Neil’s NFL Daily: July 18, 2013

A pair of teams with wildly different lineups catch Neil Hornsby's gaze today as he tallies the starting talent for the Seahawks and Buccaneers.

| 4 years ago

Neil’s NFL Daily: July 18, 2013

Here it is, the penultimate edition of what’s become one of our more popular series; grading the likely starting line-ups of each team for 2013. We’ll finish off with our last two franchises tomorrow but today we go “blue-chip” crazy as we take the number of players in that category to 50 and beyond. That’s just over 1.5 a team and on Monday we’ll examine this rare breed in more detail and get your feedback by way of a competition to win a free subscription.

For those new to the series and wanting to catch up, you can find the other teams covered to date with this handy set of links:

Charts by team:



Thursday, July 18th

Seattle Seahawks (Click to enlarge) 


— The grades for both Rice and Tate may be high but I’m assuming Wilson will continue to grow and maximise the talents of these two fine players. Don’t forget, coming into last year people were looking at Rice as a potential bust with a lingering injury running deep into the preseason. If, as expected, the Seahawks pass more, it may leave the front office with a difficult decision on who to keep.

— One player who started poorly and then played outstanding football is Okung. He’s a hair away from “elite” but his penalty count (a ridiculous 14) held him back just enough.

— I know the player’s grade who will get everyone excited is Thomas. The truth is, though, we think — while he’s a decent enough player — bracketing him with the likes of Weddle, Byrd etc. is a long stretch. When I think of the position safety the first word that comes to mind is “safe” and missing 20 of 81 tackles (inc. playoffs) doesn’t give me a feeling of comfort.

— The grade for Bennett playing DT on passing downs is a bit of a projection. We are almost certain it will happen but maybe it won’t work. He’s certainly worth that rating as a pure DE though.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Click to enlarge) 


— This is a strange team that has many superior players but also a lot of holes. The weaknesses could be even worse if Clayborn doesn’t get back to his 2011 form and get some pressure on the QB.

— Davin Joseph may just be the most overrated player in the NFL. In four years he’s graded -4.6, -7.5, -25.0 and -2.2 and is coming back from injury. It’s the curse of the starting first round interior lineman again where nobody seems to have a clue how well these guys play so they base it on draft status.

— The “word on the street” is that Tom Crabtree has a shot to overtake Stocker at tight end, but that might not be too helpful even if it does happen. This could be a real area of concern with Freeman desperately needing an outlet valve underneath.


Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil


| 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.

  • JaTerrance Dwayne Young

    Here is my beefs…u currently have 8 or 9 WRs as elite…but only one ILB…you specifically said “top 3-5 players” at their positions. Only two elite RB as well…Winfield coverage ability is not elite so why do you guys continue put him in that category…CB cover first…play run second

    • PFF_Neil

      I’m not trying to be obtuse honestly. Here’s the deal:

      We have 105 WRs with more than 300 snaps but only 53 ILBs so you are always going to have more.

      I said top 3-5 players at each position to give people an impression of the type of skill set required. It was getting to the point that every time I put in another chart I’d have someone ask why a mid-tier guy wasn’t elite etc.

      Obviously I feel happier with certain positions than others and as we are in a halcyon age of receivers that position is doing well.

      As I mentioned we’ll be revisiting every chart over the weekend as sometimes it’s tricky to place players in isolation but after that (on Monday) we’ll have our list which people can critique.
      The best, most thoughtful response will win a free subscription.

      • JaTerrance Dwayne Young

        okay now that sounds great…good to know these charts are not absolute

    • Po Scoby

      PFF ranked Winfield #5 in coverage (+35.1) and #1 (by a mile) against the run (+41.5).

      “Not many defensive players full stop have a nose for the ball like Winfield. His game is built upon allowing catches for short yardage and making stops in coverage — evidenced by four complete seasons in which he is yet to allow more than 10 yards per reception into his coverage.

      A fantastic run defender (as you’ll see below) it shouldn’t be forgotten that Winfield gets the job done in coverage and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the past three years. A true force of a player who doesn’t need picks or pass deflections to make his mark.”

      From this article:

  • Kurt Young

    Sidney Rice and Golden tate are high-quality players? Based on what? Oh, yeah. Your belief that Russell Wilson will continue to grow. I just don’t see how you can put those guys in the same class as Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Demarious Thomas, and Brandon Marshall. At least give me better reasoning to help see your point of view.

    • Magnus Bendixen

      Seahawks passed the least this past season, but Golden Tate and Sidney Rice was both top 10 receivers measured in efficiency (DVOA), rather than accumulated stats (DYAR). So basically, per target, Tate & Rice were more efficient than most of the receivers you name right there. (Stats from Football Outsiders: )

      There are several reasons that I don’t trust PFF’s grading system as much as others.
      1. Two different persons might grade a play differently

      2. PFF’s grades “prefer” certain types of playmakers. Most nosetackles are rated way lower than 3-tech’s for example, though most nose tackles aren’t expected to do what a 3-tech is. I think the same goes for single deep safeties as opposed to 2-deep safeties

      3. Grades don’t weigh different aspects of the game differently. Runblock grades and are equally important.

      The in-transparency of PFF’s grading system is probably also it’s biggest weakness.

      • LightsOut85

        I don’t work for PFF, but AFAIK (from their testimony, etc) 1) they create as specific a rubric as they can to minimize this as much as possible. 2) They do give positive grades for things like holding up blocks well, etc. And if we’re being honest, a 3-tech at the level of Gerald McCoy or Geno Atkins is more valuable than most NTs (which by 2012’s grade – not many NTs were that good, even at what they’re supposed to do (the run-game))

        3) I’m not understanding your wording – do you mean you DO want them weighted differently? (pass more important than run). If you meant you do want them equal, they are. You just add the grades. And this isn’t much of an issue because they never say that you must look at total grades & not do any more in depth consideration of your own. (ex: you could put them in an excel doc & multiple the run by 0.75 before adding them together, etc)

        • Magnus Bendixen

          1. I know they try to work towards minimizing this problem, but I still think it’s there. As football fans we disagree about most things, and I’m sure that it also translates to grading.

          2. Obviously 3-techs make more plays, since they aren’t double teamed, and only have responsibility for a single gap. That isn’t to say that the NT’s aren’t equally important, as they draw in blockers and still defend several gaps, in spite of double teams. If that is the case, then the two position groups should be seperated.

          3. Yeah ok, several words was missing from those sentences. I meant that I do think they should be weighted differently. I know that you could simply arrange the grades by “pass” for WR’s for example, but people still look at the receivers overall grade. While blocking is very important for WR’s, the overall grade might be skewed, because of the runblocking.

          Sorry if my wording isn’t excellent. I’m foreign, so I hope that you can live with it. :)

          • LightsOut85

            1) I guess this is something (in my opinion) we just have to accept because there likely is never going to be a better source of information for the general public to be widely knowledgeable on all players/teams

            2) I’d say that could be different play to play (who’s double-teamed). I did say I’m fairly sure PFF gives +points for successfully taking blockers, etc. Like #1, I don’t think this is a GIGANTIC issue.

            3) Ah, no problem. I just wanted to make sure so I didn’t reply to something you weren’t intending to say. At one time I would have agreed with you, that “sources” should do their best to make sure “stupid people” didn’t make bad assumptions, but now I’ve grown to see there’s just too many of those people & it’s not PFF’s responsibility to make sure they make a logical choice like that. If they choose to only look at overall grade for every single position (even though PFF says many times not to), that’s their fault (and I’m sure they lack logic in many facets of their life).

            Again, no big deal. You’re arguing in a civil manner & that’s a huge step up from most jerks online :)

    • Po Scoby

      NFL WR Rating –> Golden Tate (2nd) and Sidney Rice (7th)

      • Kurt Young

        So should Brandon Stokley, Danario Alexander, and James Jones be ranked at a similar level or higher than Calvin Johnson? I mean, if PFF’s ‘WR Rating’ was so definitive, Brandon Stokley would actually be employed.

        • Abouthat

          PFF has never claimed that one should take their grades on blind faith and not apply judgement when interpreting the grades.

  • joof

    I wonder if Wilson will come back down to earth, although with the talent on that offense it looks like hes going to have a ton of support.

    • Joey Gardner

      It’ll be interesting to see how coordinators attempt to contain him now that there’s some film of him getting beaten while being given more rein by Carroll. Mike Nolan seemed to do a better job in the playoffs, so that might be the template to go off of.

      • Ben Peterson

        I wouldn’t call 385 passing yards for 2 TDs and 60 rushing yards for one more TD and one meaningless interception in the endzone on the final play “seemed to do a better job”.

        • Joey Gardner

          I’d say it’s a bit better than the last four games of the season where they teed off on everyone but St Louis, and Division games are always weird. And maybe Nolan had it right that, if they make the offense one dimensional and stop Lynch from doing a ton of damage, they can stop the offense from being “50 point” effective. And that’s why Harvin makes this offense even better – he’s the kind of guy that offers an extra dimension for both Lynch and Wilson.

          But what do I know, I’m a lowly Broncos fan.

          • [email protected]

            I think you have a valid point that teams will try to force RW to beat them in 2013. He could have a big year in fantasy football.

  • Brett

    To call Earl Thomas anything but elite is ridiculous. To call him a “decent enough player” is a flat out insult. He’s the reason Sherman and Browner are able to play as aggressively as they do.

    • Joey Gardner

      I disagree. He was poor at diagnosing plays towards the end of last season. He still relies too much on athleticism to make up for his mistakes.

      • WHat?!?

        Yeah your totally right those 2 game changing picks in 2 playoffs games, terrible play diagnosis

        • pbskids4000

          Are you going to judge an entire season on 2 plays?

        • Joey Gardner

          It’s like you’re personally offended – he’s incredible, still, and a freak athletically, but like the writer said: you can’t put him in the conversation with Byrd and Weddle just yet.

    • Abouthat

      Can you provide any proof? That’s a big accusation to make on no evidence

      • Griffin

        The seahawks allowed 15 passes to the deep middle least year–fewest in the league… guess who patrols that zone for the Seahawks?

        Secondly, Thomas’ range can bait qb’s into feeling safe throwing it into certain zones when really he can catch up to it because he can read qbs very well and has tremendous break on the ball.

        Also, we run a cover 3 press. Would you feel comfortable allowing Brandon Browner to press with out over top help should he get burned. If you notice Earl is johnny on the spot whenever BB gets burned because his game is predicated on throwing off WRs timings and getting them out of position, not swiveling and gunning down the sideline.

        Also, because Earl is so fast and can read qbs so well, they don’t even bother throwing it is his way or challenging his areas. He’s a human firewall. They just don’t bother. His tackling inefficiency is a problem but by no means a measure of how great a player he is. Above average? Jeesh.

      • [email protected]

        Paul Moyer on how the Seahawks are changing the geometry of football. The big corners pushing everything out wide and then a safety with incredible speed playing 25 yards deep.

        • [email protected]

          Start at 2:35 on the link, starts talking about the Seahawks Secondary.

    • DQ

      Thomas is awesome.

      But elite Safeties, even ones as small as Thomas, can’t be run over by 5’6” running backs.

      • Griffin

        THe entire team got run over by Turner and Jizz rod. Not just earl. Even our LBs were missing tackles. Shit, Kam was too. Bad day for run defense.

  • Alan

    I just cannot fathom hoe Sidney Rice is High Quality while Earl Thomas is only Above Average. There are so many WRs you would rate above Rice but how many safeties would you rate above Thomas? Sure I agree Weddle and Bryd have an edge over him but that doesn’t mean he’s only “Above Average”. Sometimes I feel like the rankings just try to get too cute.

  • Jack Casey

    How often does V Jackson play in the slot? Is this how you would project the majority of TBs 11 personnel to look?

  • Andrew

    Now I do have a little problem with rating Max Unger as Elite. Sure, he had a very good season last year, but before that he’s graded very average. Is that one season enough when someone like Chris Meyers gets only High Quality for being constantly very good?

  • Russ

    How can Marshawn Lynch not be an elite running back?

  • DQ

    Bobby Wagner and Navorro Bowman are both ranked as Above Average…

    Those two aren’t even playing the same sport.

    if Parys Haralson, now a second-string player, were on Seattle’s roster he would instantly become their best linebacker.

    • Patrick

      That’s incorrect.

      • DQ

        Tell me why I’m wrong, then.

        • Darnell

          I’ll bite, and tell you were you are wrong, thought it is pretty obvious.
          You have read it wrong.
          Wagner and Bowman are both rated as ‘High Quality’ (dark green), not ‘Above Average’ (light green) as you suggested.
          Bowman is one of the best 3-4 ILBs in the NFL, though not as good as Patrick Willis (elite). Wagner is one of the best 4-3 MLBs in the NFL, though not as good as say a prime Brian Urlacher (elite). No doubt, both players ‘high quality’, and could very well be ‘elite’ soon.

  • Jon Torres

    I enjoy these charts but some of the rankings just get silly.

    Take the two teams from this edition. Golden Tate rated as High Quality. Mike Williams as Above Average.

    Both came into the league the same year (2010), and in those 3 years we have:

    Tate: 42 Games, 101 Receptions, 1297 Yards, 10 Touchdowns
    Williams: 48 Games, 193 Receptions, 2731 Yards, 23 Touchdowns

    More than double the receptions and touchdowns for Williams, yet he’s ranked lower? I mean, really??

    • Abouthat

      Williams played well his first year, but has been up and down since then with a general decline. Tate played sparingly his rookie year and has been on an upward trend, seemingly improving game by game. If the trend is extrapolated into next year, Tate can be seen developing into an even better player (hence high quality) while you can’t really be sure what you’ll get from Williams. Clearly he has talent and ability, but will it shine through? Also, while you wish a player could be graded independently, football is a team sport. The only quarterback Williams has had is Freeman, so there is no basis on which to say that he would play better with a better QB, but it is reasonable to say Freeman handicaps his ability to show his true worth (just like the evolution of the receivers in Denver when Manning came to town).

      One other thing: this website frequently makes claims that go against stats. That’s the whole point of the website: that film study is far more accurate than numbers.

      • Jon Torres

        That’s a stretch.

        Williams 2010: 65 Rec, 964 Yards, 11 TDs
        Williams 2012: 63 Rec, 996 Yards, 9 TDs

        I wouldn’t go as far as to categorize that as a “general decline”.

        And while Tate has in fact improved in each of his seasons, his best season is by few measures any better than Williams’ worst.

        • [email protected]

          Not true, Golden Tate was better in 2012 than Mike Williams has ever been. The Seahawks ran 55% of the time so his raw numbers are lower. Every time he was given an opportunity he made big play after big play. Breaking tackles getting yards after the catch, climbing over the backs of defenders to make miracle catches.

        • Abouthat

          And you conspicuously left out his down 2011, and like @b4edc35c76bf668419c8eb5fc65590a5:disqus said, its more than just pure rec, yards, tds numbers that makes a receiver

          • Jon Torres

            Not conspicuous at all, I’m aware he had the “bad” season, but you pointed to a general decline, which from beginning to end it is not.

          • Abouthat

            And so are all the people working for PFF? It doesn’t make sense to write off everyone who disagrees as biased. Not to mention, his play on the field has tailed off when compared to Tate’s, even if numbers don’t reflect it. At best, you have an up and down receiver in Williams who can’t get much better unless Freeman improves, whereas in Tate you have a slow-developing receiver who looked to be improving and he has a QB that will help foster that improvement into next year.

          • Jon Torres

            Sure everyone’s got biases, but his only good point was the 55-45 run-pass ratio. The rest may be true –I can recall Tate had some wicked TD efforts in their VIkings and Jets games last year– but you can say about a third of the starting receivers in the league. Williams had equally impressive grabs again KC and the Rams.

            Do I think Tate’s a bad receiver? No. Do I think he’s categorically better than WIlliams? Definately not. Would I put him in the same category as Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas as has been done here? Laughable.

          • [email protected]

            Jon Torres: i think you are mistaken. These are based solely on 2012. Theyre not saying that Tate is a “better player” whatever that means. They are projecting him higher for 2013 based on his performance in 2012.

          • [email protected]

            The upside to being a ‘Hawks fan is that i actually watched their games unlike 99% of the people who talk about them. I still hear crap like Russell Wilson doesnt have a strong arm.

  • rizzy

    how is beast mode not elite?

  • [email protected]

    I dont think PFF is wrong on their evaluation of Earl Thomas. It shows the limitation of any grading system. Earl Thomas is difficult to evaluate. If you evaluate him on value he’s one of the top defensive players in the league easily. If you evaluate him play by play he’s only above average. What he does is make that defensive scheme possible because of his incredible athleticism. Its also worth noting that he has 2 interceptions in 3 career playoff games.

  • Runciter

    JOsh isnt below average, he IS the average QB