6% 2.5% $1,794,636 $3,091,783 $1,297,147
75 George Selvie Cowboys 176 7.6% 2.5% $730,000 $3,079,184 $2,349,184
76 Ray McDonald 49ers 347 7.5% 2.5% $3,230,985 $3,056,637 -$174,348
77 Eugene Sims Rams 234 7.5% 2.5% $1,216,684 $3,054,880 $1,838,196
78 Jabaal Sheard Browns 266 7.4% 2.4% $1,619,625 $3,012,386 $1,392,761
79 Muhammad Wilkerson Jes 339 7.3% 2.4% $2,187,500 $2,942,242 $754,742
80 Derrick Shelby Dolphins 160 7.0% 2.3% $573,334 $2,846,773 $2,273,439
81 Tommy Kelly Cardinals 307 6.9% 2.3% $955,000 $2,806,934 $1,851,934
82 Cory Redding Colts 307 6.9% 2.2% $4,391,668 $2,788,700 -$1,602,968
83 Mathias Kiwanuka Giants 291 6.8% 2.2% $5,000,000 $2,753,590 -$2,246,410
84 Derek Wolfe Broncos 332 6.8% 2.2% $1,420,036 $2,752,308 $1,332,272
85 Ahmad Brooks 49ers 220 6.7% 2.2% $4,503,750 $2,712,603 -$1,791,147
86 Andre Branch Jaguars 180 6.6% 2.2% $1,388,164 $2,690,562 $1,302,398
87 Mike Neal Packers 272 6.5% 2.1% $3,750,000 $2,617,805 -$1,132,195
88 Fletcher Cox Eagles 362 6.4% 2.1% $2,793,054 $2,611,554 -$181,500
89 Desmond Bryant Browns 281 6.3% 2.0% $4,000,000 $2,533,961 -$1,466,039
90 Allen Bailey Chiefs 337 6.0% 2.0% $2,808,986 $2,438,325 -$370,661
91 Wes Horton Panthers 153 6.0% 1.9% $498,333 $2,411,967 $1,913,634
92 Jared Crick Texans 253 5.9% 1.9% $667,875 $2,369,848 $1,701,973
93 Brett Keisel Steelers 250 5.7% 1.8% $1,250,000 $2,294,211 $1,044,211
94 Haloti Ngata Ravens 275 5.4% 1.8% $16,000,000 $2,180,260 -$13,819,740
95 Dominique Easley Patriots 163 5.2% 1.7% $1,327,918 $2,104,369 $776,451
96 Ricky Jean-Francois Colts 260 5.1% 1.7% $5,125,000 $2,084,371 -$3,040,629
97 Quanterus Smith Broncos 153 5.1% 1.7% $468,000 $2,071,853 $1,603,853
98 Malliciah Goodman Falcons 196 4.7% 1.5% $594,252 $1,911,370 $1,317,118
99 Robert Geathers Bengals 271 4.7% 1.5% $2,700,000 $1,903,755 -$796,245
100 Kendall Reyes Chargers 255 4.4% 1.4% $1,125,817 $1,797,186 $671,369
101 Chris Jones Patriots 203 4.2% 1.4% $495,000 $1,689,715 $1,194,715
102 Red Bryant Jaguars 152 3.7% 1.2% $5,468,750 $1,479,888 -$3,988,862
103 Tim Jamison Texans 252 3.6% 1.2% $840,000 $1,475,515 $635,515
104 Cam Thomas Steelers 170 2.9% 1.0% $1,500,000 $1,186,606 -$313,394
105 Cedric Thornton Eagles 200 2.5% 0.8% $645,000 $1,008,615 $363,615
106 Jarvis Jenkins Redskins 165 2.2% 0.7% $1,492,667 $873,260 -$619,407

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