Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Jul 2012

ESPN: 25-and-Under Organizational Rankings

The Patriots walk away No. 1 on the strength of their tight end corps, while the Saints' bounty punishment helps push them into last place.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 16 Jul 2012

9 comments, Last at 17 Jul 2012, 2:11pm by Joseph


by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 12:43pm

I disagree with quite a few of the teams at the top of your rankings. New England at the top on the basis of two tight ends and two rookies seems a little silly.

1) Cincy
2) Houston
3) Oakland
4) Seattle

Then the Giants, Niners and Eagles with the Pack probably next.

What exactly is a 'blown block' sack as opposed to a regular sack? You use this stat a few times without explaining what it is.

Does Kaepernick count as a qb of the future for the 49ers?

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 1:18pm

The players listed are not the only players being considered. The Patriots, for example, also have the two young running backs, Ryan Mallett as developmental quarterback, and defenders like Pat Chung, Devin McCourty, and Ras-I Dowling.

"Blown Block" sack refers to our game charting. We mark the reasons for every sack: specific Blown Block by one or two offensive players, Rusher Untouched, Coverage Sack, or QB Fault (i.e. QB drops ball w/o being touched).

The 49ers get credit for Kaepernick, sure, but not as much as the Panthers for Newton or the Bengals for Dalton.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 2:56pm

Let me just supplement what Aaron noted, without getting too much into the vagaries of the scoring system...

1. NE got the 2nd-most expected value out of the 2011 draft.
2. NE was one of only 6 teams to have a U-25 1st-team AP All-Pro.
3. NE had the 3rd-highest position-weighted AV for U-25s in 2011.
4. NE had the 8th-most number of U-25 players w/ at least 1 AV in 2011.
5. NE had the 3rd-highest position-weighted AV for U-25s in 2010.
6. NE had the 5th-most number of U-25 players w/ at least 1 AV in 2010.

Literally, the only factor they didn't rank in the top 8 for our purposes was expected value from the 2012 draft (14th). They were the only team to rank in the top 10 in 5 of our 6 stat factors. CIN and TB were next with 4 top-10s.

Also, as we mentioned in the piece, NE was our objective #1 last year, but our internal discussions led to TB moving up from #3 to #1 instead. Fool us once...

"Position-weighted AV" means that we accounted for the fact that having young talent at certain positions is better than at other positions. So, for instance, CIN got 58 out of its 68 U-25 AV in 2011 from U-25s at pass offense and pass defense positions. That helps them considerably. In fact, if we ignore track record, CIN would be #1. However, Dalton + Green were rookies last year, so they get dinged a little bit. If these guys (and others) keep it going this year, it's almost certain CIN will be #1 on next year's list.

SEA doesn't have a recent track record either. OAK gets dinged for basically using the draft as an offseason bye week the past 2 (20?) years. Otherwise, both of them would be higher on the list.

Finally, let's keep in mind that this isn't an exact science. Our "first lets get an objective rating, then discuss them subjectively" method implies as much. There are plenty of good arguments for any team in the top 10 being #1.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 12:38pm

I'm still taking the Bengals, even though I don't like Dalton's upside. You could also make the case that some of the value for the Pats TE's and running backs is derived from their quarterback, who is old.

by Doug Nilsen (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 12:55pm

Is this rating a typical east coast bias? Look how the Bengals rank in your categories. With the exception of past history of developing talent (a topic that is debatable with the Bengals - they are much improved) they have to rank ahead of the Pats, for instance.

by BSKazzy (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 7:17pm

What is the relationship between FO and ESPN such that much of FO's best stuff goes behind ESPN's paywall?

by Joseph :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 9:43pm

Not being able to read the piece, my question is:
Is the Saints last-place finish due to the fact that they lost 2 2nd rounders from the bounty punishment? Cause otherwise, I don't see how the bounty fallout hurts them any. The two players are veterans long past 25 yrs old.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:41am

NO's #32 ranking is based on the following:

1) Worst expected value from '12 draft.
2) 26th in position-weighted AV from '11 season among players under 25 yo.
3) 25th in position-weighted AV from '10 season among players under 24 yo.
4) 27th in # of U-24s w/ 1+ AV from '10 season.
5) Our internal discussions.

In other words, they got crap from U24s in 2010 and U25s in 2011, and then the bounty thing forced them into getting expected crap from 2012 draft. Incidentally, Jimmy Graham was already 25 last year.

by Joseph :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 2:11pm

Thanks for the reply, Danny. I didn't know Graham had already turned 25. And yeah, although the Saints have a number of starters/key subs in the 25-30 age bracket, they need to get better value out of some recent draft picks, or their going to have troubles. On the other hand, Loomis seems to find ways to get some decent guys in free agency, re-signing Brees (FINALLY!!) and Colston, and adding Grubbs, Bunkley, and MLB Curtis Lofton. We'll see how it plays out in 2014, when some of these young players should be part of the nucleus of the team.