Finding the next Grady Jarrett

October 27, 2020 | Posted in Sports | By

Photo by Travis Essinger.

I wrote some things about drafting defensive tackles in rounds three through five between 2005 and 2015.

What should we expect, based on the information provided in the link above about drafting defensive tackles, between 2015 and 2018?

Between 2005 and 2015, in rounds three through five, 42 defensive tackles were selected

Teams are hardly “missing”

29 of 42 defensive tackles drafted between 2015 and 2018 in rounds three through five appeared in 32 of 64 possible games. Does this mean if I draft a defensive tackle in rounds three through five, I have a 69% of someone who plays in 32 games? No, for a number of reasons. The data set is too small. I would like to incorporate 2019 and 2020, however, we’re digging too deep trying to explain basic statistical principles.

69% chance of a two year rotational defensive tackle. 50% of a three year rotational defensive tackle utilizing a larger data set of eleven drafts. Hardly a “miss” when drafting NFL Prospects.

Statistics are not “analytics”

These articles used basic math, division to produce percentages, and incorporated some basic statistical principles. I’m not going to write an article on Standard Deviation because I got a “C” in a university five hour “Statistics” class.

The analytics start when we look at the decisions leading to the drafting of Grady Jarrett, Teyler Davidson, Matthew Ionnidis, and Larry Ogunjobi.

What metrics were used to draft these players beyond their “combine” results?

Determining Value

How do we place value on Grady Jarrett’s 84 NFL games beyond Tackles and Sacks? How do we correlate a newly determined value on Jarrett’s performance versus the expenditure of a fifth round draft pick to acquire Grady Jarrett? How do we correlate a newly determined value on Jarrett’s performance to a new contract? Is Larry Ogunjobi worth eight million dollars a year?

Is Larry Ogunjobi worth eight million dollars a year when I have a fifty percent chance of drafting his replacement in rounds three through five? How do we value Ogunjobi’s new contract which, in my opinion, we have to give and be looking at drafting a defensive tackle in rounds three through five in 2021 to put a rookie contract in the rotation.

Two defensive tackles could be drafted in 2021 depending on talent’s evaluation on the first and second round prospects.

My cat gets curious about defensive tackles selected in rounds one and two. How safe are these draft picks? However, I think everyone can agree, our top priority is the most talented do it all linebacker available when we pick in the first round in 2021.

These types of articles are not possible without profootballreference.com and stathead.com.

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Finding the Next Domata Peko

October 20, 2020 | Posted in Sports | By

Photo by Travis Essinger.

Between 2005 and 2015, 89 Defensive Tackles were drafted in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds. How do we find the next Domata Peko? How do we find the next Jurrell Casey? How do we find the next Malik Jackson?

My cat says we could use analytics.

The anomaly of Peko, and others

Peko, drafted in the fourth round from Michigan State by the Cincinnati Bengals, appeared in 208 NFL games over 14 seasons. Kyle Williams, drafted in the fifth round from LSU, played 183 games over 13 seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

These are not household names because they are defensive tackles on teams with little to no postseason success over the past 15 seasons.

Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey still making tackles up the middle ten years after they were drafted. 45 of the 89 defensive tackles drafted between 2005 and 2015, in rounds three through 5, played in more than 48 games, equating to three full NFL seasons.

Basic Math principles state, if my team drafts a defensive tackle in the third, fourth, or fifth round, my team has over a fifty percent chance on drafting a three year starter helping defend the run and help pressure the opposing quarterback.

We can’t get run on

When I look at the game of NFL football, I see an indefensible rectangle with a flawed and imperfect understanding of how points are generated. Just like baseball, football has basic principles.

We can’t get run on. Two good defensive tackles in a four down lineman set help us not get run on. I was watching Tennessee/Buffalo the other night and on 3rd and 4, Tennessee had one down lineman. Two others standing at the line of scrimmage over the guards. “Hybrid” defenses and formations are getting sexier based on personnel talent and versatility.

Two good defensive tackles and pressuring the opposing QB with solely our front four is a basic principle.

Aaron Donald pressuring the QB right up the middle are magical moments. Our model does not expect this from the defensive tackle position.

Though, I think Donald performed the job of blowing up the backfield, as is the job of a defensive tackle, better with Ndamukong Suh playing nose tackle.

Of course, I’m in the Belichick and Mike Vrabel camp pressuring the opposing QB and helping in Coverage and making sure we don’t get run all can be accomplished with three down lineman and two “OLB” in a two point stance but w/e.

NFL Prospect: What is your Job as a Defensive Tackle? If he doesn’t answer “to blow up the opponents backfield on every snap. Either by sacking the quarterback, interrupting the hand off to the running back, or tackling the running back for a six yard loss”, then Coaching needs to explain this after we draft him. Analytics don’t measure Swagger.

How do we do a better job expending a third, fourth, or fifth round draft pick, every season, for a defensive tackle?

Beyond tackles, sacks, bench press

When I look at how players are drafted, I see an imperfect and flawed evaluation system based on six metrics:

bench press, forty yard dash, vertical jump, Broad Jump, Shuttle, and three cone.

My guess is Jurrell Casey had a bad combine. Atkins had a bad combine. Kyle Williams had a bad combine. I’m not going to check because the defensive tackles cited in this article obviously fooled the scouts.

How do we not get fooled when we throw a dart in the third, fourth, or fifth round at a defensive tackle prospect? We are throwing a dart at a board with two halves: three year starter or nah, we missed. we can make our dart board more precise if we decide to use the pick on a defensive tackle in the fifth round. Look bruh, you can pass on this DT in the fourth round, but now the dart board is 50% three year starter, because we are taking a DT in rounds three through five (this half of the dart board cannot change), and the other half is “didn’t work out”.

However, the other half of the dart board where he didn’t work out is now easier to hit because of the angle you are throwing the dart by waiting until the fifth round to expend the pick. Do you feel the algorithms bend?

Beyond the film

We have to look beyond the film in talent evaluation. In the stack of defensive tackle prospects, show me everything you don’t like on film and I’ll respond with one question: Can coaching fix this?

He didn’t do a lot of bench presses? Do you think after one season in our NFL conditioning program he’ll be able to do more, with proper form so he does not tear a pectoral muscle? He refused to do three cone? He didn’t participate in shuttle or the 40? Oh noes, however will we measure his NFL game speed? Do you think after a year in our NFL conditioning program he will be faster? More agile?

See bruh, since 2016, we’ve drafted three defensive tackles. Ogunjobi was a hit. How does Jordan Elliott look? Brantley is on a NFL roster and we have to pay Ogunjobi so congratulations, a better way of picking NFL prospects is three for three and batting 1.000 on defensive tackle prospects.

Baseball principles don’t apply to football. Baseball analytics have no place in football. Giggle. No, baseball is a different game on a different shaped field, a diamond. Football is a game where you don’t use your feet and the ball isn’t a ball (at all) so out of the gate you’re dealing with complex principles with no logical explanations.

A basic principle. Let’s not get run on. We’re not getting run on because our front four annihilate opponent’s backfields. Make things crazy back there. Create pressure for the opposing QB.

Sacking the opposing QB> “Franchise QB”. What is a “franchise” QB? The guy who sells the most jerseys? Don’t @ me.

Picture the draft dart board divided again by two sections. One section is guy who sacks the QB in a way worth 20% of the salary cap. The other section is a quarterback playing in a manner worth 20% of the salary cap. Which section of the dart board are you more likely to hit with a first or second round draft pick?

We’re starting to digress into bust rate.

I’m fine to pay Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Mahomes, Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, 20% of the salary cap because their Super Bowl titles earned it.

Too many hall of famers playing or recently retired are creating recency “bias” on “franchise QBs” and what they should be paid. And yeah, ignoring the invariable variable, required, Mahomes is a Hall of Famer. He already has the Super Bowl title and could end up with every passing record in the books, except completion percentage. If we are going to win a title, in the next ten years, we are going to have to beat Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid in January.

Defending the rectangle is difficult and this guy Mahomes, with the speed of Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Travis Kelce running routes over the middle creates too many challenges.

You know how we defend the rectangle? We pressure the opposing QB with our front four and for Mahomes, the pressure has to be constant involving blitz packages.

It’s unavoidable, there will be one on one coverage at the rectangle’s outer edges down field. Does the centerfielder have to help left field or right field?

I expect to see Ward Island on Sunday. Guy was a top five pick, just like Jalen Ramsey who, apparently, is erasing half the rectangle in single coverage. Do I need to describe the advantage created when one of your cornerbacks is erasing half the rectangle, usually against their best outer “edge” receiver? And dude, when the opponent’s best receiver lines up in the slot, Ward Island should follow.

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2020 NFL Week 4 – COVID Edition

October 3, 2020 | Posted in Sports | By

Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season has been adversely impacted by COVID with the cancellation of the Steelers and Tennessee Titans. Additionally, the NFL has tentatively moved New England and Kansas City to Tuesday, as quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID. We should consider ourselves lucky any of this is even happening because America needs the distraction of the NFL and fantasy football.

The thirst for content, any content, on any kind of projections for NFL games is insatiable. The sports betting explosion drives this thirst independent of fantasy football.

Cleveland at Dallas (-3.5)

As of Saturday night, there was apparently a steam move on Cleveland compressing the line from Dallas -4.5 to the current line. Tedious searches revealed little news to drive this line compression.

There’s data to support fading a steam move. 20 years of data suggest fading the Cleveland Browns. Sure, they won by ten points against a Washington Football Team decimated on the defensive line by injury and few options on offense. Washington was competitive in their 34-24 defeat this past week until the offense imploded on itself and Cleveland was able to put the game away running the ball, again.

Dallas, meanwhile, should be 0-3 and have failed to cover the spread in 2020. The public is heavy on Dallas with 68% of the bets representing 88% of the money. And the line is compressing, usually an indicator of heavy action on the Browns.

Does anyone foresee Cleveland matching Dallas in a shootout? Ezekiel Elliott should have his way with Cleveland, Dak Prescott will not make Dwayne Haskins mistakes, and Baker Mayfield can be counted on for an untimely turnover or two.

Dallas 38, Cleveland 27. Over 56.

Jacksonville at Cincinnati (-3)

The betting public has a short memory. They simply remember Jacksonville getting destroyed by Miami 31-13 nine days ago. Jacksonville will be returning wide receiver DJ Chark which should help quarterback Gardner Minshew.

Cincinnati is weak at linebacker with tight end Tyler Eifert being a good second option for Minshew. Cleveland and Philadelphia rushed for a combined 395 yards against Cincinnati Week 2 and Week 3. The public has a short memory on Jaguars’ running back James Robinson because he played ten days ago, rushing for 46 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Game flow dictated Robinson’s quiet day.

James Robinson is unstoppable and Minshew Mania rolls, despite Burrow better with every rep.

Jacksonville 27, Cincinnati 24. Over 49

Seattle at Miami (+6.5)

Here’s a case where the betting public has a long memory. They remember Miami winning convincingly nine days ago. The betting public remembers Seattle giving up monstrous yardage and points, especially through the air. And, Seattle will be missing key pieces in a secondary getting absolutely bombed the first three weeks, notably safety Jamal Adams, acquired for a ludicrous two first round draft picks.

Russell Wilson is the MVP of the first three games. Cornerback Byron Jones is listed as doubtful and while Xavien Howard is an outstanding corner, DK Metcalf and Wilson and Company shredded Stephone Gilmore and Bill Belichick’s secondary.

The “West Coast Team” playing “East Coast 1pm” game and some kind of biorhythmic disadvantage? You bet your money on hocus pocus.

Russell Wilson rolls with the danger of a backdoor cover.

Seattle 34, Miami 24. Over 54.5.

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2019 Fantasy Football: PPR Draft Strategy

June 3, 2019 | Posted in Sports | By

2019 Fantasy Football has four clear top draft choices. Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. You’ve been dealt pick 5, 6 or 7, where do you go with your first round pick?

The top four running backs are off the board and certainly no one is going to criticize you for taking Melvin Gordon or David Johnson. But, do you feel good about either of these choices? What about DeAndre Hopkins? Do you feel Hopkins will be the top receiver in fantasy during the 2019 NFL Season? Picking 5-7 in your draft is a cunnundrum.

Running back a must in round 1

Looking past Gordon and Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, James Connor, Joe Mixon and Todd Gurley (ADP of 2.02 because of knee concerns) all make sense over Hopkins (1.07), Davante Adams (1.08), and Michael Thomas (1.10) in the first round because wide receiver is so deep when compared to a top-flight PPR running back.

The fantasy teams selecting Hopkins, Adams, and Thomas in the first round will be pressed into selecting Damien Williams (2.08), Dalvin Cook (2.05) (can’t stay healthy), and Nick Chubb (2.09) as their #1 running back. Meanwhile, teams who went running back in round 1 no matter what (think Sonny Weaver) will clean up on Antonio Brown (2.06), Mike Evans (2.08), Adam Thielen (2.10), and T.Y. Hilton (2.12) in the second round as their #1 wide receivers.

Wide Receiver in first two rounds?

When Hopkins, Adams, and Thomas come off the board picks five through twelve in your draft, one of those teams will not be able to pass on the likes of Julio Jones (1.11), Odell Beckham Jr. (2.02), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (2.04). These teams will have selected two wide receivers in the first two rounds and be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to risk. The number one goal in fantasy football is mitigating risk in what amounts to a weekly game.

Selecting from Devonta Freeman (3.03), Leonard Fournette (3.04), Josh Jacobs (3.07), Marlon Mack (3.06), Aaron Jones (3.10), and Derrick Henry (3.12) as your #1 running back results in a heavy load of anxiety and question marks. I’m drafting Keenan Allen (3.02), Amari Cooper (3.04), A.J. Green (3.06), Stefon Diggs (3.11), and Julian Edelman (4.02) ahead of any of the running backs listed above because I selected a running back in round 1, no matter what, and the listed RBs above are full of risk and question marks.

When I select third in the draft (Alvin Kamara), followed by Mike Evans (ADP 2.08) and Keenan Allen (ADP 3.03) in the third round, the foundation is greater than a team selecting a wide receiver in the first two rounds. There will be a breaking point if the first seven draft picks in your league are running backs. The eighth overall pick will be forced into a wide receiver, most likely Hopkins, followed by a run on Adams, Thomas, and Jones.

Fantasy drafts are about the first four picks

Analyzing drafts from my own league the past 25 years, the first four rounds are crucial. Successful teams, the first four picks usually panned out while unsuccessful teams traditionally blew their third-round pick. Injury? The invariable variable, ask David Johnson owners in 2017.

In a league starting three wide receivers, plus a flex, RB, WR, WR, WR in the first four rounds mitigate risk. Kamara, Evans, Allen, with the possibility of Brandin Cooks (4.06), Kenny Golladay (4.08) and Robert Woods (4.09) as a third wide receiver makes me feel better than a team consisting of Hopkins, Cook, Cooper, with a running back like Phillip Lindsay (4.04), Sony Michel (4.05), or David Montgomery (4.07) in the fourth round. The issue with all three of these running backs is the number of touches per game.

Fifth Round – The make or break round

RB, WR, WR, WR, with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers (5.05) and DeShaun Watson (5.11) could make the fifth round easy. Obviously, you’re looking for another running back with Kenyan Drake (5.04) and James White (5.08) among the choices. Your roster requires a tight end, O.J Howard (5.06) and Eric Ebron (6.02) are available in the fifth round range. Obviously, Howard has tremendous upside yet has trouble staying healthy and Cameron Brate is still in the picture. Howard is the fourth tight end off the board behind Travis Kelce (2.05), Zach Ertz (3.01) and George Kittle (3.07).

Flex decision? Perhaps a fourth wide receiver? Sammy Watkins (5.03), Chris Godwin (5.05), Tyler Lockett (5.07), Jarvis Landry (5.07) and Mike Williams (5.12) all offer intrigue. Williams (no Tyrell Williams) and Godwin (no Adam Humphries in a wide open offense) are the best choices among this group.

My selection? Watson. He’s the top QB in fantasy this season. These are the kind of things you hope when selecting any fantasy player.

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2019 Fantasy Football: Five studs after Round Five

May 28, 2019 | Posted in Sports | By

Tevin Coleman, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers

The 2019 NFL Season is a mere 100 days away and fantasy mock drafts are gearing up establishing Average Draft Position (ADP) for each player. Who can you target after Round 5 to win you a title?

Coleman sits with a current ADP of 6.05 after signing a two year, $10 million contract with the Niners this past off season. Coleman’s explosiveness, evident in 2017 when he totals 927 yards on just 183 touches with 11 touchdowns, was on full display in 2018. An injury to Devonta Freeman in Atlanta sees Coleman start 14 games, rush for 800 yards, adding 32 receptions, and score nine touchdowns, though Coleman mysteriously lost touches to Ito Smith.

Jerrick McKinnon returns from injury in 2019 and Matt Breida cannot stay healthy, resulting in Coleman as the lead back in San Francisco. Grabbing a top tier running back in round one, followed by three wide receivers or a top tier tight end in the next few rounds, will leave your roster light at the running back position. Coleman is an ideal back to target.

Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

Can Fuller stay healthy an entire season? The fourthyear receiver has a magical connection with quarterback DeShaun Watson and sitting with an ADP of 7.02, Fuller is an ideal receiver to target for teams who selected wide receivers early in your draft. Fuller has a seemingly magical connection with Watson and set the Texans’ record for most touchdowns in a player’s first 25 games. The trick is both Watson and Fuller being healthy at the same time.

David Njoku, Tight End, Cleveland Browns

The Baker Mayfield hype in Cleveland is real. Njoku, in his third year, is an ideal breakout candidate. Tony Gonzalez burst on the scene in his third year producing 76 receptions for 849 yards with 11 touchdowns. Njoku, after two seasons, has twice as many touchdowns (8) as Gonzalez after his second season in Kansas City. Njoku’s and Gonzalez’ receptions and yards from their second seasons are nearly identical. Fantasy football is all about mystical connections.

Njoku, with an ADP of 8.01, is being drafted after Vance McDonald from Pittsburgh, Jared Cook from New Orleans, and Hunter Hunter, returning from injury for the Los Angeles Chargers. The addition of Odell Beckham Jr., plus the continued development Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins, and Landry’s studliness from the slot creates the kind of opportunity for Njoku owners to profit.

Marvin Jones Jr., Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions

Jones Jr., sitting with an ADP of 11.08 offers ideal upside since target monger Golden Tate will be speding his days playing for the New York Giants. Everyone is raving about 8th overall draft pick T.J. Hockenson at tight end, however, the signing of Jesse James is flying under the radar. In 2017, Jones Jr. led the NFL at 18.0 yards per reception, producing 1101 yards with nine touchdowns. Injuries in 2018 keeps Jones Jr., and the Detroit Lions, under the radar during the 2019 NFL Season.

Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions

Stafford is playing for his wife, recovering from a brain tumor. Think about the movie Rocky where Rock is struggling with his training and Adrian, pregnant, suffers a complication forcing her into a coma. Adrian comes through, saying “win rocky. Win.” Stafford, entering his 11th season, has not missed a game since 2010. The receivers are there, running back Kerryon Johnson is expecting to be ready for training camp, and the offensive line will be better.

New offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is a run heavy coordinator on the surface, however, when the running backs are old school between the tackles Hall of Famers like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, the statistics are going to be skewed. My expectation, after Bevell sitting out a year, is a downfield aerial attack. Stafford as a back-up in the 14th round could be fantasy gold.

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2019 Fantasy Football: Are the Detroit Lions sneaky good?

May 25, 2019 | Posted in Sports | By

Photo by Author

The 2019 Detroit Lions could be full of fantasy football studs you steal in the fifth round and beyond in your 2019 Fantasy Football Draft.  Frank Ragnow, expecting a move to his natural position of center and Graham Glasgow moving to his natural position of guard, gives quarterback Matthew Stafford better protection to uncork a Top 5 NFL offense.  

Maybe.  The 2019 NFL Season is four months away.  Anything can happen and every franchise fan base has something to be excited about until the games take place.  Running back Kerryon Johnson, expecting to be fully healthy at the start of training camp, sits with an ADP of 4.9 in a ten team PPR league.  Better offensive line play resulting in fluid opportunity for the second year back out of Auburn to steal the show in the Motor City during the 2019 NFL Season. There’s also a chance stud route running and receiving back Theo Riddick will not be on the Lions’ final 53-man roster, although signing C.J. Anderson could raise concern on Johnson’s touch total.

Solid options at Wide Receiver

Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (5.3 ADP) and fellow wideout Marvin Jones Jr., an absolute steal (11.06 ADP), both could eclipse 1,000 yards during the 2019 NFL Season with double digit touchdowns.  Danny Amendola could have fantasy viability from the slot although I expect second year man Brandon Powell to surprise.  Powell produced six catches for 103 yards Week 17 in 2018 during a 31-0 meaningless win against the Green Bay Packers. Trading target monger Golden Tate in 2018 to the Philadelphia Eagles creates 130+ targets requiring redistribution and spreading these targets among Golladay and Jones creates new, ripe, under the radar opportunity.

Hockenson the answer in 2019?

Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, selected eighth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, holds an ADP of 13.03.  Lions nation can hope Hockenson blossoms in his second year, similar to George Kittle in San Francisco, as rookie tight ends are not historically a difference maker in the passing game. Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, catching 33 passes with two touchdowns in his first season and finishing his first two NFL seasons with four career touchdowns set the standard for a tight end to breakout in their third year. Antonio Gates, catching 24 passes for 389 yards with two touchdowns in his rookie year, burst on the scene in his second season with 81 receptions and 13 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowsi, in his first season, caught 42 passes for 546 yards and ten touchdowns and is the best Lions nation can hope in 2019 from their rookie tight end. Hockenson’s blocking in the run game could help spring Johnson loose.  Matthew Stafford is being drafted in the 16th round or beyond and could have a 5,000 yard season with 40 touchdowns, producing just such a season in 2011.  

Stout defense in the Motor City?

Second year head coach Matt Patricia, signing former New England defensive end Trey Flowers to a mega contract, lauded for drafting cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and trading for nickel corner Justin Coleman, hopes to solidify a pass defense anchored by the aging Darius Slay and missing all-world free safety Glover Quin.  Second round linebacker Jahlani Tavai was a curious selection, berated by nearly all analysts, and currently sits behind middle linebacker Jarrad Davis on the depth chart.  Linebackers in coverage will continue to be a hole on the 2019 version of the Lions and is the reason Devin Bush was a better selection at eight overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh, trading up to draft Bush tenth overall, exemplifies “the rich” franchises from the “poor” franchises.

Detroit, ranking tenth overall in total defense by yards allowed and eighth overall against the pass by total yards allowed, could be a Top 5 unit, improving on their 22.5 points per game allowed during the 2019 NFL Season.  A top five offense and defense equals playoffs. Every fanbase, even the most tortured, can have hope.    

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