Neil’s NFL Daily: April 19, 2013
Trade Branden Albert? Neil chimes in on the Chiefs' left tackle situation.
Neil’s NFL Daily: April 19, 2013
The “big” news yesterday was the 2013 schedule release, which, if I’m honest, I have difficulty getting excited about. Not being a follower of any particular team and already knowing which team will play another (just not the order) I can take the whole thing or leave it. You have to tip your hat to the NFL though for manufacturing yet another “event” in the calendar and getting a pretty large percentage of fans behind it.
Therefore with little happening in terms of signing let’s dig into detail on a significant move that’s brewing and what the benefits are for each side.
Friday, April 19th
Chiefs Give Dolphins Permission to talk to Branden Albert’s Agent
At its core, the prospect of Kansas City trading Albert to the Dolphins makes sense; the Dolphins need a quality left tackle as the thought of entering the season with Jonathan Martin there is worrying while the Chiefs’ front office seems to have soured on Albert so much they feel taking a tackle with the No. 1 overall pick is a good option. There’s multiple parts to this particular jigsaw but as it all centers on Albert let’s start there and examine just how good he is.
Despite my protestations to the contrary I’ve seen many people quote our stats to the effect “Albert is PFF’s 25th-ranked tackle in 2012 or 17th-ranked left tackle”. This paints him as a mid-tier player and as such not a huge upgrade on Martin. I think that’s taking our work out of context and not fair on Albert who I personally feel is a much better player than that.
If you, like I, assume pass blocking is the most important part of a tackle’s job and rate players in that order he becomes the 11th-rated tackle and ninth–placed left tackle. Further, when you dig into our advanced normalization data (we don’t have this on the site but it takes account of teams whose quarterback gets rid of the ball quickly, giving them an unfair advantage) he becomes the sixth tackle with only Joe Thomas, Russell Okung, Michael Roos, Andrew Whitworth and Ryan Clady ahead of him. As for his run blocking, it’s always been a little disappointing for an ex-guard but not problematic and similar to those other tackles I’ve just mentioned with the exception of Okung who is better than the rest in that regard.
On that basis Albert should be looking for a contract similar to the one Will Beatty signed before free agency at $7.5M per year. He’s a better player than Jermon Bushrod who got $7M from the Bears and although he has better history than Beatty doesn’t have Giants upside or ability as a run blocker so something equivalent is equitable. I’m sure the Dolphins would prefer to only give up a three in exchange but a two is probably a fairer reflection of his worth.
So for Miami, if they can get Albert for the above, still have a No. 1 pick to bolster their defense and shore up the biggest weakness on the team, the deal would be a good one but what about Kansas City?
This is where I struggle with the whole thing frankly. The Chiefs are a very talented team who but for a perfect storm of issues shouldn’t have been close to the first pick in the draft. They now have that golden opportunity and seem to be on the verge of using it to make a lateral move. I have no idea how good Luke Joeckel is or will become (or any of the other tackles for that matter) but I do know he is still just a tackle and tackles do not win games; particularly if you had a good player at that position anyway. Even if Joeckel becomes the best left tackle in the league, the difference between him and Branden Albert is probably five to 10 additional QB disruptions a year on 500 passing attempts – so a best case scenario gives you a 1-2% improvement – is that really great value?
With the rookie wage cap expect the first pick to save Kansas City maybe $2M a year on Albert, pick up at very best a marginally better player and net them a second round pick (which as we know from Khaled’s recent Draft Grader series, is still a lottery).
Call me wild, but for a team as loaded in many positions as the Chiefs, that looks like a singularly unambitious strategy.
PFF Mail Bag
Value Real and Perceived
Remember we argued about Lawrence Jackson being overrated. Has he even gotten a sniff in FA? Told you he was just a guy. When a guy gets no interest coming off his rookie contract — probably not a very good sign. – @realjeffsimmons
Not so much a question, but I’ll take it anyway as it allows me to make a point I’ve been meaning to for some time.
I’m not sure how the “argument” went because I wasn’t involved, but I question how what a team does or doesn’t do makes a point unless some of our team went off piste.
We are not by nature trying to predict what NFL teams will do. That’s what the guys who spend all day on their cells attempt; they press their contacts for information and pass it on as rumor, gossip, or on occasion, something with more substance.
We have relations with a ton of agents and teams but if we become party to information as a result, the last thing we are going to do is publish that on our site; that’s not our role and breaks levels of trust that gives us access to information that allows us to do our job better.
As the only people to study and grade every player on every play of every game we tell you what we think should happen and why (that’s just what I did above). If we like Jackson and NFL teams don’t that doesn’t make us wrong unless we said he would be snapped up immediately. We are giving our value of a player and not an NFL team’s.
It’s a bit like a draft scout who put Vernon Gholston in the sixth round of his mock. Any old fool can tell you that he would go in the first but we are far more interested in knowing where he should have gone.
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Neil Hornsby | PFF Founder
Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.