Four Downs: NFC East

Four Downs: NFC East
Four Downs: NFC East
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Vince Verhei

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest offseason holes: Cornerback, Guard

The Cowboys' top-three cornerbacks missed a combined nine games with injuries. And when they were on the field, they gave up big chunks of real estate to opposing receivers. Overall, our numbers ranked the Cowboys' defense 19th against opposing No. 1 receivers, and 31st against No. 2 wideouts. They actually ranked seventh against all other wide receivers, which indicates that they had more depth at cornerback than most other teams, but their top corners were so bad that it hardly mattered.

We use two statistics to measure cornerback play. The first is yards per target, which is simply receiving yards surrendered divided by total passes thrown in that player's direction. The other is success rate, which is the percentage of passes in which the player was listed in coverage and the offense failed to gain 45 percent of needed yards for a new set of downs on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third or fourth down.

So far in our charting data (which is incomplete for a handful of teams), we've found 80 cornerbacks who were targeted in pass coverage 40 or more times last season. Only 28 of those players had a success rate below 50 percent, and three of those players were on the Cowboys. Terence Newman was the worst of the bunch, ranking 72nd in success rate, and dead last among those 80 cornerbacks in yards per play.

Can Newman recover? The four closest matches in our defensive similarity scores system are Eric Allen 1999-2001, Todd Lyght 1999-2001, Phillippi Sparks 1998-2000, and Tory James 2004-06, none of whom ever played again. Most of the other players similar to Newman had only one or two years left, although Al Harris managed to scrape together five more years in the league. While Newman's numbers are somewhat inflated due to the offensive explosion of the last few years, it's safe to say his time has probably come and gone.

Cornerback is one of the toughest positions for rookies to play. Since the Cowboys are definitely in win-now mode, they might be better served finding a corner in free agency. Some of the top cornerbacks available include Kansas City's Brandon Carr, Atlanta's Brent Grimes, or San Francisco's Carlos Rogers.

On offense, the Cowboys' biggest need is at guard. Montrae Holland is a free agent, and he will be 32 next season. Kyle Kosier will be 34. An influx of youth here would help the Cowboys' short-yardage rushing performance, which ranked 23rd in the league last season.

New York Giants

Biggest offseason hole: Offensive line

It was easy to overlook this because the team just won the Super Bowl, but the Giants' offensive line was kind of a mess last season. The Giants used five different starting units during the regular season, and only eight times did they start the same five players in back-to-back games. As a result of all this chaos, the Giants ranked 28th in Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards metric, and 27th in Power situations. The Giants need stability at this position, and some youth would help too. The five linemen who started in the Super Bowl will be, on average, 31 years old next season, and the youngest (left guard Kevin Boothe) will be 29.

Considering the age of the players involved, the Giants would be well-served to draft the best lineman available. Ideally, though, they would find themselves a new tackle. According to FO's game charting project, David Diehl led the team in blown blocks, but that's somewhat unfair. Diehl started the season as a starter at left guard, then filled in at left tackle when William Beatty went down with a season-ending eye injury. Diehl did his best to take Beatty's spot, but he was overwhelmed. Eleven of Diehl's 17 blown blocks came after Week 11, his first start at that position. (Beatty, by the way, had only six blown blocks in his ten starts).

The second-place player in blown blocks? Right tackle Kareem McKenzie. Since he's also the oldest player in the lineup (he'll be 33 next year), he's the most likely man to be replaced.

The downside of winning the Super Bowl is that you end up picking last in the draft. The Giants will miss out on the top tackle prospects -– USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Reilly Reiff, or Stanford's Jonathan Martin. Instead, look for them to target someone like Florida State's Zebrie Sanders or Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele.

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest offseason hole: Linebacker

The stat pages at Football Outsiders make the holes in the Philadelphia defense very clear. First, the defensive line statistics, where we see Philadelphia ranked third in stuff rate, but 29th in Second-Level Yards and 22nd in Open-Field Yards. In plain English, that means the defensive line was very good at hitting runners in the backfield, but when those runners made it across the line of scrimmage, they usually went for big gains. Next, the team defense page, which shows that the Eagles were OK covering wide receivers and dominant against tight ends, but 29th when covering running backs in the passing game. You'd be hard pressed to find a team in the league that got less value out of their linebackers.

How much of an afterthought have linebackers been in the City of Brotherly Love? Of the team's five most-used linebackers, one (Akeem Jordan) was undrafted, two (Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou) were seventh-round picks, and one (Brian Rolle) was a sixth-rounder. Casey Matthews, a fourth-rounder last year, has the best pedigree -– but he was such a disaster that he was benched after just three games.

The Eagles need a do-it-all linebacker, one who can tackle runners, excel in pass coverage, and rush the passer on occasion. They pick 15th in the first round. If they're lucky, they may have a chance to select Boston College's Luke Kuechly or Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict. If those two are off the board, Alabama's Dont'a Hightower, North Carolina State's Audie Cole, or North Carolina's Zach Brown would make a nice consolation prize.

Washington Redskins

Biggest offseason hole: Quarterback

They won't get Andrew Luck. That much we know. But any other move seems viable. They could trade up for the Rams' No. 2 pick and take Baylor's Robert Griffin III. They could stand pat and take Arizona State's Brock Osweiler or Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill at No. 6. They could sign a veteran like Alex Smith or (gasp) Peyton Manning in free agency, or take a chance on unproven Matt Flynn. They're going to have to make some kind of move, though, because there's no way they can go through another season with Rex Grossman or John Beck at quarterback.

Rex Grossman has thrown 1,500 passes in the NFL, and when you account for the era he's played in, he has been one of the most inaccurate passers in league history. Beck, meanwhile, is 30 years old, and has yet to win a game as a starting quarterback in the NFL. A few other career numbers: three touchdown passes, seven interceptions, 26 sacks.

Should the Redskins do whatever it takes to acquire Manning? If they think Peyton can get them back to the playoffs, they are sadly mistaken. While quarterback may be the biggest hole on the roster, it is not the only hole on the roster. Far from it. The top-three receivers (Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, and Donte' Stallworth) are all in their 30s and aging ungracefully. The offensive line is in shambles, with nine different players starting at one time or another in 2011. They've done a good job accumulating youth on defense, but it's not as if that youth has gelled into a dominating unit. And the 2012 schedule is going to be a tough one, chock full of playoff teams from the AFC North (Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals) and NFC South (Saints and Falcons, not to mention the Panthers and Cam Newton), plus two games against the Super Bowl Champions from New York. The Redskins need to develop a young passer and build around him, and acquiring a fading star now will only hinder that process.

Of course, that's never stopped Washington from doing this kind of thing before.

(This article originally appeared on ESPN Insider.)


77 comments, Last at 15 Feb 2013, 6:05am

#1 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 28, 2012 - 11:30am

Is there any chance than the Eagles actually draft a linebacker in the first round?

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#6 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:04pm

More specifically, last year the #15 pick was Mike Pouncey. He signed a fully guaranteed 4 year $9.3 million contract with a $5m signing bonus. So figure the 15th pick this year is going to get around $10 million over 4 years, give or take.

When was the last time the Eagles give a linebacker that kind of contract? They simply don't do it. Right or wrong, they believe that the difference between a $2.5 million linebacker and a $750,000 linebacker is negligable and they can spend that extra $1.75 million upgrading a position that they do value, i.e. CB, DE, OT, QB.

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#9 by duh // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:19pm

Won't the #15 pick be cheaper this year due to the new CBA? Does that give any hope to the idea that they'll take a LB?

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#11 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:31pm

Last year's picks were signed under the new CBA.

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#55 by TV_Pete (not verified) // Feb 29, 2012 - 8:40am

I think many of the players signed before August and the new CBA. That was a big reason many of the un-Luck-y players came out when they did.

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#58 by Mr Shush // Feb 29, 2012 - 8:55am

Nope. Teams couldn't sign their draftees until the new deal was in place.

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#12 by Pottsville Mar… // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:31pm

An analogy from a different sport: one thing ESPN's John Hollinger has been pushing all season while analyzing NBA teams is how many of a team's minutes are played by truly bad players, and what effect upgrading those minutes to a simply average player would have. The Knicks are currently finding out how much it helps to replace a completely overmatched point guard with a pretty good one.

At this point, the Eagles have pretty good solutions at CB, DE, OT, and QB. Upgrading any one of those positions would take a lot of resources, if it would even be possible. However, even if they don't think LB is as important as those positions, since their LB slots are currently filled by really awful players, they could enjoy a significant upgrade at those positions just by employing average players. At some point, a big upgrade at a less important position has to be better than a small and expensive upgrade at a more important position, doesn't it?

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#24 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:20pm

I don't for one second doubt they'll attempt a "significant upgrade" at linebacker. But a "signifcant upgrade" will still mean bargain-level free agents and middle round (i.e. 2-5) draft picks.

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#54 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 29, 2012 - 8:36am

I suspect they'll grab a safety.

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#3 by Harris // Feb 28, 2012 - 11:42am

I would have gone with defensive coordinator or possibly head coach, but I guess those aren't the positions under consideration. I figure (and hope) the Eagles target Lofton or Tulloch in free agency because they can't go into the draft with such a glaring and obvious need. In a my dream world, they draft Fletcher Cox or Devon Still in the first, then snag Brown or Robinson in the second. Or, hell, both of them. They have two 2nd round picks and it's not like they can't use the help at the position.

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#4 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 11:49am

Brown's going to be long gone by the time the Eagles pick in the 2nd. I'd be very surprised if he escapes the first round.

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#2 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 11:37am

Why even waste column space bothering to talk about first round linebackers in conjunction with the Eagles?

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#7 by Tim Wilson // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:11pm

Agree. Also, what makes anyone think that they can effectively scout first-round defensive talent? Their track record on using picks in the first four rounds on defensive players the last 5 years has been abysmal. I understand you can't just abdicate positions of need because you're not confident in your drafting, but it seems like a reevaluation of how they scout defense (for the draft, not free agency-- they have done a better job there) is needed.

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#8 by Tim Wilson // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:15pm

"On offense, the Cowboys' biggest need is at guard. Montrae Holland is a free agent, and he will be 32 next season. Kyle Kosier will be 34. An influx of youth here would help the Cowboys' short-yardage rushing performance, which ranked 23rd in the league last season."

The biggest need is actually at center, not guard. While Kosier and Holland are aging, they were both passable last year and the Cowboys have David Arkin, last year's 4th round pick, and the unproven Kevin Kowalski as backups there (hopefully those two improve a bit with their first full offseason with Mike Woicik). It's not a good situation, but it is certainly better than they situation at center, where Phil Costa was consistently driven into the backfield like he was on skates last year, most notably in the Pats game when they kept sending Spikes at him through the A gap. Costa was the biggest handicap to that run game and the deep passing game last year, not the guards, and there is no depth behind him (Kowalski is the primary backup and he is utterly unproven).

Texans' center Meyers or Green Bay's center are both quality FA options at the position, but we'll see if they hit the market.

Also, a pass rusher somewhere in the front seven is a major need if Anthony Spencer leaves, and really even if he doesn't.

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#34 by Cliff Claven (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:34pm

I'm not sure why the Cowboys need another pass rusher if Spencer stays. I think they could _use_ another pass rusher, but who couldn't? Adjusted Sack Rate says that they are 6th. What surprises me is that they're 10th in Adjusted Line Yards as well. But, they were 19th against the pass. I wonder if they need a cover LB and corners more than they need pass rush.
Regarding interior play, I don't think Costa is the answer, but there is some hope for him. Also, I have a (perhaps unsubstantiated) belief that Kosier, in the past, made the interior line better when he was healthy. I think that, without finding someone who is the leader he has been, the Cowboys should keep him and look to upgrade at center and the other guard.

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#51 by Mr Shush // Feb 29, 2012 - 5:35am

Myers and Wells are good players, but I'm not sure either is a fit for the Cowboys. They're both quick, undersized guys best suited to zone blocking schemes. Costa's around 20lbs heavier than either, and I have to assume that's more the weight the Cowboys want their center playing at, even if Costa specifically does suck.

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#65 by Key19 // Feb 29, 2012 - 12:47pm

The Cowboys are actually attempting to move to more of a zone-blocking scheme under Garrett. He's thus-far added players who are more of the mobile, lighter type of OL than the historical Cowboys mammoths. I wouldn't read too much into Costa's bodytype as being their ideal. I think they just realize that he's what they have and they're using him.

Honestly, I don't think Costa is so bad. He will never be a great lineman but I truly believe he can be an adequate starter; a guy who does some things well but is limited in others (like arm length).

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#67 by Key19 // Feb 29, 2012 - 12:50pm

Anthony Spencer needs to be shown the door. No Franchise Tag, no new deal, nothing. His stats are ok and he doesn't screw up a lot, but man I'm not sure there's a less-impactful starting 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He'll rarely lose a game for you, but he'll rarely win one for you either. Victor Butler is a guy I'm really big on. He was fantastic in the snaps he got this past season. Would love to see a lot more of him, and honestly I would be fine with them rolling him out as the starter in 2012. Maybe he's not the answer, but his play has earned him a shot at being the starter in my opinion.

The Cowboys need two CBs in my opinion. I hate to overpay for Free Agents, but if I was ever going to, it'd be right now on a CB. Carr or Finnegan would be fantastic, and if they don't require astronomical money, I'm all for that. And I'd still draft Kirkpatrick. Make the secondary a position of strength for a change.

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#10 by Karl Cuba // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:21pm

While I can see the logic behind the legions of Eagles fans questioning of the possibility of using a 1st round pick on a linebacker, I do think it would be a good idea. Kuechly would be a difference maker in the middle of that defense and then they could add another in the second or the third round. I know that isn't how they do things but Philly are already a playoff contender and linebackers usually produce early on in their careers. The thought of putting some real linebackers behind that defensive line, with those corners and their explosive offense is really quite scary.

It won't matter though, even if they did it Vick is unlikely to make it through a full season anyway.

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#48 by halfjumpsuit // Feb 28, 2012 - 11:58pm

We're not questioning whether taking a LB in the first is a good idea or not. We're questioning why this article thinks the Eagles will do so considering it has so clearly been an afterthought for the organization over the years. Additionally, because it such an area of need, if the Eagles do actually give LB the attention it deserves, it will likely be through free agency since they can't really afford to sit and wait for Keuchly to be there on draft day, instead they'll probably sign a free agent and draft something else in the first round.

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#60 by RickD // Feb 29, 2012 - 9:56am

At no point does the article say that the author thinks the Eagles will take a LB. It says (a) that it's the position of greatest need and (b) they will have the opportunity to fill this need.

But the author makes no claim that the Eagles will actually do so.

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#69 by halfjumpsuit // Feb 29, 2012 - 2:56pm

Fine. Replace "will" with "could." It doesn't change my response to Karl in that nobody is questioning the logic behind taking a LB in the first, we're questioning that the Eagles would even do it if given the chance. The Eagles have consistently treated LB as an afterthought, especially in the draft. The current front office has done nothing to indicate they have changed their view of the position.

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#13 by Never Surrender (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:44pm

I don't think the Skins offensive line is nearly as bad as presented here. Just look at FO's own stats and compare: 10th in run blocking and 15th in pass protection on the year.

What really happened to the Redskins' line was a midseason malaise when nothing on offense was working (perhaps a chicken-and-egg problem when trying to understand the offensive line's role in all of that). But by the end of the year they were pushing around teams with very good defensive lines, the best examples being the Minnesota Vikings and both New York teams.

A good quarterback tends to reduce a team's sack rate, ceteris paribus — not to mention improve the effectiveness of a team's running game — so if the Redskins can make a substantial upgrade at QB, look for a sudden and surprising "improvement" in our offensive line that is supposed to be "in shambles."

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#19 by Kyle D. (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 1:43pm

I'd agree that their line isn't all that bad. What I've found interesting about the 'Skins is how horribly they've handled their QB situation since Shanahan arrived. Note that I loved him with the Broncos and still think he's a very good coach, so I'm not normally a critic of Shanny.

They went with McNabb which was obviously a disaster, but was made a worse disaster by all the infighting with Kyle Shanahan. Bad form on that one and it looked all the worse since supposedly Mike made the call on McNabb over Kyle's objections, so Kyle just starts a feud with him to make darn sure it doesn't work out. Nobody but the coach's son gets away with that.

Then, Kyle becomes Beck's biggest fan last preseason. Remember when he gave the interview bragging about how he'd advocated Beck as being worth a top 10 pick? But, then a couple weeks ago, I saw he'd given a recent interview ripping Beck for how he'd played last year. Obviously, it's not easy to stay on Kyle's good side. That and he wants everybody to forget that he was the reason Beck was around in the first place.

Bottom line is while I still think Mike can coach, I think the jury is very much still out on Kyle. He's got a lot of growing up to you and seems to like talking more than is good for him.

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#44 by sundown (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 9:01pm

Biggest problem with Kyle is he never had to pay any dues. He wouldn't be nearly as cocky if he'd lost his job a few times when the head coach got canned or been in a job long enough to see things go bad. Instead, things went this way: a year as a grad assistant at UCLA straight out of college, next year as quality control coach for Gruden in Tampa, one year as wr coach for Texans, one year as their qb coach, then offensive coordinator for two seasons before going to coach for daddy. The fact that Kubiak owed his career to Mike? No coincidence. Maybe someday he can prove he deserved being fast-tracked to where he is today.

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#52 by Mr Shush // Feb 29, 2012 - 5:46am

Gotta say, insofar as it's possible for anyone outside the organization to judge any member of the coaching staff, I was pretty impressed by his performance in Houston. As a position coach, he seemed to do an excellent job of developing players like Kevin Walter, Schaub and Rosenfels, and as a co-ordinator his units were a clear improvement over Sherman's and I thought his play-calling was better than Kubiak's. The players all seemed to like him, despite his age and background. He may well be a lousy talent evaluator, but I think he's a good offensive coach.

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#71 by Robert Robinson (not verified) // Mar 01, 2012 - 10:34am

Mike was a good coach in Denver because in 1983 Dan Reeves drafted John Elway. Other than that, QB messes have plagued his career. Jay Schroeder in Oakland, and the parade of post Elway int machines in Denver.

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#72 by Mr Shush // Mar 01, 2012 - 10:54am

Shanahan coached some pretty damn good teams in Denver post-Elway, and clearly got the decision to draft Cutler right (not to mention managing to turn Plummer and Griese into pro bowlers).

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#74 by Shattenjager // Mar 01, 2012 - 10:48pm

In 1983, Ernie Accorsi drafted John Elway and then Hein Poulus traded for him.

Also, none of those "int machines" had a below-average (meaning worse than average) interception rate:

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#41 by RickD // Feb 28, 2012 - 5:55pm

At the very least, in the discussion of the Redskins' O-line woes, the drug-related suspensions of Trent Williams and Fred Davis should be mentioned. The line is much better if those two are in.

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#14 by jklps // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:44pm

The Redskins schedule doesn't matter next year. Only thing that matters is making an attempt to find a long term QB and see if he's the real deal.

I've been against Manning, as maybe making the playoffs isn't really what I hope for.

PS - Those two daunting games against the Super Bowl champs in the 2011 season worked out just fine.

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#15 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:49pm

Was this column written last year? Pre-combine, Vontaze Burfict was a later round pick due to his unimpressive season and attitude problems. Now, after the combine, he may go undrafted. He's not going at 15, and especially not to the Eagles. And Osweiler at 6? Are you just picking names out of a hat for this analysis? These Four Downs are starting to read more and more like a Don Banks column - just shit thrown against the wall. Football Outsiders is supposed to provide something that we, as readers, can't get anywhere else, not the same lazy analysis I can read literally anywhere else.

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#20 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 28, 2012 - 1:54pm

Was this column written last year?

No, but it was written before the Combine. Feb. 13, to be specific.

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#39 by Aaron Schatz // Feb 28, 2012 - 4:13pm

Sorry, that's my fault for not looking this over and making sure it was updated with any changes based on impressions from the combine. There's one more Four Downs coming tomorrow and I'll make sure that's updated where necessary.

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#40 by Karl Cuba // Feb 28, 2012 - 4:23pm

And it will need updating after the niners resigned Ahmad Brooks, which could also be an XP you know, so that that me and about three other 49er fans could rant about how it's too much money/a great deal for a key player.

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#21 by Kyle D. (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 1:59pm

Imho, that's a bit of a problem here. When Football Outsiders started, that's what they were--outsiders offering something that nobody else was doing. And while that's still here, they've branched into stuff that is exactly like what other places do.

I get sick of all the draft over-analysis, but that's something that to be done well takes huge amounts of time and lots of insider contacts to know who's rising, who's falling, what teams are looking to do, etc. They really don't have that expertise here and it shows in articles like this. They were regurgitating something they read someplace else a while back. So, not only aren't they current, they likely couldn't even explain why those players were considered to be worthy in the first place.

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#23 by big_jgke // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:19pm

You shouldn't be surprised that the 'Outsiders' stopped being that as soon as ESPN ponied up the cash to monetize their product. This isn't a site about football analysis from outside the mainstream, its just a website that still throws us a few free articles because webspace is cheap and they don't have enough rep without it to survive doing PPV-only.

The 'Four Downs' being out of date is an issue, I believe, that was mentioned last draft-season too. If you want current info from these guys, you need to pay for it on ESPN, because they're certainly not going to put in the effort to make sure the free copies of their article are updated.

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#43 by Kyle D. (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 8:19pm

My point was more that they're not draft experts to begin with. I bet they could do an interesting analysis of what positions their statistics show teams REALLY need to address, as opposed to what conventional wisdom says. But hearing them take wild guesses as to who teams might draft--or simply parrot what somebody else said--isn't their forte. And if you are correct and the free stuff is just a hook to get me on the other side of a pay wall, then let's just say that out-of-date material isn't a very good hook.

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#45 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 28, 2012 - 9:07pm

There's more free content on FO than ever before.

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#47 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 28, 2012 - 9:32pm

I bet they could do an interesting analysis of what positions their statistics show teams REALLY need to address, as opposed to what conventional wisdom says.

That is exactly, to the letter, what this piece is supposed to be. I cited team defense vs. types of wide receiver, individual pass coverage statistics, defensive similarity scores, Adjusted Line Yards, POWER conversion percentage, blown blocks from our charting project, second-level yards, open-field yards, and pass coverage against running backs. None of these statistics are common, and few of them are available anywhere else. The conclusions I drew from these statistics may not have gone against conventional wisdom, but sometimes conventional wisdom is accurate.

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#49 by jdiko // Feb 29, 2012 - 12:42am

My beef with FO these days is people bitching about FREE content. If you were forced to read these articles at gunpoint, I'd probably side with you, otherwise, quit whining.

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#31 by speedegg // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:07pm

Depends what scout you ask and when. Burfict was mentioned as a top 10-15 pick by Kiper and McShay post-Superbowl. Mayock or Cosell (or both?) said they haven't looked at too much tape, if any, of college games until a few weeks after the season. Rob Rang and Matt Waldman follow college games, so they're generally putting out good info early. It wasn't until later that Rang, Waldman, and eventually Mayock started doing write-ups on LBs (and Burfict in particular) that Kiper finally dropped him from the top 25, but it took awhile.

Still, the Combine can increase your draft stock. Janoris Jenkins blew people away with his Combine numbers and teams are giving him a second look despite his checkered past (helloooo Bengals). If Burfict put up Kuechly numbers (and interview), then he'd probably be a potential top 20-pick.

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#42 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 6:06pm

It's possible I have selective memory, but I have not seen Burfict in the first round of a mock since the college football season. In addition to his underwhelming performance, he's had major attitude issues which led to him being benched (if I'm not mistaken). That's different than Jenkins, who's had pot issues that he seems to have gotten over. Jenkins' issue (from what I've read) have not led to problems ON the field. Burfict's issues have definitely affected his performance.

I am certain I have not seen Osweiler in anyone's first round, let alone at number 6.

My point is that if these solutions are going to be thrown out there, at least back them up with something. Has Vince talked to scouts who think these two could be worth that price? Has he at least spoken to another person who has first round grades on them? I'm not an expert, which is why I try to read knowledgeable opinions. The conclusions in this article seem to be based on almost no research.

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#53 by Mr Shush // Feb 29, 2012 - 5:52am

Kiper's a joke, though. If what he thinks is affecting your assessment of draft prospects, you shouldn't be writing about the draft.

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#62 by Karl Cuba // Feb 29, 2012 - 11:32am

I'll say this for Mel, he's a lot better than McShay.

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#64 by Mr Shush // Feb 29, 2012 - 12:16pm

I seem to have managed to largely avoid McShay. If what you say is true, I am very, very glad of that.

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#68 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 29, 2012 - 1:30pm

No trick there. McShay is just trying to be a Kiper clone. It stands the reason the real thing, no matter how turd-like, is still superior to the nutrasweet version.

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#56 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 29, 2012 - 8:41am

Burfict will make a terrific Raider. The man is a walking personal foul.

Although, more seriously, he might be an interesting pick for the Ravens, under the assumption that Ed Reed and Ray Lewis can show him where the white suit is buried and scare him into compliance.

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#16 by big_jgke // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:52pm

But Peter King told me that Kyle Shanahan told him that John Beck was the number one rated passer of his draft class! Next you're going to tell me that humbleness has little to do with how good RGIII and Andrew Luck are.

For shame sirs, for shame. Maybe.

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#17 by BigWoody (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 12:58pm

"They pick 15th in the first round. If they're lucky, they may have a chance to select Boston College's Luke Kuechly or Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict."

It's looking like Burfict may still be there in the 7th round.

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#18 by AT (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 1:32pm

Anyone else find it a bit spooky that the link to showing Grossman as one of the most inaccurate passers of all time includes 4 additional Redskins QBs!?

2 - Doug Williams
3 - Jay Schroeder
8 - Gus Frerotte
10 - Tony Banks

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#22 by Kyle D. (not verified) // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:10pm

Kind of funny. But how does their comp% + work? Mousing over the header says to check their glossary. So I went to the glossary link and it told me to...check the glossary.

That list has somebody at 16th who completed 47% of his passes back in the '50s. Trying to compare that to the modern game would seem basically impossible given how much has changed in regards to the passing game.

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#25 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:24pm

It's completion percentage compared to their peers. So each year their completion percentage gets compared to what everyone else in the same year completed. A 100 would mean said player was average.

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#26 by Shattenjager // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:25pm

100 is league average (for that year and the two previous) and a standard deviation is 15. Higher is better.

Hopefully this doesn't cause another ridiculously stupid argument about using league averages.

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#38 by Independent George // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:59pm

And if you click through to Doug Williams' player page, you find that all of his below-average comp% season were with the Bucs; as soon as he went to Washington, his comp%+ jumps up to 106 at age 32. Grossman's score of 91 with Washington last season is his career.

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#27 by Shattenjager // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:27pm

The part I actually found interesting was that two of the three worse than Grossman were (a) Redskins and (b) still well above average in ANY/A+.

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#28 by Thomas_beardown // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:30pm

I don't know who Bill Joe Tolliver is, but he and Rex Grossman have freakishly similar advanced passing stats.

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#30 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:37pm

Tolliver had a reasonably long non-illustrious career with several teams. the saints stand out most in my mind. He played in the early 90s and maybe the late 80s as well.

When you read FOs descriptions of replacement level "Billy Joe to his parents" it's a reference to Billy Joe Tolliver and Billy Joe Hobart, who both played (poorly) for New Orleans at the same time. Hilarity ensued - unless you're a Saints fan.

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#29 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 2:34pm

The part I always find truly amazing is that anyone was acutally able to get PFRs search engine to work. I have never once been able to obtain search results from their site. At one point I was frustrated enough to send an e-mail and while the reply I got was very polite, I'm not a computer programmer so it may as well have been written in a foreign language. When I pointed that out, I got reply with a link to their "help" page, which was an oxymoron. If the help page had been helpful I wouldn't have needed to e-mail in the first place.

It's an amazing site, but the search engine is utterly worthless to the layman.

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#32 by Shattenjager // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:09pm

I am a layman and have never had any trouble with it, honestly.

Just for clarification, when you say "search engine," do you mean the play index? I was assuming so since that's what generated the list in the story, but I just thought I would make sure.

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#33 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:25pm

It looks like they call it a search engine also.

I've tried things as simple as trying to obtain a list of every Defensive Tackle who recorded a sack in 2012 and couldn't even get that to work. Eventually, I went to another site, pulled down every player, and spent an hour deleting all the non-DTs.

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#35 by Shattenjager // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:42pm

Actually, that page is not talking about the play index, which you can find here:

The actual search engine is really only useful if you want to look up a specific team or player. The play index is what does searches like what you're talking about (though it doesn't have 2012 in it yet).

Here is that search for 2011 in the player season finder within the play index, just as an example:

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#36 by Dean // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:45pm

That's exactly the sort of seach I've never been able to achieve. What did you type in to get those results?

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#37 by Shattenjager // Feb 28, 2012 - 3:49pm

If you click on "Show/Hide Search Form," you can see what I put in.

I think you're skipping going to the player season finder first. It's not too complicated if you go here:

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#59 by Dean // Feb 29, 2012 - 9:38am

Thanks. That actually looks like it will be really helpful. I've bookmarked this thread (filed right next to the famous RoboPunter thread) so that next time I want to look something like that up, I at least have some idea where to begin. Appreciate it.

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#46 by RickD // Feb 28, 2012 - 9:16pm

Doug Williams is better than his position on that list would indicate. He had the misfortune of being the rookie starting QB for the 1978 Tampa Bay Bucs. The '78 Bucs were lightyears better than the '76 Bucs, which means that they were still godawful. Williams was a much better QB for the Redskins. (47.4% completion percentage for TB, 55.9% completion percentage for the Skins. Given the number of attempts for each team, this is definitely statistically significant.)

Don't have much positive to say about the other three guys, though.

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#57 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 29, 2012 - 8:52am

What's really weird?

Williams, Schroeder, and Grossman all played in Super Bowls!

Schroeder and Williams had pretty good average yards per attempt, despite low completion percentages. That may reflect on the philosophy of the offense more than the quality of the QB.

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#73 by Eddo // Mar 01, 2012 - 1:50pm

Schroeder threw one pass in a Super Bowl, in garbage time.

The overall point is interesting, but Schroeder doesn't really help make it.

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#75 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 02, 2012 - 4:08pm

Williams was only the starter because Schroeder was injured much of the season. Schroeder was the starter for the previous year's NFC Conf Finals-losing team and the 1987 opening-day starter.

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#50 by ytmnd (not verified) // Feb 29, 2012 - 1:19am

I'm gonna go with "the Redskins would have a great chance at the playoffs if they signed Peyton Manning". We've already seen what a turd laden roster the Colts had which Peyton for years covered up. Sign him, and the line problems are greatly reduced, and guys like Jacob Tamme suddenly become viable weapons. Not saying they'll do it, and I don't think they should (I'd trade up for Griffin, who made talent-bereft Baylor into a powerhouse), but I do think the Redskins would be immediate contenders with Manning. It's not like the other teams in the division don't have holes too

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#63 by RickD // Feb 29, 2012 - 12:14pm

There are a lot of problems with this theory.

For starters, the Colts really didn't have a "turd laden" roster whose only good player was Manning. You simply cannot win 12+ games, year after year, with only one player in today's NFL. Which brings us to the next point: the Redskins have serious "depth problems", as Mike Shanahan said this season. They are not one player away from a Super Bowl.

And the final problem is that Peyton Manning reportedly cannot throw a ball further than 20 yards. Until he proves that he has any kind of arm strength, I would postpone any discussion of Manning contracts.

The Redskins definitely need a QB, but if they cannot trade up for RG III, I would advise them to go after Matt Flynn or some other young QB.

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#61 by alaano (not verified) // Feb 29, 2012 - 10:14am

Not that the Redskins don't need a lineman nor that they won't get one. I think they will be looking to replace Jamaal Brown at RT and possibly get a guard and move Liechtenstieger to center, with Montgomery as the backup plan if KL doesn't recover from his injury. They do, after all, have over $40 million in cap room.

However, not only are the advanced stats not so bad, the regular ones show a clear pattern. Liechtensteiger went out and Cooley was out too, and they moved Montgomery to guard, brought in Beck, and went six straight games without 100 yards on the ground (plus a lot of sacks). But they shored things up and ended the year with six straight 100 yard games, only two of them with Trent Williams in the lineup, and with two different lead backs, who have different styles.

So there is reason to believe that with some improvement coming from continuity, some coming from the return of injured players, and some from the improvement of their young fill-ins from last year, they could have a thoroughly decent and effective line without making a move.

In addition, if they add a WR who is a downfield threat and a QB who can throw it, the line should do even better as the defense is required to cover the whole field. And those are their top needs.

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#70 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Feb 29, 2012 - 9:52pm

I was kind of hoping that Anthony Armstrong would be the downfield threat but he pretty much vanished this year. It was weird.

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#76 by Puddin' Patterson (not verified) // Mar 08, 2012 - 12:44pm

entering season 3, and the 'skins still have the crappy-est roster in the NFCE. so what are Shannahan and Allen actually doing to earn their money? as far as I can tell: showing why they were both fired after the 2008 season...

anyway, I just can't imagine Manning's and the Shannahan's (not to mention Danny's) egos coexisting in DC.

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#77 by shankar (not verified) // Feb 15, 2013 - 6:05am

thanks for this very nice

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