Patriots Draft Trends: Pass Rusher Explosion Drills Valued Over Size

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It feels like ages ago now, but New England Patriots fans used to beg and plead for their team to draft a pass rusher every April.

The Patriots drafted just seven prototypical pass rushers between 2000 and 2007. They’ve now drafted eight pass rushers in the last six drafts, including 2012 first-round pick Chandler Jones.

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— The Patriots had the most success in selecting Jarvis Green, Tully Banta-Cain and Jones. Mincey has gone on to have a successful career with other NFL teams but was released out of training camp during his rookie season with the Patriots.

— The Patriots only slightly altered their drafting philosophy when they switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 in 2011. Players like Green, Banta-Cain, Mincey and Cunningham are similar in stature and athleticism to Jones, Zach Moore, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers.

— The Patriots have only drafted three players with below average broad jump measurements. Green is the only player with a below average vertical leap.

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— The Patriots clearly value explosion measurements (broad jump and vertical jump) when drafting defensive ends, since their average is more than three inches longer than the NFL average for pass rushers.

— Patriots pass rushers are taller than the NFL average, but they also weigh less and have shorter arms.

— Patriots pass rushers are near average in hand size, 40-yard dash, 10-yard dash and 3-cone.

— Patriots pass rushers typically have better short shuttle times than the NFL average for pass rushers.

Let’s see how two players signed by the Patriots, not drafted, stack up to New England’s standards:

Jabaal Sheard
Height: 74.875 inches
Weight: 264 pounds
Arm length: 33.5 inches
Hand size: 10 inches
40-yard dash: 4.73 seconds
10-yard dash: 1.68 seconds
3-cone drill: 7.34 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.65 seconds
Bench press:
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches
Broad jump: 115 inches
— Sheard fits the Patriots’ standards in weight, arm length, hand size, 40-yard dash and broad jump.

Rob Ninkovich
Height: 75.125 inches
Weight: 260 pounds
Arm length: 31.5 inches
Hand size: 9 inches
40-yard dash: 4.80 seconds
10-yard dash: 1.69 seconds
3-cone drill: 6.96 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds
Bench press: 23 reps
Vertical jump: 34.5 inches
Broad jump: 116 inches
— Ninkovich fits the Patriots’ standards in 40-yard dash, 3-cone, short shuttle, bench press, vertical leap and broad jump.

The Patriots don’t have a major need at pass rusher this offseason, but if they do elect to draft a defensive end, we’ll have a better sense of which players they’ll be interested in after next week’s NFL Scouting Combine.

NESN.com will go position by position to analyze the Patriots’ draft trends prior to this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Look through our cornerbackrunning backlinebacker and wide receiver trends.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Sep 21, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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