This has been one of the busiest off-seasons, from a mock-drafting standpoint, that I’ve ever been through and I love every second of it. I typically participate in 2-3 mocks just to dip my drafting toes into the water, but thanks to Jeff Ratcliffe and his Mocking One Out series, we’ve been able to compile some concrete ADP data. I’ve done at least 20 of his mocks and have noticed trends in my drafting, and more importantly, trends in the drafting of others when it comes to individual defensive player positions. I’ve had tremendous value fall into my lap, noticed reaches by others (as well as myself) and picks that really left me scratching my head. With another round of mock drafts having just started, I’ll be looking at some data that I’ve analyzed from, the now, 30+ mocks in the Mocking series. With this last piece, I’ll look at the defensive backs that are being undervalued and overvalued and how you can take advantage of those picks.
Under-Valued Defensive Backs
TJ Ward, S, CLE – Ward just admitted that his preparation wasn’t where it should’ve been for the 2011 season, which led to a myriad of injuries ultimately ending his season after Week 9. Ward is still the same hard-hitting safety from 2010 that notched 95 tackles and was an IDP dynamo. Ward looked like a rookie, missing 13 tackles but improved his tackling efficiency from his rookie year to his second year. In 2011, his ADP skyrocketed to 140 and was the 4th DB taken off the board according to MFL data. We don’t have to revisit history, but we know what happened last year which presents nice opportunity for value on Ward in 2012. His current ADP is sitting at 217 (18th round) and is the 18th S taken off the board. I look for Ward to rebound nicely in 2012 and notch DB1 type numbers at, what looks to be, a DB2 price.
Bernard Pollard, S, BAL – I’m surprised I haven’t taken him in more mocks. I’ve been a huge Pollard fan for the past few season (and not just cause he knocked Brady out in 2008). The guy is a thumper and can make the big hit. Pollard didn’t receive many offers in free agency and ended up signing with the Ravens to compete with Tom Zbikowski for strong safety duties. By Week 4, he was starting and finished with a +5.2 grade in 901 defensive snaps, and from an IDP standpoint, notched 71 tackles and a pick to go along with 8 defended passes. Pollard gets a full off-season program with the Ravens and will enter the season as a full-time starter. Pollard’s ADP is sitting right around 223 and is the 16th S off the board. I love the value and I’d be more than happy to roll with him as a DB2 in 2012.
Antoine Bethea, S, IND – Bethea is one of the more under-appreciated DBs in IDP circles, but he led all S (and DBs for that matter) in tackles, finishing with 103 solo tackles (129 total), while missing just 9 tackles in 1,101 defensive snaps and a solid 11.7% tackle frequency. Bethea graded out at a +6.2 in run defense and will probably be called upon to be an anchor in the new 3-4 defense. Bethea has finished with 90+ tackles in 3 of the last 4 seasons and his ADP settling in around 201. I’ve been selecting him anywhere between a DB1/DB2 in my mocks and I feel real comfortable with that.
Kenny Phillips, S, NYG – I think Phillips will have an impact for the Giants defense in 2012. Phillips appeared in 1,000+ defensive snaps and notched 77 tackles 4 INT and 5 defended passes. He didn’t make much of an impact in pass-rush, but graded out positively in coverage and run defense and could push 85 tackles in 2012. Phillips’ ADP is up near 292 and he’s looking like a value pick near the end of your draft.
LarDarius Webb, CB, BAL – Webb isn’t getting much respect after coming off a season where he emerged as a solid cover corner. Webb graded out as the 4th best CB and only Darrelle Revis graded out better in coverage. Webb finished with 63 tackles and was thrown at 90 times, compiling 5 picks and 16 total PDI (INT + Defended Passes). In leagues requiring a corner, he’s going to provide nice value as a #1 CB with an ADP around 224 (18th round) as it looks like he’s the 6 CB off the board. In leagues that don’t require a CB, I still think he could put up, borderline, DB2 numbers.
Others Being Under-Valued
Alterraun Verner, CB, TEN – Current ADP around 296
Brandon Browner, CB, SEA – Current ADP around 287
Cortland Finnegan, CB, STL – Current ADP around 270
Dawan Landry, S, JAC – Current ADP around 291
Over-Valued Defensive Backs
Eric Berry, S, KCC – I’ve got Berry in my top 5, but he missed the entire 2011 season after suffering a major knee injury. I know he’s declared himself 100% and I believe him and he should be able to produce right away. That being said, his current ADP is sitting around 115 (9th round) and is the first safety off the board. Sure, he has a chance to have a season similar to Morgan Burnett after he missed most of his rookie year, but that’s quite a price tag on someone coming back from a knee injury. There are safer picks if you’re not much of a risk taker.
Eric Weddle, S, SDC – I like Weddle and he was on a few of my teams last season, but I don’t think I’d draft him as the 4th safety off the board when there are guys that producer higher tackle numbers than Weddle at the spot he’s going at. Since his 2008 career high of 119 tackles, his numbers have been a bit inconsistent (only producing 90+ tackles once in the past 3 seasons). If you’re looking for a repeat of his 7 picks from last season, I’m not betting on a repeat, especially since he only had 5 total INTs in a 3 season span before 2011. His current ADP currently sits at 155, right around the 12th round.
Troy Polamalu, S, PIT – I still believe he helps more from a real-football standpoint as Pittsburgh’s defensive captain, as he’s the heart and soul of that defense. He still graded out positively overall and was PFF’s top safety, but from an IDP standpoint, put up modest tackle numbers (finished 18th among the position) and just 2 INTs. His ADP currently sits at 192 and has been taken as early as 67th overall. Let someone else purchase the name-brand this season.
Patrick Peterson, CB, ARI – Unless you’re playing in a league those scores for punt returns, Peterson shouldn’t be the top corner off the board. Peterson saw a huge workload as a rookie (1,141 snaps) but finished with just 59 tackles on 113 targets (a 5.2% tackle frequency). He converted those targets to 2 picks and 8 defended passes. Those numbers, IMO, don’t warrant being the #1 pick at the position, especially at an ADP of 149 even in leagues requiring a CB.
Others Being Over-Valued
LaRon Landry, S, NYJ – Current ADP 210. It’s decent value, but carries huge injury risk.
Roman Harper, S, NOS – Current ADP 170. I don’t see the same QB rushes/sacks in 2012.
Get an updated look at Jeff’s IDP ADP data and look at those linebackers that you can draft for value in your league, based on your scoring format.