The 2016 season didn’t go according to plan for the Arizona Cardinals, but several individual players stood out.
Defensive lineman Calais Campbell was one of them.
Campbell, a nine-year veteran, finished the season with 63 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, an interception, and his first career touchdown.
The 30-year-old was the graded the second-best interior defender by Pro Football Focus earlier this offseason, behind only Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.
This week, Campbell was similarly honored by NFL.com. The website ranked league players in pass-rushing ability but used different methods and metrics far more advanced than just looking at the number of sacks or quarterback pressures each individual had.
However, with the Next Gen Stats data gleaned from the tracking chips in the players’ shoulder pads, we are now able to objectively measure just how far away opposing pass rushers are from the quarterback when they look to deliver their passes. In the latest edition of the Next Gen Stats rankings, we’ll reveal the Top-10 2016 interior defensive lineman at creating pressure by their average raw yards of distance from the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack.
According to the rankings, both traditional 4-3 defensive tackles and five-techniques who line up inside in odd fronts like the 3-4 base package were considered.
Campbell was fifth on NFL.com’s list.
Since establishing himself as a starter with the Cardinals in his second season back in 2009, Calais Campbell has been one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. He’s averaged seven sacks per season since then. With 345 pass rush attempts this year, Campbell posted a 4.15 pressure score, checking in at the 95th percentile. The Cardinals led the NFL with 48 sacks this year, and two of their edge rushers in Chandler Jones and Markus Golden finished with double-digit sacks. The monstrous 6-foot-8 presence of Campbell helps free up a lot of action for everyone else in addition to the pressure he brings on his own.
Ranking ahead of Campbell were Donald, Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, Green Bay’s Mike Daniels and Dominique Easley of the Rams.
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