I recently got a postcard reminding me to put my “upcoming” ten-year reunion (still two years away) for high school on my calendar, and that made me think two things. First, it made me realize how old I already am. Second, a reunion for any of my graduating classes – grade school, high school, or college – sounds like a cornucopia of awkward.
The reunion is a bizarre landscape where the people you left behind and who you have no interest in being friends with come out of the woodwork and brag about the job(s), spouse(s), kid(s), and felony arrest(s) they’ve managed to accrue since you last saw them.
Just not my cup of tea.
The kind of people I do want to check in with are Individual Defensive Player (IDP) busts who have moved into new situations this year. Those are the new jobs I want to hear about and pictures of new houses I want to see.
This off-season a number of former first- and second-round pass-rushers switched team situations – most of them due to busting with their other team – but there’s no time like the present to catch up with them.
Dion Jordan, DE SEA
Draft: 2013, Third Overall
Then: Dion Jordan was a top-three pick five drafts ago, but was a colossal disappointment for the Miami Dolphins – who actually traded up to select him that year. Across four years with the team, Jordan played in just 26 games (starting once). The other 38 saw him injured with a bevy of different ailments or suspended, as he was for the entire 2015 season.
Now: After signing with the Seahawks this off-season, Jordan spent the entire first half of 2017 on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list with a knee issue. With major injuries ravaging the Seattle depth chart, Jordan earned 52 snaps in his first two weeks back and converted those into four total tackles, one sack, and one tackle for a loss. Since then, however, he’s seen no action.
To-Do: Hold in deeper leagues, 16+ teams with 40 roster spots or more.
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Barkevious Mingo, LB IND
Draft: 2013, Sixth Overall
Then: Barkevious Mingo was the second edge rusher selected in 2013, but he hasn’t made much of an impact in the NFL either. The Cleveland Browns wanted to shape their aggressive pass-rush around him, but he averaged just 36.9 total tackles, 2.4 sacks, and 2.4 tackles for a loss per 16 games with the Dawg Pound. This, despite the fact he never played fewer than 15 games in a season, made Mingo a tantalizing (but ultimately disappointing) bust when the New England Patriots scooped him up in 2016 – he played just 54 snaps in Foxboro.
Now: Mingo signed a one-year flier deal with the Indianapolis Colts, and has been a fixture with the second-team pass-rushers. Despite matching his career-high in total tackles through 15 games (42) and forcing three fumbles, he’s been just middling in the big-play department, with just 2.0 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss.
To-Do: There’s some juice left, but he’s not worth more than a stash in deep big-play leagues with long benches.
Sheldon Richardson, DE SEA
Draft: 2013, 13th Overall
Then: Sheldon Richardson was the focal point of a few off-field issues, including a run-in with the police, violation of the substance-abuse policy, and being chronically late to team meetings with the New York Jets from 2013 to 2016. However, he was Defensive Rookie of the Year in his initial season, and has a Pro Bowl spot under his belt. In his time in Gotham, he averaged 66.5 total tackles, 5.0 sacks, and 9.1 tackles for a loss per 16 games, all while being shuffled from defensive tackle to defensive end to (inexplicably) outside linebacker).
Now: The Jets, in an attempt to get some cap relief for a contract year player, swapped Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks for a second-round pick plus wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. In just 606 snaps this year (27th among interior defensive linemen per Pro Football Focus), Richardson is on a 16-game pace for 48.9 total tackles, 1.1 sacks, and 2.3 tackles for a loss. He hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet, but he’s earned consistent pressure; among the 56 defensive linemen to play at least 60 percent of their team’s snaps, he has the 30th-best quarterback pressure rate.
To-Do: Buy low. Richardson is in a contract year and could make his way to a team with less of a defensive line rotation (wink wink, nudge nudge – back to the Jets). More playing time and fewer pass-rush forces next to him will allow more production. Especially valuable in DT-specific leagues.
Jamie Collins, LB CLE
Draft: 2013, 52nd Overall
Then: Jamie Collins was worked into the New England Patriots’ linebacker rotation slowly, getting the 2013 rookie season to get his feet wet and get up to NFL speed. He hit the ground running in 2014 and 2015, however, racking up a ridiculous per-16 game pace of 121.5 total tackles, 5.6 sacks, 7.1 tackles for a loss, and 4 forced fumbles. The all-purpose second-level threat bounced between strong-side (SAM) and middle (MIKE) linebacker, and decimated opposing ballcarriers.
Now: The Pats traded Collins to the Cleveland Browns midway through the 2016 season, who promptly signed him to a big-money extension to make him a cornerstone of their defense. Collins has generated slightly less statistical production in Cleveland (114.3 total tackles, 3.4 sacks, 9.1 tackles for a loss per-16 games), but when healthy he has been a fantasy force. A concussion and a season-ending knee injury limited him to just six games this year.
To-Do: Collins’ recovery from the MCL tear could slow him to start 2018, but he’s a menace when healthy. Buy low now and hold despite a likely slow start, or wait until he struggles early in 2018 and pounce.
Margus Hunt, DE IND
Draft: 2013, 53rd Overall
Then: An older, 25-year old rookie, Margus Hunt moved from his native Estonia to the U.S. to pursue track and field. When that didn’t pan out, he picked up football, and the Cincinnati Bengals made the mountainous 6-foot-8, 277 pound defensive end a top-60 pick. The raw product never ended up playing more than 322 snaps in a season in the Queen City, compiling just 29 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 tackles for a loss across 44 games in four years.
Now: Hunt has topped his previous annual snap count by 66 percent through 15 games, but still hasn’t turned into a big-time stud with the Indianapolis Colts. The solid contributor has posted 27 total tackles, 1.0 sacks, and 4 tackles for a loss (nearly doubling his career output) in 2017, however, and has the 32nd-highest quarterback pressure rate among 88 defensive linemen to play at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps.
To-Do: Already 30, he’s only worth rostering in leagues with 20+ teams and 40+ roster spots and has little future value.
Marcus Smith, DE SEA
Draft: 2014, 26th Overall
Then: The Philadelphia Eagles made Marcus Smith II their first-round selection just four drafts ago, but made no impact in his first year in the league – he was inactive or played zero snaps in seven out of 15 games, and earned just 74 total. Across his next 29 games in 2015 and 2016, Smith picked up just 23 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, and one tackle for a loss, ill-suited for either the 3-4 scheme he was drafted in or the 4-3 attacking front headed by Jim Schwartz. The Eagles cut Smith in late July of this year.
Now: The Seattle Seahawks signed Smith just days after he cleared waivers, and in 13 games he has accrued a paltry 15 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Seattle runs a heavy defensive line/edge rusher rotation, with Smith playing just 252 snaps (107th among edge rushers).
To-Do: Hold in big-play leagues. Smith turns just 26 in March, and is on a one-year deal in Seattle. More playing time could await elsewhere.
Kony Ealy, DE NYJ
Draft: 2014, 60th Overall
Then: The Carolina Panthers were the team to have no concerns over Kony Ealy’s Combine numbers. His first season was essentially redshirted (12 total tackles in 15 games), but he showed immense pass-rushing potential with 4.0 sacks in limited playing time. He began to deliver on that promise with nearly-identical 2015 and 2016 seasons: 32 total tackles and 5.0 sacks in 16 games in each. Had the Panthers won Super Bowl 50, Ealy would likely have been MVP; he earned three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the championship game.
Now: Ealy was shipped for pennies to the New England Patriots, who then cut him during the 2017 preseason. The New York Jets swiped Ealy off of waivers, and he has put in 441 snaps for them. Despite just 14 total tackles, 1.0 sack, and one tackle for a loss, Ealy’s quarterback pressure rate ranks in the top-third of defensive linemen to play at least 25 percent of their team snaps.
To-Do: Buy very low in 16-team leagues, but don’t expect much if the Jets re-sign Sheldon Richardson and Ealy re-ups with Gang Green as well.
- The IDP Impact of Steve Wilks to the Cleveland Browns - March 2, 2019
- The IDP Impact of Gregg Williams to the New York Jets - February 8, 2019
- The IDP Impact of Vic Fangio to the Denver Broncos - January 29, 2019