CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals gets sacked by Reggie Nelson #20 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Cardinals 23-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
During their individual study of the 2011 regular season -- in this context using a simplistic formula to determine Pass Rushing Productivity and applying it to defensive backs in the NFL -- the crew at Pro Football Focus ranks the league's best pass rushers in the secondary. Due to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's tendency to blitz safeties (though we believe it's more rush blitzes during short-yardage situations), you can only imagine that Bengals players that surface on their list.
Now defensive backs in Cincinnati's defense aren't the most frequent of pass rushers, like New Orleans' Roman Harper (121 pass rushes) or Green Bay's Charles Woodson (83), however they have their fair share.
According to their formula, Reggie Nelson rushed the quarterback 38 times last year, generating pressure on nine plays for a PRP (Pass Rushing Productivity) score of 19.08. Yet the team's best pass rusher in the secondary is no longer with the team. During 44 pass rushes in 2011, former Bengals safety Chris Crocker generated pressure on ten for a PRP score of 19.32. In all Bengals defensive backs combined for 132 total pass rushes. And as a side note, Crocker and Nelson combined for 5.5 quarterback sacks in 2011.
Nelson, who signed a four-year deal during the offseason, is expected to return as the team's starting free safety. Crocker was released with the intention (or at least anticipation) of Taylor Mays stepping into the role as starting strong safety.