Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Apr 2007

Hall Traded To St. Louis

X is now gonna give it to St. Louis, as the Rams acquired Dante Hall for a fifth-round pick for this Sunday.

Expect the Rams to talk about getting Hall the ball "in space".

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 25 Apr 2007

35 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2007, 7:43pm by Bill Barnwell


by Zac (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 2:34pm

How the mighty have fallen. From being talked about as a potential MVP candidate to being traded for a 5th round pick. It just goes to show you that even the best special teams players aren't going to dominate *all* of the time.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 2:42pm

ahh... I have fond Madden memories of Hall, with a high 90s speed rating, running circles around just about everyone else.
I wonder if Hester will have prolonged success, or whether he will have a similar fall.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 2:49pm

I guess a #5 for a 4th WR and average-ish returner isn't too bad a deal. Funky fact: the Rams haven't had a positive DVOA on KOR since they led the league in 1999.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 2:52pm

Re: 2

I think you'll see Hester normalize like Hall. All told, Hester had six returns for touchdowns this season, and the all-time record for returns for touchdowns in a career is thirteen.

There's just no way that Hester will ever be able to keep up that pace.

That's not to say he won't still be a good returner, just like Hall, but he won't be able to continue doing anywhere near what he did this year in terms of returns for touchdowns.

by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 3:11pm

I don't really see how the chiefs are a better team as a result of this move. Are they expecting to get a better player than Hall for a fifth. They are unlikely to get someone who will have a bigger impact than Hall had even if his impact is entirely restricted to special teams.

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 3:21pm

#5, according to Herm Edwards, here is what they are thinking: "We have to get younger, and the only way you can do that is through the draft. You're going to have to give up something to get something." . (Click my name for the source of the quotation). This would also explain the rumors of them dangling Larry Johnson for trade offers.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 3:27pm

Also swapping 3rd rounders...

" We have to get younger". Does that mean you want to replace the current team with YOUR guys Herm? I guess their not drafting Ted Ginn in Stl now.

Carl Peterson wants 7 picks and hopes to pick one or two up in the next few days. Is there a special reason you want to aquire those picks? I'm sure you could dump guys like Larry Johnson or Brian Waters, but why "pick up picks" just for the sake of picking them up?

I'd rather have Dante Hall than a 5th round pick ( which usually doesn't amount to much).

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 3:50pm

I think it's obvious that the "Devin Hester effect" greatly influenced this move by the Rams. I read an article a few days ago about how teams are going to focus on finding dynamic return men after seeing the impact Hester had last year. Scott Linehan was one of the persons quoted in the article, and the article discussed how Linehan's up close and personal view of Hester easily running back two kickoffs for TDs against the Rams last year in that Monday Night game made Linehan realize that the Rams needed a similar type player.

I haven't watched a lot of Chiefs games over the past few years, but my general impression is that Hall's best days are far behind him.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 4:03pm

Is there some reason we're getting only a trickle of Extra Points material? I mean, it's the offseason, news is scarce, and yet there has been a new TMQ this week (and one of the best in a long time, in my opinion). Today, there's a pretty neat ESPN Page 2 article on draft busts by position. Yet no link for either. What gives?

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 4:23pm

I don't know what changed in Hall's career, but he no longer produces like an elite returner and is basically useless on offense (especially with 3 productive, highly paid WR ahead of him). If you're going to spend a draft pick on someone whose only contributions will be on ST, he better be able to play for a while or be one of the top performers in the league. I would be surprised if either scenario were the case for Hall.

Remember, people last year were bashing the Bears for spending a second-rounder on Hester instead of drafting a TE... and he was young and expected to be a great returner. I think more teams should do what the Ravens do (and some other teams, I'm sure)... every year, spend a late draft pick or a non-guaranteed contract on someone who has the potential to be a good returner. Most won't turn out, but enough will to keep your ST in the upper half of the league.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 4:36pm

I disagree, Chris. I see Hall as a guy whose production as fallen off during the last couple of years, and whose production will either hit a floor and stay there or continue to plummet before bottoming out.

At least a fifth round pick is SOMETHING, which in my world is better than nothing.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 4:38pm

I believe this is a good move for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs, as everyone knows, must get younger, and unless they can do that quickly, they are in huge trouble. I know a sole fifth round pick isn't huge, but you have take what you can get when you can get it.

Moreover, Hall is just nothing great anymore. He had a couple of good years, and for some reason that is what everyone remembers when they think of Hall, but the truth is that he isn't much anymore. This year, the Chiefs had a 2.2% DVOA on punt returns, and a -2.7% DVOA on kickoff returners. In other words, Hall is basically a replacement level player, and nothing more.

So, the Chiefs got a fifth round pick for a replacement level returner who does absolutely nothing except return punts and kicks? That's a good deal.

Granted, it's not like they got much with a fifth round pick, but then again it's not like they really gave up anything by letting Hall go.

by War N Peace (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 4:57pm

From a Rams fandom standpoint the timing of this is fantastically stupid. I'm so-so on the player for pick move.. leaning towards not thrilled, but not irately pissed off... the timing is just silly in my mind unless there is something else coming down the pipe.

Linehan made such a HUGE deal about Ginn this and that... which I assumed was him trying to get somebody who covets him to jump on him in advance of the 13th pick so that we'd have more choices on defensive talent at 13. But either 1. all the smoke blowing was just an as-yet-unproven coach who throws too damn much in the redzone running his mouth, or 2. a franchise that is just dumb. Why couldn't this trade have been signed, sealed, delivered and kept quiet until draft day??

I guess the Chiefs might be trying to angle for Kris Jenkins before the draft or something.. but i continue to be disappointed with Linehan and co.

by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 5:10pm

the article discussed how Linehan’s up close and personal view of Hester easily running back two kickoffs for TDs against the Rams last year in that Monday Night game made Linehan realize that the Rams needed a similar type player.

That's funny, I would've thought it would make him realize that the Rams' cover units suck.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 5:11pm

11- His production did "fall off" from the last couple of years, but it did "fall" from the top of the league.

Most 5th round picks don't translate into anything anyway.

12- I'd argue that return DVOA isn't a stat that can be attributed to just one player in the same way Batting average in baseball might. Hall did have blockers in front of him, and he did have opposing coaches who didn't even want to kick to him.

Devin Hester had an outstanding rookie year, but on a couple of those returns he had a convey of teammates racing down the sidelines with him. I do think that Hester is a stud, but that return against the Giants for example, a number of good returners could have ran back as well.

It could be a "commitment" by the coaching staff to improve their special teams. By bringing in Hall for a 5th rounder the players know the staff means business. There will probably be more emphasis on the blocking as well, and if X gets good blocks on that carpet then watch out.

by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 5:19pm

Heh. When I saw the headline, I thought for a second it was about DeAngelo Hall, and wondered if St. Louis was finally trying to do something about their defense.

I remember a few years ago debates in New England about who you'd rather have on your team to return kicks...Bethel Johnson or Dante Hall. How the mighty have fallen. Bethel Johnson traded away for a draft bust that couldn't even make the team, and Hall traded away for a 5th rounder.

Chris, I know that "most" 5th round picks don't amount to anything, but some do. And sometimes even the ones that "don't amount to anything"...i.e. don't become starters, end up being productive role players and journeymen. It's also possible that KC is arming itself with extra draft picks to gain the ammunition to pull the trigger and move up on draft day to grab a player that they really covet.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:04pm

Re: 15

No kidding.

DVOA doesn't single out a player's impact on a particular result. However, if you're going to say that, then you can basically ignore anything that DVOA tells you in any situation.

Odds are, though, Hall is not a fantastic returner on a terrible unit, thus producing replacement level results. The more likely scenario is that he's a replacement level player producing replacement level results when surrounded by a replacement level unit.

by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:05pm

14: Well, there's that, too. But Linehan should have known that already.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:12pm

PaulH- Your right, I don't put too much weight into DVOA. It's a TOOL that helps you measure a player, not some absolute value of a players worth.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:33pm

Did teams even punt to Hall anymore?

He had 27 returns and 6 Fair catches (not sure if fair catches and returns count in teh same-NFL.com has them as separate stats). In comparsion Devin Hester had 47 returns and 12 fair catches (a better defense would do this). Wes Welker had 41 returns and 29 fair catches!

If anything-Hall still gives teams something to avoid on punts-which could lead to bad punts as a punter tries to direct the kick away from him.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:53pm

I haven't done a full-scale study, but over the course of their long punt-returning careers, both Mel Gray and Brian Mitchell fair-caught roughly 1/3 of the punts kicked to them. Chiefs for the year punted 73 times, with 32 returns and 19 FCs. Robo-Colquitt led the league in net punting. The Chiefs overall faced 73 punts, of which 33 were returned and 7 FCs. I think I have my next research project.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:56pm

Did teams even punt to Hall anymore?

I think it's just your selection - both Miami and Chicago were good defenses. The majority of the "non-returned/caught" punts were touchbacks or pinned the team inside the 20 from what I saw.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 6:58pm

#21: Hall missed one game last year. Kennison has like 4 returns, if memory serves.

by The Other Vlad (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 7:25pm

PFT says that the two teams also swapped third-round picks. They were only two spots apart, so it's probably not a big deal, but I figured I'd mention it anyway.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 8:13pm

OK trade for both teams.

I don't see how anyone can say either team "lost" the trade. The Chiefs obviously aren't that interested in keeping Dante Hall anymore, which is fine. He's a good but unexceptional return man at this point, and that can be addressed pretty easily in the draft.

A fifth round pick is pretty much destined to be a poor player. The 2001 fifth round, for example, consisted of Matt Lehr, Chukki Okobi, AJ Feeley, Mike McMahon, Russ Hochstein, Derrick Blaylock, and another 25 players who are even more obscure than those guys.

It's a trade of a marginal pick for a marginal player, and it's silly to say that one team "won" the trade.

Personally, if I had a generic team, I'd prefer Hall to a 5th rounder, but if the Chiefs don't, that's fine.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 8:47pm

As for the fifth round pick...

Don't get me wrong, I know you are unlikely to get the next Jim Brown in the fifth round, but that doesn't mean that there isn't value to be found in the fifth round.

Take Gibril Wilson and Dan Koppen for example. Dan Koppen was selected in the 5th round (164th overall) of the 2003 draft by the Patriots, and he is now the anchor to that offensive line. He just signed a long-term extension a year ago, and is one of the better centers around. Gibril Wilson is another good example. He was selected in the fifth round (136th overall) of the 2004 draft. Since then, Wilson has started almost three years at safety, and collected over 200 tackles in the past two seasons.

Those are just a couple of examples of good, valuable players to be found even at that late of a juncture. Other examples are guys like D.J. Hackett, Mike Karney, Robert Mathis, etc.

Just look at the 2006 draft and you can find two very good players from the fifth round: Mark Anderson and Dawan Landry. We all know the story on Anderson, and Landry had a great year starting opposite Ed Reed.

Again, I know most don't pan out in the fifth round, but there are still good players available back there. If the Chiefs choose wisely, they will end up with a valuable player who will contribute a good bit to their overall success.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 04/25/2007 - 10:26pm

Re: Fewer extra points, I believe all the FO staff members are busy writing their umm... book, pro football prospectus, which I for one am pretty excited about. So, even though we don't get too many extra points, we get a book's worth of research, etc. out of it.

by IceD (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 1:17am

Hall used to have more moves than Rob Lowe at a singles bar

by Just saying (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 4:03am

Didn't the Rams already pick up James Hall for a fifth round pick this offseason?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 9:20am

OK, question. I've read and heard several places that this trade means the Rams aren't interested in Ginn. Now, I've not been paying too much attention to the draft, so I don't know if they actually were or should have been, but...

If the Rams actually were interested in Ginn, why would they not be now? I have a really hard time believing they would've considered spending a mid-first rounder on Ginn just to be a return man, they'd clearly expect him to develop into a #1 receiver (or #2 at worst). Hall has never come close to showing that he's capable of being a good wideout. So if the Ginn projection was based on need and best fit, why wouldn't that need still be there?

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 9:23am

PaulH - Be careful with your terminology. DVOA is value over average, not replacement, so FO's numbers suggest that Hall's performance as a returner last year was NFL average, not replacement level. You would expect a replacement level kick returner to be noticeably below league average.

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 9:57am

PaulH- but isn't Dante Hall a good player who will contribute to their success?

30- If the Rams wanted Ginn, he would probably go the Steve Smith route to playing time. He starts out as a return man and then either cracks the starting lineup as a receiver, or never makes it as a receiver and turns into desmond howard.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 2:56pm

Chris, I call going from being the best in the league to an average player "falling off". And I think that he'll remain average in St. Louis, which is why this isn't a good deal for the Rams, in my opinion.

But perhaps I'm too harsh on the guy.

Again, if the Chiefs didn't want him around, then they would have cut him eventually. At least this way, they will get something for him, which is why this is a good deal for them.

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 4:11pm

10 teams had a better kick return DVOA, 6 teams had a better punt return DVOA. I wouldn't call that average, but then again I don't think DVOA is an absolute measure for a player.

I'm not sure how somebody directionally kicking the ball out of bounds ( not wanting to kick to hall) counts for DVOA return yards as well.

The reason why he was had for a 5th rounder is because the Cheifs believe that his play isn't very sustainable.

Instead of drafting some guy who might not even see the field, I'd rather rent a top return man for a few years.

If anything, that Carpet in St. Louis should help his game as well. The higher scoring games would seem to put more emphasis on his kick returns, and less on his punt returns for what it's worth as well. I think that Halls strength is his punt returns.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 04/26/2007 - 7:43pm

#9 - I mean, I've been linking to YouTube clips of Tecmo Bowl games. I'm not really sure what else you can ask for -- there's just not a lot going on.

I should also note that FO wholeheartedly appreciates recommendations for XPs, which you can submit through the Contact Us link.