2021 EDGE Class Speed Scores and More | Draft Sharks

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2021 EDGE Class Speed Scores and More

By Matt Schauf 11:04pm EDT 4/23/21

I’ve been tracking speed scores on NFL Draft edge prospects for a few years now, and there’s obviously a reason for that.

At the beginning, I looked back over historical producers using Pro Football Reference Approximate Value to balance varying eras. But what about a more recent application? We know that speed-score winners have tended to perform better in the pros -- but what about for our fantasy teams?

Good news. It matters.

Steelers DE Cameron Heyward sports a 100.3 speed score, 55th percentile among “edge” players -- closest to the middle of that category among last season’s top 30 DL scorers. Of the other 29 D-linemen in that group, 17 beat Heyward’s speed score. And that doesn’t even include Chase Young, who didn’t give us a 40 time last draft season. (I’m gonna go ahead and bet he’d be a speed score winner, though.)

The 10 players behind Heyward include 4 DTs, a position at which timed speed hasn’t proved to matter (even in the frame of speed score’s weight adjustment).

Here’s the full group (fantasy rankings -- and position designations -- may differ by league):

If we distill it to just the true edge guys, we find 17 of 21 with speed scores of 100.3 or better. (Sorry, I’m counting Chase Young in that group this time.)

The season before produced similar results.

The top 30 DL scorers in fantasy included 19 edge players (excluding hybrids such as New England’s Lawrence Guy). Fourteen of those 19 guys topped 101 in speed score. And that doesn’t even include Yannick Ngakoue, whose 4.75-second 40 time ranked 13th among 2019’s top 30 scorers. (His 252-pound weight entering the league left him at a 50th-percentile 99.0 speed score.)

It’s not hard to understand the relationship with speed score here. What are teams looking for in their pass rushers? They want guys who can get to the QB quickly, but are also strong enough to battle OTs.

That category obviously doesn’t explain all success. Joey Bosa is doing just fine, despite falling just short of average in speed score. Sam Hubbard’s off to a productive start despite checking in quite slow (10th percentile).

But being fast for your size is a good place to start. Speed score helps explain Maxx Crosby and Trey Hendrickson seizing on their opportunities the past 2 seasons.

So with all that in mind, let’s spin it ahead to this year’s rookie class.

No Scouting Combine means we only got Pro Day 40-yard dash times for the 2021 NFL Draft prospects. Those numbers have been quite favorable historically. So I used 40 times from PlayerProfiler, which adjusts Pro Day 40s down by 0.05 second to account for that boost.

Here are the 2021 prospects with above-average speed scores:

1. Jayson Oweh, Penn State -- 134.7
2. Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest -- 115.2
3. Kwity Paye, Michigan -- 114.6
4. Jaelan Phillips, Miami -- 113.2
5. Shaka Toney, Penn State -- 110.0
6. Andre Mintze, Vanderbilt -- 109.2
7. Joseph Ossai, Texas -- 106.7
8. Gregory Rousseau, Miami -- 106.3
9. Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State -- 105.5
10. Janarius Robinson, Florida State -- 105.4
11. Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State -- 103.9
12. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia -- 103.8
13. Joe Tryon, Washington -- 103.5
14. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame -- 102.1

Two years ago, we started looking at 3-cone times for the EDGE guys as well. Here are the above-average performers in that category for 2021:

1. Jayson Oweh, Penn State -- 6.84 seconds
2. Shaka Toney, Penn State -- 6.95
3. Patrick Johnson, Tulane -- 6.97
4. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh -- 6.98
5. Jonathan Cooper, Ohio State -- 7.02
6. Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State -- 7.03
7. Leighton McCarthy, Florida Atlantic -- 7.09
T-8. Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest -- 7.13
T-8. Jaelan Phillips, Miami -- 7.13
10. William Bradley-King, Baylor -- 7.14
T-11. Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame -- 7.17
T-11. Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame -- 7.17
T-13. Joe Tryon, Washington -- 7.18
T-13. Darius Hodge, Marshall -- 7.18

Note the repeat players from the speed-score list: Oweh, Toney, Basham, Phillips and Tryon.

Among those who haven’t given us 3-cone times: Ossai, Ojulari, Paye and Ronnie Perkins.

Finally, we like production. If you test fast and agile, and already delivered numbers, then it’ll be a lot easier to bet on you in the pros.

It’s a goofy year, of course, for this category in particular. Some prospects played a full season, some played a portion and some opted out altogether. So we probably have to count this area a bit less than usual.

But it still doesn’t hurt to look at some stat leaders.

Final-Season Tackles for Loss Per Game

1. Payton Turner, Houston -- 2.10
2. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma -- 1.75
3. Joseph Ossai, Texas -- 1.72
4. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh -- 1.56
5. Jaelan Phillips, Miami -- 1.55
6. Gregory Rousseau, Miami -- 1.50*
7. Quincy Roche, Miami -- 1.45
8. Leighton McCarthy, Florida Atlantic -- 1.44
9. Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State -- 1.30
10. Patrick Johnson, Tulane -- 1.28
11. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia -- 1.25
12. Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh -- 1.14
T-13. Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern -- 1.13
T-13. Jordan Smith, UAB -- 1.13
15. Chauncey Golston, Iowa -- 1.06
16. Chris Rumph II, Duke -- 1.05
T-17. Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt -- 1.00
T-17. Kwity Paye, Michigan -- 1.00

*Rousseau opted out of 2020, so I used 2019 for his final season.

Sacks Per Game

1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami -- 1.20
T-2. Payton Turner, Houston -- 1.00
T-2. Leighton McCarthy, Florida Atlantic -- 1.00
4. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia -- 0.95
5. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma -- 0.92
6. Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State -- 0.85
T-7. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh -- 0.83
T-7. Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest -- 0.83
9. Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh -- 0.81
10. Jaelan Phillips, Miami -- 0.80

Solo Tackles Per Game

1. Payton Turner, Houston -- 3.4
2. Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest -- 3.3
T-3. Chauncey Golston, Iowa -- 3.0
T-3. Kwity Paye, Michigan -- 3.0
5. Jayson Oweh, Penn State -- 2.9
6. Joseph Ossai, Texas -- 2.8
7. Jordan Smith, UAB -- 2.75
8. Quincy Roche, Miami -- 2.7
9. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan -- 2.69*
10. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma -- 2.67
11. Cameron Sample, Tulane -- 2.64
12. Shaka Toney, Penn State -- 2.63
13. Gregory Rousseau, Miami -- 2.62
T-14. Patrick Johnson, Tulane -- 2.56
T-14. Earnest Brown IV, Northwestern -- 2.56

*Hutchinson played just 2 games in 2020, so I used 2019 as his “final season.”

Career TFL Per Game

1. Gregory Rousseau, Miami -- 1.39
2. Quincy Roche, Miami -- 1.20
3. Jaelan Phillips, Miami -- 1.18
4. Jordan Smith, UAB -- 1.12
5. Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State -- 1.06
6. Joseph Ossai, Texas -- 1.03
T-7. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma -- 1.00
T-7. Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh -- 1.00

In case you don't feel like counting it up, Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips led the way by appearing on 5 lists apiece among the 6 above. Carlos Basham Jr. and Joseph Ossai each showed up on 4. Jayson Oweh, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari and Shaka Toney each founds spots in 3 of the categories.

Payton Turner is a guy I'll go back and look at some more after going through this exercise.

And even beyond this class, It's not too late to look back on the past few drafts for potential 2021 IDP sleepers:


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