As we wait to see which GM candidate the Miami Dolphins decide to hire, let’s continue our look back on the season that was by ranking the team’s top 20 players of 2013. Today, we’ll look at player No. 10, defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Pro Football Focus breakdown
Position rank: 33 of 52
Pass rush rank: 39 of 52
Run defense rank: 28 of 52
Snaps played: 929
Quarterback hits: 5
Why he’s No. 10
With star defensive end Cameron Wake having somewhat of a down year when it came to sack totals, the Dolphins’ third round pick in 2012 picked up some of the slack. Vernon registered 11.5 sacks on the season, becoming only the ninth player in franchise history to record a double-digit sack total. He was at his best in Week 13, producing a season-high 10 tackles and three sacks. As impressive as his sack total was, he was arguably more consistent setting the edge against the run. Only seven 4-3 defensive ends in the entire league tallied more stops (a term Pro Football Focus coined to designate tackles that force an offensive failure) than the 36 that were credited to Vernon. Overall, Vernon showed plenty of progress in his second season, which he’ll look to build on in his bid to become a premiere pass rusher.
Why he’s not higher
Many see Vernon’s sack total, and assume he had a great year. While he improved on the performance he put forth as a rookie, he still left plenty to be desired as a starting defensive end. Yes, Vernon ranked seventh among all 4-3 defensive ends with 11.5 sacks, but he only ranked 36th at the position in additional quarterback hits and 20th in pressures. According to Pro Football Focus, he actually graded poorly as a pass rusher. Vernon’s accumulative pass-rushing grade was -7.5 by the respected site, which was better than a mere 12 qualifying players at the position. There’s no reason why Dion Jordan can’t unseat Vernon as the starter opposite Wake in 2014.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.