DeMarcus Lawrence: Miss
Lawrence had a productive 2018 finishing 3rd in total tackles, T-11th in sacks, T-7th in Forced Fumbles, 7th in QB hurries, and 9th in Tackles for Loss. (All these rankings are against other defensive ends) Understandably, a players production doesn’t provide enough weight in the overall of a player. For how good Bobby Wagner is as a linebacker, he did not produce like a 99 overall linebacker.
So as expected, this leaves Lawrence’s overall almost entirely dependent upon individual attributes. So where did EA go wrong?
Tackle Rating: 82
I don’t know how EA devises their algorithm to create such rankings, but basic logic would suggest a player who registers a lot of tackles should have a higher tackle rating. Lawrence was 3rd in total tackles and 5th in solo tackles amongst all defensive ends in 2018. So it makes sense his tackle rating is 60th amongst defensive ends?
Who were some players with a higher number? Shaq Lawson, Michael Brockers, Leonard Williams, and Melvin Ingram to name a few. These guys were all starters for their teams and didn’t record anything more than Lawrence in any tackling statistic.
There are some obvious variables like snap count and role that are different with each of these players but Lawrence dealt with more double teams and still produced. It’s a bit unclear how a top 5 tackler at defensive end was given a top 60 tackle rating.
Play Recognition: 89
Compared to the tackling rating, this rating makes a bit more sense. (I’m using “a bit” fairly liberally) Lawrence’s play recognition attribute is 21st amongst defensive ends. Lawrence affects all parts of the game and has posted top 5 numbers the last two seasons. Outside of his individual production, he pulls the weight for his other teammates to produce as well.
Producing as such would mean he understands how to stop opposing offenses. I suppose you could call that play recognition? If this definition is suitable grounds for measuring a play recognition, shouldn’t his play recognition attribute be top 5? At the worst, he should be top 10.
An 88 in pursuit for Lawrence is low. The ease with which Lawrence gets to ball carriers is clinical. The expectation for this attribute is at least 90. However, Lawrence lands in a favorable position at this number.
With an 88 rating, Lawrence is 10th. The ranking is fair even if the actual rating is low.
In all, I would raise Lawrence’s tackling to a 90, play recognition to a 93, and pursuit to a 90. These changes would put him at around a 92 overall, tied for 3rd amongst defensive ends with Calais Campbell.