David Amerson tops PFF’s award list for Most Improved Player

Chris Phillips reveals PFF's choice for the Most Improved Player Award, and names four runners-up to the honor.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

David Amerson tops PFF’s award list for Most Improved Player


Our next award is for the NFL’s most improved player. Our most improved player list features a pretty even mix of second-year “making the leap” players and a few veterans who have managed to reinvent themselves. We factored in overall production grades, as well as improvement in relevant signatures stats.

Winner

David Amerson, CB, Oakland Raiders

Amerson was the Redskins’ second-round pick in 2013, and saw the field in every game during his rookie season. He struggled with consistency throughout the year, and finished with a relatively low coverage grade, which placed him 92nd out of 110 cornerbacks. Last season his coverage grade dropped even further, and he slid all the way down to 106th at his position. Amerson was released after Week 1 this season, and was subsequently picked up by the Raiders, where he’s been a completely different player ever since.

The former NC State standout posted a positive production grade in 2015, despite being targeted 104 times (sixth-most among NFL CBs). On those targets, he allowed just 58 completions and one touchdown. He tied for fifth overall with 13 passes defensed, and also picked off four passes. Last season, he allowed more completions (61) on fewer targets (91), and an NFL-high 10 touchdowns when targeted. Quarterbacks had a 140.2 rating when targeting Amerson in 2014; this season, that number has dropped to 62.7. His improvements have brought him up to an 83.4 overall grade, good for 15th out of all cornerbacks this season.

First runner-up

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles finished with our lowest overall quarterback grade in his rookie season. This year, he managed to jump up to 24th among QBs, with a 69.7 overall grade. Bortles’ biggest improvement has come with improved confidence and effectiveness in attacking downfield. Last season, he completed just 13 deep passes in 50 attempts, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. This season, he’s connected on 40-of-97 deep passes for 10 touchdowns and five picks.

Second runner-up

Jake Matthews, LT, Atlanta Falcons

Matthews finished with the lowest production grade out of any tackle last season. He struggled both in pass blocking and run blocking. This season, though, he’s moved up to 19th overall at the position, with a season grade of 79.5 (scale of 1–100). Matthews’ pass blocking efficiency jumped to a very respectable 95.7 this season. In 2014, his 51 total pressures allowed were the fourth-most of any tackle. He was able to cut that number down to 38 total pressures this season.

Third runner-up

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

Carr finished with our second-worst overall production grade last season. He’s jumped all the way up to 10th this season, with an 81.6 overall grade. Carr has made improvements across the board, but the most obvious improvement was his higher efficiency when throwing the ball downfield. On 71 deep passes last season, Carr managed just 15 completions and two touchdowns. This season—on four fewer deep passes (67)—he has 25 completions and an astounding 12 touchdowns.

Fourth runner-up

Jerrell Freeman, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Freeman showed the ability to excel in coverage last season, as well as the ability to be a solid blitzer in 2013. His struggles have always been against the run, culminating in a career-worst run grade in 2014. This season, he finally put it all together. His 90.6  overall grade (1–100 scale) this year ranked sixth out of all NFL linebackers, and his 97.9 grade in run defense trailed only Carolina’s Luke Kuechly.

 

For more PFF awards, visit the following pages:

All 2015 PFF Awards

Dwight Stephenson Award (best player in NFL)

Most Valuable Player

Offensive Player of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year

Rookie of the Year

Comeback Player of the Year

Breakout Player of the Year

Best Pass Rusher

Best Run Defender

Best Coverage Defender

  • Bill Yendle

    So Carr goes from 2nd last last season to 10th this season. Bortles goes from last to 24th. But Bortles is the runner-up this year? Please explain.

  • Mike Riley

    Raiders well I represented. Congrats #29 on a great year!!!! So great seeing CBS playing at a shutdown level for the Raiders for the first time in a long time.

  • TJ Smith

    Not really sure why Carr didn’t win it outright considering you had him the second worst qb in the league last year and now top 10. Honestly I might throw Cam Newton into the mix. IMO he been more name than game in the past. This year he a legitimate elite qb.

  • Matt

    Kirk Cousins lead the NFL in completion %, is top 5 in QBR, top 10 in passing yards and top 12 in TDs adding another 5 rushing TDS giving him 34 total. In spite of what you may think of the NFC east, Cousins also had a winning record and made the playoffs. So unless you have some absurd stipulation (that you did not explain in this article) your list is flawed terribly. You have 2 QBS on this list whom had inferior statistical years and inferior seasons in regards to success in the W/L column. Kirk wouldn’t like that.

    • Billy

      Kirk is good, but he benefited playing in one of the worst divisions in football. Oak had Denver and Kc to deal with and those teams are still playing for a SB. Did you know Kirk has never had a win against a winning team? Carr over Kirk anyday

      • Ben

        I agree 100% Matt. Everyone thought Jay Gruden was insane for starting Kirk Cousins. His season started pretty rough. His first 6 games he had 6 tds with 8 ints and a passer rating of like 77….. THEN in the last 10 games, he threw 23 tds with only 3 ints, and a 115 passer rating. He went from a top 5 WORST qb in the beginning of the season to a top 5 BEST qb by the end of the season, breaking about every major franchise record for a qb. He’s pretty much the perfect candidate for most improved player, and blows Carr and Bottles out of the water in just about every category when it comes to MIP. I mean what else could you ask for?! Billy doesn’t know what he’s talking about bro.

        • fckskinnyjeans

          YES YOU ARE 100 PERCENT GAY AS FUCK. YOU ARE TED CRUZ’S SIDE PIECE WHEN HE’S ON THE ROAD

          • Ben

            Someone’s salty lmao, ur pathetic

          • fckskinnyjeans

            Salty about what lmao.im not the one in denial about everything.. Dont message me again till im done wit your mom or me and her are gonna kick your loser ass out the house

      • Ben

        Oh, and just so you know Billy, he beat the Rams in week 2, and they were 1-0. So yeah, he has beat a winning team. Also keep in mind that the redskins started the season ranked dead last according to many analysts, and they only played 3 teams with winBing records this year. Plus, the eagles and the giants both WOULD have had winning records if it wasn’t for the Redskins beating them in the division

    • Mike Riley

      Its most improved, also pff doesn’t score using the regular qbr or by opinions like that know it all Heath Evans. Carr & Bortles went from 2 of the worst to top in multiple categories.

      • Matt

        So…Kirk was NOT improved? That’s your argument? No getting through to some people. Kirk should be on this list hands down if the other 2 are. I’m sure his agent will be telling the skins this off-season how NOT improved he was. And again, it’s most improved, not most improved starter for 16 games last year.

        • Ben

          I agree 100% Matt. Everyone thought Jay Gruden was insane for starting Kirk Cousins. His season started pretty rough. His first 6 games he had 6 tds with 8 ints and a passer rating of like 77….. THEN in the last 10 games, he threw 23 tds with only 3 ints, and a 115 passer rating. He went from a top 5 WORST qb in the beginning of the season to a top 5 BEST qb by the end of the season, breaking about every major franchise record for a qb. He’s pretty much the perfect candidate for most improved player, and blows Carr and Bottles out of the water in just about every category when it comes to MIP. I mean what else could you ask for?! Billy doesn’t know what he’s talking about bro.

    • codered5

      Grades my g, grades… BTW both qb’s threw for more tds and had a far greater leap in play tho I do think cousins was better on a simple statistics basis. Bortles went from the worst grade in the league to a starting caliber qb in a year and carr graded better than cousins. Considering that’s what they are using as a measure theres no surprised he wasnt mentioned. Avoid using total qbr as a measure of performance. It is only used when it suits people’s argument. Brady was 11th and cousins was 5th in qbr which totally discredits it’s viability.

      • Matt

        Just to get this straight, both had a bigger leap because they had more tds than Kirk passing? I listed every major stat and all you do is focus on qbr. How about the fact that Kirk was NFC player of the month for December and January? How about the fact that when Kirk got named starter everyone suddenly picked the Redskins to be the 31st best team in football? We can also throw in that every writer and talking head agreed he was terrible. I’m not sure how you can have a bigger leap. And once again I’ll say, I’m not arguing the other two shouldn’t be on this list. I’m saying Kirk SHOULD.

        • Johnny Rotten

          You’re misinterpreting what PFF means by most improved. In this case they’re not comparing which QBs reached a higher grade over the other. They’re looking at who improved on their own personal grade the most. Keep in mind they’re using their grading system not QBR, passer rating, or anything else.

          For 2015 PFF gave Cousins a 75 grade and Bortles a 70 grade (0-100). I don’t know what they’re grades were from 2014 but this is an example of what PFF means by most improved. Let’s say Cousins had a 50 grade in 2014 and he improved it to 75. That’s a 25 point improvement. Now say Bortles had a 20 grade in 2014 and he improved it to 70. That’s a 50 point improvement. Therefore Bortles made an bigger improvement on his grade than Cousins did despite Cousins having a higher overall grade.

  • cka2nd

    Have you all thought of a name for this award? I nominate Len Dawson, who went from being a certified first round bust after five years in the NFL to being a Hall-of-Famer and Super Bowl winner after re-starting his career in the AFL.

  • bobbyv

    Carr to one of the top ten QB’s in the league and Bortles is rated first runner up????
    Better check your own math on that one.

  • Johnny F

    From all Raider fans:
    Thank you Redskins for releasing David Amerson! He was truly a blessing, without him this season, our secondary would have undoubtedly been the worst in the league…
    That being said, I feel bad at the same time for you Redskin fans.
    It is always frustrating when you see a player your team gave up on play well for another…
    See you in the playoffs next year :)