Pressures Over Sacks: Why rookie Chop Robinson was the right pick for the Miami Dolphins

May 14, 2024

There’s more to Chop than meets the eye.

Syndication: Palm Beach Post

The Miami Dolphins selected Penn State rusher Chop Robinson with the 21st pick in this year’s NFL Draft. The pick was subject to immediate scrutiny, and many questioned general manager Chris Grier’s decision on draft night. However, there’s more to Chop Robinson than meets the eye, and the data shows that he was actually the right pick for the Dolphins.

But, where the criticism for Chop Robinson actually come from?

Well, critics point to Robinson’s lack of college production as a major flaw in his game. With just 11.5 sacks in 35 college games for Penn State and Maryland, there’s definitely some concern there. At Pick No. 21, you ideally want a player who’s more pro-ready and doesn’t come with glaring holes in his game.

However, reports suggest that Miami’s front office values quarterback pressures just as much (if not more than) than sacks. The Dolphins aren’t alone in this, and it points to a growing trend in the use analytics across the NFL. Many teams realize that sacks, though exciting, are often unreliable in evaluating an edge rusher, and that quarterback pressures are a far more reliable statistic. The logic behind this, is that sacks often come in waves and can be a volatile statistic.

For example, a player may grab six sacks in three games, and then not sack quarterback for 10 weeks. However, a good player will continue to generate quarterback pressure over those 10 weeks, irrespective of how many sacks they manage. A bad player, likely won’t. Thus, advanced statistics suggest that pressure rate, quarterback hurries, and quarterback pressures are more reliable in predicting the future of a NFL edge rusher. Even when they’re not sacking quarterback, elite pass rushers generate pressure on a weekly basis, while average pass rushers don’t.

In that regard, Chop Robinson’s numbers are outstanding.

Last season, Robinson’s 18 % pressure rate last season ranked 6th in college football, and 1st in the Big Ten. Over the past two seasons, Robinson was ranked 3rd in pash rush win rate, behind only Laiatu Latu (23.1%) and Jared Verse (22.1%). It’s worth noting that both players were selected ahead of Robinson in the draft, at picks 15 and 19.

Thus, it’s not surprise to see the Dolphins take a swing on Robinson, who generated Micah Parsons comparisons before the draft. Of course, Robinson has a long way to go before reaching that level, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he does.