Neil’s NFL Daily: July 8, 2013

Neil Hornsby enters the realm of the "Black and Blue" division today as his analysis of each franchise's best line-up reaches Detroit and Green Bay.

| 4 years ago

Neil’s NFL Daily: July 8, 2013

Our second week of grading the likely starting line-ups begins with two NFC North opponents — the Lions and Packers. As always, I’ll be interested to see what you have to say.

Although a few people may disagree, I do listen carefully to any criticism of the depth charts and, where I feel it’s appropriate, amend them if I think I’ve made an error. So far three ratings have been changed and more will almost certainly follow as infallible I’m not. That said, if you do have feedback, try and make it of the constructive variety — a list of players “wronged” with no rationale is about as helpful as a ladder to a carpet fitter. Twitter’s as good a place as any, so let me have your views @PFF_Neil.

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:



Monday, July 8th

Detroit Lions (Click to enlarge)


— I know there’ll be a host of people who think Stafford is under-graded, but if he really is when is he going to start showing us he’s more than just a tool to get Calvin Johnson the ball? When is he going to cut out the truly awful games. such as vs. Green Bay or @ Arizona? Is he Eli Manning or Carson Palmer?

— With a team so badly in need of help in other areas, adding Reggie Bush seems an extreme luxury. He’s a highlight-reel player who tries to bounce everything outside at the first hint of a hole not developing, fumbles and struggles in pass pro. What was wrong with Joique Bell?

— This defensive line could be devastating, but a lot rests on Ansah — the other three will do their bit, will he be able to take advantage of almost exclusive one-on-one treatment?


Green Bay Packers (Click to enlarge)


— Who starts at halfback is a major question. In OTA’s it was Alex Green, the draft position says Lacy, but many pundits argue Johnathan Franklin will be the man. It will be a key watch in training camp.

— T.J. Lang is a player the Packers seem higher on than we are. His $5.2m APY renegotiation last year appeared excessive at the time. While his pass protection in 2011 was very good, he’s never really done anything in the running game, so when he gave up nine sacks last year it all looked a bit premature. He really needs to up his game this year to repay front office faith in him.

— The crucial area for the Packers is getting some rush from a player not named Matthews to complement their superb secondary — both Mike Neal (rookie Datone Jones or someone else) and Nick Perry need to get consistent pressure on the QB.


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

    Josh Sitton borderline elite??

  • JaTerrance Dwayne Young

    Tramon Williams borderline high quality

  • Abouthat

    You miscounted blue chippers. There are two: Rodgers and Matthews. You only put one on the graph the counts each type of player.

    • RickDrummond

      Fixed now. Thx Abouthat

  • JaTerrance Dwayne Young

    are u giving Cobb a high-quality grade because of his ability to run to the football as well as catch as a WR??

  • Courtney

    if the Lions D line performs as it could *and* Ansah fits in & performs like he could, i think one of them (probably Suh, maybe Fairley) could have an elite season

  • Courtney

    hard to argue with much of the Lions stuff, think Pettigrew has the potential to be average at least if he can stop dropping the ball. Delmas too, injuries permitting p

  • Zach

    I think the key for the Packers is that they have players who have the ability to over-achieve their rankings listed here. While I agree with them, I believe players like Finley (if he ever puts it all together), Tramon Williams, Raji, and maybe even Perry could play at a level higher than the one they are at now.

  • MaineNFLFan

    Lions fan here, and though I agree with both your grading and your comments, there were a few things that I thought I’d point out. Though I wish it wasn’t so, I think the Lions plan for Jason Jones to start at LDE, and will have Idonije rotate both outside and inside. Also, based on coaches’ comments and reports out of OTAs, I’d say that, if healthy, Jason Fox has the edge in the RT battle. Finally,and this is super minor, but Levy plays ROLB, making the open spot at LOLB.

  • elTim

    I’d hate to question your work, but this would suggest that these two teams are comparable. Which should likely be very doubtful.

    • SoupLibertarian

      I don’t think it suggests the two teams are similar at all. The Packers have two blue chippers, not one (and one at the most important position in the NFL). The Packers have only one below average starter, while the Lions have potentially four. As a Lions fan, that sounds about right to me.

      The only place the teams are similar is if you count up the total above average and high quality players (the Lions have 10, and the Packers have 11). Also remember the Lions may be starting 3 rookies and the Packers only 1.

      Overall, this suggests the Packers have the superior starting lineup, which is what our eyes, tell us, as well.

  • SoupLibertarien

    “I know there’ll be a host of people who think Stafford is under-graded”

    I’m actually surprised you didn’t rate him as average or even below average, given how unkind your numbers tend to be to him, compared to other websites.

  • joof

    I love how you break down the starting lineups like this. I have cobb and hayward in my madden dynasty league so Im glad I got both of them last year.

  • lewk

    It seems a little hard to judge what the Packer’s defense will look like when its key package is only used a third of the time. For example, I think it’s safe to guess Datone Jones will see significant snaps next year, even if he’s not used much in dime.

  • Jacob B

    The packer’s grades look right to me, and I agree with Zach: ‘average’ is a reasonable ranking for say Finley as of now, but no one will be surprised if he turns in an ‘above average’ or even ‘high quality’ year.
    One thing that surprised me was seeing their dime package shown with 3 safeties. I think they like Davon House (the best candidate for 4th CB if he doesn’t beat out one of the other 3) better than either Jennings or McMilian at safety and I would have guessed their dime was a 4 CB/2 safety grouping rather than the 3/3. What did they use last year more?

    • Packer Report

      When Woodson played, it was Woodson at nickel and Hayward at dime. After Woodson was hurt, it was Hayward at nickel and McMillian at dime.

  • effteedub92

    “What was wrong with Joique Bell?”

    He’s thoroughly average and does not posess much speed. We’re never going to draw the safeties closer to the box with Bell in the backfield. He’s also not starting rb quality. I like the guy and he can be a good role player, but you suggesting that he was capable of filling the role that Bush has been brought in for shows your ignorance. If Bell could do the job, our running game wouldn’t have been so dismal last year.

    • PFF_Neil

      The point I was making is that Reggie Bush is not, nor ever has been a feature back. He fumbles, bounces nearly every thing to the outside and is as poor a pass protector as you’ll see. The Lions paid a bit-part player as a quality starter.
      I’m not saying that Joique Bell is that feature back just in value for money terms he’s a far, far better alternative than than Bush.
      If the Lions wanted a good, feature back they should have taken Ahmad Bradshaw who can do it all and do it well.

      • SoupLibertarian

        I don’t think they intended Reggie Bush to be a feature back, they just wanted another committee back that could fill the void left by Jahvid Best (primarily a pass-catcher/screen guy). The Lions will be a pass-first team for the forseeable future, and I don’t think they will ever try to get a “feature back”. They’re trying to be Saints North (have long way to go, obviously)

        I won’t argue with anyone who asserts that they grossly overpaid for a committee back, but given the market, they didn’t have too many options for the kind of player they wanted.

        I like Bell, too, but his lack of speed is a big limitation.

  • Name

    Just can’t agree with this at all. Pettigrew is primarily a blocking TE, and he’s arguably the best in the NFL at it, don’t know how a blocking TE that can go out and get you 500 yards(granted with quite a few drops), is below average.

    How is Suh not a blue chipper? He was 2nd to only Geno at QB pressures, and was a terror to run at, teams elected to run at vandenbosch and Avril, and just couldn’t run up the middle. He’s easily a top 3 DT in the NFL, that isn’t blue chip?

    After that my only MAJOR problem(i could nitpick about a lot of this), is Delmas. Sure he’s often injured, but I’d imagine this list is ranking them when on the field, no? When on the field, Delmas completely changes our defense. He’s a leader, and has played elite when on the field. He should at least be above average, if not high quality.

  • Jeremy

    Without trying to sound like a Matthew Stafford apologist, I think the criticism he garners is too harsh. Is there a lot of meat left on the proverbial bone as it relates to his skill-set? Of course. Does he have the best receiver in football? Yup. However, given that he’s still only 25, has only two full seasons as a starter, and is asked to do more than nearly every QB in the game, I think he warrants far more leeway with respect to his performance evaluation. I don’t think anyone else in the league constantly faces defenses aligned predominantly in nickel/dime, two deep safeties, and no threat of running despite using six man boxes. Defenses take away the deep pass and then force throws underneath with linebackers who drop into coverage immediately. He also has no pocket into which he can step up and buy more time to search for the open man. His quick release overrates the offensive lines performance, especially the interior. Though they hold blocks well, Raiola and Peterman are too often driven back and are horrible at forming a legitimate pocket. In summation, Stafford has a lot to work on (pocket presence, footwork) but I think a lot of it is circumstantial and in my opinion he merits a High Quality grading.