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What is the Optimum Size for an Edge Rusher?

The Green Bay Packers have high hopes that their fourth-round draft pick, Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel, will develop into a premier edge rusher. As of now though, Biegel has packed only 246 pounds on his 6’3” frame. Is that enough?

Below are the 14 linebackers who had eight or more sacks in 2016, along with their team, height, weight and number of sacks.

[table id=4 /]

What is to be made of this? Player height fits into a fairly tight range from 6’1″ through 6’5”. It’s almost a perfect bell curve, with the most common height being 6’3” – Vince Biegel’s height.

Weights are more spread out, with six players coming in at 250 or under and six at 265. The four top edge rushers in terms of sacks, include three players at 250 or under – Biegel is listed at 246 pounds.

The first thing I’d conclude is that Biegel has enough size to be a top edge rusher. If he adds about nine pounds over the next couple years, which is a reasonable expectation, this would put him at an optimum size – the exact size of Clay Matthews: 6’3” and 255 pounds.

My second reaction is that weight is not as good a predictor of edge rush success as is strength. Five of the above guys don’t appear to have done the bench press at the NFL Combine or at a pro day event. Of those who did, the strongest ones were: Vic Beasley and Nick Perry, at 35 reps each, followed by Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo at 31. At the bottom is Terrell Suggs (19) and (surprisingly) Von Miller, who did 21 reps – the same number as Vince Biegel.

Biegel has a good foundation for becoming a fine edge rusher, though to get there he should put in more time in the weight room in the next few years.

As an example of how successfully one can add muscle mass to a 6’3” frame, when Clay Matthews participated in the 2009 NFL Combine, he weighed in at 240 pounds.

On the other hand, it took Nick Perry five long years to get great results out of his tremendous strength. Perry has slimmed down by six pounds from his 2012 weight of 271 – he’s a super all-around athlete.

Even without considering any stats, you gotta love this highlight reel and Biegel’s quickness.

Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”



  1. Howard May 6, 2017

    When guys are in the NFL for two to three years they should build up at least some strength and good weight. With that said shouldn’t we be expecting more from Jordan Tripp this year than Beigel? Tripp met or exceeded Beigel and Matthews in almost every combine drill. Tripp has shorter arms, less weight, and was in a smaller college program, but has now been in the NFL 2 or 3 years. Probably has gained weight and strength. Is Tripp a potential backup edge rusher, and backup ILB no one is considering?

  2. PF4L May 6, 2017

    So strength is a good indicator of a good edge rusher? Perry did 35 reps, Miller did 21, who would you want on your team? Suggs for only doing 19 reps turned out to have a very respectable career, although he’s reaching the end. Yes strength is a positive in the NFL, at any position. But isn’t that basic 101?

    Someday, somehow, someway…..Some people might finally realize that a pro football players success or failure in the NFL, isn’t determined by their metrics at the combine or Pro day. Talk to anyone who’s career it is analyzing draft picks and they will tell you that they already know how fast they are, how strong they are etc.

    They’ll also tell you there are 2 main things they want information on at the combine. They want to get to know the player, in person. Not just what their hired guns have dug up on backgrounds. They also want to know medical, as much as they can. They want to know who their giving millions of dollars too.

    Combine stats are hyped for tv ratings….CASH!!!!!! Personally, i don’t know anyone who views the combine as must see tv. But whatever floats your boat.

    1. Kato May 6, 2017


    2. MJ May 6, 2017

      This would be a very good post. Sadly, you wrote “… who their giving millions … “, so no perfect grades this time.

      1. PF4L May 7, 2017

        Thank you my friend….i reckon i can live with being, close to perfect.

  3. Kato May 6, 2017

    To add to PF4L’s point, speed is also an overrated trait. Enmity Smith fell in the draft because he was considered slow. A lot of players run fast 40s, but play slower than that time, and others run a slow 40 but have better functional speed on the field. Tony Mandarich was the best offensive line prospect of all time and had combine #s off the charts for an offensive tackle. How did that turn out for us? Film is always going to be the best indicator of whether a player can compete at a high level in the NFL

    1. MJ May 6, 2017

      Some guys will play faster than their 40 time because of their instincts. Instincts can help a defender react to a play while it is still developing, reaching their guy quickly and breaking it up. Sometimes, better than someone more athletically gifted.

  4. KILLER May 6, 2017

    Strength is not an important indicator for pass rush ability. Warren Sapp (yeah, he is a jerk but this time he was right) said strength as a facotr in the NFL is way overrated. Jared Allen, one of the greatest pass rushers of all time and a 270 pound DE, could only do 16 reps at the combine. The bench should actually be thought of not as a measure of strength but as one of strength stamina over time/effort. Actual strength is best measured by best effort highest weight single bench press or by best weight power clean, etc.

    Strength is most important in a bull rush mode and edge rushers trying to live the bull rush just die via the bull rush. A guy 255 cannot, no matter how strong, consistently bull rush these 310 pound OTs.

    Look, Biegel is a great guy and some skills. I think he is great vs, the run and a great guy to have on a team. But he is NEVER going to be a premiere edge rusher. His speed is very average. Strength won’t do the job. His size is average or less. Premiere edge rushers have premiere athleticism among other things. Look at Vic Beasley, same size as Biegel. But he runs a 4.53 40 to Biegel’s 4.67. He benches 35 to Biegel’s 21. Beasley had a faster 3-cone, faster 20 yard shuttle, and much better vertical leap and broad jump indicating much more powerful legs (whose strength I’d argue is far more important than arm strength).

    Those two are the same size but the athleticism is far different. Beasley’s size got him zero of those sacks. It was the athleticism. Take that vs. Biegel, pro rate the sacks and, if Biegel has a great year and gets as many snaps then he could achieve, maybe, 8 sacks. Not this year. During his best ever year during his coming career.

    1. PF4L May 7, 2017

      WOW…so you know a player’s future career high sacks in his NFL career, before he even plays in an NFL game?

      Color me fucking impressed. I didn’t know you could read the future.

      Now riddle us this….how come you didn’t know the vikings were going to miss the playoffs?
      Especially after you bored us incessantly with your proclamations of the vikings going to the playoffs and the Super Bowl, and how great the vikings were after starting the season 5-0?

      Maybe i can answer that for you…..

      Because you’re just a blowhard who doesn’t know shit.

      1. KILLER May 7, 2017

        The more profane, the less intelligent.

        The more insulting, the more insecure.

        You have become living proof of this, Piffle.

        PS I did not say he would one year get 8 sacks. I said “maybe” he would.
        PPS I never proclaimed the Vikings were for certain going to the playoffs last year and going to the Super Bowl. Never ever. I know you keep all my posts so feel free to research that. Accuracy counts, Piffle. Just not to you.

        So, OK, I guess I’m down for a pretty average career and certainly never a premiere edge rusher for Biegel. Since you reacted so vehemently to this estimation by me I will put you down for Biegel being a star whose career rivals Clay Matthews. We’ll compare notes then when Biegel retires and see who was more correct.

        1. PF4L May 7, 2017

          Because you’re just a blowhard who doesn’t know shit.

          1. PF4L May 7, 2017

            i’d like to apologize for that response above this. I was out of line. I didn’t read your post so a response was unwarranted. But in fairness to me, i’ve read some of your post a long time ago and my only conclusion was that……

            …..you’re just a blowhard who doesn’t know shit.

  5. Vijay Swearingen May 7, 2017

    Killer is right but he’s eluding to the fact that race matters. Look elite QBs with sustained success are almost always white while elite corners, RBs, edge rushers are almost always black. See a pattern? Black men generally have more natural athletic gifts while white people have a few more IQ pts.

    1. KILLER May 7, 2017

      I know your racism receives an eager audience at a Packers web site. Still, you should not pander to that racism just to try to be popular.

      You are saying Biegel won’t be an elite pass rusher because he is white? Hey, Jared Allen was as white as white gets and he was a great pass rusher. None of his sacks were unblocked as is often the case with OLBs like Matthews. No, he had to earn them all by demolishing one, two, and even sometimes three blockers. His whiteness did not hold him back. Also, no OTs looked at DeMarcus Ware and said “Hey, I’d block this guy but, look, he is black. I’ll just let him get some sacks.”

      If Biegel was black but had those same athletic numbers I would say the exact same thing as per my estimation of his future performance.

      As per intelligence, take a look at our most recent competent president. Quite black but known as one of the most intelligent presidents of all time. (I’m trying to be objective here but, it is hard) Contrast that with our current president. I think a box of rocks moistened with water has a greater intellect and more soul than him. It is, however, fair to say our current prez maybe is not so much a white as he is an “orange”.

      1. PF4L May 7, 2017

        Because you’re just a blowhard who doesn’t know shit.

      2. Vijay Swearingen May 7, 2017

        Its not racism to appreciate racial differences for what they are. By the way I can produce study after study which supports my theory which you cannot. The reason Trump won (I voted for Clinton by the way) is because people got tired of Liberal gender/ race identity politics and they thought a con man would benefit them more than a capable woman who made a few mistakes.

        1. Vijay Swearingen May 7, 2017

          And I don’t hide my identity with a fake profile name like you do. I have no issue expressing or sharing my opinions.

          1. PF4L May 7, 2017

            A few mistakes….lol

            That’s gold Jerry! Gold!!!

          2. KILLER May 8, 2017

            OMG! Is your name really Vijay Swearingen? Damn! I feel bad for you now.

            And who says KILLER is not my real name?

            Monty McMahon thinks fake profile names are great by the way. He posts as PF4L, also known as Piffle.

        2. KILLER May 8, 2017

          Your first two sentences are exactly what the cotton plantation owners used to say. They also did not think they were racist. Even as they whipped slaves.

          1. KILLER May 8, 2017

            The above is referring to Vijay’s post on 5/7/2017 at 12:39pm.

  6. Deepsky May 9, 2017

    Every time a fan favorite who had weak combine results is acquired by the Packers, we hear the same thing, strength doesn’t matter, speed doesn’t matter, etc. For proof, we get the exceptions to the rule. Vernon Gholston was combine hero and a bust, so strength and speed don’t matter.

    Fact is, terrific combine results don’t guarantee success in the NFL, but slow, weak and stiff will generally indicate a difficult transition to the NFL.