Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Jan 2008

FO Mailbag: Will Allen

Jason Paradise: I was reading Dr. Z on SI.com tonight and on his All-Pro team he talks about taking Will Allen at CB for the Dolphins. He goes on to write 3-4 paragraphs defending his pick. He says that he was impressive in all the games he charted of him. This got me curious to see what his numbers look like from the game charting project. I don't remember reading anything from you or anyone else at FO, so I was curious on your thoughts about him.

Yeah, we sort of missed Dr. Z's All-Pro team in Extra Points this year. He did make surprising choices at cornerback, skipping Champ Bailey, Asante Samuel, and Antonio Cromartie to go with Terence Newman of Dallas and Will Allen of Miami.

Based on our charting stats (generally complete through Week 15), Allen is a pretty good choice. In the data collected so far, Allen has a 60 percent Success Rate (12th among the top 75 cornerbacks) and allows 5.6 yards per pass (10th). He comes out dramatically better than the other Dolphins corners. Matt Lehan has a 53 percent Success Rate and 7.1 yards per pass, which is actually pretty reasonable, but Travis Daniels allowed 11.9 yards per pass, while Andre Goodman had a dismal 37 percent Success Rate.

If we go by the charting stats, the mistaken choice here was actually Newman. Newman is listed with a 50 percent Success Rate (48th) and 5.8 yards per pass (12th), which means he wasn't getting beat deep but he was giving up a lot of third-down conversions.

Skipping nickelbacks and guys who allow a low number of yards per pass because of Cover-2 schemes, we can still find some much better choices than Newman for the title of "best cornerback in 2007." For starters, Bailey would have been a better choice. He was 30th in yards per pass, but first in Success Rate with a very low number of targets for a first-string cornerback. Asante Samuel is 14th in Success Rate and third in yards per pass, Mike McKenzie is third in Success Rate and 13th in yards per pass, and longtime FO favorite Roderick Hood is sixth in Success Rate and fourth in yards per pass. Those guys all had better years than Newman, and they have track records that tell us this was no fluke. Finally, there's Nnamdi Asomugha. He would have been in the top ten for both Success Rate and yards per pass but teams were so busy avoiding him that he doesn't even have enough passes to qualify for my lists. The Pats may have avoided Antonio Cromartie in the AFC Championship game, but over the whole season, evidence is pretty strong that the only cornerbacks who actually scare quarterbacks away are Asomugha and Bailey. Those are my All-Pro corners.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 Jan 2008

18 comments, Last at 03 Feb 2008, 9:16am by steve


by Lagfish (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:07pm

Micheal Lehan not Matt. Haven't we been insulted enough?

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:09pm

Will Allen was demonstrably better than any other member of the Dolphins secondary, but I didn't realise he played that well. Playing better than the rest of the Dolphins secondary, is however, an accolade to sit alongside being better than Jason David.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:22pm

Too bad, I thought this was going to be about Will Allen the Vikings fan.

by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:31pm

He'd have to write an entire column to explain the absence of Lofa Tatupu in the MLB/ILB group. I saw that at the time, and I still can't quite believe it.

by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:48pm

How much of Allen's success can be attributed to the rest of Miami's secondary being garbage? What I mean is, wouldn't opposing teams just avoid him? Not to say he is bad or anything, just, comparing him positively against the rest of the Miami secondary seems to be kind of like saying I'm a great boxer because I can beat up a 12 year old.

by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:51pm

How did Hole In Zone rank?

by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 7:26pm

How often was Newman thrown at? It didn't seem like it was very often to me and if I recall, that's one of the things that Dr. Z judges cornerbacks on.

by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 7:27pm

It seems to me that if Jacques Reeves was the most targetted CB in the league this year, that the guy who played on the other side of him for a lot of the season would also rank high in terms of % of targets. How do the numbers on Newman look in terms of % of targets?

by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 7:28pm

And by high, obviously, I mean low. You get what I mean.

by fogarty (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 8:02pm

Re 3: I did, too. I was actually excited to see why they were devoting a whole mailbag to him.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 9:02pm

Re #5

Disclaimer: I am a Dolphins fan.

His stop rate and YPA are good, which means that he is doing better than most other CBs when he gets targeted. They aren't counting stats, so he is doing well on a per play basis.

I would also think that if the other CBs are horrible, that his numbers would show up as worse per pass, not better. He would be targeted less often in his "normal" coverage because the QB would generally have a much better option. He would be more likely targeted when he was doing worse than the other CBs on that play. I might be totally wrong on that part though, I just pulled it out of my ass.

by Athelas (not verified) :: Mon, 01/21/2008 - 11:55pm

#3, 10--
I bet a whole column devoted to Will Allen, Viking Fan would be one of the most commented Extra Points!

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 01/22/2008 - 12:44am

-12 I agree

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 01/22/2008 - 1:14am

This is surprising to me. One of the big highlight reels I've seen this year is Allen tripping over himself and falling down with another teammate while a WR stands there and catches a touchdown bomb untouched.
Who would have known he would be good enough to get traded for a high to mid-level draft pick? :b

Success is success. Even if he is avoided most of the game, his charting says he does well in the few times he is thrown at.
If the aging defense hangs on, Brown comes back, the Parcells era kicks in quickly, and all those stockpiled draftpicks work out (basically 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders?), the Dolphins will be moving up the ranks quickly.

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/22/2008 - 6:12am

I should also note that Will Allen has a much higher valid post ration than most other posters on these boards ;)

by Tommy John (not verified) :: Tue, 01/22/2008 - 4:39pm

Will Allan ... ? Jason David ... ? maybe having 2 first names is a plus ..

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/22/2008 - 6:18pm

How funny, to be let down by a Dr. Z article simply because it was about a different Will Allen ... I thought I'd be the only one who made that mistake ...

by steve (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 9:16am

I'm a Giants fan and could not have been pleased more when we unloaded Will Allen. We traded up to get him in the first round and he was a total bust. I mean a liability. No ball skills. Sam Madison is bad but I would still take him over brick hands Will Allen...
Dr. Z is insane...