Like they do with quarterbacks, Football Outsiders has a projection system for edge rushers. It is called SackSEER. It bases its projections on college production and athletic measurables.
SackSEER is based on a statistical analysis of all of edge rushers drafted in the years 1998-2013, and measures the following:
The edge rusher's projected draft position. These projections use a transformed variable based on NFL Draft Scout's rankings.
An "explosion index" that measures the prospect's scores in the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, and the broad jump in pre-draft workouts.
The prospect's score on the three-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 in the NFL draft and position switches during college.
The prospect's college passes defensed divided by college games played.
The number of medical redshirts the player either received or for which he was eligible.
As always, projections don't guarantee anything. They are based on long-term trends, but there will always be exceptions to the rule.
With that in mind, I was curious to see how third round pick Lorenzo Mauldin rated.
In this system, Mauldin rated as the 15th best edge rusher in the class and is projected to have just 10.8 sacks over his first five NFL seasons.
I'm sure that won't be a popular projection, and again it guarantees nothing. I have been thinking about Mauldin's future, though. I am wondering what his role will be. There are a couple of different roles that might fit him. One might think he would take a Quinton Coples type spot where he is rushing the passer on every play. Maybe, however, Mauldin is viewed as a replacement for Calvin Pace, who has a more diversified role. Pace rushes the passer at times, but he also frequently drops into coverage and has an important job setting the edge against the run. Mauldin isn't necessarily the kind of explosive athlete who profiles as the featured pass rusher in a defense, but that might not be what he is best suited to do anyway. He might be a better fit in a more diversified role.