2011 NFL Draft: Ranking Front 7 Prospects by Explosion and Production

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 8, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Ranking Front 7 Prospects by Explosion and Production

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    MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 18: J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers rushes against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Camp Randall Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Arizona State 20-19. Wisconsin defeated Arizona State 20
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    With the results of the 2011 NFL scouting combine fully dispersed, many fans may be feeling overwhelmed with all of the statistical data before them.

    From 40 times to three-cone drills to bench press reps and everything in between, it may be easy to get caught up in one number or the other. None of them means much on its own.

    We can't, however, forget about the numbers  that may be an even bigger indicator of success: stats.

    In his book Take Your Eye Off The Ball, Pat Kirwan explains his formula for what he calls a player's "explosion number":

    Broad Jump (feet.inches) + Vertical Leap (inches) + Bench Press Reps = Explosion Number

    A good number to look for in a first-round pick is anything over 70. He also explains a player's "production ratio":

    (Tackles for Loss + Sacks) / Games Played = Production Ratio

    A good number here, Kirwan says, is anything over 1.

    Here are the explosion numbers and production ratios for some of the draft's top defensive linemen and outside linebackers.

    Check out Erik Frenz's football curator page at myspace.com/football. Follow Erik on Twitter at @e_frenz.

15. Corey Liuget

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    Broad Jump: 8'6"
    Vertical Leap: 27.5"
    Bench Press: 27 reps

    Explosion Number: 63

    Tackles for loss: 25.5
    Sacks: 8.5
    Games played: 36

    Production Ratio: .94

    Both of his numbers here are just a shade under where you would like them to be for a first-round selection. One thing not measured here, though, is his relentless motor. He is most certainly worthy of a late first-round pick.

14. Phil Taylor

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    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 07:  Defensive tackle Phil Taylor #11 of the Baylor Bears watches from the bench during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 8'4"
    Vertical Leap: 29.5"
    Bench Press: 31 reps

    Explosion Number: 68.8

    Tackles for loss: 16
    Sacks: 5.5
    Games played: 37

    Production Ratio: .58

    Taylor is teetering on first-round consideration despite a production number far lower than we like to see in a first-round pick. He's not exactly an explosive monster either. Teams have to make sure they know what they're getting if they're drafting Taylor with a high pick.

13. Muhammad Wilkerson

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    Broad Jump: 8'10"
    Vertical Leap: 26"
    Bench Press: 27 reps

    Explosion Number: 61.8

    Tackles for loss: 26
    Sacks: 17
    Games played: 36

    Production Ratio: 1.19

    Wilkerson has a nose for those big plays, even if his explosion number isn't that high. We must remember, too, that what a player does in shorts shouldn't be held in too high regard. It's about what he can do in pads on the field that really matters most.

12. Marvin Austin

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 7:  Marvin Austin #9 of the North Carolina Tar Heels warms up before the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Kenan Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'4"
    Vertical Leap: 30.5"
    Bench Press: 38 reps

    Explosion Number: 77.8

    Tackles for loss: 13.5
    Sacks: 9
    Games played: 38

    Production Ratio: .59

    This isn't a very good production number at all, but that explosion will have many scouts and coordinators thinking that this guy can be molded into a great player. We must keep in mind, though, that it's not what a player can do in shorts that matters; it's what he does on the field in full pads. His off-field concerns are the real crux of his draft status and will probably hold him to a mid- or late-round selection.

11. Akeem Ayers

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Akeem Ayers of UCLA works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'8"
    Vertical Leap: 31"
    Bench Press: 18 reps

    Explosion Number: 58.7

    Tackles for loss: 27.5
    Sacks: 13
    Games played: 37

    Production Ratio: .82

    Ayers has been projected to go in the first round but has low numbers in both of these categories. He'll fit into a scheme somewhere with a talented team and could produce in the right setting, but these numbers don't suggest he's a great stand-alone prospect.

10. Sam Acho

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    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Defensive end Sam Acho #81 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after making a fumble recovery against the UCLA Bruins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'4"
    Vertical Leap: 33.5"
    Bench Press: 23 reps

    Explosion Number: 65.8

    Tackles for loss: 32.5
    Sacks: 19
    Games played: 49

    Production Ratio: 1.05

    When you have "macho" in your name, explosion should probably be your game. With both numbers, Acho is on the fringe of first-round consideration. It will help his case that Texas has turned out some mean defensive end and outside linebacker prospects recently, with Brian Orakpo at the top of that list.

9. Cameron Jordan

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    TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Defensive tackle Cameron Jordan #97 of the California Golden Bears during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Bear
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'11"
    Vertical Leap: 31"
    Bench Press: 25 reps

    Explosion Number: 65.9

    Tackles for loss: 34
    Sacks: 18.5
    Games played: 50

    Production Ratio: 1.05

    Cam Jordan's production ratio is worthy of first-round consideration, but his explosion number is on the wrong side of the line. Sure, one could argue that explosion isn't as important in a 3-4 as a 4-3, but there's enough room for doubt that teams should think long and hard about drafting him.

8. Brooks Reed

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Defensive end Brooks Reed #42 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after stopping the USC Trojans on the final play on December 5, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Arizona won 21-17.  (Photo by Ste
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'5"
    Vertical Leap: 30.5"
    Bench Press: 30 reps

    Explosion Number: 70

    Tackles for loss: 25
    Sacks: 17
    Games played: 46

    Production Ratio: .91

    He's not exactly a top-end prospect, but he has caught the eye of many over the past few weeks. Maybe he should be a first-round prospect with that explosion number. That doesn't even take into account his 10-yard split time, which was the fastest in the combine.

    The production number is a little lower than we'd like to see here, but if plugged into the right system, he could produce early and often.

7. Aldon Smith

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Jordan Webb #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks is sacked by Aldon Smith #85 of the Missouri Tigers during the game on November 27, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'10"
    Vertical Leap: 34
    Bench Press: 20 reps

    Explosion Number: 63.7

    Tackles for loss: 29
    Sacks: 16
    Games played: 23

    Production Ratio: 1.52

    Again, this isn't quite the explosion number we'd like to see in a potential first-round selection, but that production ratio is something worth gawking at. No matter where he goes, or when he goes, the team that drafts him will know it is getting someone who knows how to get after the football.

6. Robert Quinn

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Defensive lineman Robert Quinn of North Carolina runs through a drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'8"
    Vertical Leap: 34"
    Bench Press: 22 reps

    Explosion Number: 65.7

    Tackles for loss: 25.5
    Sacks: 13
    Games played: 25

    Production Ratio: 1.54

    The explosion number here isn't as high as we'd like to see in a first-round selection, especially someone who is being touted as a potential top five pick. When we look at the production ratio, though, we begin to understand why he is a coveted player in this draft. Even with a full year off from football, there shouldn't be much of a problem for Quinn getting back to his old self.

5. Allen Bailey

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    FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Defensive lineman Allen Bailey #57 and linebacker Colin McCarthy #44 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate after scoring a safety against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Land Shark Stadium on September 17, 2009 in Fort
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 9'9"
    Vertical Leap: 36.5"
    Bench Press: 27 reps

    Explosion Number: 73.3

    Tackles for loss: 31
    Sacks: 19
    Games played: 31

    Production Ratio: 1.61

    The low number of games played may help to skew his numbers a bit, but Bailey's explosion number suggests that the ability is there. He is regarded by many as a second-rounder and would be a huge steal for a team looking to beef up its defensive line in a hurry.

4. Von Miller

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Von Miller of Texas A&M works out during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 10'6"
    Vertical Leap: 37"
    Bench Press: 21 reps

    Explosion Number: 68.5

    Tackles for loss: 50.5
    Sacks: 32.5
    Games played: 47

    Production Ratio: 1.77

    Von Miller can really do it all, making all kinds of plays all over the field throughout his four-year college career. That broad jump is impressive too. These numbers put him in contention for a high first-round pick in my opinion.

3. Justin Houston

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    ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21:  Justin Houston #42 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Kentucky Wildcats at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 10'5"
    Vertical Leap: 36.5"
    Bench Press: 30 reps

    Explosion Number: 76.9

    Tackles for loss: 38.5
    Sacks: 21
    Games played: 36

    Production Ratio: 1.65

    Houston is one of my favorite outside linebacker prospects in this entire draft and also happens to be one of the best in terms of these two numbers. His experience in a 3-4 system at Georgia will play in his favor with so many teams running that scheme now in the NFL.

2. Ryan Kerrigan

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    Broad Jump: 10'2"
    Vertical Leap: 33.5"
    Bench Press: 31 reps

    Explosion Number: 74.6

    Tackles for loss: 55.5
    Sacks: 31.5
    Games played: 48

    Production Ratio: 1.81

    Taking these numbers into account, Kerrigan isn't getting nearly the recognition he deserves. He has produced at a higher level than most other prospects in the front seven and has the necessary explosion to beat even elite offensive tackles.

1. J.J. Watt

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    MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 16: J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a sack against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Imag
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Broad Jump: 10'
    Vertical Leap: 37"
    Bench Press: 34 reps

    Explosion Number: 81

    Tackles for loss: 36
    Sacks: 11.5
    Games played: 26

    Production Ratio: 1.83

    And wouldn't you know, my favorite draft prospect ranks highest in explosion number and production ratio. It's clear he has not only the physical tools to dominate his opponents, but also the talent to produce those game-changing plays.

    He was a huge success at Wisconsin. Now, with high numbers in terms of both his explosiveness and production, it seems J.J. Watt is primed for success in the NFL.

Throw It All Out Come Draft Time

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    NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on as he stands on stage during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    None of these rankings matter. They are inconsequential to the final outcome of the 2011 NFL draft. These rankings and numbers are merely intended to help shed some light on the many prospects fans may have questions about.

    Who every team takes will ultimately depend not just on explosion numbers and production ratios, but the intangibles that they bring to the team both on the field and off it.

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