Screw you royally. You just, unfairly, raised the bar and the expectations set for every incoming DE/OLB in the league. Pat Kirwan, over at NFL.com, just compiled the numbers of every first and second round rookie DE/OLB since 2006 and, you know what? It's not pretty. Green Bay Packers OLB Clay Matthews, Washington Redskins DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, and, in 2006, Cleveland Browns DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley are the only three players drafted in the first two rounds to register 10 or more sacks as a rookie. That's out of 38 players drafted in the first or second round.
That's a shade under 8%.
The real average, which is the same reasoning for why I think we shouldn't give up on NT Ron Brace, is what we should measure our outside linebackers against. I'm looking at you, DE/OLB Jermaine Cunningham.
For most of us, Cunningham was a surprise pick. And by most of us, I mean no one. No one had us taking Cunningham. With outside linebacker and our pass rush needing the most help imaginable, we, justifiably as fans, expect greatness from Cunningham- and why shouldn't we? We went into the draft hoping whoever we came out with would be an immediate impact player. Hopefully, Cunningham can be that guy.
But what should we expect when I use the word "impact?"
2.59 sacks. 0.7 forced fumbles. 25.9 tackles.
That's the average stat line laid out by Cunningham's rookie predecessors in the draft. That's way under half the production of Matthews (51/10/1) and Orakpo (50/11/1). Don't expect Matthews or Orakpo numbers. Hope for them, maybe, but don't expect them.
Now, while it may be unfair to expect Cunningham (and hey! Shawn Crable should be thrown in this mix as well!) to perform as well as Matthews. It's perfectly fair, however, to expect Cunningham (and Crable!) to be above average. The New England Patriots don't draft mediocrity. They're expecting great performances from their rookies.
So what should be expecting from our first year outside linebackers?
5 sacks. 1 forced fumble. 35 tackles.
That's an above average stat line. That's something I could live with, from a rookie. That would have tied him for second on the team in sacks, this past season with Mike Wright and one other player. Guess who it is!
"First Year" OLB Derrick Burgess. 35 tackles. 5 sacks. 1 forced fumble.
Feels odd to say it, but I hope Cunningham plays as well as Burgess did last year (but hopefully a little more consistently!)