JVM: Denver Broncos
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Jahnke 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 Denver Broncos:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Von Miller, Linebacker
Miller missed the first six games of the season through suspension, and then went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 16, so how did he manage to be the Broncos’ most undervalued player? Well, in short, it’s because of just how good he was in the eight full games that he played in. Between Weeks 7 and 15 he graded below +2.5 just once, dominating as a pass rusher and against the run. He’s not used as a traditional 4-3 linebacker, with 37 more pass rushing snaps than the next highest player at the position despite only playing half a season. Simply put, when he’s on the field, he’s one of the league’s premier defensive players and, despite not playing a full season, was able to give the Broncos value for his $4.9m salary.
2013 Cap Hit: $4.9m
2013 Performance Based Value: $14.7m
Value Differential: +$9.8m
2. Chris Harris Jr., Cornerback
Another player who went down with a late-season injury, Harris was been one of the better cornerbacks in the league for the last few seasons. He excels in coverage, both on the outside and in the slot, where he allowed a reception just once every 10.9 snaps in coverage when covering an inside receiver, finishing the year as our ninth-highest graded cornerback. He’s a restricted free agent this year, and, coming off that late season injury, he might have to wait another year for that big money, but it surely can’t be long until he’s paid a lot closer to his value on the field.
2013 Cap Hit: $560k
2013 Performance Based Value: $9.6m
Value Differential: +$9m
3. Louis Vasquez, Right Guard
The Broncos signed Vasquez after four seasons with their AFC West rival San Diego Chargers and he repaid them by finishing the season as our highest-graded right guard in the league. He didn’t allow a sack all year and balanced that out with some excellent play as a run blocker too, giving the Broncos their highest performance value differential on offense.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.3m
2013 Performance Based Value: $8.6m
Value Differential: +$5.3m
4. Demaryius Thomas, WR – Cap: $2.6m, PBV: $7.8m, Value Differential: +$5.2m
5. Eric Decker, WR – Cap: $1.5m, PBV: $6.6m, Value Differential: +$5.1m
6. Terrance Knighton, DL – Cap: $1.8m, PBV: $6.8m, Value Differential: +$5m
7. Julius Thomas, TE – Cap: $660k, PBV: $5.4m, Value Differential: +$4.8m
8. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB – Cap: $2.9m, PBV: $7.3m, Value Differential: +$4.4m
9. Malik Jackson, DL – Cap: $540k, PBV: $4.1m, Value Differential: +$3.6m
10. Manuel Ramirez, C – Cap: $1.2m, PBV: $4.7m, Value Differential: +$3.5m
1. Ryan Clady, Left Tackle*
Clady started the season poorly against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, and then went down with a season-ending injury that following week against the New York Giants. That alone would have made it difficult for him to give the Broncos much in the way of value, but signing a big contract in the summer only confirmed that. That contract makes it tougher for him to give the team great value for the money, but you would imagine a healthy Clady won’t have quite as poor a value differential in 2014.
2013 Cap Hit: $12.6m
2013 Performance Based Value: $875k
Value Differential: -$11.7m
2. Champ Bailey, Cornerback*
Another player who missed significant time through injury, but also didn’t look particularly special when he was healthy, the Broncos made the move earlier this week to part ways with the veteran. Arriving in Denver as part of the Clinton Portis trade with Washington a few years ago, Bailey will be 36 when the 2014 season begins and carried a cap hit that was way beyond his value at this stage in his career.
2013 Cap Hit: $10.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $925k
Value Differential: -$9.9m
3. Joel Dreesen, Tight End
Earning more than Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme, who played more snaps and had more production at the position, Dreessen played just 164 snaps for the Broncos last year and struggled heavily as a run blocker. He’s not a free agent this year, and carries a $3.2m cap hit in 2014, so you do wonder if the Broncos won’t look to move on especially when they already have Thomas and Tamme at the position.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.7m
2013 Performance Based Value: $825k
Value Differential: -$2.9m
4. Wesley Woodyard, LB – Cap: $3.3m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$2.6m
5. Kevin Vickerson, DL – Cap: $2.5m, PBV: $570k, Value Differential: -$1.9m
6. Chris Kuper, RG – Cap: $2m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$1.2m
7. J.D. Walton, C* – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $230k, Value Differential: -$1.1m
8. Sylvester Williams, DL – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $400k, Value Differential: -$1m
9. Derek Wolfe, DL – Cap: $1.2m, PBV: $465k, Value Differential: -$720k
10. Paris Lenon, LB – Cap: $1.5m, PBV: $925k, Value Differential: -$600k
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$41.5m
They were a team that struggled with some key injuries, but clearly got some fantastic value for money from the top of the roster all the way down. Only the Carolina Panthers had a better Team Value Differential last year, and they’ve already made the moves to address players which could negatively affect it next season, in cutting Bailey. They spent their money wisely last year, with Peyton Manning the highest earner on the roster giving them plenty of value as the best player at his position, while Miller played well enough that his play exceeded his cap hit despite only playing half a season.
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