While we have all known for years what a beast Justin Smith is and has been, it seems that the rest of the casual NFL and it's fans only recently caught-up with us. As a result, Smith has received a number of distinctions and made more than a few elite lists in the past year.
Not only did he earn a spot to the Pro Bowl for his efforts in 2011, but he was named to the AP All Pro team (first team at DT, 2nd team as DE) and recently came in ranked 17th out of the top 100 players in the NFL (as listed by NFL Network).
Some guys who've been high on Smith for about as long as we have are none other than Pro Football Focus. PFF is one of the few organizations that have someone watch every single snap and evaluate each player: responsibilities, effectiveness, etc.
Over the past week they've been looking at defensive linemen as it pertains to pass-rushing. Today they released a piece ranking the interior defensive linemen by number of pass-rush snaps, total pressure, and pass-rush productivity.
It isn't a huge surprise to me who was on top of all three of those lists.
After the jump we share some of the stats.
According to PFF, nobody rushed the passer from an interior defensive lineman spot more than Justin Smith, who did so 1,592 times over the past three years.
During that time, Smith was responsible for 187 QB pressures for a pass-rush productivity of 9.6. Thanks to reedkrase for the formula used to come up with this grade:
Just the sheer volume of snaps Smith goes after the QB at a nearly 300lb. size is remarkable. Add to that, we never see him seem gassed and he's always going full-speed. It takes intense preparation of the body to be able to keep going like that...something that fits right in with the blue-collar mentality of this team.
Conversely, among the worst in pass-rush production was none other than former 49er Aubrayo Franklin. Of course, his job wasn't really to rush the passer anyway...and I guess it's a good thing it wasn't.
For Smith we can only hope he can continue to turn in snaps, games, and seasons like this...at least until he's able to hoist a Lombardi Trophy as reward for his efforts.