JVM: Buffalo Bills
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Janke Value Model” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it HERE, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2013
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued Buffalo Bills:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Jerry Hughes, Outside Linebacker
Not much buzz was made when the Bills swapped linebackers with the Colts last offseason by trading Kelvin Sheppard for Jerry Hughes. But a deal that seemed minor at the time brought huge dividends for Buffalo. Despite playing just 52.8% of the team’s defensive snaps, Hughes earned a +19.7 pass rush grade, a mark bested by only Elvis Dumervil and Robert Mathis among 3-4 outside linebackers. Hughes’ 15.4 Pass Rushing Productivity rate was the highest of any player at his position with more than 50 pass rushes, making him one of the most efficient players in the league at getting after the quarterback. Though he didn’t notch a ton of run stops, his +5.7 run defense grade shows he was often doing good work around the line of scrimmage to set up his teammates. Put it all together, and he was worth over nine times the price that the Bills paid for him.
2013 Cap Hit: $900k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.3m
Value Differential: +$7.5m
2. Kiko Alonso, Inside Linebacker
Coverage awareness is typically one of the last skills a young linebacker grasps in the NFL, but not so for Alonso. His legend grew early, as he intercepted four passes and had a four-game streak from Weeks 2 to 5 where he didn’t allow a single yard in coverage. Though he fell off a bit from that level as the season wore on, Alonso’s 0.43 Yards allowed per Coverage Snap was the lowest rate by any starting inside linebacker. He can stand to improve against the run, but regardless he’s a great young talent who should continue to provide the Bills value throughout his first contract.
2013 Cap Hit: $800k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.7m
Value Differential: +$4.9m
3. Cordy Glenn, Left Tackle
Continuing the theme of young talent, the Bills also seem to have struck gold with their second round pick from the 2012 draft. Glenn’s rookie season featured promise and penalties, but he eliminated the latter to earn the 11th-best grade of any left tackle in 2013. He wasn’t a dominant run blocker, but he wasn’t a liability there either. His true value came in pass protection. He never allowed more than one sack or QB hit in a game, and had four games where he didn’t allow any sort of pressure. His 96.2 Pass Blocking Efficiency was tied with Joe Thomas for the fifth-best by an offensive tackle. If he continues his upward track then the Bills might have one of the league’ top tackles next season for a bargain price.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.9m
Value Differential: +$4.8m
4. Nickell Robey, CB – Cap: $400k, JVM: $4.4m, Value Differential: +$4.0m
5. Kyle Williams, DL – Cap: $5.8m, JVM: $9.1m, Value Differential: +$3.3m
6. Nigel Bradham, ILB – Cap: $600k, JVM: $3.9m, Value Differential: +$3.3m
7. Marcell Dareus, DT – Cap: $5.6m, JVM: $8.7m, Value Differential: +$3.2m
8. Leodis McKelvin, CB – Cap: $3.1m, JVM: $6.0m, Value Differential: +$3.0m
9. Manny Lawson, OLB – Cap: $2.4m, JVM: $5.2m, Value Differential: +$2.8m
10. Aaron Williams, S – Cap: $1.4m, JVM: $3.7m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
1. Mario Williams, Outside Linebacker
Williams had another solid season for the Bills, finishing with the 17th-highest grade at his position for the second straight year. Unfortunately, Buffalo is paying for one of the Top 5 edge defenders in the league, not one of the Top 25. Games like his five-sack performance against the Panthers in Week 2 showed how dominant Williams can be, but he also had other games where he was virtually invisible outside of a couple splash plays. His run defense was solid but not spectacular, and his 3.9 Run Stop Percentage was the lowest of any Buffalo edge defender. Williams is obviously talented, but unless he becomes disruptive on a more consistent basis, he’ll continue to fall short of his lofty salary.
2013 Cap Hit: $12.4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.9m
Value Differential: -$6.5m
2. Eric Wood, Center
Wood is a fine pass protector. He didn’t allow a single sack this season and his 98.5 Pass Blocking Efficiency was the 3rd-highest at his position. But he also earned the fourth-lowest run block grade of any center, and that has been a weakness in his game for most of his career. That’s a glaring problem for a player carrying the sixth-highest cap number at his position.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $700k
Value Differential: -$4.4m
3. Stevie Johnson, Wide Receiver
In the past we’ve noted how Johnson’s unique abilities have allowed him to rise above questionable quarterbacking, but not so this season. Blame it on his injuries, his quarterback’s injuries, or perhaps less freedom in Doug Marrone’s offense, but he just wasn’t nearly as productive as in years past. After averaging 138 targets, 1,041 yards and 1.89 Yards Per Route Run in his previous three seasons, he had just 95 targets, 597 yards and 1.55 YPRR in 2013. Throw in the dropped passes that have plagued him for much of his career, and you’ll find a player who didn’t deserve to be the 15th-highest paid receiver in the league.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.7m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.9m
Value Differential: -$3.8m
4. C.J. Spiller, HB – Cap: $3.7m, JVM: $600k, Value Differential: -$3.1m
5. Stephon Gilmore, CB*– Cap: $2.8m, JVM: $500k, Value Differential: $-2.3m
6. Scott Chandler, TE – Cap: $3.0m, JVM: $1.3m, Value Differential: -$1.7m
7. Alan Branch, DL – Cap: $3.8m, JVM: $2.2m, Value Differential: -$1.5m
8. E.J. Manuel, QB – Cap: $1.6m, JVM: $400k, Value Differential: -$1.2m
9. Jairus Byrd, S* – Cap: $6.9m, JVM: $6.0m, Value Differential: -$1.0m
10. Erik Pears, RT – Cap: $2.8m, JVM: $2.0m, Value Differential: -$800k
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$18.1m
Though it hasn’t translated to the win-loss column, the Bills have been a good drafting team in recent years. They have a solid crop of young and cheap talent, and don’t have any real albatross contracts sucking up their cap space. If E.J. Manuel can make strides in his second season, the Bills will certainly get an even bigger boost in next year’s JVM.
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