Alex Smith. Drew Brees. Jameis Winston. Ben Roethlisberger. Tyrod Taylor.
Those are the handful of quarterbacks Deatrich Wise Jr. had a hand in taking down as a rookie in 2017.
The fourth-round defensive end out of Arkansas became the fifth New England Patriots rookie to record a sack in the team’s opener dating back to 2000, joining Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, LSU’s Jarvis Green, Texas’ Malcom Brown and North Carolina State’s Vincent Valentine in the process of meeting the Kansas City Chiefs. And a week later against the New Orleans Saints, Wise joined Jones as only the second rookie to notch a sack in his in each of his first two games since Bill Belichick became head coach.
Wise would tack on another in October versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before going seven games without a one. But the lone Patriots 2017 draft pick to play a snap last season would get back to the QB for a half-sack in Week 15 as well as 1.5 sacks in Week 16 to finish with an even five.
That tally ranked third on New England’s defense behind linebacker Kyle Van Noy and fellow Razorbacks product Trey Flowers. Though there are additional points of reference to tally when it comes to the 23-year-old’s sack production.
Here’s a glance at his NFL-wide company through the past decade, courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
A POOL OF 51
It’s the number of players who have notched at least five sacks in their true rookie seasons since 2008. It’s a number that excludes players who spent their initial year – or years – out of college in another league, on a practice squad or injured reserve, which effectively takes the likes of Cameron Wake, Jacob Ford, Olsen Pierre and Jacquies Smith out of the equation.
But the arrival times are telling for those 51 who logged five or more sacks as rookies. Of that pool, 25 of whom were drafted in the first round, 11 of whom were drafted in the second round and five of whom were drafted in the third round.
Wise’s five sacks are more than a hop, skip and a jump from the rookie sack leaders over that span, of course. Aldon Smith had 14, Von Miller had 11.5, Brian Orakpo had 11, Joey Bosa had 10.5 and Clay Matthews and Ndamukong Suh both posted 10.
But Wise stands among 10 who were drafted in the fourth round or later.
With the last 10 seasons taken into account, four players drafted in the same round as Wise have gathered at least five sacks in their rookie campaigns.
The other fourth-rounders include Sam Acho’s seven, Carl Lawson’s 8.5 and Za’Darius Smith’s 5.5 sacks. And while Wise compiled fewer sacks than each of whom did in their inaugural years, the long-armed 6-foot-5, 271-pounder was also picked at a later draft slot.
Acho went No. 103 overall to the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, while Lawson went No. 116 to the Cincinnati Bengals last April and Smith went No. 122 to the Baltimore Ravens in 2015.
Wise went No. 131. The sub-package end and interior rusher was the 41st front-seven prospect to have a card filled out.
When it comes to those picked at a later draft slot than Wise, the list isn’t a long one, either.
Six players who’ve notched five or more sacks as rookies have been drafted after the fourth round since 2008, according to Pro Football Reference.
In order of selection, Karl Klug had seven sacks, Aaron Lynch and Pernell McPhee both put up six, Jonathan Newsome logged 6.5, Trevor Scott had five and another former Patriot in Chris Jones had six.
Klug was picked at No. 142 overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2011, Lynch at No. 150 by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, McPhee at No. 165 by the Baltimore Ravens in 2011, Newsome at No. 166 by the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, Scott at No. 169 by the Oakland Raiders in 2008, and Chris Jones at No. 198 by the Houston Texans in 2013.
NO MORE, NO LESS THAN FIVE
Five sacks. Who else besides Wise finished their rookie season at that exact number over the last decade?
That is perhaps the fairest barometer when it comes to Wise’s first year in Foxborough, which ranged 16 games, three starts and 543 defensive snaps. And the aforementioned Scott, as well as Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo, Jason Jones, Lamarr Houston, Maliek Collins, Derek Barnett and Cliff Avril ended theirs at the same mark.
Not 5.5 or six and certainly not double-digits. But a sound floor to build from. And in the company of top 2017 draft choice Derek Rivers and veteran Adrian Clayborn entering 2018, Wise will look to do so.
He got a head start with a pair of sacks in January’s divisional playoff round.