Neil's NFL Daily: May 29, 2013
As the news came in yesterday, the item that made me think the most was related to B.J. Raji’s contract. With 2013 being the last year of his deal, will the Packers extend? And if so, what is fair remuneration? The problem for Green Bay is that there have been few more inconsistent players on a year-to-year basis than Raji. His -4.8 grade on 40% of snaps his rookie year was understandable, particularly as he built brilliantly on that in 2010 earning a +15.1 grade while playing 85% of snaps and showing real ability as a pass rusher — his Pass Rushing Productivity in all games, including the playoffs, of 6.6 ranking him fifth among interior linemen.
However, in 2011, on 79% of snaps, not only did that number drop dramatically to 3.4 (now ranking him t25th of 32 qualifiers) but his run defense degenerated to the genuinely awful (ranked dead last). Last year, although he didn’t reach the heights of 2010, he did improve and for the first time in his career graded positively in both pass rush and run defense. And there’s the front office’s problem — which B.J.Raji are the paying for? At his very best he may be worth $9m a year, but at his worst $2m would be the equivalent of going to the top of a tall building and throwing the cash to the winds.
On the subject of inconsistency, yesterday we started a series about the variation in game-by-game player performance during the 2012 season. We looked first at the wide receivers so now let’s turn our attention to the men covering them — cornerbacks.
Wednesday, May 29th
I explained the concept in some detail yesterday, so if you didn’t catch the principle it’s all here.
In essence, we are examining which players show the most variation in performance and who are the least likely to tease you with a great game the one day you tune in and then stink it up while you are off watching other players the following week.
The table below shows the overall grade, together with those for the player’s best four games and worst four.
Top 20 Cornerbacks Ranked by Grade Differential
Rank Name Team Overall Grade Sum Best Four Grades Sum Worst Four Grades Best/Worst Difference
1 Tramon Williams GB -0.2 12.1 -14.3 26.4
2 Sheldon Brown CLV 7.9 13.8 -11.2 25.0
3 Dunta Robinson ATL 2.5 11.8 -11.9 23.7
4 Jabari Greer NO -0.4 12.2 -11.6 23.8
5 Michael Huff OAK 2.3 13.5 -11.4 24.9
6 DeAngelo Hall WAS -3.2 10.6 -13.9 24.5
7 Cary Williams BLT -3.2 10.0 -14.1 24.1
8 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie PHI -7.1 11.0 -11.0 22.0
9 Brandon Carr DAL 0.1 11.0 -10.5 21.5
10 Buster Skrine CLV -3.9 8.7 -13.1 21.8
11 Janoris Jenkins SL -7.9 8.2 -14.9 23.1
12 Nnamdi Asomugha PHI -8.0 8.3 -12.2 20.5
13 William Gay ARZ -9.9 8.1 -11.8 19.9
14 Josh Wilson WAS 3.6 9.3 -9.5 18.8
15 Carlos Rogers SF 3.9 10.2 -8.7 18.9
16 Morris Claiborne DAL -4.5 7.8 -11.5 19.3
17 Cortland Finnegan SL -5.6 9.0 -9.8 18.8
18 Chris Culliver SF 1.2 11.2 -7.7 18.9
19 Alterraun Verner TEN 7.1 15.0 -7.0 22.0
20 Captain Munnerlyn CAR 0.4 9.6 -9.0 18.6
Unlike the receivers yesterday, which featured a fairly high percentage of true “upper echelon” players, this group does read much more like a cross-section of those that flatter to deceive. Not a single one of these players came close to our All-Pro team, although many did get praise well beyond their performance. Interceptions, being the only thing some of the lazier commentators focus on, meant guys like Janoris Jenkins (although he did reasonably for a full-time rookie corner) garnered significantly more kudos than they deserved. Some even talked about him as Defensive Rookie of the Year, which is frankly absurd.
Not surprisingly, DeAngelo Hall, the man who in 2010 infamously gained Pro Bowl recognition on the back of one four-interception game despite giving up the second largest amount of yards in the league and a 105.8 QB rating into his coverage that year, is still showing much of his hit-or-miss style of play.
CB Consistency Counts
Now a look at the 10 most consistent cornerbacks. Once again these are ranked by the standard deviation of coverage grades.
Corners Ranked by Consistency of Grades (minimum 500 snaps)
Rank Name Team Snaps Overall Grade SD
1 Devin McCourty NE 534 12.7 0.9
2 Jimmy Wilson MIA 605 -7.4 1.02
3 Josh Robinson MIN 651 -10.3 1.07
4 Josh Thomas CAR 530 -1.7 1.08
5 Stephon Gilmore BUF 1082 -4.3 1.13
6 Robert McClain ATL 613 10.6 1.13
7 Marcus Gilchrist SD 640 -5.2 1.15
8 Brandon Flowers KC 882 13.7 1.15
9 Josh Norman CAR 788 -6.9 1.16
10 Kyle Arrington NE 844 2.4 1.19
This is very much a mixed bag. It’s a combination of players who were consistently very good (Devin McCourty, Robert McClain and Brandon Flowers), consistently poor like Josh Robinson (although never terribly disastrous), or the remarkably average.
McCourty deserves special mention as this performance came across two positions, as he played both corner and safety to an incredibly high standard. He never graded below -0.5 in coverage and never above +2.1. His week-by-week grades are the very model of what is expected of a player in the secondary, but my betting is his lack of highlight plays means he doesn’t get close to the recognition his play warrants.
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