A look back at the 2010/2011 “SackSEER” projections: Spoiler, it’s ugly

Since we’re in “Combine season,” I thought we’d take a look at a metric that heavily utilizes Combine data. SackSEER, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a model introduced by Football Outsiders that projects 5-year sack totals of highly drafted 4-3 DE’s and 3-4 OLB’s, based on 4 metrics:

  1. Vertical leap from the Combine
  2. Short shuttle time from the Combine
  3. Per-game sack productivity in college
  4. Missed games of NCAA eligibility

I think just about any knowledgeable football fan that is familiar with Football Outsiders is generally very complimentary of the work they do (as they should be), but SackSEER has its fans and detractors.  The model was formed from data collected prior to the 2010 season and was first introduced in 2010.  Therefore, the model pre-2010 is understandably extremely successful.  Its fans point to the pre-2010 success.  Its detractors feel that predicting a player’s future in the NFL based on a couple jumps and a few passes through some cones at the Combine is a little ridiculous.  It also is a pure data model that ignores things like watching game tape.

I should probably just be upfront and note that I’m not a fan, and often feel that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is trying to come up with “the new formula.” The 26-27-60 QB theory kind of started it, and now people are reaching to find a similar formula.  I see SackSEER as one of those reaches.  Anyway, here were SackSEER’s projections from last year:

Player SackSEER 5-year projection Rookie season sacks Rookie season projected over 5 years
Von Miller 36.4 11.5 57.5
Justin Houston 26 5.5 27.5
Ryan Kerrigan 24.7 7.5 37.5
Da’Quan Bowers 22 1.5 7.5
Aldon Smith 20 14 70
Robert Quinn 15.5 5 25
Brooks Reed 15.1 6 30
Jabaal Sheard 10.6 8.5 42.5

2010 draftees after the jump…

Here’s 2010:

Player SackSEER 5-year projection First 2 seasons sack total First 2 seasons projected over 5 years
Jerry Hughes 27.7 1 2.5
Derrick Morgan 23.3 4 10
Everson Griffen 22.8 4 10
Brandon Graham 22.1 3 7.5
Sergio Kindle 18.8 0 0
Caros Dunlap 16.1 14 35
Jason Pierre-Paul 3.8 21 52.5

So far, SackSEER seems to have a beat on Justin Houston.  If Derrick Morgan, Brandon Graham, and Everson Griffen begin to produce, they might come reasonably close to SackSEER’s projected numbers.  But mostly, SackSEER is missing so far since its 2010 introduction… and pretty wildly at that.


  1. Jason says:

    To be fair, injuries play a pretty major part in the performance of the 2010 class. Brandon Graham, Sergio Kindle, & Derrick Morgan all had major injuries.

    Carlos Dunlap also missed a big chunk of last year with a hamstring injury.

    Everson Griffen was not injured, but he did get arrested and tased!

    1. Don’t taze me bro! Injuries are part of SackSEER’s projection model. That’s where #4 comes into play.

  2. mattman says:

    SackSEER is the reason I was excited when the Eagles drafted Daniel Teo-Nesheim. But I was always skeptical. Its correlation was fairly tenuous even with all the convincing past data. And it seemed better at predicting busts than predicting future stars. Since then, its biggest bust prediction is the player who became the biggest star. SackSEER should probably go on hiatus for retooling.

    1. Yep, each of the past two years, their projected scrub had major production.

  3. Euler.is.a.pimp says:

    I don’t think looking at one year of Data is really helping much. It’s a five year prediction which accounts for the various random factors that affect production across those years. Looking at these stud producers and noting that SackSeer poorly projected them ignores that you’re looking at one year of production and projecting it with no justification, and also ignores that you selected your sample from the beginning to look at outliers in sack numbers for some of them.

    I’m not a big fan of the system myself, but looking at a mass prediction agent and judging it using 15 players spanning 22 seasons hardly gives you an impression of its accuracy.

    1. I agree. A lot (or in some case, very little) can happen in 5 years. But so far, it’s not looking good. It kind of the equivalent of being down 17-3 after the first quarter.

  4. KJ Brophy says:

    Wasn’t SackSEER high on DTN?

    1. They had him as a “sleeper.”

      1. Shaun says:

        LOL…has he even recorded a sack yet?

        1. “SackSEER Sleepers – When it comes to sleepers, SackSEER rates two prospects above the rest: South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood and Washington defensive end Daniel Te’O’Nesheim. Eric Norwood’s Combine numbers are similar to those of Clay Matthews a year ago, and he had better college sack production. Te’O’Nesheim has been billed as a productive, high-energy player who lacks the athleticism to compete at a high level, but his 37-inch vertical leap and a 4.18-second short shuttle at the Combine are enough to convince SackSEER.”

          Te’o and Norwood have a sack a piece in 4 combined years in the NFL.

          1. Shaun says:

            LOL….DTN, another one of Big Red’s “fastballs” (Bryan Smith, Andy Studebaker) *ugh*

            1. Steve D. says:

              I don’t think Andy Studebaker belongs with DTN and Bryan Smith. DTN and Smith were third round choices that couldn’t make the roster one year after being drafted. Studebaker was a sixth round pick with potential out of a small school who is now starting for the Chiefs. The sixth round is where Reid should look for “fastballs” and take chances on someone coming out of nowhere.

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