Performance Based Value: Centers

Nathan Jahnke discusses 10 centers who didn't measure up to their 2012 cap hits.

| 4 years ago
PBV-C-Feature

Performance Based Value: Centers


In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Performance Based Value” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2012. 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 2012
• 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)

So how about a run down of the most overvalued centers in the league in 2012?

1. Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers*

2012 Cap Hit: $5.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$4.7m

After a strong 2010 season, the Panthers committed to a long-term deal with Kalil. He followed that up with a good 2011, but things didn’t go according to plan in 2012. After five games Kalil was done for the year, and that fraction of the season wasn’t off to a particularly good start. He had a Run Block Rating of -4.1, which over the course of a whole season, if he’d stayed healthy, would’ve taken him to a -13.1 grade. The Panthers weren’t getting their money’s worth when he was healthy or after his injury and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in 2013.

2. Scott Wells, St. Louis Rams*

2012 Cap Hit: $4.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$3.7m

One of the many problems with the 2011 Rams team was their offensive line, so one of the solutions was supposed to be free agent addition Scott Wells. After 21 snaps Wells suffered an injury and wouldn’t return until Week 12. From that point on he was a liability in the run game, which was unlike him as he had graded out well in that are three of the previous four seasons. Going forward, Wells can hopefully return to his 2011 form.

3. Dominic Raiola, Detroit Lions

2012 Cap Hit: $5.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.8m
Value Differential: -$2.6m

You want your center to, first and foremost, be a run blocker. While this was Raiola’s best run blocking season over the past three years, he was nothing more than average. In pass protection he allowed just three sacks, two hits, and 12 hurries which was decent, but not enough to make him worth being the second-highest paid center in the league.

4. Kyle Cook, Cincinnati Bengals*

2012 Cap Hit: $3.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$2.6m

Here is the third and final case of an injury sidelining a highly-paid center for most of the season. This time it was a preseason injury and Cook didn’t return until Week 14, and didn’t get his starting job back until Week 16. Over his last 11 games, he has earned a positive overall PFF rating in just two games, which isn’t a good indication for the future.

5. Brad Meester, Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 Cap Hit: $3.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $930k
Value Differential: -$2.3m

Someone must have forgotten to tell Meester that the games he played in September weren’t a part of the season. Over the first five games of 2012 he had a Run Block Rating of -9.3 compared to just a -1.0 over the rest of the season. Playing decently the rest of the season didn’t make up for his slow start, which greatly hurt his Performance Based Value.

6. Jeff Saturday, Green Bay Packers

2012 Cap Hit: $3.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $950k
Value Differential: -$2.2m

In general, the Packers have gone with pass blocking linemen over run blocking. In his first and only season with Green Bay, Saturday allowed just 10 overall pressures. He was too much of a liability in the run game and that led to his benching late in the season. Due to his poor run blocking, his Performance Based Value was also much lower than his cap hit.

7. Nick Hardwick, San Diego Chargers

2012 Cap Hit: $3.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.2m
Value Differential: -$1.8m

The trend of older centers not living up to their contract continues with Nick Hardwick. After a decent 2011 season where he didn’t allow a sack and gave up just nine pressures, Hardwick was awarded a new contract. He has always been a little below average in run blocking which was to be expected, but in 2012 he allowed three sacks and 18 additional pressures. His cap hit is just going to get higher these next two years assuming the Chargers keep him for the rest of his contract.

8. David Baas, New York Giants

2012 Cap Hit: $3.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.1m
Value Differential: -$1.3m

With Davis Baas the problem is that he is among the 10 highest-paid centers in the league, yet he is one of the NFL’s worst pass-blocking centers. He allowed a sack, seven hits, and 16 hurries on the year, which equates to him giving up the fourth-most pressure. His run blocking still makes him a decent starter in the league, but he needs to improve his pass protection to put him in the Top 10.

9. Nick Mangold, New York Jets

2012 Cap Hit: $5.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $4.4m
Value Differential: -$1.3m

Nick Mangold is the highest-paid center in the league. There was basically one game that puts him on the list, and that was his Week 4 matchup against the 49ers. In that game the Jets were held to zero points, 2.6 yards per carry, and Mangold allowed a sack and two hurries. The entire line was taken advantage of by the 49ers’ defense, and Mangold earned a -6.1 grade. Had that game not occurred, Mangold would’ve been our second-best center in 2012, and much closer to his $5.7 million cap hit.

10. Jeff Faine, Cincinnati Bengals

2012 Cap Hit: $2.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $930k
Value Differential: -$1.2m

After Kyle Cook went down with an injury, Faine was brought in as his injury replacement. Luckily, the Bengals didn’t pay him all that much money because he was our lowest-rated center in 2012, which earned him nothing more than the league minimum in his Performance Based Salary.

 

Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke


| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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