2022 NFL draft preview: Move rushers rule first spherical

You can contact Dr. Rush by calling 1-833-222-SACK, a number he registered personally with the phone company in Atlanta.

And on the first day of specialized training with pass-rush instructor Chuck Smith (the name on Dr. Rush’s driver’s license), he’ll ask you to toe the end zone, walk you out to the 5-yard line and turn you back in the direction you came. Five yards, or the typical distance from a pass rusher’s starting point to the quarterback, is all that matters. Then, he’ll walk you out to the 10-yard line and inform you that if you ran this far on a play, you likely missed the quarterback altogether. He’ll walk you out to the 40-yard line, the distance most of his collegiate prospects spend draft season worrying about, and ask: Who among you has ever run this far to sack a quarterback?

Crickets. Point taken.

While this all might feel a little tawdry, like a modernized Tom Emanski VHS skills and drills pitch, it’s anything but. Especially now. Smith, who played nine NFL seasons and spent time postcareer as a coach with the Jets, Ravens and University of Tennessee, is sought out by players all over the country who find themselves punching S-A-C-K into their phone’s keypad. He works regularly with Steelers All-Pro Cam Heyward and Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby, now one of the richest players in professional football. Von Miller considers him his personal Phil Jackson, and Aaron Donald says Smith taught him one of his most potent moves, the club chop. “If quarterback is the most important position, [the player] stopping him, a pass rusher, must be the second most,” Dr. Rush says.

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