Sep 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jonathan Newsome (91) against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Newsome may be a rookie, but he sure hasn’t played like it. As a 2014 5th round pick out of Ball State, Newsome has far exceeded the expectations that were placed upon him entering the league. On the season, Newsome has 20 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. His 4.5 sacks are 2nd on the team only to starting outside linebacker Erik Walden (6 sacks), despite playing in less than half of the team’s defensive snaps.
At 6’3″, 251 pounds, Newsome may be the Colts’ best natural pass rusher, even if he’s just a rookie. He’s shown rare burst and explosion off the edge and has at times even shown a Robert Mathis-esque strip-sack move, as indicated by his 2 forced fumbles. Still only 23 years old, it’s hard to not be excited about Newsome going forward. He’s been a pleasant find for GM Ryan Grigson and the Colts’ scouting team after being selected in the later rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
While Newsome still has some work to do as far as becoming an everydown player, his pass rushing prowess clearly jumps off the film. If he can learn to play a bit stouter against the run, he’ll easily project as a starting outside linebacker for the Colts’ defense in the not too distant future. It’s hard not to
drool over a tandem of Robert Mathis and Jonathan Newsome coming off the edge on 3rd down next season and beyond.
In the mean time, the Colts can simply let Newsome do what he does best by deploying him as a situational pass rusher. Among the NFL’s elite pass rushers, Newsome’s sacks per snap % is about as good as any premier pass rusher in the NFL:
As you can see Newsome’s sack per snap % places him in elite company among pass rushers. While it should be noted that these other pass rushers play more downs and are likely subjected more to fatigue as everydown players, it’s still an impressive percentage to say the least. Newsome still has plenty of time to eventually grow into becoming an everydown player, as he learns to better play against the run.
Once he takes that step, he won’t just be just an elite situational pass rusher, but an elite overall player. Until then, Colts’ fans can “Ooo and Aw” at Newsome’s pass rushing prowess as a premier situational pass rusher.