Tale of the Tape: Pass-Rushers

Pass-Rush Specialists Elvis Dumervil, James “Hitman” Harrison & Dwight Freeney

How Much Does Height Really Matter? – While going over the rankings of outside linebacker/defensive end prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft, this evaluation stood out to me. From the National Football Post, Dan Pompei writes:

Melvin Ingram, South Carolina: He moved around a lot in college and has experience playing OLB, but NFL teams have struggled finding a position for him in the pros. At 6-1, 264, Ingram may be too short and compact for outside linebacker. He has 31 ½ inch arms. That’s trouble. “Big tackles and tight ends will be able to get their hands on him, and then he’s done,” one personnel man said.

The three players pictured above are some of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers. Despite not having ideal size for what their coaches ask of them, they have found success:

  • Dwight Freeney (6’1”/268lbs.) – 102.5 Sacks
  • James Harrison (6’0”/242lbs) – 58 Sacks
  • Elvis Dumervil (5’11”/260lbs) – 52.5 Sacks

Analyzing and projecting the future for prospects is an inexact science. Some players float through the whole process on a cloud of hype that hides their warts. Others are picked apart for their perceived flaws and looked over because of them. Using a prospect’s height to chart the course of his career could be seen as short-sighted. And as a proud, card carrying member of the Little Man Club, it’s a practice that I feel needs to be curtailed.


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