Neil's NFL Daily: July 16, 2013
Just 25% of teams still to do, and if you include the Steelers and Rams today, even less than that.
I’ve really enjoyed doing this series as it’s prompted a lot of debate both on Twitter and in the comment sections below each article. Please be aware I do read each comment and have already amended a few grades on the back of some very well-reasoned arguments — thanks so much to all those who have made this a lot of fun to do. Over the coming weekend I’ll take every grade and make my final changes and summarize everything on Monday 22nd.
One excellent question came up which may be obvious to some but is certainly worth making clear to all. I was asked why there were so many higher grades than lower grades if we normalize our data? The reason is that these are the starting line-ups. If we graded the entire roster then there would be a significant amount more oranges and reds — hope this helps.
For those new to the series and wanting to catch up, you can find the other teams covered to date with this handy set of links.
Charts by team:
Tuesday, July 16th
Pittsburgh Steelers (Click to enlarge)
— How to grade Big Ben? As we explained last week he can do things no other QB can, but still makes his share of errors. In the end, the way he’s won out in difficult circumstances, and never graded outside our Top 7 QBs since 2008, carried the day.
— This has the potential to be the best Steelers offensive line for a few years, but unfortunately that might be damning with faint praise. Obviously the player most Steeler fans will call “foul” is Pouncey, but the truth is, while he may look like the real deal he rarely delivers as such. Compared to players like John Sullivan, Nick Mangold, Chris Myers (or even guys like Brian De La Puente or Ryan Wendell) his actual production is only average. His grades since 2010 have been -2.9, -0.2, and last year +5.4, but when a hype machine is in motion, on a position no one but us watches on every snap, it’s difficult to explain the emperor is only wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
— I gave Lamarr Woodley a big pass on last season. If we were taking that as the rule, as opposed to an exception, he would have graded average at best.
— What on earth is going on with Ziggy Hood? If there was no-one else to turn to you may understand the Steelers reluctance to bench him, but Cameron Heyward looks like he has the ability to be a high quality end. At least his run defense was a little better down the stretch, but this looks almost like a team hoping a clear first-round bust can be disguised by playing time.
St. Louis Rams (Click to enlarge)
— This is a team filled with question marks that can go any number of ways. Those players who last year were injured (Long, Wells), or played poorly (Langford, Finnegan), may go back to their best or may have found a new level. Can Bradford actually move to the next tier of quarterbacks (or beyond) or was he simply over drafted and one of the worst value selections of recent years? In order to not fall any further behind the 49ers and Seahawks a lot needs to improve, but at least there is hope.
— Jenkins was the archetypal “highlight player”. His interceptions returned for touchdowns made believers out of those who revel in such things, as they decided to ignore three completely abysmal performances. However, much as we may mock those who tried to compare him to Casey Hayward he did show flashes of brilliance. While he was our second-lowest-rated corner in coverage, and probably deserved a worse than average grade, he really does have the potential to kick on and flourish. However, it’s also possible that Trumaine Johnson (who we really liked in limited playing time) goes to be the better pro.
— Robert Quinn is another boom or bust player to watch. He was outstandingly brilliant in two games and then couldn’t put together another decent performance. Is one or the other reality, or will two good games a year be Quinn’s limit?
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