A Metrics Breakdown of Top Pass Rushers: Tier 1

By Greg Peshek
March 26, 2013

Using advanced stats, Greg Peshek analyzes the top pass rushers in-depth. Find out where the top five pass rushers land.

The post I wrote on Second Round Stats (read the original post for refrence) analyzing each top pass rushers’ sacks was met with a chorus of people telling me that sacks are limited in nature and thus not telling of much.

In response to that, I’ve analyzed hurries, knockdowns, and sacks. This time though, the data comes from Stats ICE, which has every game involving a BCS team charted for more factors than imaginable.  Thus, you can be completely confident that the data you’re looking at is full and not just a sample.

Working with the data and at The Sideline View gives me more time to analyze the data and less time charting. Without further delay, here’s my breakdown of the top 5 pass rushers in this class.

How Often Did They Get to the QB?

A little explanation here.

Pressures are considered hurries + knockdowns  to give the total effect on the QB. The first stat in the chart is labeled “SPP” and that stands for Snaps Per Pressure. What that tells us is how many snaps it takes for each player to get to the QB. That is, a lower number means that the pass rusher affects the QB more often and is more efficient.  SPP combines sacks and pressures, but isn’t weighted towards one or the other.

Editor's Note: Updated March 28 to reflect correct acronym.

  Mingo Werner Jordan Carradine Okafor
SPP 9.63 8.50 10.64 7.31 6.49
Pressures 28 31 17 31 29
Sacks 4.5 13 5 11 13.5
Snaps 313 374 234 307 276
  • One of the most notable things is Alex Okafor’s extremely efficient SPP. That means, on average he affects the quarterback every 6.5 snaps. The average for the entire class, including tier 2, is a PPS of 10. Many scouting reports and pundits have remarked on Okafor’s lack of explosiveness, that may be true, but clearly he’s doing something to get to the QB more often than any other pass rusher.
  • Although many have commented on it, the statistics show that Tank Carradine may have been the most complete pass rusher had he not been injured during the season. His efficiency at getting to the QB was very close to Okafor’s and is extremely impressive given the attention he received. Many may argue he was more efficient due to the presence of Bjorn Werner on the other side, but we’ll get to that a little bit later.
  • Dion Jordan clearly took the fewest snaps rushing the passer, but his lack of pressures is noticeable when compared to Barkevious Mingo. Both have roughly 5 sacks this year, but Mingo managed 28 pressures for a PPS of 9.63.
  •  You do have to wonder why Mingo wasn’t able to convert more of his pressures into sacks. He was clearly getting to the quarterback, but wasn’t able to bring him down. It’s not as if the majority of his opponents were slippery dual-threat types, so why was this a problem for him?

How Much Help Did They Get?

The stat below, EPG stands for Extra Pressures Per Game. It incorporates how often each pass rushers’ teammate’s affected the QB, the number of average rushers on their pressures, and a few other minor factors. The goal is to describe how much help each player got from their teammates. A lower number means their teammate’s provided less pressure and that the pass rusher did more on their own.  Avg Rush is the number of rushers each team brought on each play. The number in the bottom row “%Blitz” tells how many of each rusher’s pressures came when their team blitzed.

  Mingo Werner Jordan Carradine Okafor
EPG 4.41 3.22 2.93 2.99 2.37
Avg Rush 4.08 4.07 3.91 4.28 4.28
% Blitz 25.00% 6.50% 35.00% 22.60% 34.50%
  • Once again Okafor comes out on top. On average he received 2.37 extra pressures per game from his teammates, which means he did more of his work with less help. This is partly due to the fact that Jackson Jeffcoat went down with an injury in the middle of the season and that Texas’ DTs and LBs didn’t provide much push on the QB.
  • Werner, Jordan and Carradine are all hovering in the 2.9-3.2 range, which is just about negligible in comparison. In all 11 pass rushers I analyzed, Carradine’s EPG was ranked 6th. Thus, he received help from an excellent FSU defense but no more or less than any other pass rusher. The reason Werner and Carradine’s EPGs are different is because it takes the other player into account. The fact that Werner got 93.5% of his pressures on four man rushes is interesting to be sure.
  • The amount of help Mingo received was the second most out the entire class. Between Sam Montgomery, Kevin Minter, and LSU’s excellent defense, he received a good amount of help. He obviously has the athletic ability for the NFL, but given his size and abilities, is he going to need to be on a strong defense to truly capitalize on his gifts?

How Good Were Their Opponents?

Listening to pundits and perusing blogs, you always hear that this guy went up against the best competition or that guy had an easy time. I’ve created a strength of schedule that combines Sagarin ratings and sacks allowed by opposing offensive lines to quantify this.  A higher number means they gained their pressures against stronger competition.

  Mingo Werner Jordan Carradine Okafor
SOS 47.95 38.28 37.94 42.62 55.58


  • Okafor’s strength of schedule was not only at the top of tier 1, but of all 11 pass rushers I looked at. This may seem counter-intuitive because people would expect SEC pass rushers to have the highest SOS, but many of their pressures came from cupcake FCS schools. The majority of Okafor’s pressures and sacks came against legitimate Big 12 competition.
  • Both Werner and Jordan’s SOS are extremely weak. Jordan’s works out like this due to garnering pressures against bad Washington State and Tennessee Tech teams.
  • While Werner had some quality opposition in Miami, Florida and UNC, games against Boston College, Murray State, and Savannah State really inflated some of his pressure numbers. In total 25% of his total pressures and sacks came against those three teams.
  • Mingo’s SEC credentials garners him the 5th highest strength of schedule among all pass rushers, and the second highest of the 1st tier. Notable offensive lineman he beat for pressures include DJ Fluker of Alabama and Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.

When Did They Get Their Pressures?

I tried to develop a “clutch” stat to find out which player was a better rusher in important moments in the game.  I tried using scoring margins, quarters, and downs, but every combination came out to be relatively similar for every player. So I’m just going to put this chart down that shows what percentage of pressures and sacks came on 3rd and 4th down without comment.  You can form your own opinion and if it means anything to you.

Percentage of sacks on 3rd and 4th downs

  Mingo Werner Jordan Carradine Okafor
% Pressures 32.31% 52.27% 68.18% 50.00% 40.00%