Neil's NFL Daily: July 17, 2013
This time next week I’ll be over the Atlantic on my way to Denver to begin my camp tour of 2013 (courtesy of the ever gracious Peter King). I’ll give you more details of that in next Wednesday’s edition of the NFL Daily, but for now let’s concentrate on the matter in hand — completing my series grading the NFL’s likely 2013 starting line-ups. Alphabetical order brings us today to one of the weaker groups we’ve graded to date (San Diego), and undoubtedly the strongest (San Francisco).
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:
Wednesday, July 17th
San Diego Chargers (Click to enlarge)
— For a team that struggled hugely with their offensive line last year, I’m not sure how much of an upgrade they’ve really made. Starks rated 45 out of 52 eligible tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency, Rinehart (although I like him more than most) is coming back off injury, and Clary, after failing as a tackle, is now moving to guard.
— Possibly the most important player on the Chargers’ offense isn’t even on this chart. The decline in performance by Rivers coincided exactly with the loss of Darren Sproles, who previously gave his QB a legitimate dump-off option he hasn’t had since. The pick-up of Danny Woodhead in free agency was a clear sign the coaches wanted Rivers to have that facility again so maybe, just maybe, this is the year the QB starts to turn a corner.
— Many of the PFF team like Vincent Brown and have a view he’ll be very good, but projecting things we haven’t seen isn’t what we do, so for now he’s ‘average’ with the potential for so much more.
— I’m hearing that Gilchrist will play strong safety in base but still play over the slot in nickel. It’s a peculiar role, the closest analogy of which came when Antrel Rolle did something similar for the Giants. That usually didn’t end well, but maybe the slot corner to safety as opposed to safety to slot corner will have better results.
San Francisco 49ers (Click to enlarge)
— Only two players marked as average (and both of those with the potential to play better), says a lot about the job the 49er front office has done. It will be interesting to compare this to the Seahawks’ roster, which I’ll be completing tomorrow.
— If I was enforcing a quota system on elite players (e.g. absolute Top 3 at each position) then Bowman can count himself unlucky he had his worst year in 2012. After Willis he may well still be the next best ILB, but the drop is significant and in the end I decided we’d stay with Willis as the only blue-chipper at that position for now.
— Justin Smith not elite? As one of his biggest advocates even I’m now starting to believe the great man is on the downside of his career. Last year his run defense remained strong, but his Pass Rushing Productivity almost halved (dropped from 9.1 to 5.0).
Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil