A few weeks ago, Pro Football Focus talked about the stock of a few players from the AFC North. One of those players was linebacker Marcus Benard, who was projected to be a breakout player this year. Today, Pro Football Focus featured two articles on pass rushers -- one on the league's top ten pass rushers from last year, and another article on projected breakout pass rushers for 2011.
When it came to pass rushing productivity, none of the Browns made the top ten. Topping that list were Tamba Hali, Charles Edwards, Ray Edwards, John Abraham, and Lamarr Woodley. In a different category, former Brown Shaun Rogers, despite playing few snaps, was rated as the fifth best interior lineman at generating pressure. Thankfully, none of our players were ranked in the bottom ten.
Based on his PRP ranking though, it looks like Benard just barely missed the top ten (unless a boatload of players are between a PRP of 11.60 and 11.89). Here is what Pro Football Focus said about Benard this time around when he was listed as the top player ready to break out next season:
With the Browns moving to a 4-3, we can’t be sure how Benard will fit. All signs point to a situational pass rushing role for a guy likely deemed undersized for every-down work. That may be the case, or the Browns’ complete lack of defensive end depth may push a guy smaller than Dwight Freeney into a starting spot. Regardless, if you can get Benard rushing the passer you could be in luck. He turned his 235 pass rushes into 34 total pressures.
The switch to the 4-3 could undoubtedly hurt Benard's production level, but I'll keep my hopes high and see if he can continue to grow into a dominant player. Second on the list was former Browns defensive lineman Antonio Garay.