Offensive Line Pass Protection And Teams That About-Faced

Next in the series on team statistics and teams to watch I look at offensive line pass protection statistics. For this I used the sacks and quarterback hits stats at To account for both sacks and hits giving each equal weight I used a formula of:

Sum Sacks + Hits = Sacks + (Hits / Average(Hits/Sacks))

As in the series we will look at the three teams most improved in this statistic from 2017 to 2018 and the three teams most declined. At the end of the article I will give the running total table of the 3 best and worst teams for each statistic we have looked at. I also added a running total table of simply the best and worst teams for each statistic. So starting with the three most improved team.

1. Indianapolis Colts

2017 – Rank: 30, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 102
2018 – Rank: 3, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 51

The Colts went from the bottom three teams in 2017 to the top three teams in 2018. Their franchise quarterback did not play in 2017 due to injury. He had been getting pummeled. Since starting for the Colts as a rookie in 2012, the Colts have ranked 31, 30, 29, 31 and 31 in quarterback hits. They have had over 100 quarterback hits every season.  In 2016 they had their worst of the five year stretch with 128 quarterback hits when the league average was 87. They finally took drastic action.

Coming off the 2017 season the Colts already had two of their first round picks playing on the line – center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Both players have overall played well.

They claimed right guard Mark Glowinski in December 2017 after he was waived by the Seahawks.  Glowinski was a fourth round pick by the Seahawks in the 2015 draft.  His draft profile on talks of a gym rat with great competitiveness and toughness. Since coming to the Colts Glowinski was on track in November 2018 to have a career high pass blocking grade by Pro Football Focus.

In the 2018 draft the Colts selected guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick. Going into the 2018 draft Nelson was regarded as a generational talent and a “gold jacket” prospect.  He had five total quarterback pressure in his senior college year in 2018. That was tied for second fewest among draft prospect guards. His senior year Nelson was a unanimous All American. In his rookie NFL year in 2018 Nelson made the NFL 2018 All rookie team, the Pro Bowl and was a First Team All Pro selection.

In round two they stayed with the  offensive line and selected right tackle Braden Smith. In his senior year in college Smith made the AP, ESPN, CBS and Athlon All American teams. In Smith’s senior year as a guard in 2017, he allowed three sacks, no hits and three hurries on 445 pass-blocking snaps. Smith was penalized only once over his last two college seasons. In his NFL rookie year Smith made the 2018 NFL All Rookie Team.

The O-Line is solid now for the Colts. In spite of that they did draft offensive tackle Jackson Barton in the seventh round. Barton made All Conference Pac-12 First Team in 2018. Barton has started every game for the last two seasons at left tackle. Barton uses his arm length effectively to redirect targets. According to his draft profile at he delivers blocks with some initial pop, shows good upper body power and has a finishers demeanor. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the Bartons (Jackson & Cody Barton) are very conscious about everything they do and praised them for having phenomenal work ethics.

The Colts have built a home grown offensive line from their own day one and day two draft picks. Our second most improved team went a different route.  The Browns built a line composed of more free agents, late drafted or undrafted players and a potential bust that they took a flier on.

2. Cleveland Browns

2017 – Rank: 32, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 103
2018 – Rank: 10, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 68

The Browns offensive line really improved in the second half of the season. They allowed 61 quarterback hits thru the first 8 weeks and then finished the season with a total of only 71 hits which was sixth best in the league.  They gave up 33 sacks the first 8 weeks and then allowed only five sacks the last 8 weeks. They didn’t allow a sack in five of team’s final seven games. They had the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL during weeks 10-17.

The Browns were working on nailing down the left tackle position after Joe Thomas announced his retirement in March 2018.

As an aside it is interesting to note that Joe Thomas holds the NFL unofficial record in consecutive snaps with 10,363.  He became a starter from his first game of his rookie season in 2007 and hadn’t missed a snap in his career until a torn tricep in October 2017 ended his season. Once  the Browns were up big in a game. Joe’s replacement was sent into the game and came into the huddle to remove Joe, and Joe told him to get lost. Joe continued to play. In 2017 Joe Thomas played in only seven games due to the injury.

The Browns started the season with undrafted free agent rookie Desmond Harrison starting at left tackle. He started eight games and though he did surprisingly well for an UDFA rookie, he did struggle in pass protection and allowed 4 sacks.   Harrison was replaced due to illness by tackle Greg Robinson in week 9 and Robinson stayed as the starter. As reported by Pro Football Focus Greg Robinson had the best year of his five year career at pass protection in 2018 which ranked 56th among tackles. Robinson allowed zero sacks in 2018. Robinson was the number two overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Rams. The Browns is his third team in five years.

Right tackle Chris Hubbard was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 draft. In 2017 he started 10 games for the Steelers, had 780 snaps and allowed 4 sacks. He signed with the Browns in March 2018.  In 2018 he started 16 games for the Browns at right tackle and played all offensive snaps. Hubbard allowed 8.5 sacks in 2018.

The strength of their line is the interior offensive line with guards Bitonio and Zeitler and center Tretter.

Center J.C. Tretter was a fourth round draft pick by the Packers in the 2013 draft. He signed as a free agent by the Browns in March 2017. In 2018 Tretter played on all 1,091 offensive snaps and allowed just three sacks. In his senior year in college as a left tackle in 2012 Tretter was credited by his coaches with 120 knockdowns, 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and zero sacks allowed . He was a unanimous All-Ivy League First Team selection.

Left guard Joel Bitonio was selected by the Browns in the second round of the 2014 draft.  He made the 2014 NFL All Rookie Team.  In 2018 he made the Pro Bowl and was a Second Team All Pro selection. In 2018 he played on all 1,091 offensive snaps and allowed just one sack. Among guards with 250+ snaps Bitonio is third in pressure rate allowed allowing a pressure on just 2.3% of his passing snaps as reported by Pro Football Focus.

Right Guard Kevin Zeitler was a first round pick by the Bengals in the 2012 draft.  In March 2017 Zeitler signed with the Browns making him the highest paid guard in the NFL. In 2018 Zeitler played on all 1,091 offensive snaps and allowed only two sacks. Among guards with 250+ snaps Zeitler is first in pressure rate allowed allowing a pressure on just 1.7% of his passing snaps. In 2019 Zeitler was traded to the Giants in trades that included Jabrill Peppers in exchange for Odell Beckham and Olivier Vernon.

Credit also has to be given to quarterback Baker Mayfield. His ability to move around, avoid pressure and a quick release helps to make the offensive line statistics better. Mayfield has the ability to avoid sacks and quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus had Mayfield’s quarterback rating under pressure as the best among qualified quarterbacks each of his last three seasons. “When we get in bad positions, he helps us out a lot,” left tackle Greg Robinson said . “We appreciate it because some guys can’t get out of the pocket. They just have to stay there, so you have to block longer.”

Who will replace guard Kevin Zeitler is one of the big questions to be worked out this preseason. The likely successor is their second round draft pick from 2018, tackle Austin Corbett.  Corbett was a three year captain at Nevada. He was a former walk-on that wound up starting in 48 consecutive games. Corbett was one of 10 semi-finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy which is given to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on. He is a competitive, hard-working and plays with a uncharacteristic violence.

While our top two most improved offensive lines had some draft round one and two picks, our third most improved line presents another portrait.  Their offensive line has only day three draft picks and one undrafted free agent.

3. New England Patriots

2017 – Rank: 16, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 69
2018 – Rank: 2, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 50

While the 2017 Patriots’s offensive line was not bad (ranked 16th in hits & sacks) it showed signs of needing  improvement. Through the first four weeks of 2017 the line allowed the eighth most hits in the NFL (20) . Through the first half of the year they allowed 21 sacks. that was on track to rank 22nd in the final 2017 sacks allowed. They allowed 6.6 hits per game in the playoffs. That rate would match the 26th ranked team rate in the regular season. Their Super Bowl dream ended with a strip sack.

Going into 2018 they lose their sole high draft pick on the offensive line, left tackle Nate Solder, in free agency. First round draft  pick tackle Isaiah Wynn suffered a torn Achilles and was out for his rookie season.

The left tackle spot was manned by Trent Brown.  Brown was a seventh round draft pick by the 49ers in 2015. He started 28 games at right tackle. When Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller was asked which blocker gives him the most trouble he replied Trent Brown. In a later interview Von Miller said “”He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League! And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League.” After being placed on IR by the 49ers at the end of 2017, Brown was traded to the Patriots in 2018. He started all 16 games at left tackle.  Brown allowed 3.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 39 total pressures in 97% of the offensive snaps. He signed as a free agent with the Raiders in 2019 making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

Right tackle Marcus Cannon was a Patriots fifth round pick in 2011.  He started 13 games in 2018 and allowed just two sacks on 835 snaps. At 6’6″ and 335 lbs Cannon is arguably the biggest player on the Patriots. Cannon has a strong work ethic. He worked his way up from starting 6 or less games his first three years to starting 15 in 2016 and getting selected to the AP and PFF All Pro Second Team that year.  He started at right tackle on two winning Super Bowl teams. Pro Football Focus gave Cannon the third-highest-graded Super Bowl performance (89.8) by an offensive lineman in the PFF era (since 2006) in their 2017 Super Bowl victory over the Falcons.

Left guard Joe Thuney was a  two star prospect coming out of high school and ranked as the 129th offensive tackle for the class of 2011. He went to NC State where in his senior year he was selected to the AP All American Second Team and the USA Today All American First team. Thuney was selected by the Patriots in round three of the 2016 draft. He made the 2016 NFL All Rookie Team. His strong work ethic and coachability eventually led to Thuney being the first player ever to start in a Super Bowl each of his first three years. In the last Super Bowl Thuney played every offensive snap for the team and was able to contain the Defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. In the 2018 regular season Thuney played every offensive snap and allowed zero sacks.

Right guard Shaq Mason was a fourth round pick by the Patriots in the 2015 draft. Mason played in 85% of the offensive snaps in 2018 and allowed zero sacks. He started in 11 post season games since drafted, including three Super Bowls, and has given up zero sacks in all of them. Shaq made the 2018 Pro Football Focus All-Pro First Team and was selected as their best guard in 2018. Mason has a very strong work ethic and the benefits of that show in his on-field performance.

Center David Andrews was named as one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy in his senior year. The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the nation’s best center in college football. The Patriots signed Andrews as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 draft.  Andrews started week one of his rookie year due to injury to the starter. However Andrews performed well and remained the starter to the current day. He is one of only six undrafted free agents since 2015 that started 8+ games their rookie year and were still starters in 2018. Andrews started in a total of nine post-season games, including three Super Bowls, and surrendered zero sacks in those games. In 2018 Andrews played in 99% of the offensive snaps and allowed only one sack. Over his 4 year career and 66 starts Andrews has allowed only 4.5 sacks.

Credit for the line also has to be given to offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. He has been an offensive line coach for the Patriots for 18 seasons. He has worked with first rounders. late round draft picks, free agents and waived players. many of whom went on to be highly paid offensive linemen. Scarnecchia works to get the line to work as one unit. “Dante’s greatest strength is his ability to get the entire line — and that sometimes includes tight ends, fullbacks, running backs, and occasionally the quarterbacks — to think together, to see things consistently in the same manner, so we can all operate as a team’’ Belichick said.

Credit also goes to quarterback Tom Brady who had the seventh fastest time to throw in the league in 2018.

In 2018 the Patriots allowed the lowest pressure rate in the NFL (17.3 percent) and just 21 sacks, the third lowest total in the NFL.  In the Patriots’ three playoff games, the offensive line only allowed one sack and seven QB hits.

With the loss of Trent Cannon in free agency the unofficial depth chart shows 2018 first round draft pick tackle Isaiah Wynn as starting left tackle.  Wynn was out his rookie season due to a torn Achilles. In college Wynn played left tackle his final year and made All Sec First Team.  At the team awards Wynn was awarded one of the team captains, one of two offensive “Up Front Award” for play in the trenches, and the Frank Sinkwich Award for toughness. Before his senior year Wynn started two years at guard.

In the 2019 draft the Patriots selected offensive  tackle Yodny Cajuste in the third round. Cajuste made All Big 12 First Team and was selected one of three Big 12 Offensive Linemen of the Year. He made my list of five toughest draft prospects at each position. Cajuste is a tough aggressive lineman that plays with power. He had the fourth best bench press (32) among offensive linemen. Cajuste was a Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2018 along with Risner and Samia. As reported by Pro Football Focus, Cajuste allowed only 11 pressures on 414 pass-blocking attempts last year.

Another one from my list of five toughest players by position, tight end Andrew Beck, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots. Beck is recognized as a good blocking tight end. He will be competing against 2017 seventh round pick Ryan Izzo for a blocking tight end role.

The three teams that most declined in pass protection as measured by sacks and quarterback hits are as follows.

30. Dallas Cowboys

2017 – Rank : 13, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 65
2018 – Rank: 31, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 101

In 2018 the Cowboys gave up the second most sacks (56) and tied for the 26th most quarterback hits (107). You have to go back to 1986 to have a season where the Cowboys gave up more sacks (60). Steve Pelluer and Danny White were the quarterbacks.

Trying to determine the a cause or trend for the sacks is difficult. “What you do is evaluate each play and you see who ultimately was responsible for the sack,” head coach Jason Garrett. “Sometimes it’s a combination of factors within a play, but I think you evaluate it play by play and try to notice any sort of trend.” “A combination of factors, I think, is the trend,” Garrett.

Are the receivers not getting open? Is Dak Prescott taking too long to throw Are there breakdowns on the offensive line? Probably some combination of all those. The sum of sacks attributed to individual linemen totals to 22.  The sacks allowed attributed to linemen shown in the following table.

Player Position Games Played Games Started Snap % Sacks Allowed
Joe Looney C 16 16 100.0% 1
La’el Collins RT 16 16 99.9% 5
Zack Martin RG 14 14 81.5% 3
Tyron Smith LT 13 13 78.9% 0
Connor Williams LG 13 10 63.9% 4.5
Xavier Su’a-Filo LG 8 8 45.9% 6
Cameron Fleming LT 14 3 21.6% 1.5
Adam Redmond G/C 10 0 8.9% 1


Quarterback Dak Prescott had the 25th ranked time to throw from snap to throw among 32 starting quarterbacks. He had an average of 2.82 seconds.  This even though he is not pushing the ball further downfield.  His average pass attempt in yards was ranked 21st at 7.6 yards.  Jason Lisk of TheBigLead did a study that looked at quarterbacks that changed teams and teams that changed quarterbacks. He found that sack rate was one of the most consistent things when a quarterback changes teams. It is one of the least consistent things when a team changes quarterbacks. He drew the conclusion that quarterbacks play a larger role in sacks than most people think.

The Cowboys drafted center/guard Connor McGovern in round three of the draft. In 2017 McGovern played starting center for all 13 games and in 2018 he was starting guard for 12 games and one game at center. He is a three year starter having started nine games as a true freshman at guard in 2016. In November 2018, Mel Kiper Jr. listed McGovern as the best offensive guard in the 2019 class. McGovern will probably compete with Connor Williams for the left guard position.

31. Oakland Raiders

2017 – Rank: 2, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 45
2018 – Rank: 24, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 90

Whereas the Cowboys have a solid offensive line and the reasons for their plummet is hard to discern, the Raiders are a different story.

After making the Pro Bowl in both 2016 and 2017, left tackle Donald Penn was placed on injured reserve in December 2017 for foot surgery. The Raiders drafted tackle Kolton Miller in the first round of the 2018 draft to play left tackle. In 2018 Penn was moved to right tackle to start four games before a groin injury ended his season. Before the 2018 draft the Raiders released right tackle Marshall Newhouse and drafted tackle Brandon Parker in the third round.

In 2018 rookie left tackle Kolton Miller played in 96.7% of the offensive snaps and allowed 13 sacks. Rookie right tackle Brandon Parker played in 74.9% of the offensive snaps and allowed 8.5 sacks. The full offensive line for the 2018 season is shown in the following table. Players with strike-through are no longer with the team in 2019.

Player Position Games Played Games Started Snap % Sacks Allowed
Rodney Hudson C 16 16 100.0% 1.0
Kolton Miller LT 16 16 96.7% 13.0
Gabe Jackson RG 13 13 82.1% 3.5
Brandon Parker RT 15 12 74.9% 8.5
Kelechi Osemele LG 11 11 70.5% 4.0
Jon Feliciano G 13 4 21.8% 0.0
Donald Penn T 4 4 18.0% 3.0
Denzelle Good T 4 3 18.0% 0.0
Chaz Green G 4 1 5.7% 3.0
T.J. Clemmings T 4 0 5.6% 1.0
Justin Murray T 2 0 4.8% 2.0
Ian Silberman G 2 0 2.9% 1.0
David Sharpe T 8 0 1.7% 0.0
      Totals 502.6% 40.0

Going into 2019 the Raiders traded two time Pro Bowler left guard Kelechi Osemele to the Jets for an exchange of late round draft picks. The Raiders signed free agent tackle Trent Brown from the Patriots making him the highest paid offensive lineman in the league. Head coach Jon Gruden announced that Brown would play right tackle with Kolton Miller remaining at left tackle. In the draft the Raiders selected tight end Foster Moreau in the fourth round. Moreau is good at blocking and was often left in for pass protection. He is on my list of the five toughest draft prospects at each position.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 – Rank: 6, Sacks + Adjusted Hits: 56
2018 – Rank: 29, Sacks + Adjusted Hits:  100

In 2018 the Jaguars had the third most offensive quarterback sacks (53) and quarterback hits (111).  In 2018 they were hit hard on the offensive line by injuries.

Their offensive line in 2018 was the same for center and the right side as it was in 2017. Left guard Patrick Omamheh was replaced by free agent signing Andrew Norwell. When Norwell signed in the spring of 2018 it made him the highest paid guard in the league at that time. In 2017 the Jaguars started rookie second round pick Cam Robinson at left tackle. He started 15 games, played in 79% of the offensive snaps that year and allowed only two sacks.

In the second week of the 2018 season Robinson suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Andre Norwell suffered an ankle injury in week 11 and was lost for the season. After starting left tackle Josh Wells  suffered a groin injury in week five, the Jaguars signed Ereck Flowers. Flowers was named the  starting left tackle in week 11 and for the rest of the season. The Jaguars started 12 offensive linemen in 2018 including four at left tackle and three at right tackle. The 2018 offensive line and sacks allowed are shown in the following table. Players no longer with the team in 2019 have strike-through.


Player Position Games Played Games Started Snap % Sacks Allowed
A.J. Cann RG 15 15 89.8% 6.5
Jermey Parnell RT 13 13 83.6% 4.5
Andrew Norwell LG 11 11 69.8% 2.0
Tyler Shatley C 16 7 52.2% 2.0
Brandon Linder C 9 9 48.9% 1.0
Ereck Flowers LT 8 7 43.2% 1.0
Josh Wells T 7 5 29.4% 0.0
Patrick Omameh LG 7 5 28.4% 3.0
Josh Walker LT 5 4 28.2% 2.0
Chris Reed RG 9 1 17.1% 3.0
Cam Robinson LT 2 2 11.4% 0.0
Corey Robinson RT 4 1 0.0% 1.5
      Totals 501.9% 26.5


The Jaguars drafted tackle Jawaan Taylor in the second round of the 2019 draft. Taylor could probably start day one at right tackle.He is regarded as one of the top offensive tackles coming out of the draft.

The Jaguars signed undrafted free agent guard Bunchy Stallings. Stallings was SEC All Conference First Team in 2018. He was selected as an All American by the Associate Press and by the Athletic. Stallings was responsible for only one-half quarterback sack all year in 2018.

The Jaguars signed free agent quarterback Nick Foles and released Blake Bortles in 2019. Bortles is the more mobile of the two having a rushing yards per attempt of 6.3 over the last five seasons compared to Foles’s 1.8 yards per attempt. However when it come to sacks the edge is with Foles.  Foles sack % index over the last five seasons is 118% and eighth best for that time-frame.  A 100% is considered average with higher being better as defined at Bortles has a below average rating of 95% which is 42nd out of 60 quarterbacks that played in 2018.

The Jaguars drafted Washington State quarterback Garner Minshew in round six of the 2019 draft. In 2018 Minshew threw for 4,779 yards and 38 TDs on 662 attempts and was only sacked 13 times. The year prior at Washington State Luke Falk threw for 3,593 yards on on 534 attempts and was sacked 39 times. Minshew made my list of the five toughest draft prospects at each position.

In Conclusion

The data for sacks and hits on all teams is available here – Offense HIts and Sacks .  It is sorted by the computed sacks plus adjusted hits for 2018. The teams that had the biggest change from 2017 to 2018 are highlighted.  The first group of columns is 2018 and the second group is 2017. At the last column is the change in rank for the team.

Here is a file containing running total of the teams that shows the teams that changed the most from 2017 to 2018. Then the next table is simply the 2018 top three teams and bottom three teams in each category.  The file is running totals.


Rushing Yards Per Attempt And Teams That About Faced

June 22, 2019: Slight update on the data in the attached file to carry yards per attempt out to more decimal places. This had no effect on the three most improved or decline teams chosen. The only effect was occasionally a slight adjustment to their 2017 or 2018 rank.

This article is continuing the series on team statistics looking back and forward. Today I look at rushing yards per attempt and the three teams that changed the most for the better and the three for the worst.  Rushing yards per attempt I believe gives the best rushing statistic of how a team or a back are doing in the run game.  You just have to eliminate the backs that did not rush for a significant amount of yards. Again these are not the best and worst at yards per attempt, but rather the teams that changed the most from 2017 to 2018 for better and for worst. Here we start with the three most improved teams in rankings for yards per attempt.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

2017 – Rank:  29, Yds/Att: 3.62
2018 – Rank: 8, Yds/Att: 4.69

In 2018 running back Joe Mixon had 1,168 yards rushing at 4.93 yards per attempt. That was the ninth best yds/att among backs that started at least eight games. He averaged 83.4 yards per game which was third among starting backs. No back averaged more yards per game with a higher yards per attempt average. Mixon was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. He was the fourth back chosen. He averaged 3.52 yards per attempt his rookie season which was 20th among rookie backs that year with over 10 attempts. In his rookie year Mixon fumbled five times but in 2018 he cut that to zero fumbles. His improvement in year two has been amazing. His 296 receiving yards in 2018 was fifth among the nine backs with 1000+ rushing yards. The four backs ahead of him were all first round top 10 draft picks. Mixon was pick 48 and appears to have been a good pick.

The Bengals picked center Billy Price in round one of the 2018 draft. Though they are tied for the lowest number of negative plays when rushing in the center of the field, all other rushing stats for their team are lowest when running to the center. They are fourth best on power rushes to the right (80%) and 11th best on power runs to the left (75%). Per stats a power run is the percentage of rushes on 3rd or 4th down with 2 or fewer yards to go that achieved a first down or TD.

Looking into 2019 the Bengals should be even better in the run game. They invested in their offensive line during the draft. They drafted tackle Jonah Williams in round one.  According to the New York Post – He (Williams) treats everything — treatment, weight-lifting, film study, practices and games — like it’s the most important activity he will do. Then in round four they chose guard Michael Jordan of Ohio State. In his freshman year Jordan started at guard and made Freshman All American. He was the first true freshman to start on Ohio State’s offensive line in 23 years, or since Orlando Pace did so in 1994.  They signed undrafted free agent guard O’Shea Dugas of LA Tech.  Dugas is another true freshman four year starter. He started 43 out of 49 games he played. This Shrine Game report from NFL Draft Blitz says about Dugas “…excels as a run blocker, but he has held up well in pass protection. He is a big guy with great strength. He sustains those blocks well and his hand placement has been good.”.

Then the Bengals drafted two running backs. They selected Trayveon Williams of Texas A&M in the sixth round.  Williams led all draft prospects in rushing plays of 10+ yards. He is one of only two draft prospects to have 2000+ yards from scrimmage in 2018. He is on my list of the five toughest running backs in this year’s draft class. Also in round six they drafted running back Rodney Anderson. Anderson had 21 career touchdowns in just 217 touches.

In addition they drafted tight end Drew Sample in round two.  Sample is recognized as a good blocking tight end. He also made my list as one of the top five toughest tight ends in the year’s class. He has a tenacious lunch-pail demeanor. Here is a clip of Drew blocking that reminds me of a scene in the movie The Blind Side.

2. Los Angeles Chargers

2017 – Rank: 26, Yds/Att: 3.81
2018 – Rank:  7,  Yds/Att: 4.69

The Chargers top two running backs both averaged over 5 yards a carry.  Melvin Gordon had a career high 5.1 yards per attempt. Austin Ekeler has averaged 5.5 and 5.2 in his rookie and second year. In 2018 only 10 backs had 500+ rushing yards and averaged 5+ yards per carry (See the table below). The Chargers are the only team that had two running backs on that list. Ekeler was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

Rookie and seventh round draft pick Justin Jackson had a decent 4.12 yards/carry and 206 yards. That was 12th best among rookie backs with 100+ rushing yards. In college Justin Jackson and Myles Gaskin were the only two backs that over the last five years had 1000+ rushing yards and averaged  4.5+ yards/carry for each of four seasons.

On the offensive line they have Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung. Okung made the Pro Bowl in 2017. Russell was  selection 6 in the 2010 draft. On rushes to the left side the Chargers are number one in rushes of 10+ yards with 34 in 2018. On the right side they have success on Power runs with a 100% success rate. They are one of only four teams to have 100% success on power runs in a specific direction.

The Chargers went mostly defense in the draft and UDFAs. They did pick up OT Trey Pipkins in round three. He is looked on as a developmental prospect but he did dominate at a lower level of competition. On they say as one of his positives – Finisher who keeps grinding on opponents until he hears the whistle.

The Chargers did not do much in the offseason to improve their run game. However at seventh in yards per carry they did not need to. Also the rest of the division did not draft high picks in run stopping.

3.  Seattle Seahawks

2017 – Rank: 21, Yds/Att: 3.98
2018 – Rank: 5, Yds/Att: 4.79

Running back Chris Carson has been a pleasant surprise as he was a seventh round pick in the 2017 draft. He is their leading rusher with 1,151 yards at 4.7 yards per attempt.  He led the NFL in 2018 in broken tackles on rushes with 58. Carson was one of only nine backs to have 1000+ yards rushing in 2018.

Rookie running back Rashad Penny had 419 yards at 4.9 yards per attempt. He had the eighth best yards per attempt among the 40 rookie running backs. He did not start and only got 17% of the offensive team snaps. But when he was in he touched the ball 88% of the time.

Mike Davis was the another running back and had 514 yards with a 4.6 average. He has signed with the Bears in free agency.

Quarterback Russel Wilson had the sixth most rushing yards among quarterbacks with 376 yards and a 5.6 yard average. Looking over the last five seasons Wilson comes in sixth among active quarterbacks in in average rushing yards per game at 33 yards. He has a 5.76 yard per attempt average over that time-frame.

Their offensive line features 2008 first round selection left tackle Duane Brown. When running to the left the Seahawks had the fourth most 1st downs with 48.  Power runs to that side came in ninth in the league with a 76% success rate.  Averaging the various run stats over each of left, middle and right the Seahawks came in first in 10+ yard runs, second in power runs and third in 1st down runs. The only category they did not excel in was negative runs of which they came in 14th.

In the draft the Seahawks picked guard Phil Haynes in round six. According to this review on BigBlueView Haynes is a mauler in the run game. This is what coach Pete Carroll  said about Haynes after the draft  – “He’s going to be 340 pounds. He’s a really strong, really physical guy. He likes to finish blocks and knock guys down. He’s got an attitude about him.” Haynes made my list of the top five toughest draft prospects at each position.

Also in the sixth round of the draft the Seahawks selected running back Travis Homer. In his three year college career Homer averaged 6.0 yards per attempt with his low season being 5.9 yards. His career average ranks tied at 11th with Devin Singletary in career average for active players. In two combine drills considered important for running back explosiveness Homer came in second and first. He had a 39.5 (2nd) in the vertical jump and a 10’10” (1st) in the broad jump. He also did good in the forty with a 4.48 (5th) and a 7.07 the 3 cone (6th).

The three most declined teams in yards per rush attempt are as follows.

30. Chicago Bears

2017 – Rank:  11, Yds/Att: 4.24
2018 – Rank: 27, Yds/Att: 4.14

The Bear’s yards per attempt did not decrease that much between 2017 and 2018. However by that small decrease they were passed by as the league average increased from 4.07 in 2017 to 4.41 in 2018.

Jordan Howard was their lead rusher with 935 yards and an average 3.7 yards per carry. Howard’ s yards per carry has decreased each year from his rookie year in 2016 with 5.2 to his 3.7 in 2018.  In March 2019, Howard was traded to the Eagles for a 2020 sixth round pick.

Second year running back Tarik Cohen rushed for  444 yards and a 4.5 yard per attempt average. In his senior year in college Cohen was 23rd in the nation in career rushing yards per attempt with a career 6.5 average.  That average was fifth in the FCS.  His draft profile in 2017 was quite impressive.  Nicknamed “The Human Joystick” for his ability to make seemingly impossible cuts. Cohen was third at his combine in the forty yard dash with a 4.42.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was the third leading rusher on the Bears with 421 yards and a 6.2 yard average.  Trubisky was the fifth leading quarterback in rushing yards.

The Bears were 27th in negative runs. They did come in 8th in power runs and 10th in 1st down runs.

Looking into 2019 the Bears drafted running back David Montgomery of Iowa State in the third round. Montgomery is known for fantastic contact balance, getting yards after contact and fighting for every extra yard.  His career 4.7 yards per attempt was 52nd among active FBS career leaders. His 2018 4.7 yards per attempt was 58th among players with 1000+ yards.

Seventh round pick Kerrith Whyte had 866 yards and a 65. yards per attempt in 2108. At his Pro Day Whyte made running back targets in seven of his eight drills. His results and what place they would have been at the combine are 4.37 forty (1st), 21 reps bench press (10th), 42″ vertical jump (1st), 11′ broad jump (1st), 4.37 20-yard shuttle (13th) and 7.2 3-cone (10th).

The Bears signed undrafted free agent offensive tackle Joe Lowery of Ohio University. Lowery came in tie for second in Pro Football Focus‘s top-five offensive tackles in the 2019 NFL Draft by run-blocking grade.  He made 2018 Mac All Conference First Team and 2017 All Conference second team.

The Bears signed free agent running back Mike Davis from the Seahawks. Davis had 514 rushing yards in 2018 with a 4.6 yard average. He has increased his yards per attempt each year since having only 1.7 in his 2015 rookie season.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 – Rank: 9, Yards/Att: 4.29
2018 – Rank: 26, Yds/Att: 4.14

Second year player Leonard Fournette had 439 rushing yards with a 3.3 yards per attempt average.  He played in only 8 games due to a hamstring injury and a one game suspension. His rookie year he rushed for 1,040 yards at a 3.9 yard average. in his last two years in college Fournette had 6.5 yards per attempt both years and averaged 120+ yards per game.

T.J.Yeldon had 414 rushing yards with a 4.0 yards per attempt. The Jaguars lost Yeldon in free agency signing with the Bills in 2019..  Quarterback Blake Bortles was their third leading rusher with 365 yards and a 6.29 yards per attempt average. Bortles was released by the Jaguars after they signed Nick Foles. Carlos Hyde was their third leading running back with 189 rushing yards and a 3.3 yard average. The Jaguars released Hyde in 2019 after giving up a fifth round pick to get him in October 2018.

The run game was good in short yardage situations and ranked 9th in power runs average across all field positions. Their worst ranking was 21st for 1st downs rushing. Their percent of rushing plays that made 1st down was 22% which was 25th in the league.

In 2019 the Jaguars drafted Offensive Tackle Jawaan Taylor in the second round. Taylor made Pro Football Focus’s list of the top-five offensive tackles in the 2019 NFL Draft by run-blocking grade coming in at number four. They signed undrafted free agent guard Bunchy Stallings after the draft. Stallings was SEC All Conference First Team in 2018. He was selected as an All American by the Associate Press and by the Athletic. Stallings totaled 170 blocks at the point of attack and had 55 knockdown blocks. 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. Stallings was selected to the ESPN 2018 mid-season All-America team and they had this to say – “He has been a road-grader for the Wildcats. ”

They drafted running back Ryquell Armstead in round five. At the combine among running backs Armstead was second in the forty (4.45), sixth in the bench press (22),  fifth in the 3-cone (7.02) and sixth in the 20 yard shuttle (4.29). Armstead was one of only nineteen draft prospects that rushed for 1000+ yards and 5+ yards per carry. In that list he was sixth in rushing touchdowns (13) and eighth in yards per game (110) . His draft profile at describes a physical, competitive and fearless runner who will drive through contact to break tackles or finish falling forward.

32. Philadelphia Eagles

2017 – Rank: 4, Yds/Att: 4.47
2018 – Rank: 30, Yds/Att: 3.94

The Eagles had a hodgepodge of bargain basement running backs in 2018.  Looking at the 87 NFL running backs that rushed for 100+ yards in 2018 ranked by yards per attempt the Eagle backs came in at  51st (Josh Adams), 54th (Wendell Smallwood), 59th (Jay Ajayi) and 66th (Corey Clement).

Their lead rusher was Josh Adams with 511 rushing yards and a 4.3 yard average. Adams was 11th among 18 rookie running backs with 100+ yards in yards per attempt. Adams was signed in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.  The next lead rusher was Wendell Smallwood. Third year back Smallwood had 364 yards at a 4.2 yard average.  His 4.03 yards per attempt average over his three year career ranked 34th among 37 active backs who played over those three years and had 300+ rushing yards. Smallwood was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Following Smallwood was Corey Clement with 259 yards and a 3.8 average. Clements’s 4.08 average over his two year career ranked 41st among 69 backs that played over those two years. Clement was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Next was Jay Ajayi with 184 yards and a 4.1 yard average. In his two years in Philly Ajayi  has averaged 5.1 yards per attempt for 592 yards.  That would be third among backs that rushed for those two years. However his two year average is dragged down to 4.18 and 37th by a lower 3.4 yard average in his first 7 games of 2017 in Miami. The backs are rounded out by Darren Sproles who rushed for 120 yards at a 4.1 average, Sproles was injured for most of the 2018 season.  Of the 2018 backs Sproles is considering retiring and Jay Ajayi has yet to sign.  Smallwood, Clement and Adams are all signed through the 2019 season.

The Philadelphia run game averages across the offensive line positions of left, middle and right come out as follows. They were 18th in rushing first downs, 16th in negative plays, 21st in 10+ yard rushes and 21st in power runs. They were significantly better running to the middle of the line.  Here is a table of their rankings for run routes.

1st Down Negative 10+ Power Avg
Left 18 29 21 18 21.5
Middle 9 24 5 27 16.3
Right 30 1 31 15 19.3

In 2019 the Eagles traded a 2020 sixth round pick to the Bears to get running back Jordan Howard. Howard has dropped in yards per attempt each year of his career. He had 5.2 his rookie year in 2016, followed by 4.1 and a 3.7 in 2018. Howard is on the final year of his rookie contract and becomes a free agent in 2020.

In the draft the Eagles selected Pittsburgh running back Miles Sanders in round two. It is interesting to note the commonality between Sanders and Saquon Barkley‘s last years’ numbers for yards and yards per attempt. Not that Sanders is equivalent to Barkley but he did share a similar rushing profile. Of course Barkley had that profile for three seasons while Sanders had to sit and watch.

Here are the plays of 10+ yards for both players. For Barkley I show his two years and an average of the years as they were quite different.

Barkley And Sanders Big Plays
10+ 20+ 30+ 40+ 50+ 60+ 70+ 80+ 90+
Rank Name Team Yr Pos G Yards Yards Yards Yards Yards Yards Yards Yards Yards
8 Saquon Barkley Penn State SO RB 14 46 19 7 5 4 2 2 1 0
49 Saquon Barkley Penn State JR RB 13 29 14 11 6 5 4 2 2 1
28.5 Barkley Average 37.5 16.5 9 5.5 4.5 3 2 1.5 0.5
19 Miles Sanders Penn State JR RB 13 37 10 6 4 1 1 1 0 0

Provided by
Generated 5/15/2019.


Pro Football Focus does a nice comparison article of the two and discusses their different running styles.  A summary clip is

“Sanders is a punishing runner who gets yards between the tackles and will seemingly always get positive yards. Barkley is a home-run threat who is shiftier in space and out of the backfield.”

Since the two are now division rivals the comparisons of these two backs will go on for many years. It should make for interesting games.

The Eagles signed guard Nate Herbig as an undrafted free agent following the draft. Herbig is a big powerful guard. He weighed in at 335 lbs at the combine which was tie for second heaviest among o-linemen. He bench pressed 29 reps which was tie for sixth among o-linemen. He has good strength and power for power runs.

In Conclusion

Here s the data for all the teams Yards Per Rush Att Update. The first two tables are sorted by change in rank from year to year in descending order. Under those tables is the 2018 season sorted by rank.

Here is a running total of teams ranked in the series showing the top three (1-3) and the bottom three (30-32) for each category.

Running Total Of Team Changing The Most
  Yds/pass att Pts /Play Yds/Rush Att
Browns 1
Giants 2 3
Bears 2 30
Texans 3
Redskins 30 30
Jaguars 31 31 31
Lions 32 32
Colts 1
Bengals 1
Chargers 2
Seahawks 3
Eagles 32

Provided by
Generated 5/25/2019.

Points Per Play and Teams That About-Faced

This is the second post in a series where I look at the most improved and most declined teams for a team statistic. The first post was Passing Yards Per Attempt  and today I look at Points per Play. Points per play is the team’s offensive points scored divided by the offensive plays run.

The average points per play in 2017 was 0.3201 with a high of 0.4380 by the Rams and a low of 0.2220 by the Giants. In 2018 the league average rose to 0.3494 with a high of 0.5351 by the Chiefs and a low of 0.2219 by the Jaguars. To put the 2018 numbers in perspective it would take on average 13 plays for the Chiefs to score seven points and 32 plays for the Jaguars.

It should come as no surprise that 8 of the top 10 teams in points per play made the playoffs in 2018.  The two that did not were the Falcons and Steelers. The teams outside the top ten that made the playoffs and their rank in points per play were Texans (11), Eagles (17), Cowboys (22) and Ravens (23).

Here are the top three teams most improved in points per play in 2018. As in our first article we look at both 2018 and then the 2019 season. For 2019  I look at players that have shown a history that indicates they could significantly affect points per play.

1. Indianapolis Colts

2017 – Rank: 28, Value: 0.2545
2018 – Rank: 6, Value:  0.3972

Tight end Eric Ebron scored the most points by a tight end in 2018 with 13 receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.  He was tie for sixth in the league with two other players for the most points scored among all players. Ebron was a significant part of the increase in points per play as he went from an average of 3 touchdowns over his first four years to 14 in 2018.

Running back Marlon Mack scored 9 rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown and made two 2-point conversions. He was the tenth running back in points scored and one of only three in the top ten that were twenty-two years or younger. He is going into his third year in 2019 after being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Mack is the latest draft selection (Round 4-143) to be in the top ten running backs in scoring. mack is another reason for the jump in points per play as he went from 24 points scored his rookie season to 64 points scored in 2018.

Quarterback Andrew Luck had the second most passing touchdowns (39) in 2018 and the sixth best TD% (6.1%). TD% is the % TDs when attempting to pass.  He did not play in 2017 due to injury. In his place quarterback Jacoby Brissett had the 26th ranked TD% (2.8%) and the 24th number of passing touchdowns (13).

Receiver TY Hilton made the top 100 of offensive players that had the most points scored. He was tie for number 56 with 6 receiving touchdowns. There are 18 active wide receivers that have played for the last 7 seasons. Of those 18 players only 4 have had 4+ receiving touchdowns in each year. TY Hilton is one of the four along with Antonio Brown, A.J. Greene and Demaryius Thomas.

The Colts drafted receiver Parris Campbell of Ohio State in the second round. In 2018 Campbell was number one in the Big Ten in receiving touchdowns (12) and tie for eighth overall. They signed undrafted free agent receiver Penny Hart of Georgia State.  Hart was third in the Sun Belt Conference for receiving touchdowns in 2015 and 2017 with 8 touchdowns each year.

2. Chicago Bears

2017 – Rank: 29, Value: 0.2463
2018 – Rank: 10, Value: 0.3702

The Bears were the only team to have four players in the top fifty offensive players for points scored. Their top two scorers were their running backs. Jordan Howard had 9 touchdowns and Tarik Cohen had 8. Chicago and New Orleans were the only two teams that had two running backs in the top 25 running backs for scoring. Nine of the top 25 running backs for scoring were chosen in round 4 or later in the draft including both of Chicago’s backs.

Second round draft choice, rookie Anthony Miller was the second highest scoring rookie receiver in the league and the sixth overall rookie in scoring. At 5’11” and 190 lbs Miller shows that smaller receivers can not only make it in the NFL but also flourish.

Tight end Trey Burton had a career high 6 touchdowns in 2018 and one 2-point conversion.  He was the fourth highest scoring tight end in the league. He signed as a free agent from the Eagles in March of 2018.

The Bears traded running back Jordan Howard to the Eagles in March 2019. The Bears drafted receiver Riley Ridley from Georgia in round four. Ridley is reported to excel at contested catches and had nine touchdown receptions in 2018. His six receptions in the red zone were all touchdowns with a long of 12 yards. They drafted running back David Montgomery of Iowa State in the third round. Montgomery had 13 rushing touchdowns in 2018 all on rushes in the red zone.  Twenty four percent of his 55 red zone attempts made a touchdown.

3. New York Giants

2017 – Rank: 32, Value: 0.2220
2018 – Rank: 16, Value: 0.3486

Rookie running back Saquon Barkley scored the third most points (92) among offensive players.  He scored the most points by a rookie beating the second place rookie by 32 points. He had 11 rushing touchdowns, 4 receiving touchdowns and one 2-point conversion. Receiver Odell Beckham made the top 100 players by points scored. He was tied for 56th place with six receiving touchdowns.

The Giants traded Odell Beckham in 2019. Beckham had injuries the last two seasons that limited the games he played in. Before that in his first three years Beckham had 10+ receiving touchdowns in each of his three years form 2014 thru 2016. Antonio Brown was the only other receiver to accomplish that in that time-frame.

The Giants have not added a touchdown threat to replace Beckham. Sterling Shepard had 8 touchdowns in his rookie year in 2016. However he has since not come close to that number. Corey Coleman was number one in the nation his last year in college (2015) in receiving touchdowns with 20. He has yet to be such a touchdown threat in his three year NFL career.

Undrafted free agent Reggie White Jr. of Monmouth  has the frame of a receiver at 6’2″ and 208 lbs. . He had an impressive 31 career touchdowns with 11 in his senior year. At his Monmouth Pro Day he met 5 of the 6 combine event targets for a wide receiver. His 20 yard shuttle time (4.07) would have tied for third among receivers at the combine. His 3-code time (6.81) would have been fourth. His draft profile said  – “He’s a springy leaper with a wide catch radius who snares balls outside his frame or goes up and over cornerbacks to bring it in.”.

The three most declined teams with respect to points per play are as follows.

30. Washington Redskins

2017 – Rank: 12, Value: 0.3360
2018 – Rank: 28, Value: 0.2802

Washington had only one player in the top 100 offensive players for points scored. That was running back Adrian Peterson who was tied at number 34 with 8 touchdowns. He had seven rushing and one receiving.

Before he was injured quarterback Alex Smith had the 2nd lowest TD% among quarterbacks with 8+ starts with a 3% in 10 games.

In his 2017 season in Minnesota Case Keenum had a 4.6% TD% which was 11th best in the league. Dwayne Haskins led the nation in passing touchdowns with 50.  He averaged 3.6 touchdowns per game which was top in the nation. The next quarterback was Will Grier who averaged 3.4 touchdowns per game. However Haskin’s red zone touchdown conversion rate of 32.5% was not as good as a number of other quarterbacks. He was beat out in the red zone conversion by Trace McSorley, Justice Hansen, Kyler Murray, Will Grier and Tyree Jackson (in order).

The Redskins 2015 first round draft pick Josh Doctson has yet to show the production he had in college. In his final year in college Doctson was fifth in the nation in receiving touchdowns with 14. In his three year NFL career he has yet to break a 60% catch percentage.

Tight ends Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed had impressive touchdown numbers in 2013 and 2015 respectively. However since those years they have not come close to matching that production.

Undrafted free agent Steven Sims Jr. had over 42% team market share of receiving touchdowns in 2016 and 2017.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 – Rank: 13, Value: 0.3349
2018: Rank: 32, Value: 0.2219

The Jaguars had three players in the top 100 offensive scorers. The lowest ranked player was running back  Leonard Fournette at tied at 56 with six touchdowns.  The second year back was down from his rookie season of 10 touchdowns.  Also tie at 47 was second year receiver Dede Westbrook. Westbrook had five receiving touchdowns and one punt return touchdown. They are followed by running back TJ Yeldon who is tied at 77 with five touchdowns which were four receiving and one rushing.  Quarterback Blake Bortles was 27th among starting quarterbacks in TD% with 3.2%.

The Jaguars traded for quarterback Nick Foles and release Blake Bortles in 2019. Over the last five seasons Foles averaged a 3.5 TD % and the league average for starting quarterbacks was 4.5%. In that time-frame during the regular season Foles has 35 touchdown passes over 28 starts. Running back TJ Yeldon departed the Jaguars in free agency in 2019.

For 2019 the Jaguars the Jaguars signed undrafted free agent receiver Tyree Brady. Brady is one of only thirteen players that had 8+ receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. His team market share of receiving touchdowns was 32% and 45%.

32. Detroit Lions

2017 – Rank: 6, Value: 0.3714
2018 – Rank: 27, Value: 0.3062

You have to go back to 2014 to get a lower TD% for Matthew Stafford than his 3.8% in 2018. The team in 2018 had three players in the top 100 offensive scorers. The first is running back LeGarrette Blount who comes in tied at 77th with five rushing touchdowns. He has had quite a drop-off since his career high 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 with the Patriots. Also tied at 77th is receiver Kenny Golladay with five receiving touchdowns for the second year player.

Sixth round draft pick, receiver Travis Fulgham, had a receiving touchdown in each of his nine last games. He is a big receiver at 6’3″ and 215 lbs. Five of his seven red zone receptions were a touchdown for a 71% conversion rate.

Undrafted free agent signing tight end Donald Parham had 13 receiving touchdowns his senior year. That accounted for 46% of his team’s receiving touchdowns. Parham has a 36″ vertical jump which would have been tied for third among tight ends at last year’s combine. That jump combined with a 6’8″ height and being a former basketball player makes for a nice red zone target.

In Conclusion

Two of the three most improved teams in points per play, the Bears and Giants, were also among the top three most improved teams in yards per passing attempt. The three most declined teams in points per play were also the three most declined in yards per passing attempt.

The data for all teams is Points Per Play. It has the 2017 season sorted by highest to lowest points per play. Beneath that is the same for the 2018 season. That is followed by the teams ranking for each year sorted by the difference in rank form 2017 to 2018.

Passing Yards Per Attempt And Teams That About-Faced

This is an update on 06/22/2019. The original calculation did not go out enough decimal places and teams were ranked sequentially that had equivalent yards per attempt. This update corrects that problem. The one major change was that the Texans surpassed the Bears in third most improved team. For teams that had a tied rank difference I then sorted by the difference in yards per attempt year to year.

Looking back at the 2018 season which teams were the most improved and most declined in various statistics. Today  I look at the passing game and specifically the Yards per Pass Attempt statistic. This one seems to best capture a team’s success in the passing game in just one stat. The other stats such as passing yards, completion percentage, yards per reception give just a part of the picture.

First we look at the top three teams that improved the most from 2017 to 2018 in passing yards per attempt. We look at what went well in 2018 and how they positioned themselves to improve more in 2019.  These are not the teams that lead in yards/attempt but rather the teams that improved the most from the previous year. We follow with the three teams that dropped the most in rankings for this statistic.

Three  Most Improved Teams in Passing Yards Per Attempt

1. Cleveland Browns

2017 – Rank: 31, Yds/Att: 5.6
2018 – Rank: 13, Yds/Att: 7.0

Mayfield was impressive his rookie year. Here are the all time quarterbacks that in their rookie year had 3,000+ passing yards, 60+% completion rate, 20+ passing touchdowns and a 90+ passer rating.

A good run game helps the passing game and fellow rookie running back Nick Chubb also had a good rookie year. Here are the 2018 running backs that had 100+ rushing attempts and averaged 5+ yards per attempt.

Third year receiver Rashad Higgins, who was a consensus All American in college  in 2014, has provided a reliable receiving option on limited targets. He may be turning into a good receiver after a slow start. Here we have receivers in 2018 that had a 70+% catch percentage and 500+ Receiving Yards sorted by descending Yards per Target.

The Browns added Odell Beckham in 2019 with a trade with the Giants.  Here we see since Beckham was drafted in 2014 the receivers that have had 2+ seasons of +7.3 yards/target, +1000 receiving yards, +13 yards per reception and a 59+% catch percent sorted in descending number of seasons.  Beckham was injured for one of those five seasons.

Query Results Table
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
1 Julio Jones 1-6 2014 2018 ATL 5
2 Odell Beckham 1-12 2014 2018 NYG 4
3 Antonio Brown 6-195 2014 2017 PIT 3
4 Brandin Cooks 1-20 2015 2018 NOR/LAR 3
5 Rob Gronkowski 2-42 2014 2017 NWE 3
6 Amari Cooper 1-4 2016 2018 OAK/ 2
7 A.J. Green 1-4 2014 2015 CIN 2
8 Tyreek Hill 5-165 2017 2018 KAN 2
9 T.Y. Hilton 3-92 2014 2018 IND 2
10 DeAndre Hopkins 1-27 2014 2018 HOU 2
11 Greg Olsen 1-31 2015 2016 CAR 2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


2. New York Giants

2017 – Rank: 29, Yds/Att: 5.7
2018 – Rank: 15, Yds/Att: 6.9

Eli Manning had one of the best years of his career in 2018. Here we have 2018 quarterbacks that had a 65+% completion percent, 4000+ passing yards, 7+ passing yards per attempt and less than 15 interceptions.

Manning also was aided by an improved run game featuring rookie Saquon Barkley. He is also listed in the Nick Chubb table above.

The receivers all had good catch percentage, yards per target and yards per game. The Giants did lack a standout receiver three. Here were the top Giant receivers in 2018.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
13 Odell Beckham 26 WR 12 12 124 77 1052 13.7 6 51 6.4 87.7 62.1% 8.5
87 Sterling Shepard 25 WR 16 16 107 66 872 13.2 4 58 4.1 54.5 61.7% 8.1
26 Saquon Barkley* 21 RB 16 16 121 91 721 7.9 4 57 5.7 45.1 75.2% 6.0
88 Evan Engram 24 TE 11 8 64 45 577 12.8 3 54 4.1 52.5 70.3% 9.0
85 Rhett Ellison 30 TE 14 12 34 25 272 10.9 1 29 1.8 19.4 73.5% 8.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/14/2019.


The Giants have lost Odell Beckham in free agency but have picked up Golden Tate. Here we see that Tate is one of only six receivers that have had 2+ seasons of 90+ receptions and 7.9+ yards per target over the last three years.

Query Results Table
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
1 Michael Thomas 2-47 2016 2018 NOR 3
2 Keenan Allen 3-76 2017 2018 LAC 2
3 Antonio Brown 6-195 2016 2017 PIT 2
4 DeAndre Hopkins 1-27 2017 2018 HOU 2
5 Golden Tate 2-60 2016 2017 DET 2
6 Adam Thielen 2017 2018 MIN 2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


The Giants draft receiver Darius Slayton of Auburn in round 5. Though not a prolific receiver in college Slayton did average 20.3 yards per reception over three years and was pretty consistent with the lowest year being 19.1. In 2018 he had four receptions of 50+ yards which was tie for eighth and among the top 21 receivers. Again being consistent he also had four receptions of 50+ yards in 2017 and tie for 15th and among the top 23 receivers. In 2018 almost half of his 35 receptions were for 15+ yards. That was 55% in 2017.  Again with consistency Slayton had 5 receiving touchdowns in each of 2017 and 2018. At the combine he was 6th among receivers in the forty and third in the vertical and broad jump.

I am intrigued by the Giants undrafted free agent signing of FCS receiver Alex Wesley.  In each of his last two seasons he had 1000+ receiving yards, an 18.4 yards per reception average, an average of 100+ yards per game and long receptions of 62 and 83 yards. In 2018 half of his 10 games were 100+ receiving yards with two others being 96 and 97 yards. He had one game of 184 receiving yards. His team market share receiving yards in 2018 was 37.1%.

3. Houston Texans

2017 – Rank: 19, Yds/Att: 6.24
2018 – Rank: 7, Yds/Att: 7.47

Deshaun Watson is one of eight quarterbacks in the query used for Eli Manning of 2018 quarterbacks that had a 65+% completion percent, 4000+ passing yards, 7+ passing yards per attempt and less than 15 interceptions,  Watson had the second most fourth quarter comebacks with five.  It helps the Texans overall change in that Watson was injured in 2017 and only played in seven games compared to his 16 regular season games in 2018. Nevertheless Watson improved in completion percentage and interception percentage though dropping in touchdown percentage. Watson made the 2017 NFL All-Rookie Team and the 2018 Pro Bowl.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had his best career year. He made the Pro Bowl and was selected First team All-Pro for the second year in a row, His 1,572 receiving yards was  second in the league. His 70.6% catch percentage was the best of his career by over 10%.

4. Chicago Bears

2017 – Rank: 24, Yds/Att: 5.94
2018 – Rank: 14, Yds/Att: 6.96

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky improved in almost every quarterback statistic from his 2017 rookie season. If we expand the quarterback query we used for Eli Manning to include passing yards of 3200+ we get a couple more good quarterbacks. Most of those new ones did not play a full season which includes Trubisky.

Trubisky had a plethora of targets to throw to. Here we see that in 2018 the Bears were one of only two teams that had five players with an average 10+ yards per reception, a 58+% catch rate, 7+ yards per target and 30+ receptions. The other team, the Eagles, lost one of those targets (Golden Tate) in free agency this year.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
12 Allen Robinson 25 WR 13 12 94 55 754 13.7 4 43 4.2 58.0 58.5% 8.0
29 Tarik Cohen*+ 23 rb/wr 16 7 91 71 725 10.2 5 70 4.4 45.3 78.0% 8.0
18 Taylor Gabriel 27 WR 16 11 93 67 688 10.3 2 54 4.2 43.0 72.0% 7.4
80 Trey Burton 27 TE 16 16 76 54 569 10.5 6 47 3.4 35.6 71.1% 7.5
17 Anthony Miller 24 wr 15 4 54 33 423 12.8 7 55 2.2 28.2 61.1% 7.8
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


The Bears offensive line was eighth in the league in fewest sacks allowed (33) and second in fewest quarterback hits (64). They signed undrafted free agent offensive tackle Joe Lowery of Ohio University. Lowery made 2018 Mac All Conference First Team and 2017 All Conference second team. He was 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.

The Bears have kept their top five receiving targets shown above going into the 2019 season.

I am intrigued by their undrafted free agent signing of tight end Dax Raymond. Though not a lot of 3rd down receptions (19), Raymond has made 1st down on 90% of his 3rd down receptions over his three year college career. In 2018 nineteen of his 27 receptions resulted in a first down. He is a big physical receiver with good hands.

The Bears drafted receiver Riley Ridley from Georgia in the fourth round. Ridley is a tough receiver who made my list in 2019 NFL Draft And Which Teams Became Tougher . While he did not put up huge receiving numbers at Georgia he did have a career average 14.7 yards per reception and had 9 receiving touchdowns in 2018. In 2018 he converted on eight of his nine 3rd down receptions and all of his six red zone receptions were touchdowns. His brother, Calvin Ridley, plays in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons.

Three  Most Declined Teams in Passing Yards Per Attempt

Now we look at the bottom three teams that dropped the most in the rankings for Passing Yards Per Attempt from 2017 to 2018. Again these are not necessarily the worst teams in this statistic but are rather those that dropped most between the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Again we look at how the team addressed the problem going into 2019.

30. Washington Redskins

2017 – Rank: 11, Yds/Att: 6.9
2018 – Rank: 29, Yds/Att: 5.9

The Redskins lost quarterback Alex Smith for the season after he suffered a broken leg during a game of week 11. They finished the remaining six games with a combination of Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson at quarterback. Their record in those last six weeks was 1-5 to finish the season at 7-9.

For the receivers no one stood out as the highest receiving yards by anyone was 558 yards by their tight end Jordan Reed. The catch percentages for the wide receivers were all under 60% with the exception of Chris Thompson. However Thompson’s yards per reception was only 6.5. Of the 71 receivers that started 8 or more games the Redskins had only one, Josh Doctson, and he was 58th on the list in yards/target (6.82).

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
86 Jordan Reed 28 te/wr 13 8 84 54 558 10.3 2 34 4.2 42.9 64.3% 6.6
18 Josh Doctson 26 WR 15 12 78 44 532 12.1 2 32 2.9 35.5 56.4% 6.8
80 Jamison Crowder 25 wr 9 7 49 29 388 13.4 2 79 3.2 43.1 59.2% 7.9
85 Vernon Davis 34 te/wr 14 8 36 25 367 14.7 2 53 1.8 26.2 69.4% 10.2
13 Maurice Harris 26 wr 12 7 47 28 304 10.9 0 42 2.3 25.3 59.6% 6.5
25 Chris Thompson 28 10 0 55 41 268 6.5 1 23 4.1 26.8 74.5% 4.9
10 Paul Richardson 26 wr 7 4 35 20 262 13.1 2 46 2.9 37.4 57.1% 7.5
26 Adrian Peterson 33 RB 16 16 26 20 208 10.4 1 52 1.3 13.0 76.9% 8.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


With it looking doubtful that Alex Smith would return in 2019 the team signed free agent Case Keenum from the Broncos. They then drafted Dwayne Haskins with the number 15 pick in the draft. They will have an open quarterback competition thru training camp to decide on a starter.

Colt McCoy career numbers are not that good. However his best years have been his last four at Washington and he knows the system the best.

Colt McCoy Passing Table
Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate QBR Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
Career 38 27 7-20-0 542 896 60.5 5958 29 3.2 26 2.9 71 6.6 6.0 11.0 156.8 78.9 83 496 5.58 4.98 8.5 2 5 14
4 yrs WAS 10 6 1-5-0 132 193 68.4 1557 8 4.1 6 3.1 71 8.1 7.5 11.8 155.7 93.6 24 166 6.41 5.90 11.1 1 2 4
3 yrs CLE 24 21 6-15-0 409 702 58.3 4388 21 3.0 20 2.8 56 6.3 5.6 10.7 182.8 74.8 59 330 5.33 4.70 7.8 1 3 10
1 yr SFO 4 0 1 1 100.0 13 0 0.0 0 0.0 13 13.0 13.0 13.0 3.3 118.7 0 0 13.00 13.00 0.0 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


Keenum had a very good year in Minnesota. The Denver year was not as good. Before those years he had six years of poor play.

Passing Table
Year Age Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds NY/A ANY/A Sk% 4QC GWD AV
Care Care 57 54 26-28-0 1144 1844 62.0 12661 64 3.5 42 2.3 66 6.9 6.5 11.1 222.1 84.5 105 755 6.11 5.80 5.4 6 10 33
3 yr 3 yr HOU 10 10 2-8-0 182 330 55.2 2195 11 3.3 8 2.4 66 6.7 6.2 12.1 219.5 76.8 22 216 5.62 5.22 6.3 1 1 5
3 yr 3 yr STL-LAR 16 14 7-7-0 272 447 60.9 3029 13 2.9 12 2.7 65 6.8 6.1 11.1 189.3 79.5 27 168 6.04 5.45 5.7 1 2 5
1 yr 1 yr DEN 16 16 6-10-0 365 586 62.3 3890 18 3.1 15 2.6 64 6.6 6.1 10.7 243.1 81.2 34 235 5.90 5.39 5.5 3 4 9
1 yr 1 yr MIN 15 14 11-3-0 325 481 67.6 3547 22 4.6 7 1.5 65 7.4 7.6 10.9 236.5 98.3 22 136 6.78 7.03 4.4 1 3 14
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2019.


Draft pick Dwayne Haskins has only one year as a starter in college. However he performed very well in that one year. He was first in passing yards, 10+ yard passing plays and passing touchdowns. Here is a table to show how his stats compared to other drafted quarterbacks. Haskins is in bold. In addition the the standard stats there are ones for 3rd down conversion percent, red zone touchdown percent and big play percent. Averages for the drafted quarterbacks are shown at the bottom for most stats and players above the average are highlighted in yellow. AT the end is a sum of stats the player was above the average.

Rookie Draft Picks Quarterback Table
ROUND Pick Team First name Last Name School Ht Wt 2018 games Pct Pass Yds pass yds/game Pass yds/Att Tds tds/game Int TD/Int Rate Rush Yds Rush yds/game Rush Avg Rush Tds pass att 3rd rush att 3rd pass made 3rd rush made 3rd pass 3rd rush 3rd 3rd down % dev 3rd down RZ Pass Att RZ Rush Att RZ Pass TD RZ rush TD pass td rush td RZ TD % dev RZ TD All Pass All Rush Big Pass Big Rush pass BP rush BP Big Play % BP dev sum above Avg Sum Std Dev
1 1 ARI Kyler Murray Oklahoma 5.10 195 14 69.0 4361 312 11.6 42 3.00 7 6.00 199.2 1001 71.5 7.2 12 80 18 43 6 53.75% 33.33% 50.0% 1.208 51 28 20 8 39.216% 28.57% 35.4% 0.731 377 140 102 42 27.06% 30.00% 27.9% 2.059 12 4.00
1 6 NYG Daniel Jones Duke 6.05 229 11 60.5 2674 243 6.8 22 2.00 9 2.44 131.7 319 29.0 3.1 3 88 38 31 14 35.23% 36.84% 35.7% -0.747 33 19 10 2 30.303% 10.53% 23.1% -1.373 392 104 53 17 13.52% 16.35% 14.1% -1.169 2 -3.29
1 15 WAS Dwayne Haskins Ohio State 6.03 220 14 70.0 4831 345 9.1 50 3.57 8 6.25 174.1 108 7.7 1.4 4 119 18 55 3 46.22% 16.67% 42.3% 0.159 65 12 21 4 32.308% 33.33% 32.5% 0.224 496 73 104 4 20.97% 5.48% 19.0% -0.026 8 0.36
2 42 DEN Drew Lock Missouri 6.04 225 13 62.9 3498 269 8.0 28 2.15 8 3.50 147.7 175 13.5 3.2 6 117 13 50 3 42.74% 23.08% 40.8% -0.055 50 16 12 6 24.000% 37.50% 27.3% -0.659 399 49 65 10 16.29% 20.41% 16.7% -0.552 2 -1.27
3 100 CAR Will Grier West Virginia 6.02 223 11 67.0 3864 351 9.7 37 3.36 8 4.63 175.5 -90 -8.2 -1.9 3 89 13 41 2 46.07% 15.38% 42.2% 0.135 52 8 18 3 34.615% 37.50% 35.0% 0.655 397 48 78 3 19.65% 6.25% 18.2% -0.208 8 0.58
4 104 CIN Ryan Finley NC State 6.04 212 13 67.4 3928 302 8.1 25 1.92 11 2.27 148.0 21 1.6 0.5 1 124 14 57 10 45.97% 71.43% 48.6% 1.009 64 6 17 1 26.563% 16.67% 25.7% -0.924 452 36 95 0 21.02% 0.00% 19.5% 0.089 4 0.17
6 197 BAL Trace McSorley Penn State 6.00 201 13 53.2 2530 195 7.0 18 1.38 7 2.57 124.6 798 61.4 4.7 12 80 49 21 16 26.25% 32.65% 28.7% -1.709 35 29 14 11 40.000% 37.93% 39.1% 1.346 361 170 65 32 18.01% 18.82% 18.3% -0.193 4 -0.56
Average 64.3 288.1 8.6 2.49 3.95 157.3 25.2 2.6 5.9 41.2% 31.1% 19.1%

Provided by
Generated 5/15/2019.


With the receivers the Redskins lost Jamison Crowder in free agency. They drafted Terry McLaurin of Ohio State in the third round and Kelvin Harmon of NC State in the sixth round. Harmon made my list of the top five toughest receivers available in the 2019 draft. He had 1000+ receiving yards, 14+ yards per reception and 4+ receiving touchdowns in each of his last two seasons at NC State.  McLaurin was fifth among receivers in the forty (4.35 s) at the combine. An intriguing undrafted free agent signing is receiver Steven Sims of Kansas. Sims had a 29.8% team market share of receiving yards in 2016. That same year his 7 receiving touchdowns was 44% of the team’s receiving touchdowns. He was a four year starter at Kansas where he started in 30 games.

31 Jacksonville Jaguars

2017 – Rank: 12, Yards/Att: 6.8
2018 – Rank: 30, Yards/Att: 5.8

Quarterback Blake Bortles had a bad year in 2018 on the Jaguars. He was benched in week 13  to give Cody Kessler a shot. Bortles came back to start in the season finale.  Bortles 79.8 passer rating in 2018 was 31st among the 34 quarterbacks that started at least 7 games. The three quarterbacks with a lower rating were 3 of the 4 rookie quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson was the sole rookie with the higher rating.

The Jaguars offensive line was 30th in sacks allowed (53) and also in quarterbacks hits allowed (111).  Their line was hurt by injuries. Only one week one starter on the line finished the season.

Jacksonville had 3 receivers that started 8 or more games. On the list of starting receivers (8 or more games) of the 71 receivers the Jacksonville receivers were 46, 53 and 54th on the list  in receiving yards per target. Two of there top three receivers have catch percentages under 55% and their round two draft pick in 2018, DJ Chark, has a catch percentage of 44%.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
12 Dede Westbrook 25 WR 16 9 101 66 717 10.9 5 61 4.1 44.8 65.3% 7.1
10 Donte Moncrief 25 WR 16 14 89 48 668 13.9 3 80 3.0 41.8 53.9% 7.5
84 Keelan Cole 25 WR 16 11 70 38 491 12.9 1 35 2.4 30.7 54.3% 7.0
24 T.J. Yeldon 25 rb 14 5 78 55 487 8.9 4 37 3.9 34.8 70.5% 6.2
80 James O’Shaughnessy 26 TE 14 9 38 24 214 8.9 0 17 1.7 15.3 63.2% 5.6
27 Leonard Fournette 23 RB 8 8 26 22 185 8.4 1 31 2.8 23.1 84.6% 7.1
17 DJ Chark 22 11 0 32 14 174 12.4 0 38 1.3 15.8 43.8% 5.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/16/2019.


Looking to improve in 2019 the Jaguars signed Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles and released Blake Bortles.  Foles is entering his eighth season after being selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft.  Foles had a Pro Bowl season in 2013, was extremely efficient in his post season 2017 Super Bowl run and had a good five regular season games in 2018.  In regular season games over the last 2-5 seasons Foles has ranked in the bottom 10-29% of starting quarterbacks in yards per pass attempts. It will be interesting to see how he does in a full season.

In the draft the Jaguars selected OT Jawaan Taylor of Florida in the second round. He was projected by to be a round one selection. He excels as a run blocker.  Pro Football Focus reports that he only gave up one sack last year and ten pressures.

They picked up undrafted free agent guard Bunchy Stallings. Stallings was SEC All Conference First Team in 2018. He was selected as an All American by the Associate Press and by the Athletic. Stallings was responsible for only one-half quarterback sack all year. He totaled 170 blocks at the point of attack and had 55 knockdown blocks. 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. Stallings was selected to the ESPN 2018 mid-season All-America team and they had this to say – “He has been a road-grader for the Wildcats. ”

For receiver weapons they picked tight end Josh Oliver in the second round. Oliver had 56 receptions last year which was second most among tight ends. He had a 22.6% receiving yards team market share where a 15% or better is considered good for a tight end. He had 81% of his 3rd down receptions result in a first down.  Of his total 56 receptions 67.9% went for first down. While not the best percents in this strong tight end class they are still pretty good.

They did not draft a receiver but did pick up two intriguing undrafted free agents. Papi White of Ohio  had a 36.5% receiving yards team market share. White is one of only two players that had 15+ Receiving Yards Per Reception, 3+ Receiving Touchdowns and 600+ Receiving Yards in each of the last three seasons.

The other undrafted free agent is Tyree Brady of Marshall. He is sixth in FBS career receptions per game among active players (5.54 receptions). Brady has achieved over a 30% team market share receiving yards each of the last two years. Brady is one of only eleven receivers that over the last two seasons had 1900+ receiving yards and 17+ receiving touchdowns.

32 Detroit Lions

2017 – Rank: 8, Yds/Att: 7.3
2018 – Rank: 26, Yds/Att: 6.2

You have to go back to 2012 for an equivalent or lower yards per attempt by quarterback Mathew Stafford. That is how far back you also have to go to get a worse record than their 2018 record of 6-10. Detroit on this list is a kind of enigma. Stafford had the second best completion percentage (66.1%) of his career. The offensive line of Detroit was 18th in sacks allowed and 13th in QB hits allowed. The Lions did trade receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles in week 8.  Tate was on track to be the lead receiver (517 yards) and he wound up with the best catch % of the top three receivers (63.8%). However on a list of the 71 receivers that started 8 or more games in 2018 sorted by decreasing receiving yards per target, the Lions have two in the list- Kenny Golladay at 22 and Marvin Jones at 33. Only 8 other teams had two receivers higher than 33.  Why the Lions wound up with the worst drop in ranking of passing yards per attempt is hard to understand.

Looking into 2019 the Lions should bounce back just based on 2018 being an anomaly. However in addition to that they added some nice players to see a big jump.

Danny Amendola  (WR free agent, MIA)   – Over the last 4 seasons in each season he has had a 70+% catch rate and 7.3 to 8.4 yards/target.

Jesse James (TE free agent, PIT) – In 2018 had 423 yards, 76.9% catch rate, 10.8 yards/target  and 14.1 yards/rec.

TJ Hockenson (TE Round 1 draft) – One of my 5 toughest tight ends in the draft. Hockenson participated in all seven combine events and scored within tight end target goals on six of the seven. Only one other tight end had that achievement (Foster Moreau). Hockenson had the most 30+ yard receptions (8) among all tight ends. Hockenson won the 2018 John Mackey Award given to college football’s most outstanding tight end.

Travis Fulgham (WR Round 6 draft) – One of only four draft prospects that had 1000+ yards receiving and averaged 17+ yards per reception in 2018.  He had a whopping 76% of his receptions go for a first down. He also had a receiving touchdown in each of his nine last games.

Isaac Nauta (TE Round 7 draft) – Another one of my 5 toughest tight ends.

Donald Parham (TE UDFA) – had staggering market share numbers that would be great for a wide receiver and are unheard of for a tight end. In 2018 he had 85 receptions (36%), 1,319 yards (41%) and 13 touchdowns (46%). Parham has a 36″ vertical jump which would have been tied for third among tight ends at last year’s combine. That jump combined with a 6’8″ height and being a former basketball player makes for a nice red zone target.

Beau Benzschawel (OL UDFA) – One of only seven offensive line draft prospects to make all conference first team the last two seasons. On rushing plays the Badgers averaged 7.5 yards per attempt when running to Beau’s gap. Beau has played in 49 games and made 49 consecutive starts on what is regarded as one of the top offensive lines in the nation (Wisconsin).

In Conclusion

There you have the three most improved and three most declined teams in 2018 for yards per passing attempt. It is quite a coincidence that the top three wound up ranking consecutively in the middle of the pack. The yards per attempt data was obtained from The yards per attempt are for the team and it subtracts yards lost to sacks from the total yardage.

You can download the rankings for all teams here – Passing Yds Per Att Update. The table is sorted by change form 2017 to 2018.


NY Giants Projected 2019 Starters and The Groups They Run With

Here is my projected post-draft NY Giants Team Starters for 2019. With each player I show a group of players that have had similar production success as the Giant starter. The group is based on a query of similar recent success for the seasoned players or first year(s) success for the new players. (The groups shown can be scrolled to the right to see all data)

Quarterback: Eli Manning

Eli is a two time Super Bowl MVP, one of only five multiple MVP winners. He had one of the best years of his career in 2018. Here we see the quarterbacks in 2018 that had a 65+% completion percent, passing yards of 4,000+, interceptions of less than 15 and yards per pass attempt of 7+ yards.

Running Back: Saquon Barkley

Barkley was the 2018 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the 2018 NFL All-Rookie Team. Here we see players over the last five seasons that had 600+ Receiving Yards and 1200+ Rushing Yards.

Wide Receivers: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate

Shepard made the 2016 NFL All Rookie Team. Shepard and Tate are among the top productive and efficient receivers in the league. Here we have for receivers over the last three seasons the count of  their seasons that had 600+ Receiving Yards,  a 10+ yards per reception average and a Catch Percentage of 60+%.  we are only showing those that met that for each of the three seasons.

Tight End: Evan Engram

Engram made the 2017 NFL All Rookie Team. He is a productive receiver. Here we have tight ends that over the last two seasons had a total of 1,000+ Receiving Yards and averaged 50+ Receiving Yards per Game.

Fullback: Elijhaa Penny

Penny was the seventh highest graded starting fullback in the league in 2018. This is based on Pro Football Focus player grades and the snap counts for fullbacks from Football Outsiders. He is reputed to be a strong blocker and last year he had a catch percentage of 89% for eight receptions.  Here we see the top running backs by catch percent in 2018 for a minimum of 5 receptions.

Query Results Table
Games Receiving
Rk Player From To Draft Tm Lg G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 T.J. Logan 2018 2018 5-179 CRD NFL 10 0 7 7 37 5.29 0 3.7 100.0% 5.29
2 Damien Williams 2018 2018 KAN NFL 16 3 24 23 160 6.96 2 10.0 95.8% 6.67
3 Jordan Wilkins 2018 2018 5-169 CLT NFL 16 3 17 16 85 5.31 0 5.3 94.1% 5.00
4 Dontrell Hilliard 2018 2018 CLE NFL 11 0 10 9 105 11.67 0 9.5 90.0% 10.50
5 Jaylen Samuels 2018 2018 5-165 PIT NFL 14 3 29 26 199 7.65 3 14.2 89.7% 6.86
6 Elijhaa Penny 2018 2018 NYG NFL 14 3 9 8 50 6.25 0 3.6 88.9% 5.56
7 Anthony Sherman 2018 2018 5-136 KAN NFL 16 1 9 8 96 12.00 1 6.0 88.9% 10.67
8 Dion Lewis 2018 2018 5-149 OTI NFL 16 7 67 59 400 6.78 1 25.0 88.1% 5.97
9 Corey Clement 2018 2018 PHI NFL 11 0 25 22 192 8.73 0 17.5 88.0% 7.68
10 Matt Breida 2018 2018 SFO NFL 14 13 31 27 261 9.67 2 18.6 87.1% 8.42
11 Chase Edmonds 2018 2018 4-134 CRD NFL 16 0 23 20 103 5.15 0 6.4 87.0% 4.48
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2019.


Offensive Line:

LT Nate Solder – 1st Round pick 2011 by Patriots; 2011 NFL All-Rookie Team

LG Will Hernandez – 2nd Round pick 2018; 2018 NFL All-Rookie Team

OC Jon Halapio – In 2017 started six games at right guard. In the 2017 season finale he earned a game ball when Orleans Darkwa rushed for 154 yards. Halapio moved to center for 2018 and was playing well before injured for the season.

RG Kevin Zeitler – 1st Round pick in 2012 by the Bengals. 2012 NFL All Rookie Team.

RT Chad Wheeler (TBD) – The Giants have signed Viking tackle Mike Remmers and drafted George Asafo-Adjei. However this job is Wheeler’s to lose but is open to the competition. “Chad, right now, is starting off as the first right tackle, and it’s up to him to hold the position. It’s up to everybody else to beat him out.” – OL Coach Hal Hunter.

Defensive End: BJ Hill

As a rookie Hill played on 59% of the defensive snaps and had some impressive numbers. Here we see over the last ten seasons all the rookie defensive linemen that had 45+ Tackles,  30+ Solo tackles, 5+ tackles for loss and 2+ passes defended.

Nose Tackle: Dexter Lawrence

Lawrence made the ESPN true freshman All-America team and was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016. In his next two years he made the ACC All Conference First Team both years. At 342 lbs Lawrence is the second heaviest player on the Giants beat out  by only 3 lbs by new guard Alex Droogsma. After Lawrence the next player is 15 lbs less.

Defensive End: Dalvin Tomlinson

Tomlinson made the 2017 NFL All Rookie Team. Here we look at defensive linemen that over the last ten years  had 50+ Tackles, 25+ Solo Tackles and 1+ Tackles For Loss in each of their first two years.

OLB Markus Golden

In his final year in college Golden was the Citrus Bowl MVP. He was selected in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft by the Cardinals.  Here we look at all players over the last 10 years that had 10+ quarterback hits, 20+ Solo Tackles Tackles, 4+ Tackles for Loss and 4+ Sacks in each of their first two years. Golden tore his ACL in 2017 after four games and was out for the season. His 2018 season on the Cardinals was okay and it remains to be seen if he can return to his pre-injury form.

OLB Lorenzo Carter

At the 2018 NFL Combine Carter finished 1st among edge rushers in the broad jump, second in the forty and third in the vertical jump. Here we look at all rookies over the last 10 years that had 4+ Passes Defended, 30+ Solo Tackles , 5+ Tackles For Loss and 10+ Quarterback Hits.

ILB Alec Ogletree

Ogletree was a first round selection in the 2013 NFL draft by the Rams. He made the 2013 NFL All Rookie Team and was a 2016 All Pro Second Team selection. Here we look at the number of linebackers that for each of the last three seasons had 90+ Tackles, 50+Solo Tackles, 3+ Tackles for Loss and 3+ Quarterback hits.

ILB B.J. Goodson

After not seeing much activity his rookie year, Goodson was named the starting inside linebacker in 2017 and 2018. He saw 34% of the defensive snaps in 2017 and that increased to 47% in 2018. Here we look at linebackers that over the last two seasons had 50+ Tackles, 35+ Solo Tackles, 3+ Tackles for Loss and 2+ Passes defended for each of the two seasons. Both Goodson and Ogletree make the list with only 25 other NFL linebackers.

Query Results Table
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
2 Anthony Barr 1-9 2017 2018 MIN 2
4 Jonathan Bostic 2-50 2017 2018 IND/PIT 2
5 Nigel Bradham 4-105 2017 2018 PHI 2
11 Zach Cunningham 2-57 2017 2018 HOU 2
12 Demario Davis 3-77 2017 2018 NYJ/NOR 2
13 Jarrad Davis 1-21 2017 2018 DET 2
15 B.J. Goodson 4-109 2017 2018 NYG 2
20 Christian Jones 2017 2018 CHI/DET 2
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
22 Eric Kendricks 2-45 2017 2018 MIN 2
24 A.J. Klein 5-148 2017 2018 NOR 2
25 Luke Kuechly 1-9 2017 2018 CAR 2
26 Darron Lee 1-20 2017 2018 NYJ 2
27 Blake Martinez 4-131 2017 2018 GNB 2
30 C.J. Mosley 1-17 2017 2018 BAL 2
31 Alec Ogletree 1-30 2017 2018 LAR/NYG 2
32 Patrick Onwuasor 2017 2018 BAL 2
36 Joe Schobert 4-99 2017 2018 CLE 2
39 Jaylon Smith 2-34 2017 2018 DAL 2
40 Telvin Smith 5-144 2017 2018 JAX 2
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
41 Danny Trevathan 6-188 2017 2018 CHI 2
43 Kyle Van Noy 2-40 2017 2018 NWE 2
44 Nick Vigil 3-87 2017 2018 CIN 2
45 Bobby Wagner 2-47 2017 2018 SEA 2
46 T.J. Watt 1-30 2017 2018 PIT 2
47 Tahir Whitehead 5-138 2017 2018 DET/OAK 2
48 Avery Williamson 5-151 2017 2018 TEN/NYJ 2
49 Wesley Woodyard 2017 2018 TEN 2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/12/2019.
CB Deandre Baker

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.

CB Janoris Jenkins

Jenkins was a second round pick by the Rams in the 2012 draft. He made the 2012 NFL All Rookie Team and the 2016 Pro Bowl.  Here we look at secondary players  that have had seasons with 2+ interceptions, 5+ passes defended, 1+ forced fumbles and 25+ solo tackles over the last five years. It is sorted by number of seasons and only lists the top twelve.

SS Jabrill Peppers

Peppers won the 2016 Lott Impact Trophy and the 2016 Paul Hornung Award given to college football’s most versatile player. Peppers had seen the field at 15 different positions during his last season of college. He was a 2016 unanimous All American. As a two year player, here we look at defensive backs over the last ten seasons that had +1 interceptions, +3 Passes Defended, +40 Solo Tackles and +55 Total Tackles in each of their first two years.

Query Results Table
Rk Player Draft From To
Tm Count
1 Shaquill Griffin 3-90 2017 2018 SEA 2
2 John Johnson 3-91 2017 2018 LAR 2
3 Desmond King 5-151 2017 2018 LAC 2
4 Jabrill Peppers 1-25 2017 2018 CLE 2
5 Marcus Williams 2-42 2017 2018 NOR 2
6 James Bradberry 2-62 2016 2017 CAR 2
7 Sean Davis 2-58 2016 2017 PIT 2
8 Karl Joseph 1-14 2016 2017 OAK 2
9 Jalen Ramsey 1-5 2016 2017 JAX 2
10 Daryl Worley 3-77 2016 2017 CAR 2
11 Landon Collins 2-33 2015 2016 NYG 2
12 Bashaud Breeland 4-102 2014 2015 WAS 2
13 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 1-21 2014 2015 GNB 2
14 D.J. Swearinger 2-57 2013 2014 HOU 2
15 Desmond Trufant 1-22 2013 2014 ATL 2
16 Kenny Vaccaro 1-15 2013 2014 NOR 2
17 Mark Barron 1-7 2012 2013 TAM 2
18 Janoris Jenkins 2-39 2012 2013 STL 2
19 Harrison Smith 1-29 2012 2013 MIN 2
20 Chris Harris 2011 2012 DEN 2
21 Patrick Peterson 1-5 2011 2012 ARI 2
22 Richard Sherman 5-154 2011 2012 SEA 2
23 Devin McCourty 1-27 2010 2011 NWE 2
24 Earl Thomas 1-14 2010 2011 SEA 2
Rk Player Draft From To Tm Count
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/12/2019.


FS Antoine Bethea

Bethea has been to three Pro Bowls in his eight year career with the last for the 2014 season. In his 13 season career he has had 10 seasons of 50+ solo tackles. That is the most seasons for all active secondary players. Here we look at active secondary players that since 2006 have had a season of 100+ solo tackles, 4+ passes defended, 3+ sacks and 5+ tackles for loss.

Kicker Aldrick Rosas

The only field goal Rosas missed last year was from 50+ yards out. Here we see kickers in 2018 that made 90+% of their kicks.

In Conclusion

The Giants were 5-11 last year and the press has slotted the Giants in the bottom 20% of their early Power Rankings.  However eight of the Giants 11 losses in 2018 were by a touchdown or less. Five of those losses were by three or less points. The Giants have eight first round selections on the projected starter team. That is tie for sixth most in the league. Six of the projected starters have made the NFL All Rookie Team in their first year. “Talent sets the stage. Character sets the ceiling,” – GM Dave Gettleman at the Combine. In researching this post over 90% of the players on this list were highly praised for work ethic and character. This Giants team has the potential to surprise the press and be a playoff contender in 2019.

The Giants Are Doing Some Things Right

The Giants have been much maligned in the press lately for their 2019 draft picks and have been slotted in power rankings among the bottom 20%. However the Giants have a record to be proud of. They have the longest streak of having a rookie on the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Their streak goes back to the 2012 season and have had at least one rookie on each team since then. In that seven year period they are tie for the most players on the PFWA All-Rookie Team with ten. The only other teams that had ten players over those seven years were the Buccaneers and Rams.

All Rookie Team  Players 2012-2018 (Click to Enlarge)

The bad news is that going into 2019 the Giants have had a 50% turnover among their All-Rookie Team players. That was recently reached with the housecleaning this year and the loss of Landon  Collins and Odell  Beckham.  They have five players remaining, all recent draft picks in 2016-2018. However on a positive note they are one of only eight teams that have five or more players remaining from the All-Rookie Teams of 2012 thru 2018. Those eight teams are shown in the following table.

All Rookie Team Selections
All Rookie Team Selections

These are impressive remaining All-Rookie Selections for the last seven years. Based on the Approximate Value rating given by these would rank Saints, Cowboys, Colts, Buccaneers, Bears and Giants.   Lets take a look at the remaining Giant All Rookie players and see how they have performed over the years.

Sterling Shepard has performed good enough in each of his three years to be in a select group of receivers over the last ten years that have been productive and efficient in their first three years. He is joined by fellow recent All rookie selections Stefon  Diggs and Michael  Thomas.

Sterling Shepard - 3 years
Sterling Shepard – 3 years

Evan Engram joins a select few tight ends over the last ten years that have had a productive first two years.

Evan Engram - 2 years
Evan Engram – 2 years

Saquon Barkley joins a select group of running backs that over the last ten years have been productive in both rushing and receiving in any of their career years.

Saquon Barkley - 1 year
Saquon Barkley – 1 year

Dalvin Tomlinson joins a select group of defensive linemen that over the last ten years have performed well each of their first two years.

Dalvin Tomlinson - 2 years
Dalvin Tomlinson – 2 years

Not only have these selections made the All Rookie Team they have continued that success in their short careers.

The Giants would hope to keep alive their seven year stretch of a PFWA All-Rookie Team member. They have some good prospects based on market share production from college.

Oshane Ximines had a 27.7% tackle for loss market share. He averaged 1.54 TFL per game which was 11th in the FBS and sixth among defensive linemen.  He also had a 52.3% sacks market share. He average 1 sack per game which was fifth in the FBS. He is second among active FBS players in career sacks with 33. He should get a chance on a Giants team that have parted ways with their best pass rushers of Jason Pierre Paul and Olivier Vernon.

Julian Love has a 38.5% passes broken up market share from his 2017 season. His 20 passes broken up was second in the nation that year.

Deandre Baker was the winner of the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award and an AP First Team All-SEC selection.  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. Baker should compete for a starting role at cornerback.

I like the direction the Giants are going and the approach they have taken. They are building a “team” and a culture. They have based on the All-Rookie record been doing some things right in drafting. I welcome all our newly drafted players including our new quarterback, Daniel Jones.

Jones is his own man with his unique gifts and talents. Given that I must say that he does share a lot of the traits that made Eli an all-time  great Giant quarterback and an easy guy to root for. They are both tough, hard-working, team-oriented, lead-by-example “football” players. Talent wise they both have a great pocket presence, are great pocket passers and have a quick release.

From a leadership and culture view, guys like Eli, Jones, Barkley, Shepard, Solder, Ogletree and Goodson, just to name a few, make this an easy team to root for. I agree with Gettleman that there is a culture needed to truly build a winning team. The Giants are building both a talented team and the right culture. I look forward to the season.

2019 First Round Starters By Teams

This is a look at the teams projected starting rosters and how many first round players on those starting rosters. There is a strong correlation between success in the NFL and draft round selected. If you look at the NFL Hall of Fame inductees from 1980 onward the number of inductees by draft round selected are:

1st round – 38
2nd round – 10
3rd round – 4
4th round – 3
5th round – 1
6th round – 0
7th round – 1

This article at FanPost looked at players drafted from 2005 to 2014 and calculated the percent of players that went on to become a starter by round selected.  The data showed on average a 22% drop off by position from round one to round two, followed by a 16% drop to round three and so on.

The round one selections are probably the most scrutinized players in the draft. And while their ranking in round one can vary greatly there usually forms a general consensus leading up to the draft who the round one prospects are. There will always be the outliers of round one busts or draft diamonds in the rough. But for the most part your round one selections are the best players. So how does your team stack up with regard to the number of round one players starting? That is what this article looks at for the 2019 season.

The starting roster is based on that presented on the depth charts at  I also included 2019 first round selections in the count as those would most likely be starting at some point this year. They were not added if their position was already filled with projected first round starters.

Here is a summary of observations from the data.

  1. Of the thirty-two teams a total of 23 have a first round quarterback.
  2. Almost half of the starting offensive tackles are first round picks – 30 out of 64.
  3. The Falcons have the most first round starting players (11). The Jaguars and the Chiefs have the least (4).
  4. The Falcons have the most on offense (7). The Bills, Jets and Jaguars have the least on offense (1).
  5. The Steelers have the most on defense (7). The Chiefs have the least on defense (0).
  6. The Falcons have the most on offensive line (5). The least on offensive line (0) is shared by the Bills, Jets, Jaguars, Panthers, Buccaneers and Rams.
  7. For the defensive Front Seven the most of 5 is held by the Steelers and the Panthers. Teams with zero first rounders in their Front Seven are the Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Colts and the Chiefs – all AFC teams.
  8. Teams with the most 1st rounders in their starting secondary are the Raiders, Bears and the Vikings with three each.  Teams with zero first rounders in their starting secondary are the Titans, Chiefs, Redskins, Lions, Panthers, 49ers and the Seahawks.
  9. The divisions with the most starting first rounders are the NFC East (35) and the NFC South (34). The average for all divisions was 27.1. The division with the least starting first rounders is the AFC South (20).
  10. The division with the greatest disparity or standard deviation is the NFC South where the Buccaneers have a total of six first rounders whereas the other teams have 11, 9 and 8.
  11. The division with the greatest parity is the AFC East where all teams have 6 starting first rounders except for the Jets who have 5.

Here is the data in First Round Starters. The positions are listed by team and summed at the bottom. Then columns to the right show the totals by team for various summations such as total, total offense, total defense, etc. The total columns are averaged at the bottom and teams above the average are highlighted in yellow. Finally at the far right are totals for each division and the divisions standard deviation.

Here is a picture of the data. Click to expand.

Round One Starters
Round One Starters

2019 Rookie Quarterbacks And Their Quarterback Room

(Updated 6/1/2019 for Roster Moves)

Now that the draft is over and most undrafted free agents have been signed it is time to look at the Rookie quarterbacks and what their draft room or competition looks like.

There were eleven quarterbacks drafted. According to the five year average is twelve quarterbacks drafted with the low being seven in 2015 and the high 15 in 2016. there were an additional 14 quarterbacks signed as undrafted free agents (UDFAs). That is well below what nfldraftscout lists as an average of 40 total quarterbacks getting a shot.

The rookies are listed in bold. Also listed is the number of quarterbacks the team carried on their 2018 53 man roster.

Rookie Starters

It is actually common for round one quarterbacks to start day 1.  There were 19 round one quarterbacks in the NFL last year and of those 11 started on their day one. However over the last three years there were 10 first round quarterbacks chosen and only three started on day one.

Arizona Cardinals

Starter – Kyler Murray: Twenty eight percent of his attempts in 2018 resulted in a big play (15+ yards passing or 10+ rushing).  No other quarterback prospect was close.

Other Backups:  Drew Anderson, Brett Hundley, Charles Kanoff

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Compete for Starting Quarterback:

Washington Redskins

Dwayne Haskins: Haskins led the nation in passing TDs (50) and had the best TD to Interception ratio among draft prospects (6.25).

Case Keenum: In 2017 Keenum had the eighth best passer rating (98.3), the second best completion percentage (67.6%) and the sixth best TD to Interception ratio (3.14).

Colt McCoy: After an award winning college career McCoy was drafted in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Browns. He has been on the Redskins the last five seasons and head coach Jay Gruden likes his competitive spirit, knowledge of their system and ability to make all the throws.

Other Backups: Alex Smith (injured), Josh Woodrum

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Quarterbacks Waiting In The Wings:

Over the last three years there were twelve quarterbacks drafted in rounds 2 thru 4. Of those only five started a game in their first year. The other seven have never started a game. Of the five that started a game only Dak Prescott is a starting quarterback.


Starter –  Joe Flacco led the Ravens to the playoffs six of his eleven years on the team and that includes their Super Bowl win in 2012.  The Ravens had not made the playoffs since the 2014 season. Pro Football Focus ranked Flacco in 2018 as the best quarterback outside the numbers on the right side in the 1-9 yards past the LOS  range.

Pushing to Play:

Drew Lock was fifth among draft prospects in passing plays of 40+ yards (16).

Other Backups: Kevin Hogan, Brett Rypien

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter: Andy Dalton was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2011 draft. For his first four years on the Bengals he helped lead the team to four playoff appearances. However they never got past the first playoff game. Since the 2014 season appearance the Bengals have failed to make the playoffs. Pro Football Focus has Dalton as their twelfth highest graded quarterback for 2018. Dalton was injured in 2018 and only played 11 games.

Pushing to Play:

Ryan Finley made 49% of his third down attempts. That was second best among quarterback draft prospects bested only by Kyler Murray. In addition, 19.5% of all his attempts resulted in a big play. That was sixth best among quarterback draft prospects.

Other Backups: Jake Dolegala, Jeff Driskel.

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Quarterbacks Being Groomed:

There are two maybe three active quarterbacks that have been groomed. They are Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and maybe Jimmy Garappolo. Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three seasons. Mahomes sat one season behind Alex Smith. Jimmy Garappolo sat  as Tom Brady’s backup for three seasons before he was traded.

Starter: Eli Manning was sixth in passing plays of 20+ yards (57) and also sixth for 40+ yards (10). Over Manning’s 15 seasons his 2018 season was in his top five seasons in completion %  (1st), passing yards (4th), average passing yards (3rd), Interceptions (3rd), 20+ yard plays (3rd),  40+ yard plays (5th) and passer rating (4th). Only his touchdowns was low (12th).

Daniel Jones is like a more mobile Eli Manning. His strengths are work ethic, football intelligence, quick release, accuracy and toughness. Even his detractors see him as a game manager. While sometimes used as a knock many of the best quarterback game managers won Super Bowls. Some include Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Bob Griese (3 Super Bowls, 2 wins), Jim Plunkett (2 wins), Jeff Hostetler, Doug Williams and Terry Bradshaw (4 wins).

Other Backups: Kyle Lauletta, Eric Dungey, Alex Tanney

The plan going in is to have Jones sit and learn. Barring an injury to iron-man Eli the Giants are likely to stick with this plan. Three things would need to occur for Jones to see meaningful playing time this year.

  1. Daniel Jones quickly assimilates the playbook and excels in practice,
  2. The Giants have a losing record, and
  3. Eli Manning is playing poorly.

All three would have to occur and number 2 is not synonymous with number 3. Last year the Giants did poorly but Eli had one of the best statistical years of his career and one could argue that the Giants did not lose due to Eli’s play.  If Jones impresses the coaches I could see that he could get in at the end of the season if the Giants are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Other quarterback draft selections

Carolina Panthers

Starter: Cam Newton

Will Grier: Grier was second in yards per game, third in passer rating, fourth in yards per attempt, fourth in passing plays of 30+ yards and fifth in touchdowns.

Other Backups: Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke

2018 quarterbacks: 3

New England Patriots

Starter: Tom Brady

Jarrett Stidham: In 2017 he was sixth in the nation in completion percentage.

Other backups:

Danny Etling – Etling holds the record for longest quarterback run in Patriots preseason history. (86 yards).

Bryan Hoyer – Second stint on the Patriots

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Los Angeles Chargers

Starter: Philip Rivers

Easton Stick: Stick is the first quarterback the Chargers have drafted since 2013. At North Dakota State he helped win two FCS championships, and had 49 career wins which is an FCS record. In three seasons he threw for 88 touchdown passes and rushed for 41 touchdowns.

Other Backups: Cardale Jones

Tyrod Taylor – Taylor was a three year starter in the Buffalo Bills. He was named to two Pro Bowls and helped lead the 2017 Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999.

2018 Quarterbacks: 2

Philadelphia Eagles

Starter: Carson Wentz

Clayton Thorson – Thorson had 9 rushing touchdowns in 2018 which was eighth most among quarterback draft prospects. He converted 56% of his red zone rushing attempts into touchdowns. That percentage was tops among quarterback prospects.

Other backups: Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler, Greg Ward, Luis Perez

Luis Perez – Perez was a walk-on at a community college with no quarterback experience. He said he wanted to be their quarterback. He started as the 9th quarterback on the depth chart. In two years he went on to win a conference title and all conference honors . He transferred to Texas A&M Commerce where he went 24-3 as a starting quarterback. In two years at Texas A&M he threw for 8,325 yards, 78 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 68% completion percentage. Perez played for the  Birmingham Iron of the AAF. Perez was waived by the Eagles in May 2019 and is currently a free agent.

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Jacksonville Jaguars

Starter: Nick Foles

Gardner Minshew – Minshew was second in completion percentage (70%), fourth in touchdowns (38), first in passing yards per game (367 yards) and second in 10+ yards passing plays (185).

Other Backups: Cody Kessler, Alex McGough, Tanner Lee

Alex McGough has had a strong 2018 preseason on the Seahawks. He has a preseason completion percentage of 61.5%, a 7.3 passing yards average, four passes of 20+ yards and a 90.2 passer rating.  In college McGough was a four year starter at FIU and only missed 3 games due to injury. Alex holds eight FIU records including career passing TDs (48), single season passing yards (2722) and single season passing TDs (21).

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Baltimore Ravens

Starter: Lamar Jackson

Trace McSorley is deadly in the red zone. He converted 39% of his red zone attempts into touchdowns and 40% of his red zone passing attempts. The 39% total attempts was tops among quarterback prospects. He is a dual threat quarterback rushing for 61 yards per game, averaging 4.7 yards per rush and scored 12 rushing touchdowns in 2018. The 12 rushing touchdowns was third best among quarterback draft prospects.

Other backups: Robert Griffen III

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Quarterbacks Signed as UDFAs

Buffalo Bills

Starter: Josh Allen

Tyree Jackson had a 33.9% touchdown conversion percent in red zone attempts.  That was fifth best among quarterback draft prospects. He converted on 50% of his red zone rushing attempts for 7 touchdowns. The 50% conversion rate was second best among quarterback draft prospects.

Other Backups: Matt Barkley, Derek Anderson

2018 Quarterbacks: 3

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter: Andy Dalton

Jake Dolegala sat behind his high school friend thru his junior year in high school. In his senior year he had a torn labrum due in his third game and was out for the season. After surgery he could barely throw.  No college offers came in. He went to a prep school and then to four years at Central Connecticut State University. He has a very strong arm. At Connecticut he became the school’s career leading passer, appearing in 44 games and completing 654 of 1,136 passes (57.6 completion percentage) for 8,129 yards, 48 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He led the Northeast Conference in passing as a sophomore and finished his career as one of only five players in league history to throw for more than 8,000 yards.

Other backups: Ryan Finley, Jeff Driskel

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Cleveland Browns

Starter:  Baker Mayfield

David Blough, Purdue, was tenth in yards per game (285 yards),. He passed for a career 9,734 yards. Blough is a four year starter who improved every year in passer rating, yards per attempt and completion percentage. He finished his senior year with a 146.9 passer rating, 8 yards per attempt, 66% completion percent, 3,705 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.  Blough Has volunteered for five mission trips to South Africa with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was selected to speak at the 2017 Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon and received a standing ovation for his speech on football as a microcosm of life.

Other Backups: Drew Stanton, Garrett Gilbert

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Denver Broncos

Starter: Joe Flacco

Brett Rypien converted 49% of his 3rd down passes which was second best among draft prospects. He was tenth in yards per game (285 yards) and in touchdown passes (30). Rypien was eleventh in completion percent (67.3%) and tenth in passing plays of 40+ yards (14). Brett Rypien is the 2018 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Rypien meets all of Bill Parcells’ seven rules for drafting a quarterback. He has a 77% win percentage with 48 career starts and is a 4 year starter. Rypien had four games in 2018 in which he had a passer rating of over 200. Against Colorado State he had a completion percentage of 84.6%, passed for 308 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Other Backups: Kevin Hogan, Drew Lock

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Kansas City Chiefs

Starter: Patrick Mahomes

Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt, is 13th among quarterback draft prospects in passing plays of 10+ yards (124). Thirty one percent of his red zone passes converted to touchdowns. That was seventh best among quarterback draft prospects. Kyle is the son of Giants head coach Pat Shurmur.

John Lovett, Princeton, became Princeton’s first two-time first-team All-American since 1993 after leading Princeton to its first perfect season since 1964. Lovett was ranked first in the Ivy League in total offense (303.0 yards/game), second in rushing (99.3 yards/game) and second in passing (203.7 yards/game). In three seasons as the Tigers’ quarterback, he threw for 31 touchdowns, rushed for 42 touchdowns and caught two more. He also recorded two tackles on defense and punted the ball three times. Against Cornell in 2016, he accounted for seven touchdowns — four passing, two rushing and one receiving. Teams have worked him out as a quarterback, receiver and H-back; one team even asked him to do linebacker drills.

T.J. Linta, Wagner, has played in 30 games over three seasons. His career numbers are 51.2% completion, 3,875 yards, 5.7 yards per attempt, 27 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. TJ Linta was released with an injury settlement

Other Backups: Chad Henne, EJ Manuel, Chase Litton

Chase Litton was 20-14 in his starts at Marshall. Litton displays good arm strength, quick release and a good ability to analyze defenses. He throws well on the move and is technically sound in the pocket. Processing speed post-snap and turnovers have been raised as concerns. In Marshall records books Litton is fourth in passing yards (8,335), passing yards/attempt (7.0), passing touchdowns (72) and passing efficiency rating (133.9).

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Green Bay Packers

Starter: Aaron Rodgers

Manny Wilkins, Arizona State, is a dual threat quarterback. In 2018 twenty percent of his rushing attempts were for 10+ yards for 22 big plays. Wilkins is one of only five draft prospects that in 2018 had a completion percentage of 60+%, 19+ passing touchdowns, 500+ passing yards and 300+ rushing yards.

Other Backups: DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle

DeShone Kizer in 2017 started 15 games for the Browns, all of which were losses. He ranked last among all regular starters in completion percentage (53.6) last season and threw a league-high 22 interceptions, which was six more than any other quarterback. His TD to Int ratio was 0.5. Some positives on Kizer’s year with the Browns – Kizer throws the deep ball pretty well as evidenced by his 39.5 completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or more and he still maintained a 45.6 completion percentage when blitzed.

Tim Boyle in the 2018 preseason was 26 of 53 (49.1%) with a 5.5 yards per attempt average and a 11.3 yards per completion average. He had three touchdowns to two interceptions. Twenty eight percent of his pass attempts made first down. He had four pass plays of 20+ yards with one of 40+ yards. His passer rating was was 69.2.

2018 quarterbacks: 3

Minnesota Vikings

Starter: Kirk Cousins

Jake Browning, Washington,  ranked fourth among 26 top quarterback prospects examined in both 3rd down conversions percent (43.5%) and big play percent (19.7%).  He had the third best passing big play percentage (22%). Browning had the seventh most 10+ yards passing plays (139) among draft prospects.

Other Backups: Kyle Sloter, Sean Mannion

Kyle Sloter has played well in two seasons of preseason games since joining the league as a UDFA in 2017. After college he was all set to become a financial advisor and the company with his job offer encouraged him to chase his dream. In 2018 preseason ha had a 114 passer rating on 56 attempts which ranked eighth in the league and tops among Viking quarterbacks. He also had a 73.2% completion percentage, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the 2017 preseason with the Broncos he played in four preseason games. He had stats of 72% completion rate, 3 TDs, 0 Interceptions, 413 yards and a quarterback rating of 125 – the second highest of any rookie quarterback that year.

2018 Quarterbacks: 3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starter: Jameis Winston

Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State, is a dual threat quarterback. He is the only player over the last five years to have three seasons of +15 passing touchdowns, +10 rushing touchdowns, +900 rushing yards and +1500 passing yards. Only two other players met that criteria for two seasons – Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers. Fitzgerald had the fourth best forty time at the combine (4.64 s) among quarterbacks.

Other Backups: Ryan Griffin, Blaine Gabbert

Arizona Cardinals

Starter: Kyler Murray

Drew Anderson, Murray State, has very good arm talent. He can push the ball downfield and with velocity. He is a two year starter. At Buffalo his stats were 62.3 completion percent, 1,029 yards, 9.8 yards per attempt, 10 touchdowns, one interception and a 173.8 passer rating. His last year at Murray State he was 60.4 completion percent, 3,903 yards, 7.3 yards per attempt, 30 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 124.6 passer rating.

Other Backups: Brett Hundley, Charles Kanoff

Charles Kanoff during preseason last year had a 41.7% completion percentage on 36 attempts with an average 4.9 yards per attempt and 11.9 yards per completion. A quarter of his pass attempts got a first down and he had one touchdown with zero interceptions. He had 2 passes of 20+ yards with one for 40+ yards. His passer rating was 66.7. Kanoff was a  three year starter at Princeton. Kanoff broke many Princeton and Ivy League passing records. He earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. Kanoff has a strong arm and athleticism. He throws with accuracy and velocity. In 2017 he completed 73.2% of his passes setting a Princeton and Ivy League record for single-season completion percentage. Chad tied the Ivy League record for most 400-yard passing games (three) and 300-yard passing games (eight) in a single season. He was also second on the Princeton rankings and fourth on the Ivy League rankings in career completion percentage (64.5%).

2018 quarterbacks: 2

San Francisco 49ers

Starter: Jimmy Garoppolo

Wilton Speight, UCLA, had an injury dampened career at Michigan and UCLA. in 2016 he led the Michigan Wolverines to a 9-0 start and was the 2016 third team All-Big Ten quarterback selection. Over four years he has played in 28 games and has a 59.4% completion percent, 4,719 yards, 7.3 yards per attempt, 28 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 130.2 passer rating.

Other Backups: C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens

Beathard was a 2017 Round 3 draft pick. He started 5 games in 2017 and went 1-4 before being sidelined due to injury. He was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo. Several members of the 49ers have publicly complimented the attitude and toughness of Beathard during the season, as he was sacked 19 times in his 7 appearances. CJ reportedly is a film junkie and football is important to him. As a junior in college Beathard led Iowa to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the Rose Bowl, and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt on a 139.5 QB rating.

Mullens was a 2017 UDFA. He is the Southern Miss Golden Eagle leader in career, single season and single game passing yards. Quarterback Brett Favre set Golden Eagle passing records in 1990 that stood for 30 years before being broken by Austin Davis and then Nick Mullens. Nick holds the Southern Miss record in passing touchdowns for both career and single season. He holds the Southern Miss record for best career quarterback rating for over 150 completions and the second best completion percentage.

2018 quarterbacks: 2

Seattle Seahawks

Starter: Russell Wilson

Taryn Christion, South Dakota State, finished seventh across all divisions in active career leaders passing touchdowns with 104 and third in the FCS. Christion was second across all divisions in active career leaders touchdowns responsible for with 131. Each of his last three seasons he had over 3,000 passing yards. He averaged 8.5 yards per attempt over his career. His record is 33-11 as a starter. Christion has a strong arm and is fast moving outside the pocket. His career completion percentage is 59.7%. From draft profile – “Can sling a 60-yard deep ball on a rope”.  (Update:Taryn Christion was waived 5/13)

Other Backups: Paxton Lynch, Geno Smith

2018 quarterbacks: 2

New York Giants

Starter: Eli Manning

Eric Dungey, Syracuse, was sixth among quarterback draft prospects in rushing plays of 10+ yards (29).  Over the last four years Dungey is the only player to have four seasons of 250+ rushing yards, 1000+ passing yards, 59+% completion percent and 10+ passing touchdowns. He was also the only one to have three seasons of the same stats but with 2000+ passing yards.

Other Backups: Daniel Jones, Kyle Lauletta, Alex Tanney

Kyle Lauletta was a 2018 Round 4 draft pick. Two year team captain and Senior Bowl MVP. In 2018 he saw limited action in one regular season game where he was 0-5 with one interception. A three year starter in college, Lauletta made the CAA All Conference team each year – twice on 2nd team and in 2017 on 1st. In 2017 he was selected as the CAA league Offensive Player of the Year.

2018 quarterbacks: 3

In Conclusion

So there you have the new rookie quarterbacks and the competition they have for a roster spot.

It is interesting to note the approach teams with aging quarterbacks took. For a line of demarcation I will use age 35 as the line for “aging” quarterbacks. The years under contract are shown with the quarterback name.

Quarterback Team Age Free Agent Draft Choice Additional Backups On Roster
Tom Brady
NE 41 2020 Jarrett Stidham (Round 4) Danny Etling,
Bryan Hoyer
Drew Brees
NO 40 2020 None Taysom Hill,
Teddy Bridgewater,
JT Barrett
Eli Manning
NYG 38 2020 Daniel Jones (Round 1) Kyle Lauletta,
Eric Dungey,
Alex Tanney
Philip Rivers
LAC 37 2020 Easton Stick (Round 5) Cardale Jones,
Tyrod Taylor
Ben Roethlisberger
PIT 37 2022 None Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph, Brogan Roback
Aaron Rodgers
GB 35 2024 Manny Wilkins (UDFA) DeShone Kizer,
Tim Boyle

2019 NFL Draft And Which Teams Became Tougher

In the days when the NFL appears to be trending more towards a flag football league than the old smash mouth football the desire for tough football players still reigns.

Iconic image of Y.A. Tittle from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At 38 years old, Tittle played through his final season in the NFL with a cracked sternum and concussion.

“We want rough guys, we want tough guys.” – John Harbaugh (Ravens head coach)

“You have to have a mental toughness about you to play the position here in New York. Or to play the position anywhere. ” – Dave Gettlleman (Giants GM)

“Generally speaking, we want to add tough football players,” – Freddie Kitchens (Browns head coach)

Allow me to digress for a moment. I support the changes to make the game safer. If the NFL and all football organizations fail to do so the game of football will suffer. If parents will not let their children play football, though it may not make the game extinct, it will decrease the source pool and thus decrease quality of player the game attracts. Digression finished and back to tough players.

So how did the teams do in regard to drafting tough football players.  This is of course highly subjective. Who are the “tough” players and how is that determined. I came up with a list of “tough” players limiting it to five players for each position. I looked for players that give 110% on every play. They play with intensity – like their “hair was in fire”. Playing thru injury was also accounted for.  While production was not a main criteria it was taken into account when there were a lot of close choices. After all how “tough” is the player if he fails to obtain 1st down on 3rd and short, or if a pass rusher does not get sacks.

Here is a film of one of my choices, tight end Drew Sample, blocking. It is like the scene from The Blind Side.

Here are the results of number of “tough” players drafted by team arranged by divisions.

AFC East # Players NFC East # Players
AFC North # Players NFC North # Players
CLE 0 GB 1
AFC South # Players NFC South # Players
IND 1 TB 2
HOU 0 NO 0
AFC West # Players NFC West # Players
KAN 0 SF 2

Here are the “tough” players by position. The order for positions do not imply any degree of toughness.

Pos Player Team   Pos Player Team
QB Brett Rypien DEN DT Quinnen Williams NYJ
QB Daniel Jones NYG DT Jeffery Simmons TEN
QB Easton Stick LAC DT Ed Oliver BUF
QB Gardner Minshew JAX DT Daniel Wise DAL
QB Trace McSorley BAL DT Cortez Broughton LAC
RB Josh Jacobs OAK Edge Nick Bosa SF
RB Benny Snell PIT Edge Clelin Ferrell OAK
RB Trayveon Williams CIN Edge Chase Winovich NWE
RB Alexander Mattison MIN Edge Zach Allen ARI
RB David Montgomery CHI Edge Josh Allen JAX
FB Chandler Cox MIA LB Cody Barton SEA
FB George Aston DEN LB Drue Tranquill LAC
FB Winston Dimel SEA LB Blake Cashman NYJ
FB Britton Abbott LB Devin Bush PIT
FB Trevon Wesco NYJ LB Devin White TB
TE TJ Hockenson DET CB Rock Ya Sin IND
TE Foster Moreau OAK CB Byron Murphy ARI
TE Isaac Nauta DET CB Kris Boyd MIN
TE Andrew Beck NWE CB Deandre Baker NYG
TE Drew Sample CIN CB Michael Jackson DAL
WR Kelvin Harmon WAS SF Tyalor Rapp LAR
WR Stanley Morgan CIN SF Nasir Adderley LAC
WR Deebo Samuel SF SF Darnell Savage GB
WR Calvin Ridley CHI SF Jonathan Abram OAK
WR Garry Jennings SEA SF Mike Edwards TB
OT Dalton Risner DEN
OT Cody Ford BUF
OT Kaleb McGary ATL
OT David Edwards LAR
OT Yodny Cajuste NWE
IOL Chris Lindstrom ATL
IOL Ben Powers BAL
IOL Dru Samia MIN
IOL Lamont Gaillard ARI
IOL Phil Haynes SEA

Here are the players arranged by team

Pos Player Team
IOL Lamont Gaillard ARI
Edge Zach Allen ARI
CB Byron Murphy ARI
OT Kaleb McGary ATL
IOL Chris Lindstrom ATL
QB Trace McSorley BAL
IOL Ben Powers BAL
OT Cody Ford BUF
DT Ed Oliver BUF
RB David Montgomery CHI
WR Calvin Ridley CHI
RB Trayveon Williams CIN
TE Drew Sample CIN
WR Stanley Morgan CIN
DT Daniel Wise DAL
CB Michael Jackson DAL
QB Brett Rypien DEN
FB George Aston DEN
OT Dalton Risner DEN
TE TJ Hockenson DET
TE Isaac Nauta DET
SF Darnell Savage GB
CB Rock Ya Sin IND
QB Gardner Minshew JAX
Edge Josh Allen JAX
QB Easton Stick LAC
DT Cortez Broughton LAC
LB Drue Tranquill LAC
SF Nasir Adderley LAC
OT David Edwards LAR
SF Tyalor Rapp LAR
FB Chandler Cox MIA
RB Alexander Mattison MIN
IOL Dru Samia MIN
CB Kris Boyd MIN
TE Andrew Beck NWE
OT Yodny Cajuste NWE
Edge Chase Winovich NWE
QB Daniel Jones NYG
CB Deandre Baker NYG
FB Trevon Wesco NYJ
DT Quinnen Williams NYJ
LB Blake Cashman NYJ
RB Josh Jacobs OAK
TE Foster Moreau OAK
Edge Clelin Ferrell OAK
SF Jonathan Abram OAK
RB Benny Snell PIT
LB Devin Bush PIT
FB Winston Dimel SEA
WR Garry Jennings SEA
IOL Phil Haynes SEA
LB Cody Barton SEA
WR Deebo Samuel SF
Edge Nick Bosa SF
LB Devin White TB
SF Mike Edwards TB
DT Jeffery Simmons TEN
WR Kelvin Harmon WAS

A couple of observances regarding drafting tough players

  • The West divisions got a lot tougher
  • Bills are tougher on both their lines.
  • Bears and Bengals added a lot of tough offensive weapons.
  • Broncos and Vikings should be tougher running the ball
  • Lions are all in on tough tight ends
  • Chargers have toughened their defense
  • The AFC East should be tougher and more competitive
  • Jon Gruden and Pete Carroll want to bring back smash mouth football.

How the High Production Players Fared in the Draft

(Update: 5/4  – Updates on UDFAs)

The following first spreadsheet contains for each team the high production prospects that they drafted or signed as Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs). High production was based on either

  1. Meeting a certain threshold of team market share for position dependent statistic(s) such as 11% solo tackle market share for inside linebackers.
  2. For offensive linemen making an all conference team for any of their seasons.
  3. For quarterbacks finishing above average of 26 quarterbacks looking at 3rd down conversions, red zone production and big plays. Two outliers were also included based on general consensus of being highly ranked.

The spreadsheet is Picks Production.  The spreadsheet only shows draft picks and signed UDFAs that made the high production list. Also listed for each team is the number of picks they made which is most likely not the number they originally had pre-draft.  A percentage is shown at the far right for each team which is their number of high production picks and signed UDFAs divided by their number of picks made.

The next spreadsheet is the sheet of all high production prospects updated to show if picked or signed as a UDFA. On each sheet at the bottom left is a count of how many players for each position were drafted, signed as UDFA or Not chosen.  The offensive line sheet contains a summary total of all the positions. The spreadsheet is prospects-by-production-3.