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Football Outsiders' 2016 SackSEER metric gives insight into Giants' pass-rush prospects

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What do the raw numbers say about this year's edge players?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Football Outsiders is widely known as an advanced analytics organization responsible for complex team evaluation metrics such as Defensive Value Over Average (DVOA) and Defensive Yards Above Replacement (DYAR), and while these are useful tools at indicating how a football team has performed to date today FOreleased the latest iteration of a tool with actual predictive qualities. I'm talking about SackSEER, and it's something you need to look at before judging any potential pass-rushing prospect in the fast-approaching NFL Draft.

FO describes the SackSEER measurement as the following;

The projections are based on the college and professional numbers of the 369 edge rushers taken in the NFL draft from 1998 to 2014.

SackSEER expresses its thoughts on each drafted edge rusher through two outputs: SackSEER projection and SackSEER rating. SackSEER projection and SackSEER rating contain the following common elements:

  • An "explosion index" that measures the prospect's scores in the 40-yard dash, the vertical leap, and the broad jump in pre-draft workouts;
  • The prospect's score on the 3-cone drill;
  • A metric called "SRAM" which stands for "sack rate as modified." SRAM measures the prospect's per-game sack productivity, but with adjustments for factors such as early entry into the NFL draft and position switches during college;
  • The prospect's college passes defensed divided by college games played; and
  • The number of medical redshirts for which the player either received or was eligible.
SackSEER projection projects the number of regular season sacks that a prospect will record in his first five years in the NFL. Unlike SackSEER rating, SackSEER projection includes the prospect's projected draft round from NFLDraftScout.com.

As a general rule, the system has been quite successful in predicting which guys might be stars right away and which top prospects may end up as busts. Famously, SackSEER projected mid-round picks like Jared Allen and Justin Houston, as well as identifying potential underperformers like Dion Jordan and Marcus Smith. They're also pretty forthcoming about the system's misses, often pointing to the New York Giants' own Jason Pierre-Paul as a guy that outplayed his prediction. Overall, this is a useful tool for evaluating prospects.

You can view the whole chart and its complete numbers over at Football Outsdiers, and they have accompanied the article with some interesting analysis to boot, so it's well worth your time. Going through every prospect one-by-one would be a fruitless exercise, so I've mainly included top names and players frequently linked with the Giants as a potential landing spot. Here are some highlights from their expansive table;

Name College Projected Round SackSEER Projection SackSEER Rating
Leonard Floyd Georgia 1 26.9 81.0%
Joey Bosa Ohio State 1 26.9 87.8%
Emmanuel Ogbah Oklahoma State 1-2 25.6 97.3%
Shaq Lawson Clemson 1 22.9 72.6%
Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky 1-2 20.8 64.1%
Shilique Calhoun Michigan State 2 17.5 50.8%
Carl Nassib Penn State 2-3 12.3 47.0%
Jonathan Bullard Florida 2 12.1 34.5%
Kevin Dodd Clemson 1-2 11.9 9.0%
Shawn Oakman Baylor 3 8.4 46.2%

As you can clearly see, Leonard Floyd and Joey Bosa have numbers that match their reputation as the best at their respective positions, but what's really interesting here is that Emmanuel Ogbah comes close in terms of five-year sack projection yet boasts a much higher overall SackSEER rating (a measurement of a player in comparison to every other player in the database of pass-rushers from 1998-2014). Ogbah's rating puts him right up there with defensive star, Khalil Mack, who scored just marginally higher. In basic terms, the projection is their potential, and the rating is the likelihood of fulfilling that potential.

There's also the odd case of Kevin Dodd, who is absolutely demolished in this projection. The FO guys attribute just about 12 sacks over five years to Dodd, and a success rating of a mere nine percent. No other player expected to be picked on either of the first two days of the draft has a score lower than 25.8 percent. For all of you out there targeting Dodd in your FanSpeak mocks, it may be time to reconsider. The system has been wrong before, but not by that much.

Name College Projected Round SackSEER Projection SackSEER Rating
Bronson Kaufusi BYU 3-4 14.9 90.8%
Charles Tapper Oklahoma 2-3 14.3 69.6%
Kamalei Correa Boise State 2-3 14.1 31.3%
James Cowser Southern Utah 5-6 12.8 84.2%
Jason Fanaika Utah 3-4 11.3 57.1%

There also the lesser-known prospects who have scored well on the system. The Giants appear to be set with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon as their starting edge rushers, but could definitely do with adding some depth behind their top guys. Any one of the names mentioned here would likely be a welcome addition to the current roster, notably, James Cowser, who looks set for a Day 3 draft position but could produce some top numbers.

Overall, it comes down to what the Giants' strategy is for the draft. The Vernon signing takes a lot of weight away from adding a first-tier pass-rusher, but that's not to say one wouldn't be a fantastic pick for a team that has struggled in that area in recent years. It could be a case of turning a weakness into a strength, or they could prioritize other areas of the roster for a more balanced approach. Between now and when the actual picks roll in, all we can do is guess.