The Falcons are counting on Vic Beasley to be one of the league's premier pass rushers sooner rather than later, but his rookie season looks like it'll be more decent than stellar. With so many bemoaning Beasley's production, I thought it would be a good time to compare his production to other rookies and to look at some current terrific pass rushers' rookie seasons.
Let's take a look at how Beasley stacks up against other defensive ends and linebackers from the first two rounds, purely in terms of sacks. Note that not all of these guys are pure pass rushers, and thus this is an inexact science, even for an article talking about sacks as the measure of a pass rusher. It's just to give you a feel for what other players are doing.
Vic Beasley: 19 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
Leonard Williams: 32 tackles, .5 sacks
Bud Dupree: 16 tackles, 4 sacks
Shaq Thompson: 21 tackles, 1 sack
Dante Fowler: On injured reserve
Preston Smith: 15 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
Hau'oli Kikaha: 38 tackles, 4 sacks
Nate Orchard: 20 tackles
Markus Golden: 16 tackles, 1 sack
Randy Gregory: No stats
As you can see, Beasley is firmly in the middle of the pack, and his sack total chiefly looks uninspired because he was a top ten pick, and Preston Smith, Kikaha, and Dupree were not. There's little question that Beasley's season could have gone better to this point, and that he's got to work on his pass rushing toolkit and add weight in the offseason to have a bigger impact. But despite some very uneven performances, he has not been awful.
Here's a curated list of terrific pass rushers and how their first nine games went. I think you'll see a pattern.
Mario Williams: 4.5 sacks
DeMarcus Ware: 3.0 sacks
Dwight Freeney: 3.0 sacks
J.J. Watt: 2.0 sacks
Von Miller: 6.5 sacks
Robert Quinn: 3.0 sacks
Elvis Dumervil: 8.5 sacks
Cameron Wake: 4.5 sacks
Clay Matthews: 3.0 sacks
Ryan Kerrigan: 3.0 sacks
John Abraham: 4.5 sacks
If you're a glass half full of soapy water kind of guy, you'll look at this list and note that nearly every one of these guys had more sacks through their first nine games than Beasley. If you're a glass half full of beer kind of guy, you'll note that many of these terrific pass rushers did not have that many more sacks than Beasley and have gone on to enjoy pretty excellent careers. There's something for everyone in this list.
The bottom line is that, as always, it's way too early to decide Beasley isn't going to pan out. He's a little behind some of his peers at the moment, but a strong showing over the last seven games will put him on track for 2016 and beyond, when the Falcons will hopefully give him more help and he'll have the experience and added bulk he needs to be a difference maker.