Austin On Dallas: D-Line Bench Press Rulers Produce In NFL

While looking through past NFL Combine results and comparing them with success in the NFL, I came across an interesting correlation.  The Top 5 bench press results for defensive linemen seem to show a considerable chance at future NFL success.

One might think it only seems logical, the strongest players up top will do the best at a position of strength.  However, successful defensive linemen are far from merely about upper body strength.

Explosion off the ball, proper technique, lower body power, and football intelligence also play very strong factors.

For example with wide receivers, one might think the fastest players at the combine have a good shot at strong NFL success.

Let’s look at WR results in the 40-yard dash from 2010-2012, and separate the top 5, 40-yard dash performers of the last 3 combines…

Jacoby Ford (Oakland) – 4.28

Travis Benjamin (Cleveland) – 4.36

Stephen Hill (NY Jets) – 4.36

Chris Owusu (Tampa Bay) – 4.36

Clyde Gates (NY Jets) – 4.37

Not one was a full-time starter in 2012, broke the 300-yard receiving mark, or scored over 3 TD’s.  As a matter of fact, they have 6 career receiving TD’s between the 5 of them.

3 players are 3rd or 4th WR’s, 1 player is lower, and another guy is out of football altogether. Remember, these are the 5 fastest WR’s over the last 3 years of drafts…2010, 2011, 2012.

 

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Now we will single out the top 5 bench press performers of the defensive linemen in each year between 2009-2012.  The top 5 players from each of the last 4 years (20 total) should provide a solid sample size.

Keep in mind there are 50+ defensive linemen that participate in the combine each year, which gives us a total field of 200+ players over the last 4 years.  The top 5 leaders at bench press each of the 4 years represents around 10% of the total field.

 

2009 COMBINE LEADERS:

1) TERRANCE TAYLOR (Michigan) – 37 Reps

Drafted in 4th round by Indianapolis

Waived during training camp

2) ROY MILLER (Texas) – 36 Reps

Drafted in 3rd round by Tampa Bay

Rookie year: Rotated at DT.  473 snaps, 31 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 4 QB hits, 2 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at DT.  503 snaps, 23 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 0 QB hits, 5 QB hurries

3) DAVID VEIKUNE (Hawaii) – 35 Reps

Drafted in 2nd round by Cleveland

Rookie year: Back-up DE.  165 snaps, 5 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 0 QB hits, 0 QB hurries

2012 season: Out of NFL

4) ZIGGY HOOD (Missouri) – 34 Reps

Drafted round 1 by Pitsburgh

Rookie year: Rotated at DE.  225 snaps, 20 tackles, 3 QB sacks, 1 QB hit, 5 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at DE.  833 snaps, 42 tackles, 3 QB sacks, 3 QB hits, 8 QB hurries

5) B.J. RAJI (Boston College) – 33 Reps

Drafted round 1 by Green Bay

Rookie year: Rotated at NT.  144 snaps. 25 tackles, 1 QB sack, 0 QB hits, 2 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at NT.  769 snaps, 26 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 1 QB hit, 25 QB hurries

NOTES: 2011 Pro Bowler

2009 SUMMARY:

(2) 3-year starters, (1) 2-year starter, and (2) players waived quickly and out of the NFL.  The 2012 season saw 3 of these 5 players manning a starting position.  Also featured a 2011 Pro Bowler in B.J. Raji.

 

2010 COMBINE LEADERS:

1) JEFF OWENS (Georgia) – 44 Reps

Drafted in 7th round by Philadelphia

Rookie year: Practice squad NT

2012 season: Out of NFL

2) LINVAL JOSEPH (East Carolina) – 39 Reps

Drafted in 2nd round by New York Giants

Rookie year: Reserve at DT.  63 snaps, 7 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 0 QB hits, 2 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at DT.  707 snaps, 59 tackles, 4 QB sacks, 6 QB hits, 16 QB hurries

3) GENO ATKINS (Georgia) – 34 Reps

Drafted in 4th round by Cincinnati

Rookie year: Back-up DT.  355 snaps, 16 tackles, 5 QB sacks, 7 QB hits, 19 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at DT.  468 snaps, 54 tackles, 16 QB sacks, 13 QB hits, 53 hurries

NOTES: 2-time Pro Bowler 2011-2012

4) BRIAN PRICE (UCLA) – 34 Reps

Drafted round 2 by Tampa Bay

Rookie year: Back-up at DT.  116 snaps, 5 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 1 QB hit, 3 QB hurries

2012 season: None

NOTES: Went to IR in Week 6 of rookie year.  Now on Dallas roster.

5) TORELL TROUP (Central Florida) – 34 Reps

Drafted round 2 by Buffalo

Rookie year: Rotated at DT.  303 snaps. 23 tackles, 1 QB sack, 1 QB hits, 2 QB hurries

2012 season: Went on IR in summer, out for season

2010 SUMMARY:

Produced (2) 2-year starters, (1) 2-year back-up, (1) practice squad member, and 1 waived player.  Least NFL success for the top 5 in last 4 combines.  Featured a 2-time Pro Bowler with Geno Atkins.  In 2012, 2 of the 5 players were starters.

 

2011 COMBINE LEADERS:

1) STEPHEN PAEA (Oregon St.) – 49 Reps

Drafted in 2nd round by Chicago

Rookie year: Rotated at DT.  313 snaps, 15 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 2 QB hits, 5 QB hurries

2012 season: Started at DT.  603 snaps, 24 tackles, 4 QB sacks, 2 QB hits, 17 QB hurries

2) MARVIN AUSTIN (North Carolina) – 38 Reps

Drafted in 2nd round by New York Giants

Rookie year: IR entire season

2012 season: Back-up at DT.  103 snaps, 8 tackles, 0 QB sacks, 0 QB hits, 2 QB hurries

3) BRUCE MILLER (Central Florida) – 35 Reps

Drafted in 7th round by San Francisco

Converted to fullback

Rookie year: Starter at FB.  373 snaps, 4 rushes for 8 yards, 11 catches for 83 yards

2012 season: Starter at FB.  566 snaps, 5 rushes for 18 yards, 12 catches for 84 yards

NOTES: 2011 Pro Bowl Alternate, 2012 Super Bowl Starter

4) ADRIAN TAYLOR (Oklahoma) – 34 Reps

Undrafted Free Agent

Rookie year: Practice Squad DT.

2012 season: Practice Squad DT.

5) J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) – 34 Reps

Drafted round 1 by Houston

Rookie year: Starter at DE.  911 snaps. 56 tackles, 11 QB sacsk, 11 QB hits, 30 QB hurries

2012 season: Starter at DE.  1,072 snaps.  81 tackles, 20.5 QB sacks, 26 QB hits, 34 QB hurries

NOTES: 2012 Pro Bowler, 2012 NFL & AFC Def. Player of Year

2011 SUMMARY:

Produced (2) 2-year starters, (1) 1-year starter, (1) back-up player, and (1) practice squad player.  2 players selected to Pro Bowl (Miller – 2011, Watt – 2012).  Starting player in the 2012 Super Bowl.  In 2012, 3 of the 5 were starters.

 

2012 COMBINE LEADERS:

1) DONTARI POE (Memphis) – 44 Reps

Drafted in 1st round by Kansas City

Rookie /2012 season: Starter at NT.  757 snaps, 38 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 QB hits, 9 QB hurries

2) LONI FANGUPO (BYU) – 36 Reps

Undrafted Free Agent

Rookie /2012 season: Practice Squad DT.  Played 7 snaps in Week 16 with Pittsburgh

3) MIKE MARTIN (MIchigan) – 36Reps

Drafted in 3rd round by Tennessee

Rookie /2012 season: Rotated at DT.  435 snaps, 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 QB hits, 15 QB hurries

4) KENDALL REYES (Connecticut) – 36 Reps

Drafted round 2 by San Diego

Rookie /2012 season: Starter at DT.  547 snaps, 28 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 7 QB hits, 21 QB hurries

5) NICK PERRY (USC) – 35 Reps

Drafted round 1 by Green Bay

Rookie /2012 season: Starter at OLB.  211 snaps, 18 tackles, 2 sacks, 0 QB hits, 8 QB hurries

NOTES: Went on IR in Week 6 for year

2012 SUMMARY:

(3) rookie starters, (1) key rotation player, and (1) practice squad member.  Solid top 5 class.

 

CONCLUSION

So just what do all these stats add up to?  Well let’s take a look at the 20 players as a whole.

  • 4 players, 5 total Pro Bowl selections (B.J. Raji, Geno Atkins (2), Bruce Miller and J.J. Watt)

20% of the entire 20 player list made the Pro Bowl, and half of the 20 players have been in the league for 2 or fewer seasons.

  • 11 of the 20 players were starters in 2012

In other words, if in 2013 a team selects a player from the top 5 bench press leaders, they have a 55% chance of acquiring a future starter.  Keep in mind the top 5 represent only 10% of the combine DT participants in each year.

  • 2 more players were key rotational players in 2012

The number of starters AND rotational players elevates to 13 of 20 (65%) players providing real contributions to their team.

  • 3 players are on practice squads, 1 back-up is on IR.

17 of 20 (85%) players remain in the NFL.

  • Only 3 players are now waived or cut

3 of 20 (15%) players are no longer in the NFL.

  • Selecting a top 5 DL bench press leader at the 2013 combine provides…

A greater (20%) chance the player will become a Pro Bowler, than the (15%) chance he will be out of the league in 4 years.  Sounds to me like the top 5 bench press leaders are well worth a second look before settling on a DL draft selection.

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Tags: Bench Press Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line NFL Combine

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