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Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff 2013 Projections

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At NBC, I projected Jay Ratliff in 2013:

The wear and tear of playing as an undersized nose tackle in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense took its toll on Ratliff. The Cowboys made a big, big mistake in extending Ratliff through 2017—a season he’ll never see in a Cowboys uniform.

Still, there are those who believe Ratliff can turn things around in 2013 in a scheme that’s suited to his skill set. There’s no doubt that Ratliff fits better as a one-gap defensive tackle for Monte Kiffin than he ever did as a nose tackle. Ratliff also played just six games and 269 snaps in 2012. Let’s take a look at how Ratliff performed on a per-snap basis to see if he really can resurrect his career.

Ratliff recorded a tackle on 5.9 percent of his 2013 snaps. In comparison, that number was just 5.1 percent in 2011 and 4.2 percent in 2010. That’s a good sign, especially considering Ratliff should be able to make more plays in the 4-3. He should be able to maintain last year’s 5.9 percent tackle rate, even over a larger sample of plays.

And I did the same for Anthony Spencer:

Heading into 2013, there are lots of factors to consider when projecting Spencer; he’s again in a contract year, he’s switching positions in a new scheme, and he overachieved in 2012. One thing we know is that Spencer will rush the quarterback more often than ever. He had just 318 snaps as a pass-rusher in 2012 because he dropped into coverage so often. In 2013, he’s more likely to see around 500 snaps as a pass-rusher.

Over the past three seasons, Spencer has pressured the quarterback on 7.9 percent of his pass-rush snaps. If that trend continues, Spencer would pressure the quarterback 40 times—a number that, based on historic sack rates, would be most likely to lead to 10 sacks.

However, it’s unlikely that Spencer will pressure the quarterback at the same rate in 2013. Efficiency always tends to drop as usage increases. One reason is fatigue, but a more important one is that offenses know Spencer will be rushing. They can dedicate blockers to him accordingly without much worry that he’ll drop into coverage. Because of that, Spencer’s pressure rate will probably hover closer to 6.8 percent. That number would lead to 34 pressures and around 8.5 sacks.

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