Performance Based Value: Interior D-Line

Mike Renner runs through 2012's most overvalued interior defensive linemen according to PFF's Performance Based Value.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Interior D-Line

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 we tell you who the most overvalued interior lineman in the league are?

1. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs

2012 Cap Hit: $9.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $880k
Value Differential: -$8.6m

The Chiefs had one of the worst defensive lines in football last season, but it wasn’t because of former GM Scott Pioli’s lack of trying. Pioli inherited Top 5-pick Glenn Dorsey, drafted Tyson Jackson third overall in his first draft with the Chiefs, and then drafted Dontari Poe 11th last season. Those three combined for a grade of -15.2 on the season. Jackson in particular struggled to a -9.6 — the second worst grade of his career — and was just flat out unable to get any pass rush. His 2.2 Pass Rushing Productivity rating was the worst in the league and it’s safe to say he hasn’t lived up to his draft slot. Jackson was scheduled to have an outrageous cap hit of $17m next season, but it was recently restructured. The new deal is reportedly worth up to $5.2m and even that is way too high based on his 2012 performance.

2. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs

2012 Cap Hit: $8.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $750k
Value Differential: -$8.0m

Did I mention the Chiefs defensive line struggled last year? This one isn’t quite fair to Glenn Dorsey though because he played only 115 total snaps before he was lost for the season with a calf injury. Many people will look at Dorsey’s four career sacks along with his fifth overall draft selection and label him a bust. The truth is he is as solid as they come in run defense and he had a positive grade in run defense every game this season. It’s just that his pass rushing ability has never developed, finishing this year with only one pressure on 53 pass rushing attempts. Dorsey is a free agent this off season and will assuredly get a large pay decrease.

3. Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland Browns

2012 Cap Hit: $9.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.8m
Value Differential: -$6.6m

We aren’t so sure what the Browns saw in Rubin when they extended him midway through the 2011 season. He had the second-lowest grade of any defensive tackle in the 2010 season and was playing average football at the time of his extension. He would have had to have a career year this season to even sniff equal value for his $9.4m cap hit. Rubin was solid all year in run support, with the sixth-best Run Stop Percentage among defensive tackles, but he struggled to generate pressure. He had a putrid Pass Rushing Productivity of 3.6. Rubin was the fourth-highest-paid interior lineman last season but put up the 39th-ranked Performance Based Value.

4. Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints

2012 Cap Hit: $7.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.0m
Value Differential: -$6.6m

Selected just two spots after Dorsey in the 2008 draft, Sedrick Ellis has similarly been unable to live up to his high draft status. Ellis’ most productive year was his rookie season where he collected 37 total pressures. He hasn’t come close to that number since and left the 2012 season without a sack. His cap hit is inflated by being in the final season of a large rookie contract, but he didn’t produce much value either. The USC product played 719 snaps on the season and finished with the 62nd-ranked grade among defensive tackles.

5. Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens

2012 Cap Hit: $10.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $3.9m
Value Differential: -$6.5m

Ngata had the highest cap hit of any interior lineman in 2012, and when you get paid the most you are expected to be the best. It’s a testament to Ngata’s ability that he still was the 28th-most valuable interior lineman despite the multiple injuries he played through during the season. His 7.1 Pass Rushing Productivity was a step up from 2011 and some of that might have to do with a slight position change. In 2011 Ngata played 3-4 defensive end only 35% of the time while playing more snaps as a defensive tackle in either a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment. This season he played 65% of his snaps at 3-4 end while Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody split time at the nose tackle position.

6. Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals

2012 Cap Hit: $6.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.0m
Value Differential: -$5.6m

Darnell Dockett, much like the rest of the Cardinals, started off the season in prime form. In Week 1 he had 10 total pressures and posted the highest single game grade of any 3-4 end all season with a +9.8. His grade for the rest of the season was an abysmal -25.2, though, as he logged only one more positively-graded game. Dockett had fewer than two hurries in eight games and his 5.4 Run Stop Percentage was almost half that of teammate Calais Campbell’s (10.4). Between Dockett turning 32 years old in May and having averaged 965 snaps the past five years, it’s going to be tough for him to reach his cap hits the next couple seasons.

7. Chris Canty, New York Giants

2012 Cap Hit: $8.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.9m
Value Differential: -$5.0m

There wasn’t much to complain about with Chris Canty’s play this season. His performance was on pace to meet his cap hit, but between injury and a heavy rotation in New York he played only 300 snaps. Canty had a Run Stop Percentage of 8.6 and a Pass Rushing Productivity of 7.3, both outstanding numbers. Canty was scheduled for another large cap hit next season, but was released by the Giants in early February.

8. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders

2012 Cap Hit: $8.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $3.8m
Value Differential: -$5.0m

The first of two Raiders to make this list, Richard Seymour was as productive as ever when he played. He had the second-best Performance Based Value on this list even though he appeared in only eight games. Seymour’s +9.5 grade on the season was business as usual — the 33-year-old’s lowest season grade in the PFF era was a +5.5. Seymour had an unexceptional Pass Rushing Productivity of 4.8, but his play in the run game was where he made his money this season. His Run Stop Percentage was 7.8 and his overall run defense grade was +8.5. If Seymour comes back healthy from his hamstring injury he could still provide great short-term value for a team in need.

9. Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders

2012 Cap Hit: $5.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.2m
Value Differential: -$4.2m

Kelly has a problem with penalties. A big problem. He has committed 10 penalties in each of the past three seasons and that has translated to a penalty grade of -20.7 over that time span. The problem with those penalties this season was that his play wasn’t proficient enough to offset them. His pass rushing suffered mightily in 2012. From 2010 and 2011 Kelly compiled 15 sacks and had a Pass Rushing Productivity of 6.7. Those numbers dropped to one sack with a pass rushing productivity of 3.6 this season. Kelly’s cap hit rises again next year and its going to be hard for him to live up to that value.

10. Ryan Pickett, Green Bay Packers

2012 Cap Hit: $5.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.6m
Value Differential: -$4.2m

Ryan Pickett’s salary doesn’t quite match up with his job description in Green Bay. He is a run stuffer first and foremost. PFF has never graded him positively for a season in pass rushing and the most total pressures he’s had in one year is 11. To get $5.8m in value out of a one-dimensional player like that he would have to stop the run at an elite level and play a whole lot of snaps. Pickett does neither and that’s why his value is so low. He compiled a middling Run Stop Percentage of 7.3 this season and played only 53% of the possible regular season snaps (50th among defensive tackles). With Pickett’s cap hit increasing in 2013 he could very well be on this list again next year.


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Fifty Cents

    gggggggggg unit

  • Trigga

    Where is Ratliff on this list…