Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 7, 35 days before NFL free agency starts.

A scientific evaluation of Preston Smith

Preston Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. That’s not an opinion, that’s science talking.

According to data gathered by the NFL via Next Gen Stats, the Redskins’ outside linebacker had a higher pass rush pressure rate than anyone in the NFL in 2017.

That’s right. A higher pressure rate than Von Miller, Demarcus Lawrence, Aaron Donald, Everson Griffen, or whatever other pass rushers you want to name.

The data does not come from someone with a pen and notepad watching the All-22 from NFL Game Pass. Next Gen Stats are generated from the precise GPS chips that are located in each player’s pads. If the pass rusher is within a certain distance of the quarterback at the time the pass is released, he is credited with a pressure.

Per that data, Smith got pressure on 15.9 percent of his 309 pass rushing plays. That put him just a tick ahead of the Cowboys’ Lawrence at 15.8 percent. In third was another member of the Redskins, Junior Galette, with a rate of 15.1 percent on his 219 attempts.

The Redskins had one other player in the top 12 with Ryan Kerrigan 10th with a rate of 13.4 percent on 380 pass rush plays. Only one other team, the Rams with Donald and Robert Quinn, had more than one player in the top 12.


Something else should be noted here. The old adage is that a baseball player can fail seven out of every 10 trips to the plate and still have a shot at the Hall of Fame. As a pass rusher, your failure rate can be even higher, nearly 85 percent, and you can still be one of the best in the business. The top rushers average about two or three pressures per game. Just like seasons where the .300 hitter goes through some 0 for 4 games, the top pass rusher will have games where he just can’t get to the quarterback.

The Redskins organization will have some work to do if it wants to keep the trio together. Kerrigan is signed through 2020 so he is not a concern. Galette was unhappy with his playing time last year (he replied to the tweet with these stats in it wondering if his snap count was too high) and he might move on as a free agent this year unless the Redskins can persuade him they will give him more snaps.

Smith should be the priority. He has completed three years of his four-year rookie contract and he is now eligible to get a contract extension. The Redskins would be wise to at least attempt to lock him up for the next several years. But Smith might want to wait a year and test the open market where he could really cash in.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 22
—NFL Draft (4/26) 78
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 214

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it