The term “sack” was coined by former Rams great Deacon Jones. However, the term “sack” was not widely used before circa 1970; previously one would simply refer to a quarterback being tackled behind the line (of scrimmage), in so many words. Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense,” Jones felt that a sack devastated the offense in the same way that a city was devastated when it was sacked.
Considered one of the greatest defensive players ever, the 6-foot-5 272-pounder whom many say revolutionize the position of defensive end. Had other contributions to the league; such as his patented “head slap” which according to Jones was his biggest personal influence on the game. In 1977 the technique, was outlawed. The rule change is commonly referred to as the “Deacon Jones Rule” which allowed a pass rusher to smash an opposing lineman on the side of his helmet.
In 1967, Jones claims that he amassed 26 sacks in only 14 games, then in 1968 Jones also claimed that he had 24 sacks in 14 games, both totals are more than the modern NFL record. Pro Football Weekly reported he accumulated 194 ½ sacks over his 14-year career, which would be third on the all-time sack list.
So how does the back story on Jones and the term sack relate to the Bucs sack expectations you ask?
Well by using Pro Football Reference’s stats were able to cull data and form a more accurate estimation on the probability of either Adrian Clayborn or Da’Quan Bowers, realistically bursting onto the scene and sacking the opposition at and astounding rate. Especially considering both figure to start from the onset as rookies.
Since 1982, the same year coincidently that NFL began recording sacks as an official statistic there have been a total of 211 defensive ends drafted (meaning that they played defensive end in the pros) in the first or second round and have played in either a 43 or 34 front. Out of those 211 defensive ends that were drafted, 71, started in at least 8-games. Taking just the players that were drafted and not sorting by any number of games started we get an average of 2.97 sacks per player during their rookie season. Sorting by the qualifier of 8 or more games started, we get an average of 4.57 sacks per player during their respective rookie season.
But by taking it a step further were able to find a percentage of players using a realistic number of sacks one would assume a prospect would be able to deliver if said player started a minimum of 8-games.
Now that we already have the average for defensive ends that started atleast 8-games, who were drafted in either the first or second round narrowed down to 4.57. We will use that as the average fans should expect to see out of Clayborn and Bowers as rookies. Using roughly 5 sacks as the barometer 28% percent of the players in are data achieved a level one would deem above average.
So realistically based on history the duo should fall somewhere between 3 & 4.5 sacks as rookies with roughly a 28% chance to best a total of 5 sacks a piece.
Speaking specifically just about players drafted by the Bucs in rounds one and two there’s been eight, not including Clayborn and Bowers. There were four players who started atleast 8-games; Gaines Adams (6 sacks), Eric Curry (5 sacks), Ron Holmes (4.5 sacks) and Regan Upshaw (4 sacks). That’s 25% of players drafted by the Bucs in the first two rounds since 1982 that managed to accomplish playing above average, remember above average is managing a minimum of 5 sacks as a rookie.
But who would have thought that two players who routinely get mentioned as bust, would have preformed better then average as rookies. Adams holds the franchise record for sacks by a rookie defensive end.