Neil's NFL Daily: July 4, 2013
The grading of NFL starting line-ups rolls smoothly on, with the biggest issue being fans of particular teams believing their players have been swindled out of “elite” status. Just a couple of things to point out in this regard — firstly, my criteria are very strict (some of these guys might be considered blue-chip in certain circles, but I’m only looking at the top three to four at each position), my charts, my rules. Secondly, and this is just me, but as a fan of no particular team I have a view that a large majority of fans believe their best players are better than they actually are, and their lesser players worse. Whether this is just simple psychology, a function of focusing so much on one team, or something else, I don’t know. However, if say you’re a Texans fan and want to give me grief for colouring J.J. Watt in yellow, lie and tell me you’re a Cardinals fan — I’ll take it far more seriously.
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:
Thursday, July 4th
Cincinnati Bengals (Click to enlarge)
— More than many teams, the Bengals have options at a number of positions and in each case I chose who I thought would be the better player: Wharton over Clint Boling, Robinson over Kyle Cook, Eifert over Jermaine Gresham, and Burfict (in nickel) over Rey Maualuga. You can also make a good case arguing they’ll do a lot to get Dre Kirkpatrick snaps over both Jones and Newman, but who knows how he’ll play? In the end I went with players I could accurately grade.
— Dalton is a remarkably inconsistent QB and can range between high quality (@ Washington, Vs. Giants) and poor (@ Baltimore, Vs. Miami, @ Houston) on a game-by-game basis. I almost went “below average”, but his ceiling is much higher than that.
— I almost had Whitworth in the blue and, while his pass protection deserves that accolade, his run blocking still needs to improve.
Cleveland Browns (Click to enlarge)
— I’d like to project Weeden as moving on, but his best graded passing performance last year was only +1.7. He also had six games of -3.4 or worse.
— While Thomas’ work in the running game is far from elite, he is by some margin the best pass protector in the league and hence the grade.
— Joe Haden is certainly elite in terms of talent, but he needs to demonstrate this more often on the field. Is this the year he shows us exactly what he can do on a consistent basis?
— Johnson Bademosi may well win the starting free safety role, but the grade would have been identical.
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