JVM: Jacksonville Jaguars
Cutting into which Jaguar players were the most over- and under-paid in 2013, Mike Renner presents the Top 10 from each end.
JVM: Jacksonville Jaguars
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is exploring the value of players. To us it’s a ‘Jahnke Value Model’ number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it HERE, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2013
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued Jacksonville Jaguars:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Alan Ball, Cornerback
One of the reasons for Jacksonville’s late season turnaround was the improved play of the secondary and one Alan Ball. Ball’s only real starting experience in his first six seasons in the NFL came with Dallas in 2010 where he started at safety for 16 games. Since then he bounced around as a backup corner in Dallas and Houston before settling in with Jacksonville last year. In 2013, Ball played 1,020 of a possible 1,069 snaps and had a +7.5 overall grade. Playing almost exclusively right cornerback, Ball had the 17th-best Yards per Coverage Snap figure of any corner at 1.01. His two-year, $2m contract signed last offseason looks like a steal now.
2013 Cap Hit: $770k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $4.5m
Value Differential: +$3.7m
2. Will Blackmon, Cornerback
The corners were certainly not the weak link on the Jaguars’ defense last season. After spending 2012 in the Arena Football League, Will Blackmon showed that he deserved to be in the NFL. His +7.2 overall grade was 22nd among corners and he did the bulk of his production against the run. The eight-year veteran had the seventh-best Run Stop Percentage among cornerbacks at 2.9 and the second-best run defense grade at +5.1. Signed to just the veteran minimum last offseason, Blackmon was a tremendous value on a team where value was hard to come by.
2013 Cap Hit: $555k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $3.3m
Value Differential: +$2.7m
3. Mike Harris, Cornerback
And yes, another cornerback. Harris served as the Jags’ primary slot corner in 2013, playing 89% of his 414 snaps at the position and finished with coverage and run defense grades right around the midline (+0.8 and +0.9, respectively). Though those numbers weren’t all that exciting and his 87th-ranked 1.59 Yards per Cover Snap (that fell from his Top-15 0.96 as a rookie) even less so, costing the team only $400k to fill the role was a number he made good on. If anyone needs help with securing value corners, a call to Jacksonville would be a good place to start.
2013 Cap Hit: $400k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.9m
Value Differential: +$1.5m
4. Dwayne Gratz, CB– Cap: $400k, JVM: $1.7m, Value Differential: +$1.3m
5. Ryan Davis, DT – Cap: $300k, JVM: $1.4m, Value Differential: +$1.0m
6. Cecil Shorts, WR – Cap: $400k, JVM: $1.4m, Value Differential: +$900k
7. Andre Branch, DE – Cap: $300k, JVM: $800k, Value Differential: +$500k
8. John Lotulelei, OLB – Cap: $300k, JVM: $800k, Value Differential: +$400k
9. Abry Jones, DL – Cap: $400k, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: +$300k
10. Sen’Derrick Marks, DT – Cap: $1.7m, JVM: 1.9m, Value Differential: +200k
1. Paul Posluszny, Middle Linebacker
Posluszny tops the Jaguars’ most overvalued list for the second year in a row. His cap hit was the third largest among inside linebackers and he was nowhere close to a top three middle linebacker last season. His -11.6 overall grade was 25th among starters and he failed to grade positively in any of the three major categories (run, coverage, pass rush). Posluszny had to deal with far more linemen than a typical 4-3 inside linebacker due to a weak defensive line, but he rarely was able to beat blockers at the second level. He’s still a quality player, but at $26.5m over the next three years, one has to question whether he is worth it.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $700k
Value Differential: -$7.8m
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Halfback
Jones-Drew is the prime example of why teams are weary when doling out large deals to running backs after their rookie contract. In 2009, the Jaguars’ halfback signed a five-year, $31m deal and now we’ve rated him as the Jags’ second most overvalued player for two years running. It’s not through any fault of his own, running backs are severely injury-prone and skills can diminish seemingly overnight (see: Ray Rice). Jones-Drew still came away from last season with a +3.9 grade, thanks in large part to his +6.5 pass blocking grade, but there were 26 other running backs that ranked higher. That kind of production can be had for far cheaper than the seventh-highest cap hit at the position.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.8m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$5.7m
3. Eugene Monroe, Left Tackle*
This one comes with a fairly large asterisk. On October 1st Monroe was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for fourth- and fifth-round picks in the 2014 draft, but the Jaguars were still on the hook for $6.6m of the left tackle’s $7.1m cap hit for the season. Monroe’s overall value for the season was $5.4m, but he did $4.1m of that with Baltimore. The former first-round pick was floundering in Jacksonville before flourishing in Baltimore. Through the first four weeks of the season he had a grade of -3.6 and then he was traded and finished the last 11 games with a grade of +24.0. It seems ludicrous that a team would give up a left tackle as talented as Monroe, but the Jaguars must have known their chances of resigning Monroe at the end of the season were unlikely and they did what they had to do.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.6m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.4m
Value Differential: -$5.2m
4. Mercedes Lewis, TE – Cap: $5.8m, JVM: $1m, Value Differential: -$4.7m
5. Uche Nwaneri, RG– Cap: $5.9m, JVM: $1.3m, Value Differential: $-4.5m
6. Luke Joeckel, RT* – Cap: $5.8m, JVM: $2.1m, Value Differential: -$3.6m
7. Dwight Lowery, S – Cap: $3.9m, JVM: $219k, Value Differential: -$3.7m
8. Tyson Alualu, DE – Cap: $3.6m, JVM: $615k, Value Differential: -$3m
9. Chad Henne, QB – Cap: $4.7m, JVM: $1.8m, Value Differential: -$2.8m
10. Blaine Gabbert, QB – Cap: $3.3m, JVM: $540k, Value Differential: -$2.7m
Summary – Team Value Differential: -$40.5m
Overpaying mediocre talent and getting little production from players on rookie contracts is a recipe for disaster and that is where Jacksonville’s large $40.5m deficit comes from. None of the 15 Jaguars with cap hits $2m or greater were deemed to have outplayed their contracts. The good news is quite a few of those contracts are waivable and there is more than enough cap room to replace them with capable players. The bad news is that they haven’t drafted a legitimate impact player since Eugene Monroe back in 2009. To improve on their team value differential next season they’ll need players on their rookie contracts to emerge in a big way.
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