Neil’s NFL Daily: May 31, 2013

Neil Hornsby weighs in on Dwight Freeney's claims of collusion among NFL owners, and then continues his look at subset scouting by turning to the league's edge defenders.

| 4 years ago

Neil’s NFL Daily: May 31, 2013

It appears Dwight Freeney isn’t happy about the lack of interest he received in free agency and is suggesting collusion between owners, as detailed in this article by Mike Freeman of

There’s definitely been a sea change in the way free agency has been managed by GMs this year, but the idea of a conspiracy seems overboard. If owners were complicit in some form of rigging would Stephen Ross be sitting on his own at the next NFL soirée? Didn’t he or Jeff Ireland get the memo?

The truth is the NFL community has redefined the way it looks at players, and older players in particular all now come with an apparently inflated risk. And that risk, as much as anything else, is “will I get value-for-money production on a medium-term contract out of a guy who also now statistically has a bigger chance of injury?”. Now that I do buy, but what I don’t understand is while there are lots of one year “prove it” contracts for younger players why there isn’t anything in the way of one year “last stand” contracts for guys like John Abraham or Brandon Moore. These are players still close to the best at their position who have showed no signs of slowing but can’t get deals. Are they asking too much for one year? In the context of performance they are still worth Top 10-type deals, so is that unreasonable for a Tony Gonzalez-type last season? Or are they expecting some form of multi-year contract that just isn’t out there anymore? It will be an interesting topic of conversation for a while.


Friday, May 31st

Subset Scouting

I explained the concept in some detail Tuesday, so if you didn’t catch the principle it’s all there.

Simply put, we have spent the past week examining which players show the most variation in performance and who are the less likely to go through the highs and lows of performance. Having already covered wide receivers, corners and running backs, today I’m looking at edge defenders.

4-3 Defensive Ends and 3-4 Linebackers

The table below shows the overall grade, together with those for the player’s best four games and worst four.


Top 20 Edge Defenders Ranked by Grade Differential

RankPositionNameTeamOverall GradeSum Best Four GradesSum Worst Four GradesBest/Worst Difference
13-4 OLBPaul KrugerBLT10.519.8-15.034.8
24-3 DEKamerion WimbleyTEN-2.419.8-13.633.4
34-3 DECameron WakeMIA53.832.3-0.632.9
44-3 DEMichael BennettTB18.821.2-11.532.7
53-4 OLBAldon SmithSF18.820.7-11.632.3
64-3 DEBrian RobisonMIN11.319.6-12.131.7
74-3 DEElvis DumervilDEN-5.416.1-15.431.5
84-3 DELamarr HoustonOAK16.520.9-9.830.7
94-3 DEChris LongSL4.616.3-14.330.6
103-4 OLBRyan KerriganWAS-0.315.1-14.229.3
114-3 DEJabaal SheardCLV-3.813.8-15.429.2
124-3 DEChris ClemonsSEA14.017.7-10.728.4
134-3 DEJohn AbrahamATL18.619.6-8.528.1
144-3 DEDerrick MorganTEN22.720.4-7.127.5
154-3 DEJason BabinPHI/JAX5.517.9-9.127.0
163-4 OLBJustin HoustonKC16.018.9-7.626.5
174-3 DERobert QuinnSL-12.312.4-13.525.9
184-3 DEJeremy MinceyJAX-3.611.9-14.025.9
193-4 OLBConnor BarwinHST-22.46.6-19.225.8
204-3 DECameron JordanNO-1.213.1-12.625.7

Looking behind the numbers, there’s a lot of interesting rationales for these figures. More than any other position, one or two games against terrible opposition can swing the numbers of edge defenders. Michael Bennett utterly destroyed the Eagles’ RT Dennis Kelly to help his case, while Aldon Smith’s treatment of J’Marcus Webb was broadcast nationally for all to see.

Others had two part years — Paul Kruger started slowly but finished fast (some feel this was the result of Terrell Suggs return and that consequently he’ll struggle in Cleveland), while Kamerion Wimbley had the opposite type of year as he came out of the gates like a rocket and then tailed off after Week 9.

Then there’s Cameron Wake. When your worst four games still equate to -0.6 maybe it’s time the NFL just realised this is a Top 10 player, not the type of guy you just squeeze into your Top 100.

Reliability Off the Edge

Now a look at the 10 most consistent edge defenders. Once again, these are ranked by the standard deviation of grades.


Edge Defenders Ranked by Consistency of Grades (minimum 600 snaps)

RankNameTeamSnapsOverall GradeSD
1Robert GeathersCIN660-13.31.23
2Frostee RuckerCLV607-9.51.39
3Courtney UpshawBLT7620.61.46
4Kroy BiermannATL696-4.01.5
5Rob JacksonWAS610-0.61.6
6Lamarr WoodleyPIT6411.31.8
7Derek WolfeDEN933-11.51.86
8Matt ShaughnessyOAK689-11.11.88
9Justin TuckNYG6620.81.88
10Sam AchoARZ1023-16.61.88

On the face of it this table suggests that week in, week out consistency either isn’t possible at this position, or is not desirable. None of the guys are likely to strike fear into the heart of offensive linemen anymore, and are either solid or just reliably poor.


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


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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.

  • Pit

    Cameron Wake is so effing ridiculous. Miami is going to take this division before the Patriots know what hit them. (Not a Miami fan)

  • PFF_Pete

    Mike Florio talks about this often, and I agree with him: while owners likely aren’t colluding in a large-scale “ok guys, let’s blackball these players” sort of way, I do think that they used the new 3-day negotiation grace period to compare notes about what they’d offer to certain players. And that is still collusion.

  • Kriss Berg

    You guys are grading Derek Wolfe incorrectly I believe. You have him down as a 4-3 DE but Denver uses a hybrid front and his job is to hold the point of attack and consume blockers on his side like a 3-4 DE. Note jack del Rio’s comments stating as much from a couple weeks ago.