JVM: Guards and Centers
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is exploring 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 Guards and Centers:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
Guards – Undervalued
1. Brandon Brooks, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans were unequivocally the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season. One of units that didn’t live up to expectations was the offensive line. All four returning starters from 2012 saw their grades drop in 2013. The one new starter though was a revelation. Brandon Brooks played just 111 snaps in his rookie season of 2012 before breaking out with a +13.8 grade in 1,063 snaps this past season. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound right guard flashed elite power at the point of attack and came away with our third-highest run blocking grade (+15.0).
2013 Cap Hit: $660k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.8m
Value Differential: +6.1m
2. Larry Warford, Detroit Lions
One could have easily predicted we’d have Warford high on this list after we voted him our overall rookie of the year this season. The third round pick played like the steal of the draft and he outplayed his contemporary, Chance Warmack, by leaps and bounds. Warford ended up with the fourth-highest grade for guards as he excelled equally well in pass (+12.1) and run (+6.9) blocking.
2013 Cap Hit: $579k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$6m
3. Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
PFF’s top guard for three straight seasons is somehow the 14th-highest paid guard in the league. Mathis’ five-year, $25m deal has him signed through the 2016 season with cap hits of $6m, $6.5m, and $7m over the next three seasons. That’s going to make for some amazing value if Eagles’ left guard can keep up his current pace. Mathis more than doubled the second best guards run blocking grade this past season with his +40.2 effort.
2013 Cap Hit: $4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $10m
Value Differential: +$6m
4. Louis Vasquez, Denver Broncos
The Broncos saw something in Louis Vasquez that apparently no one else did last offseason. They made Vasquez the 11th-highest paid guard with a four-year, $23.5m contract taking him away from San Diego where he started for four seasons. Vasquez repaid Denver’s faith with a career year and the highest grade among right guards in the league (+31.1). His 98.4 pass blocking efficiency was the second best among all guards and his +10.1 run blocking grade was a career high.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.3m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.6m
Value Differential: +$5.3m
5. Matt Slauson, Chicago Bears
We aren’t the only ones that recognized that Matt Slauson was severely underpaid this season. The Bears saw the same things and decided to give him a four year, $12.8m deal just days after the season ended. Slauson had always been an above average player with the Jets (his first four seasons were all graded between +0.5 and +4.0), but he never really put it all together like he did with Chicago. Slauson’s +20.2 grade was sixth-best among guards and was just what the Bears needed up front after years of futility.
2013 Cap Hit: $820k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.9m
Value Differential: +$5m
6. Geoff Schwartz, KC – Cap: $700k; JVM: $5.4m; Value Differential: +$4.7M
7. Brandon Fusco, MIN – Cap: $594M; JVM: $5M; Value Differential: +$4.4M
8. Travelle Wharton, CAR – Cap: $3m; JVM: $6.1M; Value Differential: +$3.1M
9. Ramon Foster, PIT – Cap: $1.4m; JVM: $4.3M; Value Differential: +$2.9M
10. John Greco, CLV – Cap: $2.1m; JVM: $4.6M; Value Differential: +$2.5M
Guards — Overvalued
1. Chris Snee*, New York Giants
Just like Carl Nicks in 2012, Chris Snee unfortunately had his season wash out in a year with a monster cap hit. The 32-year-old guard played three games before succumbing to a hip injury and missing the rest of the season. The Giants right guard had been the picture of health prior to 2013, missing just one game since he signed his six-year, $42.5m in 2008. The alarming thing for Snee is that the Giants were almost better off without him. The 10th-year veteran had allowed 13 pressures and amassed a grade of -6.4 in the 188 snaps he played before he got hurt.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $206k
Value Differential: -$8.3m
2. Daryn Colledge, Arizona Cardinals
Believe it or not, Daryn Colledge is currently the 12th-highest paid guard in terms of average per year. One could argue that he never really deserved to be there as his combined grade the two previous seasons prior to signing with Arizona was just +6.4. The Cardinals were desperately in need of line help in 2011 and threw cash at a proven commodity. The problem is that proven commodity was a league average guard then, and he’s a league average guard now. Colledge’s grades since he came to Arizona in 2011 are +0.7, -0.8, and -1.4. There is certainly value in playing every snap at an average level, but that value is nowhere near $7.3m.
2013 Cap Hit: $7.3m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.3m
Value Differential: -$6m
3. Logan Mankins, New England Patriots
If you’ve followed this series at all, you’ve probably noticed that cap numbers like $10m routinely go unfulfilled. The reason for this I believe is two-fold. The first reason is that only a select few can stay on top year after year after year. Great players have down years and in those years it will look like they’re not worth the money. The other reason is that these large cap hits often appear at the end of contracts to balance out underpaying early in the deal. Mankins’ deal is a little of both. The Pats’ left guard signed his six-year, $51m deal after a phenomenal stretch in the late 2000’s and he then proceeded to have a few down years by his standards. Mankins wouldn’t have made our overvalued list those years though because his cap hits were just $5m and $7m. 2013 was the first year of three straight $10m+ cap hit seasons. His +8.6 grade this past season ranked 19th among guards and Mankins hasn’t been in the Top 10 since he signed his contract.
2013 Cap Hit: $10m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $4.2m
Value Differential: -$5.8m
4. Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How Davin Joseph signed a seven-year, $52.5m contract in 2011, I will never know. PFF has never graded the Bucs guard positively for a season in our six years of grading (although he’s made two pro bowls). In 2010, the year prior to his blockbuster deal, PFF had Joseph as the worst graded guard in the NFL (-25.0). Joseph, the 23rd overall pick in 2006, appears to be a classic case of a guy getting the first round pick treatment. People just assume he’s good because he’s starting and was a first round pick at a position that doesn’t have statistics. Well this past season the right guard outdid himself with a -34.4 grade, the lowest of his career and second lowest of all guards. With $27.5m remaining on his deal and no dead money, I would be surprised if Joseph makes it much longer in Tampa.
2013 Cap Hit: $6m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $825k
Value Differential: -$5.2m
5. Jeromey Clary, San Diego Chargers
The right guard experiment in San Diego never really took off like the Chargers had hoped. After seven years as a right tackle, Clary slid down to right guard to make room for first rounder D.J. Fluker. It started of terribly with a -4.3 grade against Houston and never really improved. In 12 games at right guard, Clary compiled a -21.6 grade. To be fair, his $5.7m cap hit would look far more modest at the higher paid tackle spot. As it stands though, Clary had the ninth highest cap hit of any guard last season. Yikes.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.7m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $700k
Value Differential: -$5m
6. Uche Nwaneri, JAX – Cap: $5.9M; JVM: $1.3m; Value Differential: -$4.6M
7. Justin Blalock, ATL – Cap: $7.7M; JVM: $3.8M; Value Differential: -$3.8M
8. Richie Incognito*, MIA – Cap: $4.9M; JVM: $2.3m; Value Differential: -$2.6M
9. Charlie Johnson, MIN – Cap: $3.9M; JVM: $1.3m; Value Differential: -$2.6M
10. Wade Smith, HST – Cap: $3.8M; JVM: $1.2M; Value Differential: -$2.6M
Centers – Undervalued
1. Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
If you just watched Kelce play in Week 5 against the Giants you would think we are out of our minds. Kelce was absolutely beaten like a drum repeatedly against the superb Giants interior. His -8.9 run blocking grade in the game was one of the lowest we’ve ever seen at the position and the amount of clean beats he allowed was hard to fathom. The third-year center was a completely different player in the other 15 games, though. Kelce finished as our top-graded center at +18.9. Few can get to the second level with the kind of speed and accuracy that Kelce can. Kelce’s brand new six-year, $37.5m deal is still a little undervalued by the Jahnke model, but I don’t think any fans will be complaining.
2013 Cap Hit: $585k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $9.1m
Value Differential: +$8.5m
2. Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were everyone’s whipping boy after Day 1 of the 2013 draft. Jerry Jones picked a center? In the first round? And not just any center, the same guy who busted out a borderline comedic 5.58 forty yard dash at the combine? The questions were all answered, though, once the pads were put on and Travis Frederick started to anchor one of the best run blocking lines all season. Our second-rated run-blocking team last season was Dallas and our No. 1 run-blocking center was none other than Frederick (+17.9).
2013 Cap Hit: $1.2m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.2m
Value Differential: +$4m
3. Manuel Ramirez, DEN – Cap: $1.2m; JVM: $4.7M; Value Differential: +$3.5m
4. Stefen Wisniewski, OAK – Cap: $1.1m; JVM: $4.5M; Value Differential: +$3.3m
5. Evan Dietrich-Smith, GB – Cap: $1.3m; JVM: $4.2m; Value Differential: +$2.9m
6. Dominic Raiola, DET – Cap: $3.0; JVM: $5.4M; Value Differential: +$2.4m
7. Alex Mack, CLV – Cap: $5m; JVM: $7.3M; Value Differential: +$2.3m
8. Rodney Hudson, KC – Cap: $1m; JVM: $2.6M; Value Differential: +$1.6m
9. John Sullivan, Min – Cap: $4.3m; JVM: $5.8M; Value Differential: +$1.6m
10. Roberto Garza, CHI – Cap: $2.1m; JVM: $3.6M; Value Differential: +$4.5m
Centers – Overvalued
1. Nick Mangold, New York Jets
We here at PFF have always been big fans of Nick Mangold. From 2008-2011 he didn’t finish outside the top two in our center grading. In 2012 he took a tiny step backwards and finished sixth. This past season, hobbled by multiple injuries, Mangold fell in our grading yet again. The Jets’ center finished with a -0.2 grade in 1071 snaps, good enough for 19th-best at the position. The biggest sign that something must have been amiss this past season was Mangold’s run blocking grade. His previous low was +15.8, but this season he finished at -9.3. With four years and $35m left on his contract, here’s hoping that this past season was an anomaly and not a trend.
2013 Cap Hit: $9.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $2.5m
Value Differential: -$6.6m
2. Scott Wells*, St. Louis Rams
After another season ended on the IR, Scott Wells spends his second straight season as the second most overvalued center in the league. The overvaluation has been nothing more than a string of bad luck for Wells and the Rams. Wells was PFF’s fourth-rated center in 2011 and eighth-rated in 2010. He then signed a four-year, $24m deal and everything fell apart. Wells missed nine games his first season with a broken foot and when he returned the center was never quite the same. Wells’ finished with a negative grade in six of his seven games in 2012 and then never quite put it all back together in 2013. Last season’s overall grade of -4.0 was built on an even more concerning -8.3 run blocking grade.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $670k
Value Differential: -$5.8m
3. David Baas*, NYG – Cap: $4.7M; JVM: $360k; Value Differential: -$4.4m
4. Eric Wood, BUF – Cap: $5.1M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$4.4m
5. Max Unger, SEA – Cap: $6M; JVM: $2.3M; Value Differential: -$3.7m
6. Samson Satele, IND – Cap: $3.9M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$3.2m
7. Lyle Sendlein, ARZ – Cap: $3.7M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$3m
8. Kyle Cook, CIN – Cap: $3.3M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$2.6m
9. Maurkice Pouncey*, PIT – Cap: $2.5M; JVM: $38k; Value Differential: -$2.5m
10. Ryan Kalil, CAR – Cap: $6.4M; JVM: $5M; Value Differential: -$1.4m
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