Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mindless Meditation on Preseason Week 3

For the most part, the third week of the preseason is always kind of boring.  The starters get the most playing time, and the rookies and unknowns get pushed into the background.  Still, there were a few things that I thought were noteworthy.

Who is the only player that made this list every week so far?  Glenn Foster!  The undrafted DT from Illinois had another sack this week, making that his 4th in three preseason games.  He only played for a short time this week, but from what I've read this miniature J.J. Watt clone isn't only going to make the roster, but is being considered for real playing time.  Currently, Foster leads all rookies in sacks during the preseason, and is in second place overall.

Who leads the league in rushing yards so far?  Why it's the computer's favorite 2013 running back prospect, Christine Michael.  With 11 carries for 97 yards (8.81 avg), 1 TD, and  1 Rec, 25 yards, Michael, had another productive weekend.  Even if you removed his long run of 43 yards, he still would have been averaging 5.4 yards per carry.   So far, he has totaled 186 rushing yards in just 2 games, with a 6.9 yard average.  Much like a boy named Sue, I think his parents set him up to be a badass.  Now I just have to prepare myself for a season where he will sit on the bench behind Marshawn Lynch, completely wasting his talent.  Similarly, the talented Robert Turbin had 10 carries for 50 yards, and 4 rec, 22 yards.

Alshon Jeffery, one of the computer's favorite prospects from last year, had 77 yards on 7 receptions this weekend.  His Stat Score was 0.443 (quite good), and his Athletic Score was 0.509 (again, quite good). While he got off to a relatively slow start as a rookie, his numbers suggest he should still develop into a rather solid wideout. 

Michael Ford, undrafted running back for the Bears, had 58 yards on 9 carries, 1 TD, 2 rec. for 16 yards.  He's actually a fairly interesting prospect, though I never mentioned him in the list of 2013 running backs, because I wasn't including undrafted players in that list.  This 5'9", 210#, running back ran a 4.42 forty yard dash (110 Speed Score), with a 1.040 Kangaroo Score, and an Agility Score result of 0.449.  So, he is fast, powerful, and pretty agile.  Seems like a good guy to keep an eye on, though opportunities for him to demonstrate these abilities may be rare.

I've recently had my eye drawn towards Stephen Williams, who had  2 receptions for 58 yards, and 1 TD, this weekend.  So far, I think he has been one of the real stars of the preseason.  Frankly, I think the chances are slim that the Seahawks will give him a real opportunity, but his college stats and measurables do suggest he could be quite good if he is given a chance.  Through three games, he leads the league in receiving yards with 186.

I'm really kind of suffering through this situation in Philadelphia.  Nick Foles completed 10 of 11 passes (91% completion rate) for 112 yards, but is going to be stuck as the backup to the dog murderer as long as the team runs this option offense they are infatuated with.  In three preseason games, he has completed 21 out of 25 passes for 208 yards (84% completion rate), yet people still cling to the idea that Vick will save the day (and not get injured along the way).  The degree to which people seem determined to show no respect to Foles is perplexing to me.  Hopefully, someone will decide to trade for him.

Do you know how frustrated I am by the Bills' decision to cut Da'Rick Rogers?  I'm about as annoyed by that, as I am ecstatic about Ryan Spadola's recent ascent (nope, I'm lying.  I'm still slightly more annoyed about Rogers getting cut).  Currently, this undrafted wide receiver from Lehigh University is leading all rookies with 169 receiving yards..  Granted, he is playing with the stunningly talented Jets' quarterbacks, so he probably has an unfair advantage.  This past weekend he had 3 receptions for 110 yards and 1 TD.  Overall, I'm quite pleased with how things are going for the computer's highest rated 'Small' wide receiver.  Now I'll just have to wait and see how many passes Stephen Hill needs to drop before Spadola will get a chance to play in the regular season.  It will probably be a long wait.

While he's not a rookie, I also wanted to mention the Buccaneers recent acquisition of LB/DE Trevor Scott.  This week he had 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble.  For the most part, I think this was a very good pickup by the Buccaneers, and hope that Scott will continue to be given an opportunity to play.  While he only has a 0.001 Kangaroo Score (suggesting extremely average explosive power), he has an Agility Score that is 1.216 standard deviations above average for players in his position group.  This would put him in with the high agility pass rushers.  In his first three years in the league this 6th round draft pick (169th overall) had 13.5 sacks while only starting 16 games, before suffering an ACL injury.  Since then, he has mostly been a backup.  I still think he would do better as a 3-4 OLB, where he would have more space to utilize his agility, but beggars can't be choosers.

It should also be mentioned that Louis Nzegwu was cut by the Panthers this week, despite producing 3 sacks in two games,and scoring rather well (+5.8 overall) with the game charters at Pro Football Focus.  I'll say it again, Nzegwu is freakishly gifted.  Now, people tend to say that about all sorts of players, but Nzegwu is on a whole other level.  In terms of physical potential he is among the top 10 DEs and 3-4 OLBs to come out in the last 10 years.  On the other hand, his college stat sheet is just average (though I blame some of this on his possibly playing the wrong position).  If there was one team who could conceivably have the luxury of cutting a player like him, it would be the Panthers, who have two very good DEs already.  I would be very excited if a team running a 3-4 defense acquired him (Hello Saints, need an OLB?).

In case anyone is wondering, the Chosen One didn't play much this week, though he still leads the league in tackles.  Maybe he was feeling merciful.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stephen Williams: Seaturkey Extraordinaire

It seems that I stupidly deleted this post at some point.  The positive outcome of this is that I'll try to be more brief this time, in my attempt to describe the interesting situation with Stephen Williams.

In the past three preseason games Stephen Williams, WR for the Seahawks, has emerged as a player that really caught my attention.  He has scored a touchdown 3 weeks in a row, while amassing 186 receiving yards on just 6 receptions (31 yard avg. YPC).  While it's unlikely that anyone could maintain that pace, it gave me a good reason to dig into his numbers.  This 6'4", 210 pound receiver, was undrafted, but picked up as a free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010, but has only had 9 receptions for a total of 101 yards, all back in the 2010 season.  Since then he has only been seen in preseason games, where he seems to have performed quite well. 

One of the most interesting aspects of his arrival in Seattle, is that he comes from a division rival.  If ever there was a team to pick up wide receiver scraps from, it is the Cardinals.  Despite their historic struggles, they have been one of the two most proficient teams in the league at drafting above average wide receivers (above average, in this case, being a receiver who averages over 35 yards per game played over the course of their career), and they have a 57.14% success rate since 2004.  On the other hand, the Seahawks have drafted 7 receivers during this same time frame, and have a 0% success rate.  I would argue that this edge is largely a product of the Cardinals consistently taking players with above average college production, and exceptional athletic ability.  You would think such things matter to teams, but they really don't.  Or at least they don't seem to matter as much as they probably should.  Even in an undrafted player such as Williams, these characteristics are fairly apparent.  Even so, being on a team with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Michael Floyd, it can be easy to fly under the radar.

So, first of all, let's look at his college production from his time at Toledo.

        Year             Rec.           Yards         Avg.        % Off.          TD       TD%
2009 79 1065 13.5 20.25 5 23.80
2008 70 781 11 19.48 8 61.53
2007 73 1169 16 21.75 7 36.84

The most interesting thing about these stats is the large percentage of his team's offense that he was responsible for generating.  The average result in a draft worthy receiver's final college year is 17.75%, which Williams easily exceeds.  In a player's next to last year, the average result is 15.34%, which again, Williams surpasses.  The fact that he also produced at such a high level as a sophomore is even more remarkable, and a fairly unusual accomplishment.  This all works out to a Stat Score that is 0.253 standard deviations above his average peers' results, though this only takes into account his final 2 seasons(I only mention his third year here because I find it interesting).  One of the problems here is that his score is being downgraded due to his low yards-per-catch in his junior year.  If you substituted his sophomore year, for his junior one, his Stat Score would jump to 0.446, but that would be bending the rules.  Either way, he produced above average results in college, and that's all that matters here.  Really, I have no idea how somebody like this can go undrafted.

As for his athletic ability, he gets a score of 0.085, which would be an extremely average result.  The problem here is that his results are being heavily influenced by his low body mass.  His BMI (body mass index) score is -1.312 standard deviations below the average, though this is really only a factor if you are concerned about an increased risk of injury.  Considering the Seahawks minimal investment in him, I suspect they don't really care about this (my apologies to Stepehen Williams' mother for my callousness).   The two most comparable thinly framed players I can come up with, who have achieved some degree of success, are A.J. Green and Sidney Rice (who is oddly enough his teammate, and also frequently injured).  If we throw these injury concerns out the window, the picture dramatically improves when we look at his other physical traits. 

Player        40-yard       2nd Gear             Wt/40     Kangaroo     Agility
Stephen Williams 4.48 0.00 0.273 0.505 0.643
Sidney Rice 4.51 -0.04 -0.227 0.231 -0.859

The Wt/40, Kangaroo, and Agility scores are given in the form of how many standard deviations away from the average result that the player is, relative to his peers in the same position group.  Williams' 2nd Gear Score would suggest that his 40 yard dash time gives an accurate view of his deep speed.  His Wt/40 Score reveals that for someone of his weight, he has above average speed.  His Kangaroo Score says he has above average lower body power and explosiveness.  Finally, his Agility Score says that he also has above average agility compared to his peers.  His agility is particularly impressive for someone who is as tall as he is.  Taller receivers tend to do quite poorly in this area.  So, he is fast, agile, and explosive.  Sounds good to me.  It's also interesting to see that he beat the fairly accomplished Sidney Rice in all of these areas.

Overall, I would say that Stephen Williams has a rather good chance of becoming an above average receiver, if he is given an opportunity.  Players who manage to produce these sorts of above average results in terms of athletic ability and statistical production are somewhat rare, and things tend to work out well for them rather frequently.  Will he end up among the highest performing receivers in the league?  Probably not, though it is possible.  There are so many other factors beyond just ability that play a role in reaching that level of success.  In many ways I think Williams could be the other side of the Aaron Mellette coin.  While the computer loves Mellette, the hidden numbers in Mellette's profile caused me some concern.  In Williams' case, his Stat and Athhletic Scores, wouldn't normally excite me too much, but the numbers that make up these scores tell an even more promising story.   I can't really say what will happen with Stephen Williams, but he appears to be intriguing enough that I would like to see him get a real shot at playing.  Williams could turn out to be quite a steal for the Seahawks.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trickle Down Flacconomics? Flaccometrics?

I wanted to explore an idea here, though it probably won't lead to anything terribly important.  A lot has been made about Joe Flacco's playoff run, and the rather high TD/INT ratio he produced in this time (11 TDs and 0 int, in the playoffs).  Many people equate this with the team's decision to fire Cam Cameron, and promote Jim Caldwell to the offensive coordinator position.  "They took the handcuffs off of Joe!", the people seemed to cry.  Well, maybe.  Or maybe it was something else altogether.

It's perfectly natural to see a relatively major shakeup in the coaching staff, followed by a change in statistical performance, and think the two things are related.  Unfortunately, with this particular theory, there were some other significant changes that took place at the same time as the Caldwell promotion, that may be more plausible explanations for what happened.  Namely, this involves the reshuffling of the offensive line.

Starting with the first playoff game, against the Colts, the Ravens reinstalled Bryant McKinnie as the left tackle, who had been on the bench all season.  Do I think that McKinnie is a great left tackle?  No, not really.  Still, when motivated by paying off his debts to strippers, and not weighing 400#, he appeared to at least be a reasonable improvement over Michael Oher at the LT position (Oher's combine measurables also suggest that he shouldn't play LT).  This also allowed Michael Oher to move back to the right tackle position, where he is a also at least a moderate improvement over Kelechi Osemele.  Am I saying that Osemele is bad?  No.  I'm just saying that he probably isn't suited to playing tackle.  When Osemele is relieved at RT, he promptly moves inside to left guard, a position he is better suited for, replacing Jah Reid.  Again, this provides another incremental improvement.  So, by bringing one player off of the bench, this actually managed to improve 3 positions on the offensive line.  But is there any evidence that this actually is the case?

In Flacco's five years in the league, his stats have generally been fairly stable and predictable.  For now, though, we are only going to look at one specific section of his statistics, to see how often he gets sacked, and how he performs in games when he is getting sacked more frequently.  Starting with his rookie year (2008), Flacco was sacked once in every 13.375 pass attempts.  In 2009, it was once in every 13.861 attempts.  In 2010, it was once in every 12.225 attempts.  In 2011, it was once in every 17.48 attempts.  Finally, in 2012, it was once in every 15.17 attempts.  To provide a little context, the average number of attempts per sack in 2012, among the top 34 QBs, was 16.31.  So, in 2012 Flacco was basically pretty close to the average result (Flacco's result is the sixteenth best, the definition of average).  In fact, he has hovered rather close to the middle of the pack in this area throughout his career, with minor variances.  So, what happens if we dig a little deeper?

Well, let's first look at how Joe did in the regular season, under both of these coaches, before we start to examine what happened after changes were made to the offensive line in the playoffs.

Coach    Comp%         YPA        TD      INT   QB Rating    Att/Sack
Cameron  59.95 7.2 18 9 87.09 14.41
Caldwell 58.09 7.1 4 1 91.22 21
Flacco's Season Total 59.09 7.2 22 10 87.7 15.17

The problem here is that Caldwell only coached 3 games at the end of the season, one of which was a week 17 game where the starters only played for about a quarter.  Still, we can say that there was no significant movement to Joe's completion percentage, which actually went slightly down under Caldwell.  The same can be said for Joe's average yards per attempt.  His overall QB rating, and TD to INT ratio went up slightly in the last three games, though it's hard to say if this means anything.  While his attempts per sack number improved from 14.41 to 21, the limited sample size of these 3 games at the end of the season makes this hard to know how much value to place on this.  So, why not take a closer look at those three games?

Week    Comp%         YPA        TD      INT   QB Rating    Att/Sack
Week 15 50 6.4 2 1 76.5 13.33
Week 16 69.4 8.6 2 0 114.2  INFINITE
Week 17 50 4.3 0 0 61.5 8

So, when we look closer at these 3 regular season games under Caldwell, we see that one game in particular is boosting Caldwell's stats, and that is the week 16 game against the Giants.  In fact, this is the only game of the 3 where you could say that Flacco's statistics were good at all, as his numbers for weeks 15 and 17 were well below his season averages in every category.  Not surprisingly, the week 16 game is the only game of the 3 that the team won, and also the only game where he was never sacked.  In the other 2 games his actual attempts per sack actually got significantly worse than his average 2012 result (15.17, in case you forgot), though the week 16 game managed to inflate Caldwell's overall results in this time frame.  Even though this is a small sample size, it seems safe to say that Caldwell hadn't started sprinkling Flacco with pixie dust and unicorn farts just yet.  Now, what happens when the offensive line is reshuffled for the playoffs?

Week    Comp%         YPA       TD      INT   QB Rating    Att/Sack
Week 18 52.2 12.3 2 0 125.6 23
Week 19 52.9 9.7 3 0 116.2 34
Week 20 58.3 6.7 3 0 106.2 18
Week 22 66.7 8.7 3 0 124.2 16.5
Total 57.93 9.04 11 0 117.16 21

Hmm, so once the O-line was reshuffled, Flacco's stats magically improved in almost every area.  Overall he was being sacked 38% less frequently than was typical during the regular season, with even his worst Att/Sack result being above average (at least by the standards of what he was used to dealing with).  While his completion percentage bounced around a fair bit, it only really dipped significantly in games where he was throwing more deep passes.  More aggressive passes down the field tend to be lower percentage passes, but obviously bring greater potential rewards (it's the yin and yang of playing aggressively, I guess).  His QB rating similarly leapt by 29.46 points, and remained consistently high in each game.  Still, how do we know that it just didn't take some time for Caldwell to make his little tweaks to the offense?  Maybe he still does deserve a lot of the credit for this turnaround.  Or, perhaps, Joe just discovered the eye of the tiger?  It's possible, right?

To attempt to answer that question, let's look at Flacco's 2011 season.  2011 was probably Flacco's worst statistical season, short of his rookie year, though his offensive line was largely the same as it was in the 2012 post-season.  Since we know that he was sacked once every for 17.48 pass attempts in 2011, I will divide his 16 regular season games from that year into to groups.  In the first group, for weeks 1,3,10,11,12,13,16 and 17, we will have the eight games in which he was sacked less frequently than the average of 17.48.  In the second group, for weeks 2,4,6,7,8,9,14 and 15, we will have the eight games in which he was sacked more frequently than the average of 17.48.

2011 Season    Comp%         YPA        TD      INT   QB Rating    Att/Sack
Group 1 57.55 7.01 13 3 91.86 30.62
Group 2 57.57 6.36 7 9 71.82 12.91
Flacco's Season Total 57.6 6.7 20 10 87.7 15.17

Once again, when Flacco is getting sacked less frequently, his numbers radically improve.  When he is sacked more frequently, he is a mere mortal, or borderline Sanchezian (I swear, I like Flacco, so don't leave dog poop on my porch).  I don't mean this as an insult, since I suspect this is the case for most QBs (something to explore later!).  While the results aren't the exact same as what we saw in his playoff run they are surprisingly close.  In these games, when he is being sacked less frequently his average QB Rating leaps 20.04 points over his rating in games where he is being harassed.  Also, his 13 TDs, to just 3 INTs, isn't really that far off from the 11 TDs to 0 INTs which garnered so much attention in the playoffs(or 15 TDs to 1 INT, in Caldwell's 7 game tenure, to make the time span more comparable).  Similar to his performance in the playoffs, his yards per attempt also increases as he is given better protection, which likely is directly connected to making more aggressive passes when he has the additional time in the pocket.  One somewhat odd peculiarity, is that his completion percentages in both of these situations doesn't seem to vary much.

Now, the natural response to all of this is to say "duh".  Of course QBs do better when they aren't getting sacked.  The only reason I am mentioning this, is that in all of the hoopla, people seem to have largely ignored this little aspect of what happened with the Ravens in the playoffs, and give an awfully large amount of the credit to Caldwell and Flacco.  I'm not saying they don't deserve some credit (although I might be thinking it, at least in Caldwell's case).  I'm just saying that the offensive line seems to deserve some praise too.  They appear to have performed well above their normal standard in these 4 games.  Unfortunately this makes me wonder if such a fortuitous run is actually sustainable.  For the most part, I don't think it is.  In the last 5 years, the Ravens' O-line seems to have produced average to slightly below average results.  Except for the addition of A.Q.Shipley (who is just a wild card I am rooting for), I don't see any significant improvements to the offensive line as far as talent is soncerned, and as the history has shown, the line's results can vary quite a bit from game to game.  This 4 game stretch is most likely an anomaly.   Still, I think it does point towards the benefits of protecting the QB (again, "duh").

While there are numerous factors that can influence how often a QB is getting sacked, and some would argue that a great QB can make an offensive line look better, this is beyond the scope of what I can get into here.  In general, I am a big fan of the "average QB" (average meaning "cheap" in this case) behind a monstrous offensive line, though I know many people are opposed to this idea.  However you look at it, is entirely up to you.  Still, not that this illustrates things one way or another, but if you are interested in which QBs had the best and worst results in 2012, as far as attempts/sack, I'll list them below.

Player      Att/Sack
Eli Manning 28.21
Peyton Manning 27.76
Drew Brees 25.76
Matthew Stafford 25.06
Tom Brady 23.59
Matt Ryan 21.96

Player      Att/Sack
Andy Dalton 11.47
Jay Cutler 11.42
Chad Henne 11.00
Aaron Rodgers 10.82
Philip Rivers 10.75
Alex Smith 9.08

Except for the peculiar Aaron Rodgers, who can seemingly survive in the worst of circumstances (the cockroach of quarterbacks, and I say that with the greatest respect), I would say that those are two glaringly different lists.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pointless Ponderings On Preseason Week 2

A few names have carried over from last week's list of players that performed well.

Paul Worrilow, again, had a rather good game.  My man-crush can continue unabated!  This week he had 6 tackles, 1 sack, and would have had a fumble recovery if a flag hadn't been thrown to negate the play.  While those numbers are down from his 12 tackle performance in week one, it's probably partially due to the starters getting more playing time this week.  It might be time to send someone to kneecap Akeem Dent, so that I can watch him play with the first team defense.  Where's Jeff Gillooly living nowadays? 

Glenn Foster followed up his 3 tackle, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, performance in week 1, with 4 tackles and 2 sacks this week.  Not bad for a player who went undrafted.  Currently, he is the third leading tackler on the Saints' roster, despite playing as a 3-4 defensive end.  As I've said before, he has athleticism that is very comparable to J.J. Watt or Mario Williams, but was just lacking the college stats to back it up.  He seems to be making up for it now.  I've probably just jinxed him.

Louis Nzegwu also continues to show promising signs, though I still wish he went to a team that played a 3-4 defense.  This weekend he added another sack, and 1 forced fumble to his stat sheet.  That brings him up to 3 sacks in the first 2 preseason games.  He's still a longshot, but a very talented one.  What would you like to bet that he gets another sack this week, playing against the Ravens' mediocre offensive tackles?

My deranged obsession ends up making me a fan of underdog teams, because they give the greatest opportunity for quality players to emerge (and then flee for better teams).  Naturally that leads me towards watching Bills' games.  Jerry Hughes was a former first round pick of the Colts, who many seem to view as a bust, but is now playing outside linebacker for the Bills.  I would argue that playing behind Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis didn't present him with a great opportunity.  He is also probably more suited to a 3-4 defense than a 4-3, and when the Colts switched to a 3-4 last year, he did produce 4 sacks while only starting 6 games.  As far as his athleticism is concerned, he had a 0.155 Kangaroo Score (very average), but an exceptional 1.038 Agility Score, while averaging 18 TFLs in his last two years in college.  This would put him in the high agility pass rusher group, and his results would have given him a 3rd round draft grade (since his total score was 0.448, which is just a tad below the 0.500 needed for a first or second round pick).  So, he may have been over-drafted, but he was still very interesting.  I wouldn't be surprised if he resuscitates his career in Buffalo.  While the computer can't really predict stardom, it does suggest that Hughes has a higher probability of succeeding than Bjoern Werner, whom the Colts took in the 1st round this year. 

Marcus Dowtin is another interesting oddball who has wound up in Buffalo.  He's more of a longshot, but worth keeping an eye on.  This weekend he had 4 tackles and 1 sack, against the Vikings.  He produced a -0.340 Kangaroo Score (which is decent for a MLB), but an excellent 1.258 Agility Score, and a 4.56 forty yard dash.  In his final year at North Alabama, where he went after getting kicked out of Georgia (where he also played quite well), he produced 115 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception, and 4 forced fumbles.  Those are rather solid numbers.  If you've ever seen him play, murderous intentions seem to be the strength of his game.  Unfortunately that seems to have carried over off of the field where he has gotten into some minor trouble.  Still, he's a very interesting player.

While Emmanuel Sanders 2 catches for 39 yards might not seem terribly impressive, he had two more very nice catches that were nullified by penalties.  If those had counted, he would have had 4 catches for 58 yards in the first half.  More importantly, he looked very good doing it too.  Sanders was one of the computer's top 5 receivers from the 2010 draft (where he was the 82nd pick), so I'm eager to see what he does with more of an opportunity, now that Mike Wallace is gone(who was a top 5 WR pick by the computer in 2009).  As a draft prospect, Sanders had a 1.144 Stat Score, a 1.109 Agility Score, while also running a 4.40 forty yard dash.  Oh, he also had a 39.5" vertical jump.  So, fast, agile, explosive, and a history of proven productivity.  Hmm, wait, now Markus Wheaton (again, highly regarded by the computer) has 52 yards on 3 receptions (plus a 9 yard reception that was nullified).  The biggest obstacle might be the Steelers' offensive line, which appears to be trying to get their QBs killed.

I've only made brief mentions of Mike James before, since I didn't really think he would get much of a shot while playing behind Doug Martin in Tampa Bay.  His draft status (189th overall pick) also doesn't help things.  Nonetheless, he did quite well this weekend, with 81 rushing yards on 16 carries (5.4 avg.), as well as 23 receiving yards on 3 receptions.  Athletically, he measures up as an okay prospect, with a 0.303 Kangaroo Score, and a very average 0.001 Agility Score (as well as a 4.50 forty yard dash while weighing 223#).  While those are okay numbers, they aren't the sort of results that grab my computer's attention, but I'm still a bit of a fan of his.  At Miami, he only had 642 rushing yards as a senior (on 147 carries), and 344 receiving yards on 30 receptions, while splitting carries with Duke Johnson.  In 2011, he was backing up Lamar Miller, and produced even less.  Despite all of this, if you watched him play in college, he actually looked pretty good.  He just seems like a good running back who has always been stuck behind another more highly touted player (and once again, in Tampa Bay, he is in the same situation).  Even if nothing ever comes of this, I think he'll provide good depth for the Buccaneers.  If Martin goes down with an injury, I'd keep a close eye on James.  He also seems like a quality human being, if that matters (it probably doesn't), so the coaches probably won't be eager to unload him.

I still don't know what to make of Aaron Mellette.  The computer loves him.  I, on the other hand, am still concerned about his relatively poor Kangaroo Score, which I feel is pretty important for a large wide receiver.  Regardless, he has now had two passes thrown his way in the preseason, and both resulted in touchdowns.  That's not a very large sample size though.  Despite my cautious pessimism, I do think he should be able to perform at least as well as Jacoby Jones, who the Ravens seem intent on having as their number 2 receiver (despite the fact that Jones sort of sucks).  If only everything I did could be weighed against the performance of the truly incompetent.  Life would be sweet.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Arthur Brown vs. Lavonte David

I have to admit to being a bit excited to see what will become of Arthur Brown, the MLB that the Ravens traded up to select with the 56th pick in the 2013 draft.  As I've mentioned before, I'm kind of betting against Arthur Brown, but I have no real ax to grind on this issue, and wish him the best of luck.  Still, the numbers upon which I base most of my hunches suggest that it is reasonable to be wary of Brown.

When I wrote about Paul Worrilow, I discussed how predicting the success of middle linebackers is a bit more difficult than when we look at other positions on the defense.  This position, as well as safeties, can be used in so many different ways, which makes ruling out success completely a bit difficult.  They can drop into coverage, run sideline to sideline, or blitz the QB, and as long as they can do at least one of these things adequately, they'll continue to have a job.  The truly exceptional MLB can do all three of these things at a high level, but such players are so rare that you generally have to content yourself with someone a bit more limited.  In general, I would say that there is maybe one full service MLB in every draft class, and they tend to go in the first two rounds, because they are fairly obvious talents.  Unfortunately, the 2013 draft class had very little to offer (in the eyes of the computer) in terms of obvious high end MLB talent (at least among players projected to go in the first few rounds). The computer felt that many of the prospects being pushed into the first two rounds, were more a product of a weak draft class, rather than exceptional talents.

I don't think people are expecting Brown to meet the standards of a young Ray Lewis.  The fans probably aren't that crazy.  Fortunately, Lewis' steady decline in the last few years should make the transition significantly less glaring.  Hooray for lower standards!  Beyond that, there is also the high probability that Arthur Brown will end up starting, even if he isn't particularly great, simply due to a lack of options.  The reason this bothers me, is that I think people will end up viewing his starter status too optimistically, and overstate the grandness of any play he ends up making (sort of like people did with Courtney Upshaw this past year).  It's not that I can't appreciate the optimism of the fans, but people tend to treat all draft picks, particularly the high ones, as if they are going to be future stars...until the truth becomes unavoidable.  Then we just move on to our next infatuation.

Again, none of what I'm saying should be read as a statement saying "Arthur Brown can't possibly succeed".  I'm just trying to encourage a more cautious approach to appraising him.  While laying out a precise set of requirements for a high end MLB is a bit complicated, there are some physical and statistical thresholds that you don't tend to see the best of the best falling below.  Just taking a quick look at some of the recent draft classes, we can see some rough patterns amongst the more well known and currently productive MLBs.  As always, the Kangaroo and Agility scores are given in terms of how many standard deviations that a player is above or below the average result for his position group.

Player                                Year      40 time    Avg. TFL      Kangaroo    Agility Score
Arthur Brown 2013 4.67 8.25 -0.869 0.441
Luke Kuechly 2012 4.58 11.25 0.303 1.256
Mychal Kendricks 2012 4.44 14.75 0.574 1.524
Bobby Wagner 2012 4.46 9.75 0.951 0.466
Lavonte David 2012 4.57 14 -0.547 0.285
Akeem Ayers 2011 4.70 12.25 -0.006 0.293
Sean Weatherspoon 2010 4.62 16.5 0.422 0.401
Sean Lee 2010 4.72 10.75 -0.219 1.203
Brian Cushing 2009 4.64 6.5 -0.219 1.133
James Laurinaitis 2009 4.76 7.75 -0.723 0.904
Jerod Mayo 2008 4.54 10.25 0.142 0.034
Curtis Lofton 2008 4.79 8.25 -1.333 -1.445
Patrick Willis 2007 4.51 10.5 0.217 -0.282
Lawrence Timmons 2007 4.66 10.75 -0.481 0.702
Paul Posluszny 2007 4.70 10.5 -0.406 0.996
AJ Hawk 2006 4.59 12.5 0.421 1.891
DeMeco Ryans 2006 4.65 9.5 0.463 0.569
Derrick Johnson 2005 4.52 19.5 0.070 1.223
Jonathan Vilma 2004 4.61            N/A -0.376 1.516
Karlos Dansby 2004 4.58 11.5 -0.059 -0.763
Nick Barnett 2003 4.67             13.5 -0.451 1.212
Avg. Results
4.61 11.42 -0.062 0.655

In some cases, such as with Lavonte David, Akeem Ayers, and Sean Weatherspoon, I included players who are currently 4-3 outside linebackers.  This was either due to a shortage of plausible, and successful, middle linebacker prospects from their draft class, or simply because I think that projecting them to the inside isn't that far fetched.  You can make whatever you wish to of this decision.  However you choose to look at it, this is, I feel, a reasonable representation of the most highly acclaimed and highly drafted MLBs from the past few years, minus a handful of players for whom there isn't sufficient data.

If the Kangaroo scores seem a bit lower in general, this is because these players are graded with all of the OLBs and defensive ends (generally the cutoff point is 275#), who throw off the curve for the MLBs.  The average results for middle linebackers is probably closer to -0.800 (for now, use that as the baseline for judging these Kangaroo Scores).  If anyone is curious, the average Kangaroo Score for the last 17 Pro Bowl or All Pro MLBs would be around -0.362.  These same 17 Pro Bowl/All Pro MLBs averaged 0.633 on the Agility Score.

So, what do we see when we look at Arthur Brown in comparison to his peers?  Well, first of all, his 40 time is merely okay, and slightly below the average result of his peers in this list, though this is hardly a huge concern.  Secondly, in terms of his Kangaroo Score, he performed worse than anyone on this list, except for Curtis Lofton, who is a bit of an anomaly.  Excluding Lofton, only James Laurinitis came close to Arthur Brown's score of -0.869.  Generally, this would suggest a low probability that a MLB would generate much pressure as a blitzer.  Still, this is not necessarily the end of the world.  Thirdly, we come to Arthur Brown's Agility Score of 0.441, where he did better, though still blow the overall average for the group.  So, this would predict he has some ability to drop into coverage, but still doesn't suggest anything exceptional.

Among the 8 players who had more mundane or average agility scores, let's say below 0.500, most compensated by having improved Kangaroo Scores.  Excluding Curtis Lofton, who I have no explanation for, only Lavonte David remains among these 8, as appearing to be significantly below average in terms of his explosiveness, while simultaneously just okay in terms of agility.  It is for this reason that I included Lavonte David on this list in the first place, despite the fact that he is currently playing as an outside linebacker.  I'll get to that comparison in a second.

For a player whose reputation seems to largely hang upon his alleged athletic ability and speed, Brown certainly doesn't seem to demonstrate this when tested.  Except for a moderately above average Agility Score, his results are in the average to poor range.  Still, I can accept the possibility that he might have just had a bad day at the combine.  It's his on the field results that matter, correct?

As far as the player's Avg. TFL (the average number of tackles for a loss that they generated in the last two years in college), Arthur Brown is again somewhat below average.  You might think that this doesn't matter, and only relates to their pass rushing ability, but I feel differently.  Even if a player isn't generating a significant number of sacks, I think their Avg. TFL number says something about the awareness/decisiveness/aggressiveness with which they are attacking the play, rather than just waiting for it to come to them.  While it is certainly true that the teams they played on can influence these stats, I wouldn't be thrilled with seeing a player measure up poorly in this area. 

As I said, I wanted to make a comparison between Arthur Brown and Lavonte David.  I find this comparison particularly interesting, because I've actually been a fan of Lavonte David for some time now, despite his rather pedestrian measurables.  During the 2012 draft, the computer suggested that there were 4 players who were plausible candidates to become significant inside linebackers Kuechly, Wagner, Kendricks, and David.  So far, they all seem to be doing quite well for themselves. For the most part, I ignored Kuechly, since it was obvious he would be taken before the Ravens would be making their pick.  This left me with just three prospects.  Despite the fact that Kendricks and Wagner scored better, I couldn't escape the fact that Lavonte David was the player I had the most fun watching.  While his combine numbers were just in the acceptable range, his exceptional college stats kept him on my radar.  I still believe that the physically superior player, with proven production, tends to be the safer bet, but Lavonte David drew my eye, and it wasn't as if he did terribly, as far as his measurables were concerned. 

To keep this a fair comparison, let's just compare Arthur Brown's statistical production to that of Lavonte David and the enigmatic Curtis Lofton.  We'll just look at the results from their final two year in college.

Player        TKL        TFL        Sack        PBU         INT           FF
Arthur Brown 1 100 7 1 4 2 0
Arthur Brown 2 101 9.5 2 2 1 0
Lavonte David 1 133 13 5.5 2 2 3
Lavonte David 2 152 15 6 10 0 0
Curtis Lofton 1 157 10.5 1 5 3 4
Curtis Lofton 2 (4 games) 37 4.5 0 0 0 1

Despite all three players being 2nd round picks (Arthur Brown 56th overall, Lavonte David 58th overall, and Curtis Lofton 37th overall), their stat sheets seem to tell an odd story.  For all of his acclaim, Brown doesn't seem to have produced terribly remarkable statistics in any category.  He forced no fumbles.  Brown's number of passes broken up, and interceptions, were decent, but hardly exceptional.  This seems peculiar considering that his coverage ability is allegedly one of his strengths.  His total number of tackles, and TFLs, paled in comparison to the other two (Lofton was on pace for 111 tackles and 13.5 TFL in his junior year, though whether he would have reached those marks is debatable), suggesting less of a presence against the run.  In the end, Brown's stats still appear to be good, but not so stunning that it would make me overlook his mediocre average athletic ability, the way I might for the much more accomplished Lavonte David.

Should I really judge a player off of his stat sheet?  Probably not.  The situations that a player finds himself in do have an impact on these numbers.  Still, I can't deny that I am a sucker for a player with lots of numbers after his name. 

While Curtis Lofton might seem like a reasonable example for why you could ignore athletic measurables, I don't think that is really the case.  According to Pro Football Focus, Lofton has a terrible career rating in terms of his pass coverage ability, which would correspond with his poor Agility Score.  Similarly, he has had a rather poor pass rusher rating from them, which I believe could relate to his bad Kangaroo Score (though agility plays a role in this too).  This hasn't prevented him from becoming a good run stopper, but it does make him a fairly one dimensional player.

I can't predict how things will turn out for Arthur Brown.  All I can say is that for where he was selected, I would be looking for more reassuring signs of athletic or statistical dominance.  If Brown turns out to be just an average to decent middle linebacker, as his numbers would suggest, that is still worth something, though I would argue, not a 2nd round pick (as well as the additional 5th round and 6th round picks it took to trade up).  If he turns out to be great, that's excellent.  I just feel that the argument for taking him isn't as clear cut as some people make it out to be.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Random Thoughts On Preseason Week 1

While it's kind of pointless to get excited about what happens in preseason games, I'd still rather see players perform well, rather than do nothing at all.  I was obviously quite happy with how Paul Worrilow did (12 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pass defensed), as well as Christine Michael (89 yards on 16 carries), and also Glenn Foster (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble).  These are at least good first steps.  Now, they just have to do this again, while their coaches can still remember what their names are.

While I could ramble on about a number of different players, the one who I really want to talk about is somebody who will most likely disappear, never to be heard from again.  This player is Louis Nzegwu, defensive end for the Carolina Panthers (2 sacks this weekend).  Nzegwu was one of the computer's favorite oddball prospects from the 2012 draft.  At 6' 4", 252#, he produced a 1.575 Kangaroo Score, as well as a 0.856 Agility Score, and is basically the ideal sort of athlete to become a 3-4 outside linebacker.  He also ran a 4.60 forty yard dash, which is pretty good for a guy his size.  Unfortunately, things just aren't that simple.

Nzegwu was never drafted, and has kind of bounced around a few different teams' practice squads in the past year.  The computer isn't completely stupid, and wasn't recommending that he be taken with a high pick.  It was obvious that he would only be a late round selection at best, despite his amazing athletic ability.  This was due to his mediocre statistical production in college.  He only averaged 7.25 TFL in his last two college seasons, and generally only had about 3 to 4 sacks per year.  The odd thing with Nzegwu, was that he was a somewhat average to smaller sized 4-3 defensive end at Wisconsin, but every now and then, he would get to play standing up like a 3-4 outside linebacker.  When he did this, he seemed much more comfortable and effective.  Perhaps, when given some space to operate, and not being immediately buried by an offensive tackle, it allowed him to take better advantage of the excellent agility and explosiveness he possesses.  Who knows what would happen if he were to become a 3-4 OLB?

For now, I still think his prospects aren't too great.  The Panthers run a 4-3 defense, and already have some truly excellent defensive ends.  He probably won't get much of an opportunity there.  Despite his good performance this weekend, I suspect there is still a good chance he will get cut or put on the practice squad.  In the eyes of these teams, he's just another undrafted prospect, nothing special.  If I was with a team that ran a 3-4 defense, and had little talent at the OLB position (Saints, Chargers, Bills, Jets, Texans, etc...), I would pounce.  Worst case scenario, he doesn't pan out, but it will cost them nothing to find out.

With Nzegwu, I always wonder if he could become the next Cameron Wake.  Like Nzegwu, Wake had only mediocre stats in college, and little to suggest great pass rushing potential (averaged about 8 TFL in his last two years in college).  Wake did show one athletic trait that should have caught people's attention, a 45.5" vertical jump, which is pretty much unheard of for a 236# player (he also had a 10'10" broad jump).  This resulted in a 1.371 Kangaroo Score, to go along with his excellent 0.843 Agility Score.  While Nzegwu's vertical jump wasn't quite as high, at 41.5", it is still ridiculous, and he was doing this while weighing more than Wake.  Nzegwu isn't just a good athlete, he is an astounding one.  Of course, the NFL felt it had no use for someone with Wake's ability, and ran him off to the CFL, so I wouldn't put it past them to do so again.

Interesting Prospects From The 2013 Draft

I feel like a lot of my posts may come across as overly negative, making me the Grinch of the NFL Draft.  Then again, history has shown that about 75% of the players do turn out be worth very little (damn it, there I go again).  So, I thought I would list some more players from this most recent draft that the computer suggests might have a better than decent chance of turning out to be successes.

While I may have doubts about some of these players, I think they all have interesting stories or characteristics that will make it worthwhile to keep an eye on their progress.  I tried to focus more on the oddballs, since high draft picks get plenty of attention already, unless I thought a highly regarded player was particularly interesting.  I also probably leaned a bit more towards players who I thought presented good value relative to where they were selected.  Obviously, I have to leave a lot of names off of this list, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the computer and I disliked such unmentioned players.  I had to make some weird judgment calls about who I would include here.

When I make a reference to a player's Agility Score, Kangaroo Score, or some other athletic measurement, it should be noted that these scores can't be compared to the results for players at different positions.  These scores only show how many standard deviations that a player is above or below average compared to others in his same position group.  References to the Stat Score may also come up, but this relates only to wide receivers.

Pick #4, Lane Johnson, OT, Philadelphia Eagles -  To some extent, it felt as if the press kind of dismissed Johnson as a guy who just "works out well", and felt he didn't belong in the same company as Eric Fisher, and Luke Joeckel.  With a Kangaroo Score of 1.482, and an Agility Score of 1.381, it is true that his numbers do appear to be too good to be true.  While I like Fisher, who also did well (but not as well), and to some extent Joeckel, the truth is that Johnson does more closely match the physical ideal standards for an offensive left tackle.  Tackles with Johnson's rare athletic ability rarely fail, and even if he should fail to become a star, having a near guarantee of at least becoming a decent journeyman type, is worth a lot in my eyes.  People often say that such players are boom or bust types, but this attitude that he appears "too good to be true, therefore it must not be true" is just peculiar.  I think the floor for Johnson is actually quite high, and well worth the risk for where he was selected.  Plus, he enjoys tormenting the press with made up stories about wrestling bears, which is another point in his favor.

Pick #13, Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets - Again, some people seemed to think it was a reach to take Richardson earlier than Star Lotulelei, or Sharrif Floyd.  The computer feels that the Jets actually made the correct choice here (at least if you are determined to take a defensive tackle).  Athletically, Richardson was the superior prospect, with a 0.612 Kangaroo Score, and a 0.652 Agility Score.  Lotulelei fell more into the average range (0.199 Kangaroo, and -0.038 Agility), and Floyd performed rather poorly (-0.930 Kangaroo, and 0.133 Agility).  Richardson also averaged 9.25 tackles for a loss in his last two years, compared to Lotulelei's 9.5, and Floyd's 9.75, making them all fairly comparable in this area.  Overall, Richardson's numbers put him in good, but not necessarily great company.  Historically, defensive tackles who can jump over 30 inches, do over 30 repetitions on the bench press, and averaged 10 or more tackles for a loss, almost never fail (though they may turn out to be just average), and Richardson mostly meets these criteria (32", 30 repetitions, and 9.25 avg. TFL).  I might need to post a list of people who fall into this weird group at some point.

Pick #22, Desmond Trufant, CB, Miami Dolphins - In the eyes of the computer, Trufant more closely fit the ideal physical mold of a successful CB than the other top prospects, Xavier Rhodes and Dee Milliner.  His Ht/Spd Score (measuring his 40 time relative to his height) was a very good 0.732 standard deviations above average.  His Agility Score was a truly excellent 1.463.  While he slightly lagged behind the other prospects in creating turnovers in college, his numbers were still in the average range (6 total INTs, 3 FF).  Will he end up being the top corner from this class?  I don't know.  At the very least, I would expect him to be a solid reliable player, which is more than I can say about some of the other options.

Pick #26, Datone Jones, DE/DT, Green Bay Packers - With a -0.261 Kangaroo, and a 1.351 Agility Score, Jones isn't quite as explosively powerful as I would like, but still a very gifted athlete overall.  His average of 12.75 TFL during his last two years in college also reassures you that he made the most out of this physical ability.  Still, as a 3-4 DE prospect, I don't like him quite as much as Kendall Reyes (0.999 Kangaroo Score, and a 0.640 Agility Score, with a 11.75 TFL avg), or Derek Wolfe (0.279 Kangaroo Score, and a 1.145 Agility Score, with a 14 TFL avg.)from the 2012 draft.  If he had slid to the late 2nd round, or into the 3rd, I would have felt more comfortable with him.  Nonetheless, I think he has a reasonable chance of upgrading the Packers defensive line.

Pick #27 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans- He was one of the computer's higher rated WR prospects, plus he gets to play opposite from Andre Johnson. Though there may have been other receivers that the computer liked even more, Hopkins probably wound up in one of the best situations to succeed.

Pick #52 Jamie Collins, OLB, New England Patriots- Hmm, I've pretty much covered this already, so I'll just move on.

Pick #53, Margus Hunt, DE/DT, Cincinnati Bengals -  Hunt is someone I have to mention, even if he makes me nervous that he might be a disappointment.  His 0.538 Kangaroo Score, and 1.279 Agility Score, are too significant to ignore.  On the other hand, he is an older than ideal rookie (26 years old), who only produced okay stats in college, until his senior year where he was quite good.  At 6' 8.5" tall, I also wonder if his height might actually become a disadvantage, particularly for someone who is merely 277# (it sounds weird to say "merely 277#").  Still, the announcers will have fun talking about how he is from Estonia, so that is worth something.  I would have been too nervous to take him this highly (though it was tempting), but he is very physically gifted.  In the end, I probably would have chosen him ahead of Datone Jones.

Pick #54 Jamar Taylor, CB, Miami Dolphins - He's not a big CB, but I thought he was quite scrappy.  His measurables weren't bad either.  His Ht/Spd Score was a solid 0.448, and his Agility Score was a similarly respectable 0.592.  He also possessed a 2nd Gear Score of 0.16, suggesting that his acceleration could be even more impressive than his excellent 4.37 forty time might suggest.  There might be guys with better stats, or combine numbers, but of the players who were acceptable in the eyes of the computer, he was one of the most fun to watch play.

Pick #62, Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks - I have no idea how he is ever going to get any playing time when stuck behind Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.  Still, he is the most physically perfect running back in the 2013 class. You can see how he compares athletically to the other 2013 RBs here.

Pick #71, T.J. McDonald, S, St. Louis Rams - I've already gotten grief from people for being a fan of his, but I still think there was good value in this pick.  The computer has a harder time sorting out safeties, but still likes his measurables and college production.  At 6'2", 219#, he definitely has excellent size for a safety.  His 0.839 Ht/Spd Score was well above average, though his Agility Score of -0.063 is a bit more mundane.  Still, this score is only showing his agility in comparison to all defensive backs, so for a safety it's actually a good result.  He also had a 40" vertical jump, which shows some truly remarkable explosiveness.  Some people were critical about his coverage abilities, but I didn't really notice this too much when I watched him play.  To me, he was a guy who showed up all over the place, running up to make a tackle, and seeming equally adept dropping back.  His stats were also quite exceptional, with 8 career INTs, and 112 tackles in his senior year.  I think he will do better than a lot of people think, and that the 3rd round was just about the right place to pick him.

Pick #72, Brian Winters, G, New York Jets - It is somewhat embarrassing to have another Jets' selection on this list.  What can I say?  They appear to have had a good draft.  At 6'4", 320#, with a Kangaroo Score of 1.019, and an Agility Score of 0.344, Winters is quite an interesting guy.  His numbers would suggest that he will turn into quite the run blocker.  He also shouldn't be a liability as a pass protector, though this might not be his area of strength.  Compared to the guards who were taken in the 1st round, the computer thinks Winters could turn out just as well, if not better, so they probably got very good value with this pick.

Pick #75 Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans Saints - Again, some people seemed to treat Terron's excellent athletic ability as something not to be taken too seriously.  His 1.259 Kangaroo Score, and 0.342 Agility Score, project well to the NFL.  I wouldn't be surprised in the least if he ends up being the starting tackle for the Saints this year, and performs quite well.  The Saints seem like an excellent landing spot for a guy from Arkansas Pine-Bluff, since Drew Brees probably helps his linemen look good, more than a guy like Blaine Gabbert would.

Pick #79 Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers - I've already included him in the list of interesting wideouts from 2013, so I'll just add that landing with Ben Roethlisberger only enhances the likelihood that his skills can be capitalized upon.  The Steelers have done quite well, recently, at making the most of somewhat small but speedy receivers.  His real value may not come until next year, when Emmanuel Sanders is likely to depart the team.

Pick #93 Will Davis, CB, Miami Doplhins - Again, the Dolphins take a CB that the computer likes, having already chosen Jamar Taylor.  His 1.161 Ht/Spd Score, and 0.899 Agility Score, actually measure even better than Taylor's results.  Still, his 2nd Gear Score of just 0.07, is a bit average.  The main reason I slightly prefer Taylor is because of how they looked when watching them play.  Davis seemed more nimble, but played with less violence and aggression.  Between the two of them, it's hard to say who will emerge as the better player, but by picking both I think the odds are strongly in favor of at least one becoming quite excellent.

Pick #94 Brandon Williams, NT, Baltimore Ravens - If you can accept the idea that simply being an immovable blob is a valuable trait, then you will like this pick.  Compared to Terrence Cody, who has been a dismal failure, this should prove to be an immediate upgrade.  Williams' Kangaroo Score of 0.874, and Agility Score of -1.397 (relatively unimportant for nose tackles), should quickly push Cody out of the way who only had a -1.242 Kangaroo Score, and a -1.864 Agility Score.  The Kangaroo Score is the name of the game for nose tackles, where raw explosive power is their most important trait.  Why people thought that Cody would succeed is a mystery to me.

Pick #97 Zaviar Gooden, LB, Tennessee Titans - Gooden is a rather odd physical specimen.  With a 0.402 Kangaroo Score, and a 1.494 Agility, while running a shocking 4.46 forty yard dash, he is clearly gifted.  Still, his production in college was just good, not great.  He only averaged 5 TFL in his last two years, which is a bit poor, and doesn't suggest much of a violent attacking disposition.  He did have a fair number of interceptions though.  So, as a coverage type linebacker, who can run people down, he is still fairly appealing for a late 3rd round pick.

Pick #102 Josh Boyce, WR, New England Patriots - He's also in the list of interesting 2013 receivers.  Personally, I think he has an excellent chance to eventually become the top receiver on the team.  The fact that the Patriots' other receivers aren't very good aids in this.  I think there is also a reasonable probability that he will outperform Aaron Dobson (selected by the Patriots with the 59th pick).  One of my favorite 'Small' receivers in the draft.

Pick #124 Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB, Houston Texans - This pick could have a huge payoff, or amount to nothing. His measurables are nothing shocking, with a 0.309 Kangaroo Score, and a 0.002 Agility Score.  Combined with his smaller size, at just 241#, I would normally have to bet against him.  Still, he was a very productive pass rusher, averaging 14.25 TFL in his last two years.  This is one of those odd times where my gut battles with my computer.  I just like watching him play, so I'm kind of hoping the computer is wrong about him.

Pick #128 Quinton Patton, WR, San Francisco 49ers - I've mentioned him before in the list of interesting 2013 wide receivers, so I'll keep this short.  He may not be as flashy as some guys, but he seems very solid.  A lot of people with gaudier 40 times were taken ahead of him, and are going to probably fare much worse.  Maybe he won't become a #1 type receiver, but I think he should become a dependable #2.  It made no sense for him to fall this far in the draft, while having bozos like Ace Sanders drafted ahead of him.

Pick #132 Devin Taylor, DE, Detroit Lions - From a physical perspective, Taylor is ideal.  Unfortunately, his production never lived up to this ability.  At 6'7", 266#, with a 1.346 Kangaroo Score and a 0.815 Agility Score, I would have expected him to average more than 8.5 TFL in his last two years in college, especially playing across from Jadeveon Clowney.  Still, for a late 4th round pick, his ability is quite enticing, as he at least has the physical potential to be great.  With the Lions loss of Cliff Avril and Lawrence Jackson, he also has a shot to get some playing time.

Pick #147 Steven Means, DE/OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I'm not really sold on Steven Means, but at this point in the draft it's not unreasonable to take some gambles.  Means had a 1.408 Kangaroo Score, and a 0.075 Agility Score, while averaging a rather mediocre 7.25 TFL in his last two years.  His measurables suggest he could do okay as a 4-3 DE, but his college production fails to excite me very much.

Pick #150 Terry Hawthorne, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers -  He has decent size at 5'11.25", 193#, and generally seems willing to play a fairly physical game.  His Ht/Spd Score of 1.026 is excellent, as is his 2nd Gear Score of 0.21, so keeping up with receivers shouldn't be a problem.  On the other hand, his Agility Score of -0.175, is slightly below average, and suggests he could have a harder time against nimbler receivers who run sharp routes.  In the end, I still think there is decent potential value in this pick.

Pick #170 Eric Kush, C, Kansas City Chiefs - This pretty much sums up my views on this subject.  He was the computer's favorite center prospect in the draft.

Pick #176 Dave Quessenberry, OT/OG, Houston Texans - At the very least, Quessenberry should provide good depth and flexibility to the Texans o-line.  Athletically he shows just decent explosiveness with a 0.351 Kangaroo Score, but has an excellent Agility Score of 1.234.  The numbers would suggest that he might be better suited to playing guard, though I can't rule out the possibility of him doing well at the tackle position.  This seems like a rather safe pick, that should help to keep a very good offensive line well stocked.

Pick #181 Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders - I should be more of a fan of this pick, based on his measurables, but when I watch him play it just doesn't click for me.  Still, I have to keep him on the radar, to see if the computer's hunch turns out to be correct.  You can see how he compares athletically to the other 2013 RBs here.

Pick #189 Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- I'm not going to say much here, since we'll probably never hear his name again.  His measurables were pretty good, though his college production was a bit anemic, since he always split carries with other backs.  I did enjoy watching him play though, and have to wonder if he could exceed people's expectations if given more of a chance.  Being stuck behind Doug Martin won't help the cause though.

Pick #198 Chris Jones, Houston Texans- His Kangaroo Score of -0.027 is merely average, but his Agility Score of 1.015 is simply excellent.  Combining that with his average number of tackles for a loss in his final two college years, of 16.5 per year, and you have a verrrrry intriguing player.  Seems well worth investing a late 6th round pick in a player like this, and could end up rewarding the Texans quite handsomely.

Pick #207 Mike Catapano, DE/OLB, Kansas City Chiefs - Every year their seems to be an odd duck like Catapano.  He's one of those guys who measures up as a potentially very interesting 3-4 OLB pass rusher, until you see the school that he came from, in this case Princeton.  Personally, I'm not terribly concerned about the Princeton issue, but I do have my doubts as to whether a team will give him much of a chance.  He had a 1.176 Kangaroo Score, and a 0.402 Agility Score, while averaging 12.75 TFL in his last two years.  Seems well suited to playing OLB in a 3-4.

Pick #216 Charles Johnson, WR, Green Bay Packers-  Johnson is probably on of the most physically gifted receivers in the whole draft class, and fits the mold of a conventional high end #1 receiver quite well.  His production at Grand Valley State was also quite good, so to some extent he lived up to his physical gifts.  Still, that is Grand Valley State, so it's not surprising that teams were nervous about selecting him.  Personally, I think this was a steal for the Packers, and though there is some risk, the potential reward is enormous.  I've mentioned him previously among the interesting wideouts of 2013, so you can see some comparisons to him in that post.  Why people let him fall this far, while taking the likely overrated Brian Quick (from the similarly goofy Appalachian State)in the second round of the 2012 draft, makes no sense.

Pick #223 Nicholas Williams, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers- At this point in the draft, I'm just happy if a player has some sort of potential.  Williams production in college was merely average (averaging 5.75 TFL in his final two years) , but his Kangaroo Score of 1.069 suggests he has some explosive power, and his Agility Score of 0.141 is at least in the average range.  It's a low risk, potentially decent reward type of pick.

Pick #235 Steve Beauharnais, LB, New England Patriots- I'm actually a bit of a fan of this player.  With a 0.899 Agility Score, and a -0.737 Kangaroo Score, he actually struck me as a reasonable prospect to play middle linebacker.  He was also quite productive in his time at Rutgers.  His 4.84 forty yard dash was somewhat concerning, though he improved this at his pro day to a 4.67 (if you can trust pro day results).  I think this pick could provide excellent value to the Patriots.

Pick #238 Aaron Mellette, WR, Baltimore Ravens-  I've already covered this subject, and my expectations aren't excessively high, but I can see the appeal of this pick.  It makes more sense than how the Ravens usually pick their receivers.

Undrafted Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Buffalo Bills - Like Charles Johnson, he arguably had the best combination of physical traits, and proven college production, among the 'Big' receivers in this draft.  Unlike Johnson, he had some proven success at a highly competitive college program (Tennessee).  Unfortunately, people also felt he had some character issues.  I had a high enough opinion of him to give him his own post.

Undrafted Eric Martin, DE/LB, New Orleans Saints - While he didn't get many opportunities at Nebraska, until his senior year, he made the most of his chances.  In his last year, he had 16.5 TFL, with 8.5 sacks, and was generally quite a menace to opposing QBs.  While his Kangaroo Score is only -1.094, this could be due to an odd imbalance when comparing his vertical jump to his broad jump.  Based on his broad jump, his Kangaroo Score would be closer to -0.553.  Though that is still well below what I am normally looking for, his Agility Score is an astounding 2.230 (the 3rd highest result I've ever seen), which suggest he could fit in amongst the high agility pass rushers.  Initially, I thought someone might try to move him to MLB, where his measurables are more favorable, but it looks like the Saints might give him a real shot as a pass rusher.  Considering their team's injuries, he has a legitimate shot at getting playing time.

Undrafted Paul Worrilow, LB Atlanta Falcons - I've already sung the praises of this oddball from Delaware.

Undrafted Ryan Spadola, WR, New York Jets - He's something of an oddball, coming from Lehigh University, but the computer like him a lot.  Though he's a bit of a longshot, I thought he deserved his own post.

Undrafted Cody Davis, S/CB, Rams - Athletically, Davis compares favorably to some of the elite cornerbacks in the league.  At 6'1", 204#, he has a Ht/Spd Score of 1.161, and an Agility Score of 0.899.  So, yes, he is big, fast, and agile.  He also averaged 90.5 tackles per year, in his four seasons at Texas Tech.  Unfortunately, a lot of this seemed to be in clean up duty for his teammates.  He also only produced 4 INTs in this time.  For a guy who will cost a team nothing to sign, he is a very intriguing and highly experienced player.

Undrafted Jayson DiManche, LB, Cincinnati Bengals - This is one of those prospects where the computer isn't as intrigued as I am.  At 6' 0.4", 231#, DiManche isn't exactly huge, and the computer penalizes him heavily because of this.  His Kangaroo Score of -0.027, and Agility Score of 0.127, are merely average.  The problem, in the eyes of the computer, is he lacks the mass to be a defensive end, and his agility would only be mediocre for a linebacker.  Still, if he could maintain his explosiveness (38" vertical jump, 10'7" broad jump) while gaining some weight, the computer's opinion would improve.  His 4.53 forty yard dash, was also fairly impressive.  Either way, I like the guy.  At Southern Illinois, he averaged 12.75 TFL in his last two years, and had 8 sacks as a senior.  Beyond all of that, he was just a fun and exciting player to watch.  Figuring out where to play him would seem to be the main obstacle.

Undrafted Glenn Foster, DT/DE, New Orleans Saints - In the computer's opinion, Foster is basically a somewhat shorter version of Mario Williams or J.J. Watt (6'3.5" vs. 6'7" and 6'5"), at least athletically.  With a 2.305 Kangaroo score, Foster shows absolutely shocking explosiveness and power, and his Agility Score of 1.300 is almost as remarkable.  Unfortunately his statistical production in college pales in comparison.  While Williams and Watt averaged 19.5 and 18.25 tackles for a loss in their final two college seasons, Foster only averaged 4.75.  Quite a big difference.  Still, an argument could be made that coming into college as a mere 255# DT, on an incredibly bad Illinois team, hindered his progress.  Playing now at 286#, he has not only filled out his frame, but is also moving to the 3-4 DE position, which might suit him better.  There is vast potential here, and no real risk for the Saints.

Undrafted Nick Driskill, S, Colts - I have no idea what will become of this guy, but his stats are cartoonishly ridiculous.  He deserved a post of his own, even if the odds are a bit stacked against him.