Which rookie pass-rusher will be this year's Joey Bosa? History says probably none of them. What Bosa did as a rookie last season for the Chargers -- 10.5 sacks in only 12 games -- was bonkers. And while teams that picked pass-rushers early in this year's draft have high hopes for their own prospective Bosas, there's a good chance they'll have to wait.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, there have been six players in the past 10 seasons who have reached double-figure sacks as rookies. They are Aldon Smith (14), Von Miller (11.5), Brian Orakpo (11), Bosa (10.5), Clay Matthews (10) and Ndamukong Suh (10). Decent list.
But Bosa's numbers look even more amazing when you remember he missed four games due to injury. Because he played only 12 games, his average number of sacks per game was 0.88. The last rookie to average more than that was Julius Peppers, who had 15 sacks in 15 games in 2002. Smith's average of 0.88 in 2011 matches Bosa's.
Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, only five rookies have averaged more sacks per game than Bosa did. They are Peppers, Cornelius Bennett, Reggie White, Leslie O'Neal and Jevon Kearse.
So, yeah, not to presume anything too crazy about the rest of Bosa's career. But the stats tell us that if you're a pass-rusher and you have a rookie season like the one he had, you have a decent chance of ending up in the Hall of Fame.
Now that we've succeeded in deflating your expectations for your favorite team's top pick, let's take a look at some of the rookie pass-rushers who are expected to play big roles. We're purposefully leaving out first-round defensive linemen Solomon Thomas and Jonathan Allen, as neither their college roles nor their projected NFL roles fit completely into the "pass-rusher" category:
Pick: No. 1 overall
College: Texas A&M
The top pick in the draft is well regarded by talent evaluators I surveyed around the league, many of whom named him as the player from this year's rookie class they'd have picked first if they were starting a new franchise. But few of those same evaluators named Garrett as the most likely rookie to succeed in Year 1, which likely has more to do with the state of the rest of the Browns' roster than it does with Garrett specifically.
People in the Browns' building say they're thrilled with Garrett and that he's so far been everything they'd hoped he would be. Of all the guys on this list, he's likely to get the most playing time and the largest role this season.
Pick: No. 13
Reddick spent much of this offseason playing inside linebacker because Deone Bucannon was recovering from ankle surgery. He was an edge pass-rusher in college, and the Cardinals would like to use him more in that role as the season approaches. But the fact that he hasn't seen many snaps in that role this summer while operating in a new position likely means he's earlier in his learning curve than some of these other guys are.
Arizona has enough depth on defense that it can work with Reddick as a longer-term project if that's what he needs. And it's possible his role in the Cardinals' defense won't ultimately be exclusively a pass-rush role.
Pick: No. 14
The Eagles are enjoying the Derek Barnett experience in practice. I asked Doug Pederson about him, and the second-year head coach grinned. "He's relentless," Pederson said. "His finish is tremendous."
Defensive teammate Jordan Hicks smiled, too. "He's got a motor, man," Hicks said. "As the game slows down for him and his awareness continues to grow, the techniques, the different pass-rush moves and everything he's expected to be in this defense will continue to come. But his pass rush is very good and his motor, that's one thing I noticed, his motor. He doesn't ever quit on a play. He's constantly chasing balls downfield. He's just constantly going, chasing that ball."
Expect Barnett to fill a role in the Eagles' defense as a situational pass-rusher this season and expect his snap counts to increase later in the year and into Year 2 as he refines more aspects of his game.
Pick: No. 22
Harris told me he's benefiting from being around veteran Dolphins defensive linemen Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and particularly Andre Branch. He said Branch is the guy he follows around in line at the cafeteria, eating the same stuff he eats.
"I think he's very talented, and he has the ability to rush outside and inside," Suh said of Harris. "Not getting too detailed into our packages and things we have going on, but he's going to be put in one-on-one positions to make plays for us as a pass-rusher, as well as in the run game. He's going to come in on first and second down, and so with those pieces and his God-given athletic ability, he's going to be able to be a force for us."
I'd expect Harris' rookie-year volume to be similar to Barnett's, though given what Suh said maybe not only in passing situations. The Dolphins have enough veteran depth on the defensive line that they can work him in as a rotational player while he gets his feet wet.
Pick: No. 26
Shoulder surgery in March limited McKinley's involvement in the Falcons' offseason program, but his workload has increased in recent weeks, and he's another one whose name drew smiles from coaches and teammates in Falcons camp.
More than one person said they're enjoying the dynamic between McKinley and 2016 NFL sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. "They're so different, and they play off each other very well," one Falcons coach said. "Vic's kind of the quieter, polite guy and Takk is -- well, he's got a lot of personality, let's just say."
McKinley's role is likely to increase later in the season because of the time he missed in the spring and summer recovering from the surgery.
Pick: No. 28
The Cowboys view Charlton as a project pass-rusher who needs time and reps to work on developing and refining his moves. Suspensions on the defensive side of the ball could result in a greater need early in the season for Charlton to snag the pass-rushing snaps for which the Cowboys deem him ready, but don't be surprised if his role is limited to start while coaches work with him on being more consistent with his assignments in practice.
This isn't a knock on Charlton, who has had a strong camp. It's just that he's not a finished product, and coaches often hesitate to trust rookies in big spots until they're 100 percent sure they're ready.
Pick: No. 30
J.J.'s kid brother turned heads with his stellar preseason debut and could be a bigger factor for the Steelers in Year 1 than many people might have thought at the draft. The Steelers have been impressed with the speed with which Watt learned the playbook, and he has shown more than expected in terms of instincts and the ability to maneuver when the play changes on him.
Pick: No. 47 (Bowser) and No. 78 (Williams)
College: Houston (Bowser) and Alabama (Williams)
I'm lumping these two rookies together because in the time I spent at Ravens camp, it was clear the team expects to lean on them a good deal in 2017. Multiple people there told me Williams, in particular, has impressed with the variety of pass-rush moves already at his disposal -- a wider array of moves than they've come to expect from first-year guys. And Bowser's athletic ability is evident in practice.
"He's looking really good," veteran safety Tony Jefferson said of Bowser. "And Tim Williams, he's a great pass-rusher. Still a little raw, but he can rush, and he's got a bunch of moves. But we've got a bunch of veterans, as well, who can help the young guys in those situations."
A return to health for veteran Terrell Suggs will help the Baltimore pass rush more than anything, but if one or both of these rookies comes on quickly, it would provide an infusion of youth the Ravens need.