The folks at Football Outsiders have an annual project called SackSEER, in which they attempt to project out the best pass rushers from the season's draft class. While the metric is not perfect, it provides an interesting look at the pass rushing threats coming out of college. Thanks to Sensei Ben for pointing out this year's SackSEER in a FanShot.
The 49ers did not grab a potential pass rush threat until the fifth round when they drafted Notre Dame outside linebacker Darius Fleming. They followed that up by adding Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson, who will convert to outside linebacker in the NFL. SackSEER projects Johnson to have 10.8 sacks over his first five years, while Fleming is at 2.9 sacks.
The draft class is not viewed as having a lot of dynamic pass rushing potential and SackSEER would seem to back that up. At the same time, SackSEER is far from perfect. Their five-year projection on Aldon Smith came out to 20.0 sacks thanks in part to an iffy Combine performance and injuries late in his Missouri career.
It will be interesting to see how Johnson and Fleming perform given that they likely could be looking at fairly limited opportunities in the pass rush. Aldon Smith is expected to secure the starting OLB job opposite Ahmad Brooks, which leaves Johnson, Fleming and Parys Haralson battling for playing time in the rotation behind Smith and Brooks.
Will either of the rookies surpass Haralson? With Haralson becoming less and less of a pass rush threat recently, he could find himself in quite the roster battle this August.