Remember when the Bengals supposedly overpaid for Trey Hendrickson after panicking on account of losing Carl Lawson? Remember when the former New Orleans Saint’s production was simply the result of playing across from Cameron Jordan?
Well, now it looks like Hendrickson might actually be underpaid.
In his first year as a Bengal, the defensive end had 14 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 2.5 stuffs, all career highs. But it gets even more impressive when you look beyond box score stats.
Advanced Stats Favor the Bengals’ DE
According to Next Gen Stats, Hendrickson had 79 quarterback pressures (QBP), a QBP rate of 19.4%, 45 hurries, and five turnovers caused by pressures. Because he ranked near the top for those categories, the site’s Nick Shook crowned Hendrickson the best disruptor from last season.
Perhaps the most impressive fact shared by Shook is that Hendrickson’s pressure rate was the fourth best in the Next Gen Stats era, which began in 2016.
Why He Will Be Just As Good or Better in 2022
It’s important to remember that Hendrickson went from playing across an elite pass rusher in New Orleans to a team that didn’t even have a second pass rush specialist last year (though Joseph Ossai may assume that role this season).
There is nothing to suggest that Hendrickson, still only 27 years old, will not maintain his current pace, as he is just entering the age in which pass rushers hit their prime. In fact, it is quite likely that his production will actually increase.
Let’s consider the production of some of the best pass rushers in NFL history by age:
- Lawrence Taylor had a career year (20.5 sacks) at age 27 and then four more double digit sacks seasons after that
- Bruce Smith had a career year at 27 and another four of his six best years from ages 29 to 34.
- Reggie White had 18 sacks in his age-27 season and then another eight double digit sack seasons, including 16 sacks in his age-37 year.
- Chris Doleman had 21 sacks when he was 28 and then six more double digit sack seasons after that, including 15 sacks at the age of 37.
- John Randle had his two best years in his age-27 (13.5 sacks) and age-30 (15.5 sacks) seasons and was a double digit sack guy until his age-34 year (11 sacks).
- Michael Strahan had his best year in his age-30 season (22.5 sacks) and his second best year in his age-32 season (18.5 sacks).
- Jason Taylor had six of his seven highest sack years beginning at the age of 28, when he had a career-high 18.5 sacks.
- DeMarcus Ware had 15.5 sacks when he was 28 and 19.5 sacks when he was 29. He continued to be a major pass rushing threat until he retired at the age of 34.
- Jared Allen averaged over 14 sacks a year from ages 27 to 31, including 22 sacks at age 29.
- Terrell Suggs had his best season in his age-29 year (14 sacks) and five of his seven double digit sack seasons after the age of 27.
In other words, pass rushers don’t tend to decline at the age that, say, running backs do. Further, this will be Hendrickson’s second year in Lou Anarumo’s system and he will have significantly more support with the return of Ossai and three new speedsters in the defensive backfield.
Of course, for Hendrickson and the d-line to reach their full potential, the Bengals may still need to find a three technique to fill the role of Larry Ogunjobi. We talked about their search for more defensive tackle depth, perhaps in the form of another trade (how they acquired the excellent B.J. Hill) in our most recent show:
College: Florida Atlantic
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Experience: six years
He’s in the second year of a four year deal worth a total of $60 million. This year, he will earn $6.2 million for being on the roster.
Hendrickson joined the Bengals last year as a free agent after five years with the New Orleans Saints. He was a third round pick in 2017 and didn’t start a game until his third year, when he started three games and had 4.5 sacks. He finally broke out in his fourth year, amassing 13.5 sacks in 2020, the year before he came to Cincinnati. Last year, he showed that wasn’t a fluke by topping that with 14 sacks.
As explained above, Hendrickson should only continue to be more productive. He is right at the age where pass rushers have some of their best seasons. Perhaps we can chalk that up to old man strength or simply finding the balance between athleticism and refined technique. At any rate, he will benefit from being on a defense that is rapidly rising and adding talent left and right.
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