Ever since being drafted fifth and third overall, respectively, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson have faced mostly negative reactions from Kansas City Chiefs fans. The fact is, ripping down these two defensive linemen was just a lazy way to assess their performance on the field.
The fine folks at Pro Football Focus have featured Dorsey and Jackson in their “Secret Superstar” series, breaking down why they have been under appreciated.
So far Dorsey has recorded only four career sacks in four seasons as a Chief, which is enough for most to want to run him right out of town. All the negativity surrounding his pass rush overshadows the work he has done as a run defender. Pass rushing is easily the more glamorous aspect of defensive line play, and has ready-made statistics for people to point to as proof of performance. Often, play against the run comes with no such stat. As a rookie, he defended the run well, and with the exception of a slump in his second season, has graded increasingly well in that area.
Tyson Jackson was likewise thrust into unrealistic expectations when he was selected third overall, but after two career sacks in three seasons, he is held by many right there alongside Dorsey as a failed pick and a disappointment. Jackson struggled much more than Dorsey early on, grading abysmally as a rookie in all areas with a -40.9 overall mark. However, in his second season he was above average as a run defender and last season he had completed a similar improvement as his teammate, with a +10.0 grade against the run.
In professional sports we’ve all grown to expect very clear cut ways to determine if top picks are successful. For player on the front seven, you want big time sack or tackle numbers, something Dorsey or Jackson simply aren’t going to put up.
Some will never be convinced neither player deserves to stay around Kansas City once their rookie contracts are up, but think about what the Chiefs defense has been able to do with these two up front. Linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston can pin their ears back and attack the quarterback and know they are covered against the run.
When keeping tabs on Dontari Poe’s transition to the NFL, try to watch how Romeo Crennel’s defense holds up against the run and now simply what the rookie’s raw stats look like. If Poe is able to plug up the middle at all this season, see how much more effective Hali, Houston, Derrick Johnson and the rest of the Chiefs linebackers are in 2012.