Prospects in the College Football All-Star Games on January 19th

East West Shrine Game
January 19th, 2019
NFL Network  – 3 PM EST

East Offense

54  Alec Eberle – Florida State – OC

A 2018 Senior Class Award candidate. Eberle has persevered through major injuries while starting 44 consecutive games at center. He has started every game since his first start in the last six games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He was a 2016 All ACC Team Honorable Mention and a 2018 All ACC Second Team.

55 Lamont Gaillard – Georgia – OC

2018 All-SEC Coaches First Team. Started 29 consecutive games at center since moved to center to start the 21017 season. Georgia was graded as the best offensive line in the nation six weeks into the 2018 season by Pro Football Focus. They graded the unit as the number one run blocking grade. ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic had Gaillard as the top returning center in the SEC entering the 2018 season.  “He plays his ass off, consistently finishes, never leaves his teammates out to dry and for me he is a joy to watch.” – Cole Cubelic.

53 Tyler Jones – NC State – OG

2018 All-ACC First Team. Played 98% of the team’s offensive snaps in 2016 and 2017 and 93% in 2018. In 2017 he allowed just 14 pressures which wsa tied for fewest among returning ACC tackles.  In 2017, NC State finished tied for No. 1 in the country at 0.2 QB pressure percentage, per PFF_College. Ryan Finley was hit just 24 times on 529 dropbacks.

65 Bunchy Stallings – Kentucky – OG

2018 All-Sec Coaches First Team. Stallings was selected to the ESPN 2018 mid-season All-America team. “He has been a road-grader for the Wildcats. ” Stallings was named 1st Team All American by The Athletic and only allowed 1.5 sacks. Stallings is said to be a mauler in the run game and helped contribute to running back Benny Snell breaking 1,000 yards rushing each of the last three seasons.

73 Martez Ivey – Florida – OT

Ivey made the All-Sec Second Team for each of the last three seasons. The Gators as a whole allowed just 18 sacks which ranked third in the conference.  At 1.5 sacks allowed per game Florida ranked in the top 20% in the nation. In the run game Ivey is said to be a mauler. Florida ranked in the top 15% in the nation in yards per rush attempt (5.3 yards) and the top 17% in rushing yards per game (215 yards). Martez Ivey was named the permanent Team Captain of the 2018 Gators. He is praised for his work ethic and leadership.

78 Tyree St. Louis – Miami – OT

Started 34 consecutive games since his sophomore start in 2016. Tyree earned 2018 All-ACC Honorable Mention. He has played both right and left tackle. “Whether in run or pass sets, the senior plays with impeccable power. He showcases this trait with finishing ability and devastating blocks in both facets of the game. ” – reported by cover1.net.

14 Taylor Cornelius – Oklahoma State – QB

One of two quarterbacks chosen for the 2018 All Big-12 team Honorable Mention. Cornelius was third in the nation in passing plays of 10+ yards and fourth in 20+ passing plays. Twenty percent of his plays went for big plays. Among 22 quarterbacks looked at Cornelius was fourth in his percentage of big plays. Cornelius is a big quarterback at 6’6″ and 232 lbs he would be among the biggest quarterbacks in the NFL.

24 Ty Johnson – Maryland – RB

In 2016 Johnson had 1,210 yards from scrimmage which was 25% of his team’s total yards. His 1,004 rushing yards that season averaged 9.13 yards per attempt which was second in the nation. Johnson’s career 7.6 yards per attempt was third in the FBS active career leaders in 2018.  A 2017 media All Big Ten Honorable Mention. An electric player with good character and a strong work ethic. He’s big and and tough at 212 pounds and nearly six-foot.

87 CJ Conrad – Kentucky – TE

Conrad’s 318 receiving yards in 2108 was 15% of the team’s passing yards which is a threshold for productive tight ends. He is highly rated blocker and helped block for running back Benny Snell who has had three 1,000+ yard seasons. As reported by Pro Football Focus, Conrad had 12.0 yards after the catch per reception in 2017. That was the highest among draft eligible tight ends with a minimum 12 receptions.

West Defense

14 Donnie Lewis – Tulane – CB

Donnie Lewis leads FBS active career leaders in passes defended with 49. He was a 2018 AAC All Conference Second Team and a 2017 AAC Honorable Mention.  In 2018 his 15 passes defended was eighth in the nation. He is said to be a tough corner that stays in his man’s pocket. He is a hard-working, athletic, smart player that enjoys practice.

23 Jordan Wyatt – SMU – CB

Wyatt is a 2018 Senior Class Award candidate. He was a four year starter at SMU and made the 2017 All AAC Honorable Mention. Wyatt has a great work ethic according to head coach Sonny Dykes. He was team captain in 2017. “For him one of the things that stands out is the turning plays he makes. A lot of forced fumbles, where he has a knack for the ball. He’s a ball magnet,” –  CBS Sports NFL draft analyst Corey Chavous. Wyatt had five defensive touchdowns in his career which is an SMU career record. He is the sixth player in FBS history to have return a fumble and interception for touchdowns in the same game.

31 Montre Hartage – Northwestern – CB

Hartage made the  2018 All Big-Ten First Team (media) and Third Team (coaches).

96 Daniel Wise – Kansas – DT

21 Cody Barton – Utah – LB

29 Joe Dineen – Kansas – LB

45 Chris Peace – Virginia – DE/LB

82 Jack Fox – Rice – P

West Offense

15 John Baron – SDSU – K

52 John Keenoy – Western Michigan – OC

72 Lanard Bonner – Arkansas State – OG

74 Oshea Dugas – Louisianna Tech – OG

70 Jackson Barton – Utah – OT

77 Ryan Pope – SDSU – OT

4 Brett Rypien – Boise State – QB

6 Marcus McMaryion – CSU Fresno – QB

2 KeeSean Johnson – CSU Fresno – WR

25 Cody Thompson – Toledo – WR

East Defense

90 Michael Dogbe – Temple – DT

91 Jordan Brailford – Oklahoma State – DE

96 Cortez Broughton – Cincinnati – DT

40 Khalil Hodge – Buffalo – LB

42 Sione Takitaki – BYU – LB

44 Tre Watson – Maryland – LB

45 Ulysees Gilbert III – Akron – LB

51 Cole Holcomb – North Carolina – LB

22 Saquan Hampton – Rutgers – SAF

23 Lukas Denis – Boston College – SAF

NFLPA Game
January 19th, 2019
Fox Sports 1 – 5PM EST

American Offense

Calvin Anderson – Texas – OT

A three year All Conference Honorable Mention. Started all 36 games he has played in his college career mostly at left tackle. Before becoming a graduate transfer to Texas, at Rice he is credited with 26 knockdowns and five pancake blocks. Can solve a rubics cube behind his back.

Joe Lowery – Ohio – OT

Selected by Pro Football Focus as their MAC player of the year and All American Second Team. He was their third highest graded offensive tackle in the nation. Lowery led the nation’s tackles in PFF run-blocking grade and in pass protection he allowed just nine total QB pressures on 334 snaps. He was conference 2017 All MAC Second Team and 2018 All MAC First team.

Justice Powers – UAB – OT

Justice Powers is a 2018 All C-USA First Team selection.  Powers started every game at right tackle for his two years at UAB. He blocked for a UAB offense that had at least 200 yards rushing in nine games in 2018 and that set the school record for rushing touchdowns with 32.

David Lucero – UTEP – TE

A 2018 Conference USA Honorable Mention. Lucero caught 15% of his team’s passing yards. Of his 20 receptions in 2018 thirty percent were for 15+ yards and fifty percent were for first down. His long reception went for 88 yards.

Trevon Brown – ECU – WR

 

National Defense

AJ Hotchkins – UTEP – LB

Jordan Kunaszyk – California – LB

Peyton Pelluer – Washington State – LB

National Offense

Jake Browning – Washington – QB

Nico Evans – Wyoming – RB

Lexington Thomas – UNLV – RB

Keenen Brown – Texas State – TE

Steven Sims – Kansas – WR

Justin Yoon – Notre Dame – K

Tyler Newsome – Notre Dame – P

American Defense

Nate Brooks – North Texas – CB

Kemon Hall – North Texas – CB

Anree Saint-Armour – Georgia Tech – DE

E.J. Ejiya – North Texas – LB

Malik Reed – Nevada – DE/LB

2018 Senior Class Award candidate.

2019 NFL Draft Middle Linebacker Prospects with Strong Production

Solo tackle market share is the players number of solo tackles divided by the total team number of solo tackles. NFL Pro-Bowl and All-Pro linebackers have historically shown high solo tackle market share production in college.   Here are ten highly regarded NFL linebackers and their college last year solo tackle market share. Only one shows his second to last year production (Sean Lee)

Player Team College Solo Tackle Market Share
Luke Kuechly Panthers 22%
Bobby Wagner Seahawks 12.6%
Deion Jones Falcons 12.6%
Sean Lee Cowboys 11.5% (Junior)
CJ Mosley Ravens 12.9%
Reuben Foster 49ers  11%
Lavonte David Buccaneers 13.9%
Eric Kendricks Vikings 16%
Telvin Smith Jaguars 11%
Jordan Hicks Eagles 10%

Here are ten middle linebackers 2019 draft prospects that have great solo tackle production in 2018. Each of these backers have attained 11% or better solo tackle team market share.

Joe Dineen, Kansas

Sr, 6’2″” and 235 lbs

Joe Dineen was one of eight semi-finalists for the Lott Impact Trophy which recognizes the personal character of the winning player as well as his athletic excellence among defensive players. Made the Sports Illustrated 2017 and 2018 College Football All-America  Second Team.  Played as starter in games for last for years. Dineen was one of 20 semifinalists for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award which recognizes player’s leadership on and off the field. Dineen is one of just three players in Kansas’ 128 years of football to be voted a team captain three times. He has been named a team captain in each of the last three seasons. Joe Dineen is one of ten finalists for the Senior Class Award given to the student-athletes who excel both on and off the field.

Dineen was number one in the nation in solo tackles with 109. The  second place player had 17 less solo tackles. Dineen’s solo tackle market share was 19.3 percent. To put that percentage in perspective the top solo tacklers in 2017 and their market share percentages were Frank Ginda (14.8%), Leighton Vander Esch (16.2%), Joe Dineen (15.3%), Christian Sam (15,2%) and Roquan Smith (16.3%).

Dineen is deadly against the run but “Can Dineen play pass coverage?”  is the  big question. Joe Dineen had a goal for this season to improve on pass coverage. He had his first career interception in 2018 to go with 2 passes defended. At week 7 this season this is what Pro Football Focus had to say about Dineen when it selected Dineen to their Midseason All-Big 12 Team.

“He’s allowed just 44 yards after the catch on 181 snaps in coverage and a career-best 80.4 passer rating on throws into his coverage.”

At the end of week 5 PFF selected Dineen as the top graded defensive player in the Big-12 and had this to say

“He has five QB pressures from just 13 pass-rushes, has allowed just 35 yards on 10 targets in coverage and has a whopping 35 defensive stops, 12 more than the next closest Big 12 defender.”

Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington

Sr, 6’0″ and 221 lbs

Ben Burr-Kirven was selected the 2018 Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year.  He made the 2018 All-Pac-12 First Team and the 2017 All-Pac-12 Second Team. Burr-Kirven was one of four finalists for the Lott Impact Trophy. He is the Pac-12’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Burr-Kirven was 2018 All American Team (AP, FWAA, ESPN,Athlon).

Ben Burr-Kirven is number one in the nation in total tackles (165) and eighth in forced fumbles (4).  His 85 solo tackles was fifth in the nation. The solo tackles was good for a 17.5% team market share which is second best of linebackers examined.

Burr-Kirven is fast, tough and has great vision. Here is what head coach Chris Peterson said about Bent Burr-Kirven after the Arizona State game this season. In that game Ben had 20 tackles of which 14 were solo and had 2 forced fumbles.

…you could see Ben flash out there and go make a play. Not only did he have 20 tackles but I think he caused a couple of fumbles. The guy is a heck of a player, obviously. But he plays like that all the time. He’s fast, he’s really, really smart and he’s as tough as they come. You want them all built like that. He’s got great instincts and he’s also smart, and that’s what makes him special.”

This quote from Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski shows the qualities you want in a middle linebacker.

“Ben’s in the middle of the defense, and he’s a smart guy, He’s getting guys lined up (properly). And the way he flies sideline to sideline … the energy he plays with, the passion he plays with, and then how productive he is, that’s what you want in a football player.”

In 2018 Ben has had double digit tackles in 11 of the 13 games.  He has played in a total 52 games at Washington.

Jordan Kunaszyk, California

Sr, 6’3″ and 235 lbs

Jordan Kunaszyk is a 2018 All Pac-12 Conference First Team. Kunaszyk was one of eight national semifinalists for the Lott Impact Trophy. He is second in the nation in solo tackles with 92 and second in forced fumbles with 5.  His 143 total tackles is fifth in the nation. Kunaszyk’s team solo tackle market share is 16.6% which is third best among the linebackers examined.

Kunaszyk is a film room junkie that loves football and his team. He lives and breathes football doing all that he can to be the best and help his team win.

“I know I’m not the fastest. I know I’m not the biggest. I know I’m not the strongest. So, how can I have an edge on my opponent? I know I’m willing to do things that my opponents aren’t.” – Kunaszyk.

This from his head coach

“He’s built to play the position, in a lot of ways — physically, mentally, He’s a physical guy, he loves contact, he’s into the game. I think everything, the preparation part, meetings, he’s always up watching extra tape. The way he prepares his body, he’s a football player, through and through.” – head coach Justin Wilcox

T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

Sr, 6’1″ and 242 lbs

T.J.  Edwards made the 2017 All-Big Ten First Team and the 2018 All-Big Ten Second Team.  He was 2017 All American Team (AP, USAT, ESPN, Athlon).  A four year starter he played in 53 games with 52 starts at inside linebacker. Edwards had 73 solo tackles which was second in the Big Ten and accounted for a 15% solo tackle team market share. He also is strong in pass coverage getting 3 interceptions and 2 passes defended in 2018. In 2017 he had 4 interceptions and 7 passes defended. Pro Football Focus gave Edwards a passer rating allowed of 63.3 for 2018 which was wanked 6th among Big 10 linebackers.

“Two super productive players … two guys who play with high motors … two selfless program guys who put the team ahead of themselves. The thing I’ve been really proud about this year is that whatever was going on in the game, good or bad, they were consistently positive for the young guys. – Bob Bostad (Wisconsin ILB coach) on TJ Edwards and LB Ryan Connelly

“I came here and worked as hard as I could to get to where I’m at. I tried to help guys younger than me to follow that path as well. Hopefully, I’ll leave here and be remembered as a good person and a good football player.” – TJ Edwards

Blake Cashman, Minnesota

Sr, 6’2″ and 235 lbs

Blake  Cashman was selected to the 2018 All-Big Ten Third Team (coaches) and the 2018 All-Big Ten Second Team (Media). His 62 solo tackles in 2018 was fifth in the Big Ten and earned a 13% team market share.  Cashman had 15 tackles for Loss in 2108 which was also fifth in the Big Ten. Pro Football Focus had Cashman as the highest graded linebacker in the Big Ten for 2018. He made their national team of the week two consecutive weeks for week 11 and 12 in 2018. Cashman made the Pro Football Focus 2018 All American Second Team.

“He is difficult to block because he’s powerful, but he also has that speed, A lot of guys are kind of one dimensional as a linebacker; they either have the power or the speed. He’s got both. He’s a tremendous, tremendous athlete.” – Fellow Minnesota Gopher OC Jared Weyler, who had to block Cashman

Blake Cashman did not receive any Division I scholarship offers following an all-state high school career. He  was a walk-on at Minnesota that played for his first two seasons without a scholarship. Blake was one of ten semi-finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy awarded to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on. Cashman was twice honored with team’s Gary Tinsley Award, as the player who best embodied the underdog spirit of the late former Gopher Gary Tinsley.

“He refuses to lose, There is a refuse to lose that comes as part of being a champion. They know how to win so much that losing is not an option, and that’s how Blake Cashman plays.” – PJ Fleck (head coach)

Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin

Sr, 6’3″ and 237 lbs

Ryan  Connelly made the 2018 All-Big Ten Third Team (coaches) and the 2018 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (media). He also made the 2017 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. In 2017 Pro Football Focus reported that no returning linebacker was better at stopping the run in 2016. Pro Football Focus selected Connelly for their 2018 Big Ten Team of The Year Second Team. Ryan Connelly was a walk-on and was one of ten semi-finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy awarded to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on. Connelly was one of ten semi-finalists for the Butkus Award given to the nations top linebacker. Ryan is recognized for seldom missing tackles and for coming through in big moments.

“Ryan is a tackling machine. That dude is a beast,” – redshirt senior safety D’Cota Dixon

Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State

Sr, 6’3″ and 240 lbs

Germaine  Pratt was selected for the 2018 All-ACC First Team. Pratt played safety his first two seasons and has a career 4 interceptions and 9 passes defensed. His first season at linebacker as a junior Pratt had two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. He is reported to be an outstanding athlete with range to go sideline to sideline. Pratt is another tackling machine and had the second highest tackles per game (9.45) in the ACC. Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable  describes Pratt as a “gym rat”. He was 195 lbs coming out of high school. He is now 240 and big, strong and athletic. Head Coach Dave Doeren had all praise for Pratt following their win October 6th over Boston College.  In that game Pratt had 13 tackles, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1 sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovered.

So I was really proud of him, not just for how he played but how he ran the show out there and got people lined up…..

…That says a lot about them, one, that they didn’t transfer when they weren’t the No. 1 guy, they kept working and grinding and being a great teammate, and now that it’s theirs, they’re seizing the moment….they’re kids of high character that when they have adversity they continued to battle. …. they don’t flinch. I mean, they make mistakes, they learn from them, the next play is the most important play, and those are things that when your best players do that, it helps the rest of the team immensely…”

 Cameron Smith, Southern California

Sr, 6’2″ and 250 lbs

Cameron  Smith was a 2015 All Pac-12 Team Honorable Mention, 2016 All Pac-12 Second Team, 2017 All Pac-12 First Team and 2018 All Pac-12 Second Team.  He made Pro Football Focus 2018 All Pac-12 Team as Flex Defense.

“Smith made a splash as a freshman and improved his grade every year since, and his 91.2 run-defense grade leads all Pac-12 linebackers.” – Pro Football Focus

Cameron is a two-time Trojan captain who started all four years at inside linebacker. He was the quarterback of the defense. He has been described as a “film rat”, instinctive, explosive and athletic. Cameron stops plays. Out of the top 99 players in 2018 for tackles per game Cameron had the second highest solo tackles to assisted tackles ratio (2.52). Only Joe Dineen had a higher ratio.  Smith’s 46 defensive stops this season compares favorably to Pro Football Focus’s All American David Woodward who had 49. Smith can also drop back in coverage. Over Smith’s four year college career he is one of only four players that had 200+ solo tackles, 2+ interceptions and 10+ passes defended. Smith could have declared for the draft last season when four other USC underclassmen declared. However Smith decided he wanted to remain and finish his fourth year at USC.

“It’s my last go-around, I’ve got one more shot to leave my legacy here. I strive for greatness. I’ve dreamed of being great since I first started playing. I like the sound of someone saying, ‘Hey, this is Cameron Smith, All-American.’ – Cameron Smith

Deshaun Davis, Auburn

Sr, 5’11” and 233 lbs

Deshaun  Davis made the 2018 All-Sec First Team. Pro Football Focus reported that Deshaun Davis made the most tackles for a loss or no gain in run defense among all Power-5 linebackers.  Davis is a three year starter at middle linebacker.  In their 63-14 victory over Purdue in the 2018 Music City Bowl Davis logged a team best nine stops and a sack. He is a leader of the defense and watches a lot of film to help himself and the team.

“I wouldn’t trade him, Right now, today, I would recruit Deshaun Davis every day of the week. He’s a football player. He loves football. He’s a leader on and off the field. I’m very happy to be his coach. I’m glad he’s at Auburn. He’s graduated. He’s an Auburn man. If I’m looking for a linebacker, I’m looking for a football player like Deshaun Davis.”- Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams

“He’ll play in the NFL, because he’s so smart. His freaking football IQ is just off the charts.” – Williams

Bryton Barr, Massachusetts

Sr, 6’0″ and 225 lbs

Bryton  Barr is finishing his final and seventh year of collegiate eligibility. Barr missed the majority of 2013 and all of 2014 and 2015 due to injury. He is a graduate transfer to Massachusetts. In 2018 Barr was ninth in the nation in total tackles with 140. He has made Phil Steele’s All-Independent First Team each pf the last two seasons. In 2018 he had double digit tackles in eight of his twelve games. Barr had 17 stops including 10 solo tackles against Boston College. In tow other games in 2018 Barr recorded 11 and 14 stops.

“Bryton Barr is probably going to go down in the history of my life as one of my favorite college football players ever. How he sees the game, how he plays the game, how he practices the game, how he represents it, … I find it very hard to find anyone who sees the game — and it means so much to him — and represents the game as well as he does.” – Towson head coach Rob Ambrose

“He’s got unbridled passion for the game of football. It doesn’t take over who he is in his personality, but it’s clear it’s ingrained in every aspect of his cells that he lives his life like a strong football player. He wants to excel at everything he does all the time and he does it in a way that makes people around him better.” – Rob Ambrose

In addition to their solo tackle market share production all of these ten linebackers show a strong intangible such as a strong work ethic, love of the game, unselfish teamwork, toughness or an intensity on every play.  This from reports and articles on the player.

See The Players

The following backers of the ten listed have accepted invites to play in the Reese Senior Bowl on January 26th and shown on the NFL Network.

Deshaun Davis

Germaine Pratt

Cameron Smith

The following have accepted to play in the East west Shrine Game on January 19th shown on the NFL Network

Joe Dineen

Ryan Connelly

Ben Burr-Kirven

The following players have accepted invites to the NFLPA Game on January 19th.

Jordan Kunaszyk

The Data

I have attached the spreadsheet that contains the draft eligible off-ball or middle linebackers that meet 11% or better solo tackle market share. There are more than picked for the ten here. However I picked the ten that had either higher market share numbers or better intangibles.

MLBs and Market Share

 

Top 2019 Pass Rusher Prospects Based On Market Share Production

Today I look at pass rushers for the 2019 NFL draft. These can be defensive ends or linebackers with pass rush productivity. In his 2015 article Ranking each position’s importance, from quarterback to returner NFL analyst, Bucky  Brooks, has pass rushers as the second most important position topped only by quarterbacks.

These are the top pass rushers based on 2018 team market share production for sacks, tackles for loss (TFL) and solo tackles. The overall production across these three statistics was taken into account. For that reason defensive ends Charles  Omenihu (Texas) , Montez  Sweat (Mississippi State), Anthony  Nelson (Iowa) and OLB D’Andre  Walker (Georgia) were excluded. They make the sack market share minimum but fail to do so for either solo tackles or Tackles for Loss. Market share is the player’s individual stat, such as sacks, divided by the whole team’s corresponding stat such as total team sacks.

Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

Defensive End, Sr, 6-4″ and 255lbs

Oshane  Ximines is recognized for great use of his hands. He has violent hands that free him from blockers. Also a positive is his motor. He constantly keeps on fighting no matter if double teamed, down by large score or on the field a long time. He often makes plays on second effort. Ximines has the production you like to see.

He was top five in Conference USA in sacks each of the last three seasons. His career sack total (33) is eighth in NCAA since 2005. In 2018 his team market share of sacks was 52%, the highest of all 24 edge rushers looked at. The next closet was Josh  Allen of Kentucky at 44%. His run defense is solid. Ximines has been eighth , fifth and fourth in Conference USA tackles for loss over the last there seasons with each season increasing.  His team market share of tackles for loss is 28% in 2018 which was the highest of the 24 edge rushers examined. The next highest was Jaylon  Ferguson at 26% market share. Ximines also forces fumbles leading conference USA with four in 2018. He has 11 career forced fumbles which is seventh in NCAA history since 2005.

Josh Allen, Kentucky

Outside Linebacker, Sr, 6’5″ and 260 lbs

When averaging the defensive linemen examined, Josh  Allen was one of only two linemen that scored above average market share in each category of solo tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. The other being Nate  Harvey of East Carolina. Allen’s 44% sack team market share was second only to Oshane  Ximines. Allen brought home the hardware in 2018 winning the

  1. Bronko  Nagurski Award,
  2. Chuck Bednarik Award,
  3. Ronnie  Lott Trophy,
  4. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and making
  5. unanimous Consensus All-America Team.

In 2018 Allen was number one in the SEC for sacks (14), tackles for loss (19) and forced fumbles (5).  His 5 forced fumbles was number one in the nation. Allen shows explosive burst and speed  in his first step rushing the passer and also does good dropping back into coverage. Allen was one of only five draft eligible players that had 10+ sacks, 10+ tackles for loss, 30+ solo tackles and 2+ passes defended.

E.J. Ejiya, North Texas

Outside Linebacker, Sr, 6’3″ and 231 lbs

EJ Ejiya made the 2018 C-USA All Conference First Team and the 2017 C-USA All Conference Honorable Mention. In 2018 he was third in the nation in Tackles for Loss (26). He is tops in the pass rushers examined in solo tackle team market share with 13%.  Ejiya made the Pro Football Focus (PFF) C-USA All Conference second Team. In week three he made the PFF Team if the Week for his game against Arkansas where he “produced as a pass-rusher (5 total QB pressures), as a run-defender (3 run stops) and in coverage (1 reception, 3 yards allowed).”

Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech

Defensive End, Sr, 6’5″ and 262 lbs

A four-year starter at defensive end, Jaylon made the C-USA Football All Conference First Team the last three seasons. In his freshman season he made C-USA All Conference Honorable Mention. Ferguson was the 2018 CUSA Defensive Player of the Year. In 2018 Ferguson had the second most tackle for a loss (TFL) in the nation (26) and the most sacks(18).  From a team market share his TFL market share (26%) was second among edge rushers examined. Ferguson’s 41% sack market share was third bested only by Oshane Ximines and Josh Allen. Ferguson was one of the other five draft eligible players described under Josh Allen for passes defensed, solo tackles, sacks, tackles for loss. Ferguson uses his hands well to shred blockers.

Nate Harvey, East Carolina

Outside Linebacker, Sr, 6’1″ and 225 lbs

Nate  Harvey made the 2018 AAC All-Conference First Team and was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year. He was fourth in the nation in tackles for loss (25) and in sacks (12). Harvey was a former walk-on transfer. Last season he was a fifth-string running back. He switched to defensive end in the preseason and has an exceptional senior year. The coaching staff is hoping to get him an extra year granted by the NCAA. College Football News selected Nate as first honorable mention (5th overall)  in their All-America Defensive Players – Defensive Ends. Though a little undersized, Harvey makes up for it in strength, power and speed. Harvey and Josh Allen were the only two pass rushers that scored above the group average in each of the three categories of sacks, TFLs, and solo tackles.

Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan

Defensive End, Jr, 6’5″ and 247 lbs

For each of the last two seasons Maxx  Crosby has made the All-MAC First Team. In 2018 Crosby was tenth in the nation in tackles for loss (19) and eighth in forced fumbles (4). His 19 tackles for loss equated to a 25% team market share. That was fourth best among the pass rushers examined. In 2017 his 11 sacks was sixth in the nation. For the 2017 season Pro Football Focus had Crosby graded as the third best edge defender. Among returning edge defenders from the left side of the D-Line he had the most total pressures in 2017 with 56 according to PFF.  Maxx Crosby is one of only five draft eligible players in 2018 to have 3+ passes defended, 30+solo tackles, 7.5+ sacks and 15+ tackles for loss.

Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois

Defensive End, Jr, 6’1″  and 237 lbs

Sutton  Smith was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 2017. He made the All-MAC First Team both seasons. He also won the 2018 Vern Smith Leadership Award presented to the best player in the conference. In 2017 Smith was a Consensus All-American.  Smith is number one in the nation in tackles for loss in both 2018 (27) and 2017 (30). His 59 career tackles for loss is ninth in the nation since 2005. Smith had 15 sacks in 2018 which was second in the nation. In 2017 he had 14 sacks which was first in the nation. Smith is eighth in the nation in forced fumbles (4). In 2018 Smith returned a punt for a touchdown. For his 2017 season Pro Football Focus had Smith as the highest graded edge defender and the best in four years.  Smith arrived at NIU as a running back. His freshman year he switched to linebacker. Then his breakout sophomore year he had switched to defensive end. Smith has an incredible work ethic in both the film room and the weight room. He entered NIU bench pressing 7 or 8 reps at 225. By this past preseason he was doing 29 reps. In film study NIU defensive line coach, Brett Diersen, compared Smith’s film study regime to that of his former player Ndamukong  Suh. Suh was a film room junkie.

Brian Burns, Florida State

Defensive End, Sr, 6’5″ and 235 lbs

Brian  Burns made the 2018 All-ACC First Team and was selected for the Athlon Sports 2016 All Freshman Team. His 10 sacks in 2018 was tie for ninth in the nation. His ten sacks was a 36% team market share which was fourth among edge rushers examined. According to Pro Football Focus Brian Burns led all edge defenders in total pressures with 69. Burns is highly regarded for his flexibility and ability to bend the edge. That coupled with his 6’5″” frame and athleticism are great tools for a great pass rusher.

Corbin Kaufusi, Brigham Young

Defensive End, Sr, 6’9″ and 275 lbs

Corbin  Kaufusi is a “football player”.  He played his last game of the season against Utah November 24th. Kaufusi played even though he required season ending surgery for a severe ankle injury. He also had a torn triceps around his elbow. Kaufusi was told by the doctors that he could not do any more damage by playing one more collegiate game, and if he felt like he could play through pain and be effective, they advised him that one more game was still possible. For the love of his team and the game Corbin played in that last game. “We go until the wheels fall off. That’s all I cared about.” – Kaufusi. In the game he had seven tackles of which six were solo. It was the second highest tackle amount on the team.

Kaufusi had eight sacks and nine tackles for loss (TFL) in 2018. His team market share numbers were 7.7% solo tackles, 16.7% TFL, and 34.1% sacks. Those are all above a minimum target percentage for indication of a Pro-Bowl caliber future. Kaufusi made those minimums for sacks, TFL and solo tackles in each of his last two years.  Corbin was on the Phil Steele All-Independent First Team each of the last two seasons. Corbin hustles in pursuit and has good motor. Some may be put off by his age. He is 25 years old and will be 26 at the draft. Corbin served a two year LDS mission to South Korea . In addition Corbin is an eagle Scout.  His maturity, love of team and game,  and a strong work ethic overshadows his older age.

Ronheen Bingham, Arkansas State

Defensive End, Sr, 6’2″ and 242 lbs

Ronheen  Bingham is the 2018 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. He made the 2018 All-Sun Belt First Team and the 2017 All-Sun Belt second Team.  In 2018 Bingham was number one in the Sun Belt in sacks (9) and tackles for Loss (19).  Bingham is one of only six players in 2018 to have 3+ passes defended, 25+ solo tackles, 9+ sacks and 15+ tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus lists Ronheen  Bingham as the nation’s leader in pass-rush win percentage at 29.4%.

The Data

For those interested here is the data.  It includes the minimums, average and target goals across the top rows. The players are listed with their position ranking at nfldraftscout.com. The player data lists their 2018 totals for solo tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. Next lists their team market share percentages for each of those. Any market shares below the target goal are highlighted in yellow. The next three columns are the player’s standard deviations form the group average for each of those. Highlighted  in blue are the players that had positive standard deviations in all three statistics. Finally is a sum of the standard deviations.

pass rushers 2019

 

Experienced veterans and up-And-coming young players for each position

In week 16 running back Adrian Peterson broke 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth time in his career. Peterson also passed Eric Dickerson to move into eighth place in all-time rushing yards. At the start of training camp Peterson was not in any team’s camp. The 33 year old back was training this past summer just in case a team called him. Then when rookie running back Derrius Guice got injured the Redskins brought in Peterson in mid-August. Peterson went on to show that he still has it.

That gave me the idea of this post on the oldest active star at each position and the youngest rising star at that position. Each player is shown with their team and their age.

Quarterback

Tom Brady, NE, 41

Tom  Brady is currently tied at sixth  on the list of oldest quarterbacks to play.  The oldest quarterbacks to play is Steve DeBerg who played to 44.

Brady is fourth in career passing yards and needs 1,700 yards to move past Favre and Peyton Manning into the number two spot.  He is third in career passing touchdowns.  He can move past Peyton  Manning with 26 more touchdowns.  Brady is fourth in Career Game Winning Drives, just 3 behind Dam Marino. Brady is second in career comebacks, eight behind Peyton Manning.

Lamar Jackson, BAL, 21

Lamar  Jackson is the third youngest  quarterback on an NFL roster.

Lamar Jackson has six starts and has a quarterback record of 5-1. He has completed 58% of his passes and has six passing touchdowns to three interceptions. His quarterback rating is 84.9, he has one game winning drive and a long completed pass of 74 yards. Lamar is a dual threat quarterback and has 605 rushing yards on 127 attempts. He is averaging 4.8 yards per rush attempt and has three rushing touchdowns. Lamar has 10 fumbles of which he recovered 5.  He has the most rushing yards of any quarterback even though he has only started six games.

Update: On Sunday, Lamar Jackson will start at quarterback for the Ravens in a playoff game against the Chargers. Jackson will be the first quarterback in NFL history to start a postseason game before turning 22.

Running Back

Frank Gore, MIA, 35

Frank  Gore is the oldest active running back in the NFL. The oldest running back to play was fullback Ken Strong who last played for the NY Giants in 1947 at age 41.

On January 1st, 2017 Frank Gore became the oldest running back in 32 years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Gore is fourth on the list of career rushing yards. He needs 522 yards to pass Barry Sanders and move into third place. Gore averaged 4.63 yards per carry in 2018 which was 20th in the NFL.

Saquon Barkley, NYG, 21

Saquon  Barkley is the fifth youngest running back on an NFL roster.

Saquon Barkley needs 114 all purpose yards in his season finale to join Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookie running backs to have 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. For the 2108 season Barkley is top ten in almost all running back statistics. Barkley is third in rushing yards (1,198), fifth in rushing touchdowns (10), fifth in long rush (78),  tenth on yards per rushing attempt (4.9), fourth in rushing yards per game (79.9), fourth in touchdowns (14) and third in All-Purpose yards (1,886). His 1,886 yards from scrimmage is 98th of all time.

Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, 35

Larry  Fitzgerald is the oldest active wide receiver. He is 46th on the list of oldest playing receivers. Jerry Rice is the oldest receiver to play and he played to the age of 42. He played most of his career with the 49ers but retired after playing for the Seahawks.

Fitzgerald is third in career receptions (1,299) and needs 27 more to pass Tony Gonzalez for the number two spot.  Larry Fitzgerald is second in career receiving yards (16.243) and only topped by Jerry  Rice (22,895).  He is seventh in career receiving touchdowns.  Fitzgerald has been selected to the Pro-Bowl eleven out of his fifteen seasons.

D.J. Moore, CAR, 21

D.J.  Moore is the second youngest wide receiver on an NFL roster.

Moore’s 879 yards from scrimmage is the most by a rookie receiver this year. His 82 yard reception week 11 against the Lions is the fifth longest reception in the league this season. Moore’s 68.9% catch percentage is the highest of all 2018 rookie wide receivers with 500+ receiving yards and the 17th highest by a rookie since 1991 with 500+ receiving yards.  Pro Football Focus has DJ Moore the top graded rookie wide receiver as of week 16.  He is currently the leader to break the highest Yards After the Catch (YAC) per reception by a rookie wide receiver with a minimum 200 receiving snaps. Moore has 8.2 YAC/Reception and the leader is Hakeem Nicks in 2009 with 9.23.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, LAC, 38

Antonio  Gates is the oldest active tight end and the third oldest to play of all time. The oldest tight end to play was Trey Junkin who last played for the 2002 NY Giants at age 41.

Antonio Gates is sixth for career receiving touchdowns (116). He is 2nd Team Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2000 Team. He has been selected to eight Pro Bowls and is a three-time First Team All-Pro. Through 15 weeks of the 2018 season Pro Football Focus has Antonio  Gates ranked as 10th among 69 qualifying players at the position.

Evan Engram, NYG, 24

Evan  Engram is not one of the youngest players at tight end. However he is one of the best active tight ends under 25.

Evan Engram was selected for the 2017 NFL All-Rookie Team.  As a rookie he caught 6 of 8 red-zone targets for 5 touchdowns. Over his first two seasons he has caught 8 touchdown passes. No other active tight end under 25 has caught more. Comparing per game stats of Evan Engram to all top tight ends under 25, Engram has the highest receptions per game and highest yards per game.

Tackle

Andrew Whitworth, LAR, 37

Andrew  Whitworth is the oldest active tackle in the NFL. The oldest tackle to play was John Nesser who played guard and tackle. John played his last in 1921 at the age of 45.

Andrew Whitworth made the NFL Top 100 list twice including in 2018. He has been selected to four Pro-Bowls with the last one in 2017. Whitworth is two-time First Team All-Pro with the last selection in 2017. About six years ago, Whitworth began studying the careers of older linemen and found that as most aged, they became overweight and their bodies failed to move like they once did. To combat that he watches his diet but mostly he is into training. This past offseason, Whitworth’s workouts included CrossFit, mixed martial arts, power lifting, interval training and running. Through three weeks in 2018 Pro Football Focus had Whitworth as the top graded offensive tackle.

Braden Smith, IND, 22

Braden  Smith is the sixth youngest offensive tackle in the NFL.  Through this his rookie season Smith has played in 14 of the 15 games and started 12. Braden starts at right tackle. Through 14 weeks Pro Football Focus has Braden Smith as the third best rookie offensive lineman and the second best tackle.  According to PFF he has allowed just 22 total pressures which is tied for fourth fewest among qualifying offensive linemen. Braden Smith made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team. The site thecomeback.com has Braden number nine in their rookie power rankings and the highest offensive tackle.

Guard

Marshal Yanda, BAL, 34

Marshal  Yanda is the oldest active guard in the NFL. As mentioned prior John  Nesser was the oldest player to play guard and he played to the age of 45.

Marshal Yanda has been selected to the Pro Bowl in seven of his last eight seasons missing only in 2017 when he was injured and played only 2 games.  Prior to his injury in 2017 Yanda was Pro Football Focus’s top-ranked guard for three straight seasons. He is a two time First Team All-Pro and made the NFL top 100 list for four years.

Will Hernandez, NYG, 23

Will  Hernandez started all 15 games so far as a rookie in 2018. Hernandez made the Pro Football Focus Mid-Season All-Rookie Team as the highest graded guard and the third highest offensive lineman. Hernandez and Quenton Nelson made the NFL 2018 All-Rookie Team as the guards. Hernandez has only three penalties compared to Nelson who has eight.

Center

Alex Mack, ATL, 33

Alex  Mack is the third oldest active center in the NFL. The oldest center to play in the NFL was Jeff Van Note. He retired 1986 from the Atlanta Falcons at the age of 40.

Alex Mack made the 2009 NFL All-Rookie Team and was selected for six Pro-Bowls including each of the last four seasons.  At the conclusion of the 2016 NFL season Mack was selected by Pro Football Focus as the best center over 30 years old. Alex Mack was ranked as the 18th best offensive lineman and fifth best center in the 2018 season by Pro Football Focus.

No Young Center

There were not any exceptional centers under age 25 that stood out. If redshirt sophomore  center Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin declares, he may be the new up and coming center.

Defensive End

Julius Peppers, CAR, 38

Julius  Peppers is the oldest active defensive end in the NFL. The oldest player to play at Defensive End was Jim Marshall who last played for the Vikings in 1979 at the age of 42.

Julius Peppers was selected to nine Pro-Bowls and is a three time First Team All-Pro.  Peppers has 172 career tackles for Loss which is second all time. He has 52 career forced fumbles which is second all time. Three more forced fumbles would pass Robert Mathis and give Julius  Peppers the most forced fumbles. Peppers has 158.5 career sacks which is fourth all time.  Two more sacks would pass Kevin Greene into third place. According to Pro Football Focus Julius Peppers has 88 games with four or more pressures since 2006, which is tied for the most for all defensive players in that span. Peppers wants to be more remembered for impacting lives – on and off the field, rather than his sacks.

Myles Garrett, CLE, 22

Myles  Garrett is the eighth youngest active defensive end. In 2017 he made the NFL All-Rookie Team. He was selected to the 2018 Pro-Bowl. In 2018 Garrett has 3 forced fumbles (10th) and  12.5 sacks (6th). By week 12 of the 2018 season Garrett had generated 50 pressures (4th among edge defenders). In the week 12 game he generated 12 pressures. At that time only two other players generated that many pressures in a game (they generated 13). Garrett had 29 quarterback hits on the year which is tie for fourth most.

Defensive Tackle

Kyle Williams, BUF, 35

Kyle  Williams is the oldest active defensive tackle in the NFL. He is completing his 13th season. Leo Nomellini was one of the oldest defensive tackles to play. He played for the 49ers to age 39. Nomellini was named to the NFL’s all-time team as a defensive tackle.

Kyle Williams has been selected to five Pro-Bowls and twice made the NFL Top 100 list. In a 2016 article Pro Football Focus named Kyle Williams as the Bill’s best player of the last decade (2006-2015).  In 2018 Kyle Williams was selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate.

UpDate (12/28/18) : The Bills announced that Kyle Williams will retire after this season

Da’Ron Payne, WAS, 21

Da’Ron  Payne is the second youngest active defensive tackle in the NFL.  He has started every game in his rookie season. Among rookie defensive tackles Payne has the most quarterback hits (8) and is tie for  most tackles for a loss (6) and sacks (5). Among rookie defensive tackles he is second in solo tackles (30). After eight weeks into the season Pro Football Focus had Da’Ron Payne with the highest rookie run stop percentage among defensive line and edge rookies.

Linebacker

Terrell Suggs, BAL, 36

Terrell  Suggs is the oldest active linebacker in the NFL. Junior Seau was the oldest linebacker to play the position. He last played for the Patriots in 2009 at the age of 40.

Terrell Suggs was the 2003 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has been selected to seven Pro-Bowls and is a 2011 First Team All-Pro. Suggs heads the list of career tackles for a loss with 193 which is 21 more than the second place player. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) at 36 years young, Suggs ranks 16th in pressure percentage (13.3) with 51 total pressures across his 383 pass-rush snaps. In the week 16 win of the Ravens over the Chargers Suggs Topped the defenders with a PFF 92.5 game grade. He logged a season-best eight total pressures (one hit and seven hurries).

Leighton Vander Esch, DAL, 21

Leighton  Vander Esch is the fourth youngest active linebacker in the NFL.  He was the NFC Defensive Player of the week in week 10. Esch has 99 solo tackles (2nd) and 131 combined tackles (3rd).  He leads all rookie linebackers in interceptions (2) and is second in passes defended (7).  Through the first six weeks of the season Esch is Pro Football Focus’s second highest graded rookie and their top graded linebacker. He remained their top graded rookie linebacker thru week 15.

Cornerback

Johnathan Joseph, HOU, 34

Jonathan Joseph is the fourth oldest active cornerback. Darrell Green was the oldest cornerback to play. He last played for the Redskins in 2002 at the age of 42.

Jonathan Joseph has been selected to two Pro-Bowls. He has a career 7 interceptions returned for a touchdown which is 11th in career history. Joseph has 181 career passes defended which is fifth in career history. Three more passes defensed and Joseph moves into third.

Denzel Ward, CLE, 21

Denzel  Ward is the youngest active cornerback in the NFL.  He has been selected to the Pro-Bowl this his rookie season. Ward made the NFL all rookie team and the PFF Mid-Season All Rookie Team.

Safety

Eric Weddle, BAL, 33

Eric  Weddle is the fourth oldest active safety in the NFL.  He has played for 12 seasons. Charles Woodson was the oldest playing safety. He last played in 2015 for the Raiders at the age of 39.

Eric Weddle has been selected for six Pro-Bowls and is a two-time First Team All-Pro. He has started every game since transferring to the Ravens in 2016.  According to Pro Football Focus in 2017 Eric Weddle led safeties in percent of targets intercepted (25%) for safeties with 15+ targets.

Derwin James, LAC, 22

Derwin  James is the tenth youngest active safety in the NFL. He has started every game in his rookie season. He is tie in second for most interceptions (3)  by a rookie. James leads all rookies in passes defensed (13) and is tie at ninth in the league. He is second among rookie defensive backs in solo and combined tackles. James is first among rookie defensive backs in sacks (3.5) and tie for first among the rookie DBs in tackles for loss (4). His 3.5 sacks is tie for first among all defensive backs. James’s passes defensed (13) accounts for 18.8% of the teams and his Solo Tackles (70) accounts for 11% of the team solo tackles. Both are good percentages especially for a rookie.

Special Teams

Adam Vinatieri, IND, 46

Adam  Vinatieri is the oldest active player in the NFL. He is the third oldest of all time. The next older player is kicker Morten Andersen who last played for the Falcons in 2007 at the age of 47. The oldest player is quarterback/kicker George Blanda who finished his career as a kicker and last played for the Raiders in 1975 at the age of 48.

Adam Vinatieri has played 23 seasons in the NFL for two teams. He was on the 1996 NFL All-Rookie Team and made the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1st Team All-2000s Team. Adam has been selected to three Pro-Bowls and was First Team All-Pro three times. Vinatieri is number one in career points scored (2,591), number two in career playoff games (30) and number two in Extra Point Made (849). Adam has a career 98.037% extra point percentage. He is number one in Total Field Goals made (580) and has a career 84.302% on field goals. That field goal percentage is 16th of all time.

Michael Dickson, SEA, 22

Michael  Dickson is the third youngest kicker in the NFL. He has played in 15 games and has 71 punts for 3,429 yards. He has averaged 48.3 yards per punt which is fourth best in the league. Dickson has a long punt of 69 yards which is the fourth longest in 2018. His 48.3 yard average is 27th best all time. In November Dickson was the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. Last year in college Dickson won MVP in the Texas Bowl. Michael Dickson is the first  rookie punter to be selected for the Pro Bowl since 1985. In a game against San Francisco he kicked a  65 yard punt and dropped two more at the 1 and 2 yard lines in 20 mph winds.

These “old-timers” are still performing at an incredible level in a sport that demands excellence. They can only do so with dedication to the sport. These young players have exhibited some of the skill, athleticism and dedication that made these older players great. These young players can learn a lot from the veterans. With that same dedication they can quote from Neil Young’s song “Old Man” – “Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.”

Enjoy the Week 17 Games and have a Happy New Year!!

New Year 1905
Baby representing New Year 1905 chasing old man 1904 into history.

 

2019 NFL Draft Quarterbacks Rated Based on Situational Data

Following up on the post on 2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects Meeting Seven Rules of Bill Parcells, I now take  a look at those seniors plus the top potential first round quarterbacks. Specifically I am looking at their 2018 statistics in regard to three key situations.

  1. Third down conversion percentage,
  2. Red Zone Touchdown percentage, and
  3. Big Play percentage.

A big play is considered 15+ yards passing or 10+ yards rushing. The percentages take into account both passing and rushing plays by the quarterback. Rankings listed below are among the sixteen quarterbacks examined.

The idea being that these are three key areas that would have a large impact on game outcome. In total I looked at sixteen quarterbacks. I determined their percentages in each key situation based on data available at cfbstats.com. I then took their average percentage across all situations and also the sum of their standard deviation across all sixteen quarterbacks. From those two views here are the top seven quarterbacks based on these situational statistics.

Justice Hansen

Arkansas State

6’4″ and 224 lbs

Senior

Of the sixteen quarterbacks looked at, Hansen had the highest red zone touchdown percentage with 35.8% of his red zone attempts translating into touchdowns.  His passing touchdown percentage is up at 40%. That is almost 6% higher than the next quarterback in the group of sixteen. Hansen is a dual threat quarterback. He had the third most rushing attempts on this list and 16.5% went for big plays. That percentage was fifth in the group but tops among these top seven quarterbacks. Hansen was number one in the Sun Belt in passing touchdowns (27) and touchdowns responsible for (33). His 33 total touchdowns was 14th in the nation. Big, tough mobile quarterback with a strong arm. Hansen was Sun Belt Conference 2018 First-Team and was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year. Hansen can be seen December 29th in the Arizona Bowl on CBS Sports Network at 1:15pm (ET).

Will Grier

West Virginia

6’2″” and 223 lbs

Senior

Will  Grier came in next for red zone touchdown percentage. He is usually throwing to receiver David Sills. Sills is said to be lethal in the red zone but Grier is making the throws. Grier has converted 35% of his red zone attempts into touchdowns. He shows high in the group of sixteen for passing coming in second, third and fourth for passing for red zone, 3rd down and big plays respectively. Grier was one of three finalists for the 2018 Maxwell Award given to the best all-around player. He was also one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Award Player of the Year. Will Grier can be seen at the Reese Senior Bowl.

Dwayne Haskins

Ohio State

6’3″ and 218 lbs

Sophomore

Haskins had the second most passing attempts in the nation. He also had the second most passing plays of 20+ yards. His big play percentage comes in at 19% which is third on this group of 16 quarterbacks. Like Grier, Haskins shows tops in the group of 16 for passing. He comes in second, third and third for passing in 3rd down, red zone and big plays respectively. Haskins was one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Haskins can be seen January 1 in the Rose Bowl at 5pm (ET) on ESPN.

Ryan Finley

North Carolina State

6’4″ and 212 lbs

Senior

Finley comes in as number one in the group for 3rd down conversion percentage. A whopping 48.6% of his third down attempts convert to first down. He had the third lowest 3rd down rush attempts at 14 but he converted 71.4% of those. He had the highest number of third down pass attempts (124) and he converted 46% which was fourth best. NC State ranked eighth in the FBS on third down conversions (49%) even though their rushing game ranked 87th in rushing yards per attempt. Finley had the third most total passing attempts (452) and he had a big play on 21% which is second best. Finley was 2018 All-ACC Football First-Team and one of thirteen finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The Campbell Trophy incorporates academics, community service, and on-field performance. It is considered by many to be the “Academic Heisman.” Finley can be seen December 31st in the TaxSlayer Bowl at 7:30 pm (ET) on ESPN. Also Finley will play in the Reese Senior Bowl.

Jake Browning

Washington

6’2″ and 210 lbs

Senior

Washington ranks 108th of the 130 FBS teams in Passing Play Percentage (39.8%). So it is understandable that Jake Browning ranks last in this group of 16 quarterbacks in Passing Attempts with 334. However Browning ranks number one in the group in Big Play Percentage with 20.7% of his attempts going for a big play. On passing attempts alone that percentage goes up to 23.65%.  Though Browning had the least number of passing attempts in the group of 16, he has the fifth most passing big plays. Browning also excelled in making 3rd downs where he comes in 3rd in the group making 43.5% of his third down attempts. He is second in rushing 3rd down attempts making 50% on the fifth most rush attempts (34).  In passing in the red zone he was tie at fifth getting a touchdown on 29.3% of attempts. Jake Browning has been the quarterback for more victories than any other player in Pac-12 Conference history. You can see Browning in the Rose Bowl on January 1st at 5pm (ET) on ESPN.

Brett Rypien

Boise State

6’2″ and 202 lbs

Senior

Rypien is second in the group in third down conversion percentage (48.4%). He is first in passing 3rd down conversion at 49.17%. That is on the second most 3rd down passing attempts (120). Pro Football Focus had Rypien as one of their top five quarterbacks heading into Bowl season recognizing his clutch performance on 3rd down. Brett Rypien is the 2018 Mountain west Conference Player of the Year. You can see Rypien in the First Responder Bowl on December 26th at 1:30pm (ET) on ESPN. Rypien will also play in the East West Shrine Game on January 19th on the NFL Network.

Marcus McMaryion

Fresno State

6’2″ and 203 lbs

Senior

McMaryion is a dual threat quarterback. He had the fourth most red zone rushing attempts of the group (19) and converted to a touchdown on a group high 42.1%. Though sixth of the group of sixteen in big play rushing percentage, his 15.5% was second best among these top seven quarterbacks.  McMaryion’s overall red zone touchdown percentage of 31.6% was fourth best in the group of 16. At ten games thru the 2018 season Pro Football Focus has Marcus leading the nation’s quarterbacks in red zone passer rating (124.4). McMaryion will play in the East West Shrine Game on January 19th on the NFL Network.

The Data

The sixteen quarterbacks looked at for this analysis were

Brent Stockstill – Middle Tennessee State
Brett Rypien  – Boise State
Daniel Jones – Duke
Drew Lock – Missouri
Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State
Eric Dungey – Syracuse
Gus Ragland – Miami (OH)
Jake Browning – Washington
Jarrett Stidham – Auburn
Justice Hansen – Arkansas State
Justin Herbert – Oregon
Manny Wilkins – Arizona State
Marcus McMaryion – Fresno State
Ryan Finley – North Carolina State
Shea Paterson  – Michigan (returning to school)
Will Grier – West Virginia

I have attached the data. The cells are boxed for 3rd down, red zone and Big Play data. The seven best names based on the data are highlighted in yellow. The data has the data counts for passing and rushing attempts/made. Followed by a column each for their passing % and their rushing %. That is followed by the total %.  For the totals blue highlight denotes above group average and yellow highlight denotes significantly below the average.

QB Situational Data

 

2019 NFL Draft: Wide Receiver Prospects that Produced in 2018

Don Hutson is considered to have been the first modern receiver. (1940)

The following receivers are the draft eligible receivers (including declared underclassmen) that have 1000+ receiving yards in 2018 and whose reception yards are 30% or more of their team’s passing yards. The latter based on historical data appears to correlate to NFL Pro-Bowl and All-Pro careers.

Andy Isabella

Massachusetts

5’10” and 190 lbs

Senior

Isabella is one of only three receivers in the FBS since 2000 that had 300+ receiving yards on 10 or less receptions in a game. His 2018 regular season production totals of 1,697 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns puts him in an elite group of 27 receivers since 2000 that had 1500+ yards and 12+ touchdowns in the regular season.  Isabella is the only player in that group from the 2018 season  and is ranked seventh in the group for receiving yards. Among current players Isabella’s  1,697 receiving yards in 2018 was number one in the nation and 287 yards more than the second place receiver.  He made Phil Steele’s Independent First Team each of his last three seasons. Isabella was one of three finalists for the 2018 Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s top receiver and was a 2018 FBS Consensus First Team All-American. Isabella had an astonishing 47.5% market share of his team’s passing yards. According to Pro Football Focus his quarterback had a 130.1 passer rating when targeting Isabella. He has accepted an invite to play in the Reese Senior Bowl on January 26th.

Scott Miller

Bowling Green

5’11” and  166 lbs

Senior

In 2018 Miller was one of 31 receivers that had 1000+ receiving yards and Miller was ninth on that list for yards per reception (16.2). Miller’s receptions accounted for 40% of his team’s passing yards. Scott Miller made the 2018 Second-Team All-Mac. His 1,148 receiving yards was tops in the MAC. His six receptions of 40+ yards in 2018 was tie for tenth in the nation and in the top twenty receivers. In 2018 sixty-eight percent of his receptions went for a 1st down and thirty-eight percent were for 15+ yards. Among active players Miller ranks sixth in career receptions (214) and seventh in career receiving yards (2,872). He has speed and out of high school had offers to run track at several Big Ten schools. According to Pro Football Focus Miller averaged 5.7 yards after the catch per reception which was 16th among the 33 receivers with at least 69 catches. In 2017 Scott Miller had a 72.4% catch rate on 87 targets and a 58.6 success rate. Success rate is a factor of down and distance and computed by Football Study Hall. In 2017 receivers with 80+ targets averaged a Catch Rate of 62.9% and a Success Rate of 49.5%.

Preston Williams

Colorado State

6’4″ and 210 lbs

Junior

Williams is third in the nation in receptions (96) and receiving touchdowns (14).  He is fourth in the nation in receiving yards (1,345). Williams is 2018 All-Mountain West First-Team. As reported by Pro Football Focus, Preston Williams was the nation’s most targeted receiver in 2018 and he accumulated the second most first downs plus touchdowns (65). Half of his twelve games were 100+ receiving yard games. Williams has a great combination of size and athleticism. He was on the Colorado State track and field team. He made the 2017 All Mountain West team for the triple jump and was the Mountain West Indoor Track & Field Men’s Field Athlete of the Week (2/21/17).

KeeSean Johnson

Fresno State

6’2″ and 199 lbs

Senior

Johnson is a two year All-Mountain West Second Team selection in 2017 and 2018, as well as an Honorable mention in 2016. In 2018 he was fourth in the nation in receptions (95) and sixth in receiving yards (1,340).  KeeSean Johnson is one of only five active players whose last two seasons each had 1000+ yards receiving and 7+ receiving touchdowns. The others are Andy  Isabella, N’Keal  Harry,  Trevon  Brown and Marquise  Brown. According to Pro Football Focus Johnson caught 63.6% of his deep passes (20-plus yards) to go with 14 missed tackles forced and a passer rating when targeted of 132.9. KeeSean has developed into a big physical player.

N’Keal Harry

Arizona State

6’4″ and 213 lbs

Junior

Harry made the All Pac-12 Conference First Team for each of the last two seasons.  Harry has elite size, strong hands and is good at making contested catches. He needs to improve his route running and release in press coverage. Going to school in Arizona has allowed Harry to be seen often by future Hall-Of-Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald. This is what Fitzgerald has to say on N’Keal Harry. “I’ve pretty much watched every game he’s played,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a phenomenal talent.” “He’s a much better college player than I was,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s so physical. His hands are so strong. He can really track the ball over either shoulder. It’s been a real delight to be able to watch him play.” In 2017 Harry had a 68% catch rate on 120 targets. Harry is a excellent hands catcher and rarely body catches. He was one of eleven semifinalists for the Biletnikoff award.

Stanley Morgan Jr.

Nebraska
6’1″ and 200 lbs

Senior

Stanley Morgan was a Big-Ten Conference Second Team for each of the last two seasons.  Morgan excels in route running and creating separation off the line of scrimmage.  He is a physical receiver with a good stiff arm. He is a hands catcher and has made some amazing catches including a couple of one-hand catches in 2017. Recognized on his team with the 2018 Offensive MVP and the Guy Chamberlin Trophy  given to the outstanding senior football player. Morgan is one of only eleven draft eligible players (including declared underclassmen) that have 1000+ yards receiving, 7+ receiving touchdowns and 14+ yards per reception in 2018.

Antoine Wesley

Texas Tech

6’5″ and 185 lbs

Junior

Wesley was named to the All Big-12 Second Team. He was second in the nation in receiving yards (1,410) and ninth in receptions (88). Wesley’s 16 yards per reception was fourth among draft eligible receivers (including declared underclassmen) with 1000+ receiving yards. Wesley had 17 receptions of 30+ yards which was most in the nation. His average 117 receiving yards per game was second in the nation. He excels in tracking and adjusting to throws and in contested catches. His height and leaping ability make him difficult to cover. Wesley had a 67.2% catch rate on 131 targets and he did this with three different quarterbacks. He also is elusive and has had at least three plays this year where he got 20+ yards after the catch. One of eleven semifinalists for the Biletnikoff award.

Trevon Brown

East Carolina

6’2″ and 215 lbs

Senior

Trevon Brown made the AAC 2018 All-Conference First Team after making the Second Team in 2017.  He was tied at seventh in the nation in receiving plays of 10+ yards with 48. Pro Football Focus ranked Brown third among 2018 draft eligible receivers for 2017 yards on deep passes (548).  Over the last two seasons Brown had 37 receptions on third down and 81% made the first down. Brown has a strong work ethic and never missed a practice his senior year. Head coach Scottie Montgomery described Brown as a team player who works hard. His hard work has played off in making the ECU records book. In ECU records he stands fourth in career receptions and career receiving yards, third and eighth  in single season receiving yards, first and sixth in single game receiving yards, and second in career touchdowns. In 2017 Brown led the nation in number of 90+ yard receiving plays with two 95 yard plays. Trevon Brown accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

A.J. Brown

Ole Miss

6’1″ and 225 lbs

Junior

Named to the All-SEC First Team each of the last two seasons. One of eleven semifinalists for the Biletnikoff award. Fourth in the nation in receiving plays of 20+ yards with 24. A big, tough, physical receiver that can get yards after the catch by making defenders miss and breaking tackles. In 2017 A.J. Brown had a 79.8% catch rate on 94 targets and a 63.8 success rate.  Those figures are amazing as the average was a Catch Rate of 62.9% and a Success Rate of 49.5%. Sure hands and good route running distinguish A.J. Brown.

Travis Fulgham

Old Dominion

6’3″ and 215 lbs

Senior

Fulgham was a 2018 C-USA All Conference Second Team. He was number one in Conference USA in receiving yards (1,083).  Fulgham had nine receiving touchdowns, one in each of his last nine games. He made the Pro Football Focus (PFF) Conference USA Team of the Year. According to PFF, Fulgham had a combined 51 first-down and touchdown receptions to tie for the conference lead. Seventy-six percent of his receptions were for a first down. He had 22 receptions of 20+ yards which was tie for seventh in the nation. Fulgham was a walk-on at Old Dominion when it was transitioning from FCS to the FBS. His high school receiver coach, Myron Curtis, had this to say about Travis – “special type of player that, if you’re lucky, you get to coach once in your career.”  He raved about his all around game from speed  to his ability to win jump balls. Fulgham is also a good blocker. Travis Fulgham will play in the Reese Senior Bowl.

Kelvin Harmon

North Carolina State

6’3″ and 214 lbs

Junior

After making the 2017 All-ACC Second Team, Harmon improved to make the 2018 All-ACC First Team. He was tenth in the nation in receiving yards (1,186) and first in the ACC. Harmon has a reputation for making difficult catches. He is a physical player demonstrating power and strength. Harmon had 81 receptions in 2018 and 73% were either a touchdown or first down. NC State ranked eighth in third down conversions (49%). Harmon helped on third downs where on 15 third down receptions he made 14 first downs and one touchdown.

The 2019 NFL draft is looking to be strong at defensive interior linemen, edge rushers and wide receivers. As the NFL moves more towards a passing league this looks like a good draft to pick up a receiver. These were some that stood out based on 2018 production.

 

 

2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects Meeting “Seven Rules” of Bill Parcells

With now 13 teams eliminated from the NFL playoffs and college bowl games commencing, I take a look at the 2019 college quarterback class. Specifically quarterbacks that meet Bill Parcells’ seven rules for drafting a quarterback.

The Bill Parcells’ seven rules for drafting a quarterback are

1. Be a three-year starter

2. Be a senior in college

3. Graduate from college

4. Start 30 games

5. Win 23 games

6. Post a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio

7. Tally a completion rate of 60 percent or higher.

 

Drew Brees announces the Saints’ draft pick at the NFL 2010 Draft
Author – Marianne O’Leary
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Quarterbacks to check all seven boxes since 1999 are Drew Brees, Robert Griffin III, Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart, Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota, Chad Pennington, Philip Rivers, Tim Tebow, Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph. The 2019 NFL draft class quarterback prospects that meet all seven of these are the following nine prospects.

The Prospects

Ryan Finley

North Carolina State

Ryan Finley has improved his passing yards, completion percentage and passer rating each of the last three years. In  2018 he was ninth in the nation in completion percentage (67.9%) and eighth in passing yards (3,789).  In the ACC conference he was first in passing yards per attempt (8.4) and passing touchdowns (24). He made the 2018 All-ACC Football First-Team. December 31st you can see Finley in the Taxslayer Bowl at 7:30 pm (ET) on ESPN.

Brett Rypien

Boise State

Brett Rypien is the 2018 Mountain west Conference Player of the Year. He is ninth in the nation in passing yards (3,705) and passing touchdowns (30). Brett made the Pro Football Focus All-Mountain West First Team. PFF analysts also had Rypien as the fifth top quarterback heading into bowl season, second most big-time throws and best quarterback on third down. Rypien has a 77% win percentage with 48 career starts and is a 4 year starter. Brett has passed for a career 13, 578 yards which is 12th most in FBS history since 2000 and highest among active college quarterbacks. Brett Rypien is one of ten finalists for the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. You can see Rypien in the First Responder Bowl on December 26th at 1:30pm (ET) on ESPN.

Eric Dungey

Syracuse

Eric Dungey is tie for ninth in the nation in rushing touchdowns (15) and one of only two quarterbacks that high on the list.  He is first in the ACC Conference in touchdowns responsible for (32).  A dual-threat quarterback, Dungey is one of only seven quarterbacks in 2018 that had a minimum 15 passing touchdowns and 700 rushing yards. A Pro Football Focus preseason look at the top 2019 draft prospects had Dungey listed as number nine among quarterbacks. Eric Dungey is one of ten finalists for the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. You can see Dungey in the Camping World Bowl on December 28th at 5:15pm (ET) on ESPN.

Jake Browning

Washington

Jake Browning was in the top five in the Pac-12 in passer rating each of the last three seasons. He was first in 2016 and 2017. He was in the top three in the Pac-12 in passing yards per attempt each of the last three seasons. Jake has a 75% career win percentage at Washington and has started 52 games over four years. He has more victories than any other player in Pac-12 Conference history. In 2016 Browning was Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Pac-12. Browning holds the Washington passing touchdowns records for career, single season and single game. Since his elite year in 2016 Browning has trended downwards. In 2018 Browning threw only 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Jake Browning has a career passer rating of 151.9. That is seventh best among college quarterbacks over the last five years that passed for over 10,000 yards. You can see Browning in the Rose Bowl on January 1st at 5pm (ET) on ESPN.

Justice Hansen

Arkansas State

Justice Hansen made the Sun Belt Conference 2018 First-Team and was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year.  He was also the 2017 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.  Hansen was number one in the Sun Belt Conference in Pass Completion Percentage (67%), Passing Yards per Attempt (8.2), Passing Yards (3,172), Passing Touchdowns (27), Passer Rating (155.6) and Touchdowns Responsible For (33). Hansen is a dual-threat quarterback. In 2018 Hansen was one of only eleven quarterbacks to have a minimum completion percentage of 60%, throw 19+ touchdowns, pass for 500+ yards and rush for 300+ yards. Justice Hansen, Manny  Wilkins and Jordan Ta’amu were the only seniors of the eight and with Kyle Murray choosing to play baseball Hansen, Wilkins and Ta’amu are the only draft eligible prospects on the list. You can see Justice Hansen in the Arizona Bowl on December 29th at 1:15pm on CBS Sports Network.

Brent Stockstill

Middle Tennessee State

Brent Stockstill was awarded Conference USA Most Valuable Player and made the C-USA First team.  He was number sixth in the nation in Pass Completion Percentage (70.1%) and tenth in passing touchdowns (29).  He is one of 20 quarterbacks to have five or more 300+ yard passing games in 2018 (5). His career passing completion percentage of 65.4% is fourteenth among college quarterbacks over the last 5 years that had a minimum 5,000 career passing yards.  Among current quarterbacks he was topped only by Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray and Will Grier, all three potential first round picks. Brent’s career 106 passing touchdowns is 17th among college quarterbacks since 2000 and tops among current quarterbacks. Brent played in the New Orleans Bowl on December 15th in the 45-13 loss to Appalachian State. Brent was sacked six times and threw two interceptions. However Brent still showed his passing talent completing 25 of 37 for 330 yards. He made some bad decisions throwing up one for grabs on one interception to avoid a sack.

Marcus McMaryion

Fresno State

Marcus McMaryion is seventh in the nation in Pass Completion Percentage (68.6%) and Total Yards (3,923).  His Pass Completion percentage is tops in the Mountain West Conference. At ten games thru the 2018 season Pro Football Focus has Marcus leading the nation’s quarterbacks in red zone passer rating (124.4). McMaryion squared up against Manny  Wilkins in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 15th.  Fresno State came away with the win  31-20. Marcus did not look that impressive and had one of the lower rated games of his season completing just 52% and with only 1 rushing touchdown and two interceptions.

Manny Wilkins

Arizona State

According to Pro Football Focus, in 2017 Manny Wilkins held the nation’s fourth highest passer rating on deep passes of 20+ yards among draft eligible quarterbacks. He had the highest passer rating on deep passes among all Pac-12 quarterbacks. In 2017 Wilkins threw 14 passes of 40+ yards which was tie for tenth most in the nation. From the 2016 season thru 2018 Manny Wilkins was tie for the second most games with a completion percentage of 60% or better with 27 games. Wilkins is a dual-threat quarterback. Manny, Justice Hansen and Jordan Ta’amu  were the only seniors on a list of eleven quarterbacks that in 2018 had a minimum completion percentage of 60%, threw 19+ touchdowns, passed for 500+ yards and rushed for 300+ yards. Manny played on December 15th in a 31-20 loss in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Gus Ragland

Miami (OH)

Among the top 100 quarterbacks for touchdown passes over the last five years, Gus Ragland has the eighth best touchdown to interception ratio at 4.7.  Among active quarterbacks he is beat out only by Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins both projected first round picks. Ragland is the 2018 All-Mac Third Team.

The Data

Here is a spreadsheet with the data on these nine quarterbacks. They are sorted by 2019 quarterback class rank as determined by nfldraftscout.com. Also included is a column listing their Bowl games.

2019 QBs meeting Parcells 7 rules

In Conclusion

This view ruled out all the underclassmen quarterbacks that may dominate the first round for quarterback selections. It is not an end-all approach to drafting quarterbacks. However it does present a view that has some merit. Parcells’ rules look for experienced, accurate quarterbacks that show good ball security, find ways to win and finish things they start. In the competitive world of college football just to be a three year starter says a lot about the prospect. These are good traits to look for in a quarterback.

Enjoy the College Bowl Games!

 

NFL Week 15: Three Games that have Slugfest Potential

Week 15 of the NFL season brings many games that teams are fighting to stay alive in the playoff race or win a division title. Here are three games that should be great battles. These teams have a combination of the most on the line coupled with the closest parity. That combination of factors can generate some good battles.

AFC

Raiders vs Bengals (Sunday 1:00 ET, CBS, OH-CA-NV area)

In explosiveness differential these two teams sit next to each other with the Raiders tied at 24th and the Bengals at 23rd. In passing offense the teams are tied at sixth with 48 passing plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 43. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is sixth in completion percentage with 69.4%.  He is fifth in passing plays of 20+ yards with 48. Bengal receiver Tyler Boyd has the fourth most receptions of 20+ yards in the league with 20. In rushing offense the Bengals are ninth with 12 rushing plays of 20+ yards. Bengal running back Joe Mixon has 7 of those which is 9th most in the league. The raiders are 26th in the league with only 6 rushing plays of 20+ yards. Explosive play passing defense is not a strong point. Both these teams are tie for 24th with 50 passing plays of 20+ yards allowed. The league average is 43.  The teams are close in explosive rushing defense with the Bengals 22nd with 11 plays of 20+ yards allowed and the Raiders at 23rd with 12 plays allowed.

In turnovers the Bengals are 19th with a minus one differential. The Raiders are 22nd with a minus five differential. Both teams are close in giveaways and takeaways. They are around the league average in giveaways but below average in takeaways.

In field position differential the Raiders are 26th and the Bengals are 16th. Oakland is sixth in average opponent kickoff return with 21.1 yards. Cincinnati is 25th with 23.8 yards. Oakland is one of five teams to have given up a touchdown on a punt return.

In finishing drives differential the Bengals are 29th with a net -0.62 points per drive and the Raiders are 32nd with a net -0.96 points per drive. On offense the Bengals are 15th with an average 2.12 points per drive. The Raiders are 27th with an average 1.74 points per drive.  The Bengals score an average 23.6 points per game and the Raiders an average 18.8 points. On defense these teams are right next to each other with the Raiders at 30th with an average 2.70 points per drive allowed and the Bengals at 31st with an average 2.74 points per drive allowed. In points per game defense these two teams are dead last with the Raiders at 31st with 29.8 points per game allowed and the Bengals at 32nd with 30.5 points per game allowed. Oakland is better in red zone defense coming in at 16th with 58.8% touchdowns allowed. The Bengals are 26th with 68% touchdowns allowed. On offense the Bengals are very good in the red zone , scoring a touchdown on 75% of their trips. That is second best in the league.

In team play efficiency, as measured by Football Outsiders, the Bengals rank 24th in net overall efficiency and the Raiders rank 29th.  They are close in offense efficiency the the Bengals at 16th and the Raiders at 17th. Not far apart in defense efficiency with the Bengals at 28th and the Raiders at 31st.  Special teams sees the biggest discrepancy with the Bengals ranked 12th and the raiders ranked 29th.

This may not be a pretty game but it should be a close hard-fought contest as two closely matched teams square off with the Bengals fighting at the 1:00 games to keep their remote playoff possibility alive. The Bengals started the season at 4-1 but have lost their last five games. In November they hired former Browns coach Hue Jackson as a special assistant to the head coach. Marvin Lewis.

NFC and AFC

Giants vs Titans (Sunday 1:00 ET, CBS, NY-TN area)

From explosiveness differential both these teams are close. The Giants from an offensive positive and the Titans for a defensive positive. The Giants are tie for first in rushing explosiveness with Saquon Barkley having a record setting rookie year. The five teams in first with 15 rushing plays of 20+ yards are the Chiefs (lost Hunt – 7, Hill – 3), Chargers (Gordon – 9,  Ekeler – 3), Browns (Chubb – 8) Giants (Barkley -14) and Bears (Cohen – 6, Howard – 4). One more 20+ yard run by Barkley would put him at the most of any back over the last four seasons. The Titans are tie for fifth in rushing explosiveness defense allowing only 6 plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 9.75. Their pass defense is also pretty good at eighth allowing only 37 plays of 20 yards. The league average is 43 plays. Titan safety Kevin Byard had a First-Team All Pro year his 2017 season. He is ranked as a top ten safety by Pro Football Focus for 2018.  In passing offense Giant Odell Beckham has the eighth most receptions of 20+ yards in the league with 17.  According to Pro Football Focus Titan quarterback Marcus Mariotta has only attempted 25 deep passes this season, but he has completed 11 of them and has had five of them dropped. This gives him an adjusted completion percentage of 64% on deep passes, which is the best rate for any quarterback with 25 or more deep attempts in the past 13 seasons.

On turnover differential the Giants have the upper hand . The Giants are tie for twelfth  in the league with a plus 5 differential. The Titans are twentieth with a minus 4 differential. The Giants are tie for sixth on giveaways with only 14. The Titans are tie for 29th in takeaways with only 11. Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree leads all linebackers in interceptions with five and is fourth among linebackers in passes defensed with eight. Ogletree’s five interceptions is fourth across all positions.

In field position the Colts also have the upper hand. The Giants come in at 15th in field position differential to 9th for the Titans. Offensively the Colts and the Giants are close on starting field position.  However on defense the Giants are twelfth in opponent starting position to the Titans at 22nd.  The Titans have the worst average opponent yards per kickoff return at 29 yards to the Giants third best at 19.5 yards. On punts the Giants are seventh with opponents averaging 6.9 yards to the Titans at 28th averaging 10.1 yards. Tennessee is one of three teams that have given up a kickoff touchdown with a 102 yards run-back. They also are one of there teams to have a kickoff return for a touchdown by Darius Jennings. For offense the Titans have the best kickoff return average averaging 34.4 yards per return.

The Titans win in finishing drives. They are 14th in net points per drive at +0.07 points to the Giants who are 20th with -0.21. On offense the Giants are 18th with +2.02 points per drive and the Titans are 23rd with +1.85 points per drive. On defense the Titans are 5th allowing only 1.78 points per drive. The Giants are 24th allowing 2.23 points per drive. The Titans are 4th in allowing only 19.5 points per game to the Giants at 23rd allowing 25.5 points per game. On offense the Giants are 17th getting 23.6 points per game to the Titans at 27th getting 19.3 points per game.

Overall Team efficiency as measured by Football Outsiders looks at every play and determines a success success value. Based on their calculations the Giants are 14th in overall efficiency, 14th in offensive efficiency, 20th in defensive efficiency and 3rd in special teams efficiency.  The Titans are 21st in overall efficiency, 23rd in offensive efficiency, 17th in defensive efficiency and 15th in special teams efficiency.

Based on these measures and a formula weighting each factor the two teams are pretty close. The Giants come in slightly ahead with a rank of 18th and the Titans at 22nd. It should be a real battle as the two teams battle to keep their playoff hopes alive. With six seeds getting in the playoffs the Titans currently sit at the ninth seed in the AFC and the Giants at the 12th seed in the NFC.

Colts vs Cowboys (Sunday 1:00 ET, Fox, Large portion Southern US)

In net explosiveness these teams rank 11th (Cowboys) and 12th (Colts). The Colts are a far more explosive team in passing ranking 17th with 41 passing plays of 20+ yards. Colt receiver T.Y. Hilton is ninth in the league for receptions of 20+ yards with 16. The Cowboys rank 29th with 33 passing plays of 20+ yards. The league average is 43 plays. In rushing explosiveness the Cowboys rank 12th with 11 plays of 20+ yards. Ezekiel Elliot has 10 of those and is tie for second in the league in rushing plays of 20+ yards.  The Colts are 22nd in rushing plays of 20+ yards with 7. Defense on pass explosiveness these teams are close and near the top. The Cowboys rank 5th allowing 33 plays of 20+ yards and the Colts rank 7th allowing 35 plays. The league average is 43 plays. Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is second among linebackers in solo tackles and eigth in passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus Cowboy Byron Jones has allowed a 50% catch rate, and on seven of his 23 catches allowed, he’s made a tackle for a stop. That 65.2% success rate is the best rate for all cornerbacks this year. Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads all linebackers in solo tackles, assisted tackles and total tackles. Leonard also has seven sacks and four forced fumbles on the season. In explosive run defense the Cowboys rank fifth with six rushing plays of 20+ yards allowed. The Colts rank 12th with nine plays allowed.

In turnover differential the teams rank 17th (Colts) and 18thy (Cowboys)with plus one and zero differentials respectively. The Colts are eighth in the league with 21 takeaways. The Cowboys are 18th in the league with 15 takeaways. The league average is 18. In giveaways the Colts rank 24th in the league with 20 giveaways and the Cowboys rank 9th with 15 giveaways. The league average is 18. Quarterback Andrew Luck is tied for second in the league for most interceptions with 13. He trails only rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

In field position the Colts rank 9th (net LOS 1.45 yards) and Dallas ranks 31st (net LOS -3.14 yards). On offense the Colts on average start at the 29.4 yard line while the Cowboys start at the 27 yard line. On average the Colt’s opponents start at the 27.9 yard line while the Cowboy’s opponents start at the 30.2 yard line. The Colts are second in the league in covering punts with an average opponent return of just 4.8 yards.

In finishing drives differential the Colts are at ninth averaging 0.4 net points per drive and the Cowboys at twelfth averaging 0.27 net points per drive.  On offense the Colts rank eighth averaging 2.37 points per drive and the Cowboys rank 16th averaging 2.07 points per drive. On defense the Cowboys rank sixth giving up 1.79 points per drive and the Colts rank twelfth giving up 1.97 points per drive. Dallas is second in the league in defense for points per game giving up only 18.9 points per game. Indianapolis  is 15th giving up 23.1 points per game. On offense Indianapolis is 8th scoring 26.8 points per game. Dallas is 23rd scoring 21.2 points per game.

In overall net efficiency the Colts rank 11th, in offensive efficiency 13th, in defensive efficiency 11th and for special teams 13th. For Dallas they rank overall at 17th, offense at 25th, defense at 7th and special teams at 20th.

Summing up all factors weighted by importance the Colts come in at sixth with a sum of 21.75. The Cowboys come in 12th with a sum 0f 19.1. Teams run from the Chiefs summing to 30.1 to the Jets summing to 5.9. The Colts come into this game as the 7th seed in the AFC just one team out of the playoffs. The Cowboys are the fourth seed in the NFC currently leading the NFC East. If the Cowboys beat the Colts the Cowboys would win the NFC East division title and a playoff spot. The Colts are two games behind the Texans in the NFC South with three games left. So the Colts can still win the division. If not they are tie with the sixth seed Ravens for the last wildcard spot. However the Ravens currently win the tiebreaker.

The television audience should get to see some good December football at the early games on Sunday. At macmillandictionary.com the definitions given for slugfest are

  1. an occasion or competition in which you have to compete or fight very hard in order to win.
  2. in baseball and boxing, a hard contest between opponents who are evenly matched.
  3. a long and hard contest between two equal opponents in which an easy victory is impossible.

These games have slugfest potential.  Enjoy the week 15 games!

With Playoff Hopes Decreasing, Here Are Draft Defensive Backs to Keep An Eye On

Week 14 of the NFL season is here and with it comes the disappointment of teams falling out of playoff contention. While only a fortunate two teams make the Super Bowl many others strive and focus on making the playoffs.

Compared to other major league sports NFL teams have a relatively tough chance of making the playoffs. In Major League Baseball (MLB) 10 of 30 teams make the playoffs or 33%. In the National Football League (NFL) 12 or 32 teams or 38% make the playoffs.  The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has 8 of 12 teams make the playoffs or 67%.  Major League Soccer (MLS)  is composed of 23 teams and 12 teams make the playoffs or  52%.  The National Basketball Association (NBA) is composed of 30 teams with 16 teams making the playoffs for 53%. Finally the National Hockey League (NHL) is composed of 31 teams and 16 teams make the playoffs for 52%.

Following Sunday’s games of week fourteen six teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. They are the Jets, Jaguars, Raiders, Bills, Cardinals and 49ers.

In anticipation of the growing disappointment among NFL fans hoping for a playoff spot and the conclusion of the college football regular season, I decided to take a look at the NFL draft. The consolation prize that helps soothes a lost season. I started out by looking at the defensive players available. For the most part I did not include underclassmen that have not declared. I started looking at the defensive backs and will move on to linebackers and defensive linemen in future posts.

I looked at performance data for the 2018 college season. The criteria used was “market share data”. This is the evaluation of a player’s performance compared to the rest of their team. If a defensive end had 10 sacks for the season on a team that achieved 40 sacks then that player had a 25% sacks market share.  Research has shown a correlation between college market share production and NFL Pro-Bowl production.

Shown for each player are their 2018 totals for solo tackles, interceptions and passes defensed as well as their corresponding team market share (ms). For all players that met the market share thresholds I took the mean and standard deviation for the group in each category and then summed their standard deviations across all three categories. The sum of this standard deviation is shown. A higher sum is better. Keep in mind that these sums are relative to a group that meets the threshold criteria. So even with a low negative sum the player is still statistically speaking a good player.

Defensive Backs

The Top 100

Cornerback Deandre Baker of Georgia

Height: 5’11” | Weight: 185 lbs
Solo Tackles: 31 (7.9% ms)
Interceptions: 2 (5% ms)
Passes Defended: 9 (47.4% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +0.40

Winner of the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award; AP First Team All-SEC; A two and a half year starter, Baker has accumulated 82 solo tackles, 7 interceptions and 23 passes defended over three seasons. ESPN’s Todd McShay had this to say “This dude is one of the more instinctive corners I’ve evaluated in years, and he is so tough for his size”. Other evaluators have questioned his top-end speed. However he has played in most schemes, is a physical player that tackles hard, and shows good ball skills. He is considered a ballhawk in off-man and zone coverage. In 2017 Baker allowed a completion rate of just 30.5 percent.

Cornerback Andraez Williams of LSU

Height: 6’3” | Weight: 184 lbs
Solo Tackles: 23 (6% ms)
Interceptions: 2 (5.3% ms)
Passes Defended: 9 (22.5% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: -2.78

Two year starter, red-shirt sophomore at LSU; One of fourteen semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award; 2017 Third Team All-America (AP), 2017 First Team All-SEC (Media). Per Pro Football Focus in 2017 Williams fielded the SEC’s lowest passer rating when targeted (22.9).  Noted for ball skills when turned around to the ball, and athleticism. Questions arise on tackling, ball tracking on deep passes, and handling physical receivers.

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye of Penn State

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 203 lbs
Solo Tackles: 37 (7% ms)
Interceptions: 3 (6.4% ms)
Passes Defended: 11 (39.3% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: -0.38

Amani made the 2018 AP Big-Ten First Team. He was one of 14 semi-finalists for the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award which is presented to the best defensive back in NCAA division I football. Amani is a redshirt senior that got his first start in 2018 and started nine games. Amani is noted for his strong awareness, ability to anticipate, and consistently break up pass plays. His area for improvement is tackling – being capable but inconsistent and allowing yards after contact.

Safety Juan Thornhill of Virginia

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 210 lbs
Solo Tackles: 58 (14.9% ms)
Interceptions: 5 (15.2% ms)
Passes Defended: 6 (13.0% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +3.64

2018 All-ACC First Team; Three year starter that led team in interceptions all three seasons. He has been in the top ten in the ACC in interceptions for all three seasons. Out of 130 NCAA Division I colleges Virginia’s defense ranked 16th in opponent passer rating and 20th in opponent passing completion percentage. Thornhill was named twice in 2018 to ACC defensive back of the week. At Virginia’s strength program Thornhill posted a 40.5″ vertical jump and a 6.59 second three cone drill. Those numbers would have been in the top ten among all participants at the 2018 scouting combine. Thornhill has played both corner and safety. UVa coach Bronco Mendenhall says “He covers like a corner, he tackles really well at safety,…He has great range and ball skills.”

Day 3 Gems

Safety Saquan Hampton of Rutgers

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 208 lbs
Solo Tackles: 44 (10.4% ms)
Interceptions: 3 (9.7% ms)
Passes Defended: 13 (39.4% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +2.27

In the Big Ten Hampton’s career 20 passes defended is 25th since 2005 and fourth best in the Big Ten in 2018. In November 2018 Hampton was named unanimous All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by coaches and media. Hampton was a three year starter at Rutgers and a team captain as senior. Hampton has experience playing corner in high school.  He earned Reese Senior Bowl Defensive Player of the week honors in the Rutgers – Wisconsin game for his 10 tackle, two interception performance. The Reese scout in attendance liked Hampton’s ball skills and his deep field instincts. “He looked natural playing the ball” and he “…consistently put himself in the position to make plays”.

Undrafted Free Agent Steals

Cornerback Nate Brooks of North Texas

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 180 lbs
Solo Tackles: 43 (10% ms)
Interceptions: 5 (14.7% ms)
Passes Defended: 9 (31% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +2.77

One of fourteen semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. A four year starter at North Texas.  Nate was a Pro Football Focus 2018 Second Team All Conference USA. Also Nate was 2018 All Conference USA Second Team. Nate joined Juan Thornhill and Kemon  Hall in a six player tie for seventh place in the nation for interceptions in 2018.  Twice during North Texas career was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week including a two interception, six tackle and one pass breakup game in 2018.  Defensively North Texas is in the top 17% of teams nationwide for opponent pass completion and opponent passer rating.

Cornerback Kemon Hall of North Texas

Height: 5’11” | Weight: 190 lbs
Solo Tackles: 35 (8.2% ms)
Interceptions: 5 (14.7% ms)
Passes Defended: 12 (41.4% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +2.86

Hall made Conference USA 2018 first Team, as well as Pro Football Focus All-Conference USA Team of the Year First Team.  Hall is tie for first nationally for interceptions returned for a touchdown with two in 2018. He is in a six way tie for seventh in the nation with five interceptions in 2018.

Cornerback Dakari Monroe of San Jose State

Height: 5’11” | Weight: 191 lbs
Solo Tackles: 32 (6.4% ms)
Interceptions: 4 (14.8% ms)
Passes Defended: 14 (41.2% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +1.99

Monroe was selected Mountain West Player of the Week in their win over UNLV. In that game Monroe had two interceptions (one for a touchdown), two pass break ups and six tackles. He was selected by Pro Football Focus for the Mountain West Conference (MWC) team of the week in the loss to Colorado State. In that game Monroe had four pass break ups and three solo tackles. He was first in the MWC in interceptions with four in 2018. San Jose beat writer, Victor Aquino, had this to say about Monroe – “Then defensive back Dakari Monroe has always been a smooth operator to me with pro potential as well. He hits, covers big men and fast guys all with relative ease it seems.”

Cornerback Lee Moses of University of Massachusetts

Height: 5’11” | Weight: 193 lbs
Solo Tackles: 32 (7.4% ms)
Interceptions: 3 (12.5% ms)
Passes Defended: 7 (41.2% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +1.80

A three year starter at UMass. Phil Steele’s 2016 Postseason All-Independent Second Team and his 2018 Pre-Season All-Independent Second Team. In the top ten of Independent Conference Passes Defended for all three years starting. Moses is number 5 on career passes defended Independent Conference since 2005 with 19 passes defended. Lee Moses has played both safety and corner at UMass.

Cornerback Anthoula Kelly of Fresno State

Height: 5’10” | Weight: 183 lbs
Solo Tackles: 45 (9.2% ms)
Interceptions: 3 (11.5% ms)
Passes Defended: 16 (29.6% ms)
Sum Std Deviation: +1.30

Two year starter at Fresno State. Number three in the nation in passes defended with 16 in 2018. In 2018 had an interception returned for a touchdown. At mid-point in 2018 Kelly was one of a trio of Fresno State defensive backs that form the  core of what is Pro Football Focus’s sixth-highest graded coverage team. Kelly was their ninth graded cornerback.

The Data

These are the standouts in a group that meet the market share thresholds. I have attached a spreadsheet of data that is composed of all defensive back players that meet the thresholds. The defensive backs sheet looked at solo tackles, interceptions and passes defended. The thresholds used are listed at the top on the line Min Target. Also shown in the first column is nfldraftscout.com’s position rank for the player in the 2019 NFL draft.

defense market share DBs

Don’t Write-Off These NFL Underdogs

Since 2001 twenty-four teams have gone from last in their division to first in their division the following year. Three times one went on to win the Super Bowl. Since my beloved Giants are currently a bottom dweller, I thought I would look at the five lowest ranked teams based on current projected 2019 draft order and see what rays of hope exist. Here are the current projected top five draft teams and what is good about their team this season that could surprise a team this year or turn it around next year.

San Francisco 49ers

Run the Ball, Stop the Run

The 49ers rank second in long rushing plays (20+ yards) with 13 plays through week 12. Matt Brieda, an undrafted free agent in 2017, has 896 yards from  scrimmage and a 3rd best yards per rushing attempt at 5.81 yards. He was a speedy back at his pro day earning a 40 yard dash time of 4.39 which would have been second best among backs at the combine. His 6.85 at the three-cone would have been third best among backs at the combine, and a 4.34 in the 20-yard shuttle lined up as 8th best at the combine.

Another undrafted free agent to watch is 2017 UDFA running back Jeff Wilson. He was recently promoted from the practice squad. Wilson had very impressive stats in college. In his senior year Wilson had upper percentile numbers in red zone TDs (32%), 1st down percent (31%), long plays percent (22%) and touchdown percent (7.5%). He averaged 6.46 yards per rush. His one outstanding flaw was a high fumble rate.

Opening up holes for Brieda and Wilson will be 2018 first round pick tackle Mike McGlinchey. Known coming out of college as an “earth-mover as a drive blocker”, he was a two-year team captain and known as a lunch-pail worker. Pro-Football Focus has McGlinchey graded as the top graded rookie offensive lineman.

On the flip side the 49 defense has allowed just 5 rushing plays of 20+ yards. That is tied for fifth best in the league. A player contributing to this is the run defense of defensive end Arik Armstead. According to Pro Football Focus, Armstead’s 84.4 run-defense grade ranks sixth among all edge defenders.

Tight end George Kittle was a fifth round pick in the 2017 draft. He ranks third among tight ends in yards with 823 yards and has three touchdowns. His 9.8 yards per target ranks fifth among tight ends with 30 or more targets. Kittle has had 84 targets which is third most among tight ends. Through week 9 Pro-Football Focus rated Kittle as the third best run blocking grade among tight ends in the league. His nfl.com draft profile included “..one of the better blocking tight ends in this draft.” Kittle had the third fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends at the combine.

Oakland Raiders

It’s almost exciting to think about all the room for improvement that we have.” — Geno Smith in 2014 on the Jets.

Center Rodney Hudson may be the best pass-protecting center in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus through week nine Hudson had given up only two pressures all season. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the top pass blocking center and third overall.

Tankathon.com has the Raiders listed as having ten 2019 NFL draft picks with three in the first round as well as two first rounders in 2020. Their 2019 draft capital is listed as the highest among all teams with the next team 700 points below.

Arizona Cardinals

No Passing Zone

Cornerback Patric Peterson was a top five pick in the 2011 draft. Since then he has been a yearly Pro-Bowler. In his eighth season he has accumulated over his career 21 interceptions and 71 passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus this season he owns the NFL’s second-best passer rating when targeted (57.1) and has allowed all of 189 yards all season long.

Defensive end Chandler Jones is fourth in the league with 11 sacks on the year. As of week 11, Chandler Jones led the league in disrupted drop-backs per ESPN . A disrupted drop-back is a passing down in which the player got a sack, interception, batted pass or defended pass. Jones led with a 4% with the next closest defender being Aaron Donald at 3.4%.

The Cardinals are fourth in the league in opponent passing yards per game with 219.8 yards. They are second in the NFL with a 19.3 disrupted drop-back percentage. They sacked Patrick Mahomes five times – a season high for him. The Cardinals held the Chiefs to 212 passing yards, which is the Chief’s lowest thru week 12. The Cardinals are sixth in the NFL in passing touchdowns allowed at 16. They are third in the NFL in passing plays of 20+ yards allowed with 30.

New York Jets

Hope springs eternal especially with rookie first round quarterbacks and a lights out safety.

Safety Jamal Adams was the sixth selection in the 2017 NFL draft. He is a versatile player that has lined up as a deep safety, a box safety, a linebacker position, a slot corner and as an outside corner. He excels across the board. This season Jamal has 12 passes defended which is 4th in the NFL. Through week 11 Adams had the most run stops for a safety (19) as well as the highest run stop percentage for a safety at 7.09%. Pro Football Focus picked Jamal Adams as the best box safety in the league. Adams is a team leader and earned a captaincy in his second season.

Through week twelve the Jets have allowed only 62.4% of pass completions. That is good for sixth best in the league. Their opponent average passer rating of 90.1 is ninth best.

Kicker Jason Meyers has made 92% of his field goal attempts which is good for seventh in the league for kickers with a minimum 10 attempts. He has scored 89 points this season which is sixth among kickers. Meyers leads the league in 50+ yard field goals made with five. He holds the fifth longest field goal of 56 yards.

Rookie tight end Chris Herndon has the tenth best yards per targets (9.24 yards) among tight ends with a minimum 12 targets. Among that group his catch percentage of 76.5% is also tenth best. His 3 receiving touchdowns is tie for ninth among tight ends.

New York Giants

Explosive offense that needs more consistency and a killer instinct

Saquon Barkley has the third highest yards from scrimmage (1,410) and highest total with zero fumbles. Saquon is on track to be one of only three nfl players of all time with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in their rookie season. Barkley averages 3.54 yards after contact, fifth-most in the league, and leads all running backs with 25 missed tackles forced, according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants rank sixth in explosive rushing plays of 20+ yards with 11. Barkley is fifth in rushing touchdowns with eight. He ranks 11th in rushing yards per attempt (4.85 yards) among backs with over 100 attempts. Saquon Barkley has been in on 84.5% of the offensive snap counts which is fourth most among running backs.

Eli Manning has the 8th best completion percentage (69.1%) and the 11th best Interception percentage (1.75%). Both are career best. His quarterback rating of 96.2 is also a career best. The Giants are 10th in passing plays of 20+ yards (41 plays) and 7th in passing plays of 40+ yards (9 plays). The Giants are tie for 7th in turnover giveaways with only 12. They are one of eight teams (top 25%) that have two or more receivers with each over 500 yards receiving and with a catch percentage of greater than 64%. Beckham and Sterling Shepard have each been in on just over 93% of offensive snaps which is 6th and 7th among wide receivers. That is the most by any receiving duo in the league. Eli Manning sits at 11th place in all time 4th quarter comebacks. This year the Giants’ 4th quarter points/game is 8.5 which is tie for 5th best in the league. Last year it was 4.4 points/game which was 28th in the league.

Kicker Aldrick Rosas is one of fourteen kickers perfect on extra points. Rosas has the fifth best field goal percentage (95.8%) and the fifth most attempts. He is perfect on field goals within 50 yards.

There it is. I think all five have reason for hope. The Raiders with a beast at center and a ton of draft picks, the Jets with a Pro-Bowl safety and a potential franchise quarterback, the 49ers with a solid run game and a returning potential franchise quarterback next year, the Cardinals with a strong pass defense and a potential franchise quarterback, and lastly my Giants with an explosive set of offensive weapons and a quarterback that can still sling it.

As the season winds down only 12 of the 32 teams will make the playoffs, only 4 will make the Conference Championship, only 2 will make the Super Bowl and only one will win. For all the other teams and their fans remember the following quote.

I’ve missed more than 900 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan, six-time NBA champion

Enjoy the week 13 games!