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Want to predict which rookies will be busts? Look at pass rushers

My previous article demonstrated how difficult it is for rookie defensive tackles to contribute immediately.

Well, it's not any easier for defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers to come in and make a big impact right away.

Clay Matthews and Brian Orakpo may have reached double-digit sacks last year, but they are the exception. For every Matthews or Orakpo, there are at least 10 rookie pass rushers drafted in the first or second round that can't deliver.

Nine rookies were taken in the first or second round as 4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers in the 2010 NFL Draft. At best, there is likely just one Matthews or Orakpo among the group.

The problem for many rookie pass rushers is that they have technique deficiencies, lack multiple pass rush moves and don't realize the level of desire necessary to succeed at the pro level. Another issue is that many come in undersized and with limited strength or power. They get so beat up playing the run, that they have nothing left when it's time to pressure the quarteback.

Here's what the 2011 class of pass rushers is up against, if history is any indication.

What is the realistic level of sack production that a fan can hope for from a rookie pass rusher? It's definitely not the 10 by Matthews or the 11 by Orakpo.

Try a more realistic number like three or fewer. There have only been three rookie pass rushers to reach double-digit sacks from the first or second round since '06. Don't expect many more tackles, either, as most average in the mid-20s their rookie season.

There's also the chance your team drafted the next Vernon Gholston, who had five tackles, zero sacks and zero forced fumbles in his rookie season, or Jarvis Moss who had 12 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

At least those two players are still on the team that drafted them. About a quarter of all pass rushers drafted within the last four years have already been traded or released.

Here's a look at every first and second round rookie since 2006.

I'm not here to rain on the draft parade, but if your team selected a pass rusher in the top two rounds, and is about to spend the big bucks to sign him, don't expect your money's worth right away.

Be realistically happy if your new addition is active for 16 games, records 30 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble. That would make him above average for a rookie.

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