With the 2015 NFL draft quickly approaching, it is time for Football Outsiders' annual SackSEER projections. The SackSEER projections are based on a statistical analysis of the factors that best predict the pass-rushing success of edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers).
SackSEER correctly predicted a number of busts at the edge rusher position, including Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones, and Courtney Upshaw, and identified both Justin Houston (a third-rounder for Kansas City) and Jamie Collins (taken in the late second round by New England) as significant sleepers.
SackSEER is far from perfect, however. For example, it predicted big things for Cleveland's Barkevious Mingo, who has yet to make a major impact. (For a full explanation of what goes into the SackSEER formula, refer to the methodology at the bottom of the article.)
This year there is considerable uncertainty concerning who will be the first edge rusher selected in the NFL draft. Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler Jr., Shane Ray, or Vic Beasley could all conceivably hear their names called first. SackSEER, however, projects this class as night and day. It sees two of the four as excellent prospects and the other two as highly likely to become busts.
Here's a look at how SackSEER, which projects the number of regular-season sacks that the edge rusher will record over the course of his first five NFL seasons, ranks the top edge rushers in the draft, plus a look at our No. 1 sleeper:
1. Vic Beasley, Clemson
Projection: 34.1 sacks through Year 5
Scouts, Inc.: No. 25 overall
Similar Historical Prospects: Von Miller, Andre Carter