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.
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 CBSSports.com.
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
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
Rank Position Name Team Overall Grade Sum Best Four Grades Sum Worst Four Grades Best/Worst Difference
1 3-4 OLB Paul Kruger BLT 10.5 19.8 -15.0 34.8
2 4-3 DE Kamerion Wimbley TEN -2.4 19.8 -13.6 33.4
3 4-3 DE Cameron Wake MIA 53.8 32.3 -0.6 32.9
4 4-3 DE Michael Bennett TB 18.8 21.2 -11.5 32.7
5 3-4 OLB Aldon Smith SF 18.8 20.7 -11.6 32.3
6 4-3 DE Brian Robison MIN 11.3 19.6 -12.1 31.7
7 4-3 DE Elvis Dumervil DEN -5.4 16.1 -15.4 31.5
8 4-3 DE Lamarr Houston OAK 16.5 20.9 -9.8 30.7
9 4-3 DE Chris Long SL 4.6 16.3 -14.3 30.6
10 3-4 OLB Ryan Kerrigan WAS -0.3 15.1 -14.2 29.3
11 4-3 DE Jabaal Sheard CLV -3.8 13.8 -15.4 29.2
12 4-3 DE Chris Clemons SEA 14.0 17.7 -10.7 28.4
13 4-3 DE John Abraham ATL 18.6 19.6 -8.5 28.1
14 4-3 DE Derrick Morgan TEN 22.7 20.4 -7.1 27.5
15 4-3 DE Jason Babin PHI/JAX 5.5 17.9 -9.1 27.0
16 3-4 OLB Justin Houston KC 16.0 18.9 -7.6 26.5
17 4-3 DE Robert Quinn SL -12.3 12.4 -13.5 25.9
18 4-3 DE Jeremy Mincey JAX -3.6 11.9 -14.0 25.9
19 3-4 OLB Connor Barwin HST -22.4 6.6 -19.2 25.8
20 4-3 DE Cameron Jordan NO -1.2 13.1 -12.6 25.7
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)
Rank Name Team Snaps Overall Grade SD
1 Robert Geathers CIN 660 -13.3 1.23
2 Frostee Rucker CLV 607 -9.5 1.39
3 Courtney Upshaw BLT 762 0.6 1.46
4 Kroy Biermann ATL 696 -4.0 1.5
5 Rob Jackson WAS 610 -0.6 1.6
6 Lamarr Woodley PIT 641 1.3 1.8
7 Derek Wolfe DEN 933 -11.5 1.86
8 Matt Shaughnessy OAK 689 -11.1 1.88
9 Justin Tuck NYG 662 0.8 1.88
10 Sam Acho ARZ 1023 -16.6 1.88
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.
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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.