Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Top Ten Draft Steals of All Time

April 10, 2008

As the NFL Draft moves onto center stage, some fun with draft picks that everyone missed.

10- Roger Staubach
9- Larry Wilson
8- Ray Guy
7- Shannon Sharpe
6- Bo Jackson
5- Dan Marino
4- Deacon Jones
3- Terrell Davis
2- Joe Montana
1- Tom Brady

Ahmad Bradshaw is a long way from getting to a list like this, but as one of the last players taken at the end of the 2007 draft he is off to a good start.

Bottom line- the draft is always an inexact science, so watch every team troll for the 2008 diamond in the rough.

ESPN discusses the New York Giants’ first pick in the draft

March 29, 2008

Can the Super Bowl Champion Repeat?

March 28, 2008

Can the New York Giants repeat as Super Bowl Champions? In order to look at the world of 2008, you have to analyze the 1995 (the start of FREE AGENCY) through 2007 seasons for an objective examination of the question. There are MANY variables still to consider, but the one we will focus on is the rookie component to the championship teams.

Youth springs eternal. The Giants entered 2007 as the third youngest team in the NFL. Considering the punter alone adds ~half a year to that tab, the return of the rookie class of 2007 for 2008’s campaign is a source of energy and optimism.

1974 Steelers analog? I just got through saying how the era of free agency makes comparison to Super Bowl winners before 1995 moot, and now here I go launching into comparisons with the 1974 Steelers?! Well, when you get a rookie haul like the Steelers got, the temptation to compare is strong. Of course we must not get too carried away here. The 1974 draft class of the Steelers is the gold standard. 4 Hall of Famers. A Super Bowl championship THAT YEAR. Their first. But that is where the Giants comparisons start to get tempting. These rookies also had a Super Bowl Championship THAT YEAR. And the NY Giants Super Bowl XLII victory has a RECORD NUMBER OF ROOKIES GETTING RINGS.

Year Team #Rookies AvgAge Notables
1974 Steelrs 15 25.3 Swann, Stallworth, Lambert, Webster, Shell
1995 Cowbys 15 26.9
1996 Packers 8 27.1
1997 Broncos 7 28.3 Pryce
1998 Broncos 8 28.5 Lepsis
1999 Rams.. 12 26.5 Bly, Holt
2000 Ravens 7 27.7 AThomas, JLewis
2001 Pats…. 9 27.1 Brady1*, Light, Seymour
2002 TBBucs 10 27.1
2003 Pats… 10 28.0 Koppen, Samuel, Wilson, Warren
2004 Pats… 10 27.2 Watson, Gay, Wilfork
2005 Steelrs 8 27.5 Miller
2006 I.Colts 10 26.5 Bethea, Addai
2007 Giants 14 26.4 Ross, Smith, Boss, Bradshaw

Note that the 15 rookies on Dallas’ roster in 1995 had no noteworthy players. Zero pro bowls from that lot. If you look at the youngest teams with the most notable rookie contributors, the numbers seem to imply a correlation towards future sustained strength. The 1999 Rams and the 2001 Pats had future appearances in the championship. Based on these anecdotal observations, the 2006 Colts and 2007 Giants should be very competitive.

When you filter for 3 or more notable rookies on the Super Bowl winners, it does indicate a fair degree of future success. Free agency presents cap problems for the winners. Good players leave for more money. But in free agency your rookies are a captive audience. They are under contract, they are not going anywhere and they are not renegotiating for more cap pressure in the next few years.

Conversely, if we look at the teams on this list without any rookie contributions, there might be an even stronger argument for LACK of competitiveness in future years from those organizations. The three teams with none all suffered after their win because a bad draft that year was quietly covering up a deficient future. Combined with other teams naturally going after their productive leaders who are in their prime, these teams suffer a great deal.

It may be curve fitting to get a result we want, but if you remove the 41 year old Feagles, you get a more realistic representation of the roster, and that drops the average age to 26.1. Plus the 4 ‘notable’ rookies mentioned for the Giants all played a big role in the Super Bowl. It obviously remains to be seen how their careers will unfold, but no one can deny that at that moment the Giants have at least four rookies…

Ross was starting most of the season with major minutes
Smith made catch after catch in the playoffs and Super Bowl
Boss made some instrumental catches at big moments in big drives
Bradshaw led the Giants in playoff rushing despite far fewer carries

Also not mentioned is Jay Alford, whose sack of Brady near the end of the game was one of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl. Michael Johnson started five games at Safety this season and played major minutes all year. THIS WAS NO ORDINARY ROOKIE CLASS. That is why we can say with early confidence that the Giants have 3+ notable rookies. BASED ON THIS VARIABLE THE GIANTS PROJECT TO BE EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE THE NEXT ~3 YEARS.

First Round Value BY POSITION

March 24, 2008

In the Past 10 drafts, here is a list of the number of first round picks taken BY POSITION:

QB 28, WR 43, OT 28, RB 30, G/C 13, TE 13, DE 37, DL 29, LB 36, CB 43, S 15, P 1


Here is the same list for NET FREQUENCY DRAFTED. This is defined as drafting frequency taken MINUS frequency on field. (Example: QB is 1 out of 22 players on field or ~4.6%, frequency taken is 28 out of a total of 316 players taken or ~8.9%, so QBs are taken with a NET FREQUENCY of 8.9%-4.6%= +4.3% excess weight in first round.)

RB +5%
QB +4.3%
DE +2.6%
CB +2.2%
WR +2.2%
DL +0.1%
LB +0.0%
OT -0.2%
TE -0.4%
S -4.3%
G/C -9.5%

What this says is that RBs, QBs, DE’s, CB’s and WR’s are more coveted vs their number of players at that position on the field. It also says that Safeties and Interior Offensive Linemen are less coveted relative to their numbers on the field. This makes a great deal of sense given what we know about the game. Interior Offensive Linemen are less skilled than Tackles, and while they are in the trenches, they do not cause fumbles and make impact the way other players can. Likewise, Safeties are not as fast as Cornerbacks and certainly not as important as a versatile LB or DE (who can wreak more havoc on a QB).

ULTIMATENYG General Manager:
(a) Underweight RB. While these players can have great impact, they also rate to get injured and have far shorter careers.
(b) Underweight WR. We have discussed this in 2007’s offseason. There are always WRs available in free agency. Case in point Burress, Moss and Stallworth. Less draft, more free agent. If you want a quality WR, the Toomers and Smiths are there in Round 2 anyway.
(c) Underweight DL if you can. This is not a statement about need for effectiveness in the trenches. It is merely an observation that DL is probably the second hardest position for a rookie next to QB, and that experience is more important than pedigree. I keep thinking about Barry Cofield and Keith Hamilton at Round4 vs the Jets’ Dwayne Robertson at Round1, the 4th pick in the entire draft. Good DL’s take years to develop, and it negates the immediate impact you need for your first rounder in today’s cap world. Articulated another way- you can win a title with a midround DL who simply is afforded the time to play the position.
(d) Overweight OT. SLAM DUNK. The statistic above that Offensive Tackles are only taken roughly in line with their natural frequency on the field is very surprising to me. The numbers do not lie. Use this to your advantage and draft more Offensive Tackles.

Top Draft Busts in the Modern Era

March 19, 2008

Here is a 2005 Sports Illustrated Slideshow of some of the worst draft picks ever made. Woof.

Spygate saga continues

March 10, 2008

The Goodell-Specter-Walsh-Belichick Spygate saga does not go away. The bottomline here is that Matt Walsh is a private citizen with alleged material in a private industry that is dangerous to private parties. So nothing has to happen for everyone to be happy. But Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is not happy with that. He has asked some interesting questions and will not disappear so easily.

The power structure of the NFL (the owners) does not want a black eye at this point, even if it means justice for one or two teams at the expense of an another. Their logic is simple… from a utilitarian viewpoint, further discussion of the matter hurts the NFL. Apparently Goodell had convinced owners (of franchises that could have been harmed by Patriots spying) that even if they were eventually redressed by the results of a deeper investigation, it would harm the NFL so much that redressed teams would not come out winners either. Since Walsh (the alleged videotaper) has requested immunity in order to come forward, Goodell up to this point has not offered that because he has no incentive to proceed any further with the inquiry.

That apparently has changed- a deal to get Walsh to talk seems closer. Goodell is certainly getting pressure. As much as he has tried to make this thing go away, he is likely getting threats with other actions if the investigation does not continue. You can tell in his press release how he words everything to demonstrate that the NFL is not acting passively, at least not anymore. At this point he is trying to prove effort as much as anything else.

Free Agency Busts

March 3, 2008

Free Agency Models compared


Top 10 Free Agent Busts (..and the Giants not close to anyone on this list.)

I think you could have come up with a list of the Top 10 Redskin Free Agent Busts singlehandedly. Hmm, let’s try (in no particular order)…

1) Deion Sanders (this is a stickup, gimme all your money!)
2) Adam Archuletta (instant doom)
3) Dana Stubblefield (my favorite, he had me quaking in my boots coming over from the 49ers in the early years of free agency, and every game we saw him he was as tame as a kitten)
4) Jeremiah Trotter (good with the Eagles, bad with the Skins, good with the Eagles!)
5) Bruce Smith (the older they are, the more insane the team)
6) Jeff George (Jeff George)
7) Stanley Richard (4 quiet years, a relative genius acquisition on this list)
8) James Washington (Dallas dude, Washington dud)
9) Mike Barrow (beware of LBers over the age of 30)
10) Jacquez Green (you could have had your pick of any one of a # of Spurrier misses)

Coughlin spoke w Francesa today

February 8, 2008

Coughlin mentioned two rookie “unheralded” plays… (1) when McQuarters fumbles away one of those late punt returns vs the Packers, one guy from GB is trying to pick it up and flubs, and it is Michael Johnson who pops it out of there so that Hixon can recover. (2) In the Super Bowl, when Ahmad Bradshaw fumbles, he gets back his own fumble with cool resourcefulness.

When the subject of Tuck came up, Coughlin praised Tuck immensely and pointed out that last year when he got injured, the team really missed him and Michael Strahan.

Separately, nothing to do with this interview, they have an 18 minute version of Super Bowl highlights on NFL Films, and they showed that on the very first play of the game- a kickoff to Hixon, he only gets to ~near the 20 yard line. Hixon was face masked for SECONDS and it would have been 15 yards.