By Joe Landers
Click Here if you missed the Introduction to the Series
Corroborating the Sudden Impact model, Defensive End is one of the toughest positions to make an impact as a rookie. In fact, no position outside the offensive line takes longer to achieve their peak season than Defensive End. The most common peak season for Defensive Ends is Year 4. Aside from Year 4, Years 2 through 6 are all in the 2.5 range. After Year 6, the propensity halves year after year.
The trend would suggest that the odds are that there will be four Defensive Ends from the class of 2013 who were among the 19 who contributed during the 2015 regular season and will have the best season of their careers (no matter how long) in the 2016 regular season. Who will it be? The candidates to be the 4 of those 19 2013 DEs who have their peak season in 2016 are: Lavar Edwards, Damontre Moore, Dion Jordan, Mike Catapano, Margus Hunt, Earl Okine, Quanterus Smith, Nicholas Williams, David King, Benson Mayowa, Stansly Maponga, Steven Means, Cornelius Washington, Ziggy Ansah, Devin Taylor, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Malliciah Goodman, and William Gholston. Look below for more names, past and present.
With the norm for Defensive Ends being Year 4, here are some of the most recognizable names that peaked in Year 4. With as good as Cory Redding, Vonnie Holliday, Kenechi Udeze, Tommie Harris, and the rest were in their careers, who would’ve thought Year 4 would be their peak?
The Norm – DEs Who Peaked in Year Four of Their Career
|Cory Redding||Vonnie Holliday|
|Red Bryant||Mike Rucker|
|Ray Edwards||Kenechi Udeze|
|Tommie Harris||Reggie Hayward|
|Will Smith||Shaun Ellis|
As uncommon as it is, the second list of ten defensive ends peaked as rookies. Their on-field productivity never again matched what they accomplished in their rookie seasons. Some like Jevon Kearse, Philip Merling, Erasmus James, Courtney Brown, and Larry English would be educated guesses by most, but Adam Carriker, Victor Adeyanju, Luis Castillo, Darren Howard, and Tyler Brayton? I never would’ve guessed it.
Rookie Peaks – DEs Who Peaked in Year One of Their Career
|Jevon Kearse||Darren Howard|
|Tyler Brayton||Courtney Brown|
|Philip Merling||Adam Carriker|
|Luis Castillo||Victor Adeyanju|
|Larry English||Erasmus James|
The third list represents the late-career outliers. For DEs, productivity drops considerably after Year 6. These ten peaked after Year 6 of their career.
Late-Peakers – DEs Who Peaked After Year 6 of Their Career
|Chris Canty (7)||Michael Bennett (7)|
|Kyle Vanden Bosch (7)||Damione Lewis (8)|
|Chris Kelsay (8)||Jared Allen (8)|
|Cullen Jenkins (9)||Chris Clemons (9)|
|Paul Spicer (10)||Israel Idonije (9)|
These ten big-name defensive ends seem to have their best season not only behind them, but they achieved it in the first four years. The prediction isn’t that they’re in terminal decline, but based on the odds and how prolific their peak season was (in parentheses), it’s highly unlikely that their career year is ahead.
Big Names Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Four Years
|Mario Williams (2)||Jason Pierre-Paul (2)|
|Jason Jones (3)||Tyson Jackson (3)|
|Michael Johnson (4)||Jared Odrick (4)|
|Mike DeVito (4)||Greg Hardy (4)|
|Calais Campbell (4)||Charles Johnson (4)|
These ten players didn’t qualify for the study as they’re in the 2011 or later classes. However, they do have three years of productivity. Based on their career trajectory thus far, it appears their best season (in parentheses) might be in the rearview mirror.
Current Players Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Three Years
|Chandler Jones (2)||Ryan Davis (3)|
|Aldon Smith (2)||Fletcher Cox (4)|
|Cedric Thornton (4)||Adrian Clayborn (3)|
|Cameron Jordan (2)||Robert Quinn (3)|
|Kerry Wynn (2)||Jared Crick (3)|
Based on career trajectories, these ten ends seem as though their best season is ahead of them in the next 1-3 years.
Peak Coming 1-3 Years
|Olivier Vernon||Daquan Jones|
|Derek Wolfe||Malik Jackson|
|Khalil Mack||Will Sutton|
|Jarvis Jenkins||Ezekiel Ansah|
|Danielle Hunter||Frank Clark|
Next Up – Tight Ends