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Posts tagged with "Pro Football Focus"

What will the linebacker corps and secondary look like now?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Since the end of the season, Atlanta has had a lot of shuffling take place amongst their linebackers and defensive backs. They regained Desmond Trufant from his season ending injury, drafted Duke Riley and Damonate Kazee, and most recently received news that Jalen Collins was handed a 10 game suspension by the league.

Jalen Collins played well from the Thursday night bludgeoning against the Buccaneers to the NFC Championship beatdown of the Green Bay Packers, but the Falcons have capable depth behind him. Robert Alford and Trufant will man the top two spots on the cornerback depth chart while Brian Poole handles slot duties in the nickel package. Poole was a gem as an undrafted rookie and he’ll see a large bulk of snaps yet again with Collins under suspension.

According to Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus, the Falcons were in nickel (three cornerbacks) 64% of the time and dime (four cornerbacks) 18% of the time. Over the past few years we’ve heard “nickel is the new base” repeatedly; these numbers give credence to the shift in the way defense has evolved. The were their dime package just as frequently as their traditional base package with three linebackers and two cornerbacks.

Excluding Jalen Collins, here’s how the Falcons’ secondary should sort out by the time the season starts. Notice the versatility in this group, several players will be listed twice.

Note: Don’t get caught up in the order of these players. Just a prediction of who will get snaps where during the offseason. Rookies are noted with an asterisk.

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Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

During the off-season ESPN and Pro Football Focus has been generating a lot of content attempting to rank NFL rosters that are either based upon bad information and ridiculous score assessments

The NFL off-season is rife with arbitrary team and player rankings that make the rounds through national media. During the slowest time of the year for football, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about so it is understandable but it doesn’t cure the frustration from fans who have given up on a lot of the traditional national and regional media sources who consistently demonstrate that they are out of touch with a lot of teams — particularly in smaller markets.

ESPN recently partnered with Pro Football Focus to rank the roster of all 32 NFL teams. The Colts are ranked 26th overall but there are important aspects of the rankings that go a long way in understanding how and why these rankings are not only subjective, but are also often uninformed.

Included in the “expected” Colts starting offense is Phillip Dorsett and Denzelle Good. Both of these players drag down the team’s overall “score” using the PFF system. It would seem that there are two valid options PFF has to help these rankings have a great degree of legitimacy.

First, it would go a long way to actually know specifics about what has happened over the summer that would likely lead to modified starting projections. Absent that information, you’re throwing a player and a score into your equation without relevance to 2017. Second, if the entire basis of these ranks is a scoring system that attempts to grade players based upon their performance or ability, it might be worthwhile to allow those scores — particularly lopsided ones — to help inform as to which players might be included with the starters in the coming season.

For example, Phillip Dorsett has a score of 50.2. Throughout the off-season there have been two important story-lines that would impact his projected role as starter. The first being that Chris Ballard signed Kamar Aiken in free agency and the second being that Chester Rogers has had a strong summer program.

Kamar Aiken’s “grade” for 2016 was 58.6, which is 8.4 points higher and Chester Rogers received a grade of 52.2, which is two points higher than Dorsett. Both would improve the team’s averages.

Similarly, on the offensive line Joe Haeg — the projected starter at right guard — earned a grade of 67.4 against Denzelle Good’s 45.4, a 22 point difference! There is simply no excuse for this discrepancy, or for the ESPN or PFF brain trust, to not realize that Haeg is the projected starter. This puts the methodology of the entire system in the toilet.

On the defensive side of the football, there are other issues that pop-up. On the defensive line, Johnathan Hankins is represented by a grade of 45.4 on the basis of his role in a base 4-3 defense in New York last season, playing the 3-technique. He is included in this list as the projected nose tackle, which clearly makes the ranking inapplicable (PFF’s own writers are aware of this problem). In his last season as a 1-technique nose tackle his grade was 80.9, the year before that it was 85.9.

For reference, Hankins is tied for the second-lowest grade on the Colts starting roster with non-starter Denzelle Good.

Next to Hankins is Kendall Langford, who tried to play through an injury that ended up costing him the entire season — and who hasn’t yet taken the field in 2017. There is a two-fold problem with including Langford as a 38.8 (by far the lowest graded Colts projected starter).

The first is, if you’re not going to included Jon Bostic in the rankings over Edwin Jackson because he missed the season due to injury, it makes no sense to throw in a player who should have never taken the field in 2016 and who essentially missed the whole season himself with a trash level score to drag down the numbers.

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Dak Prescott is the talk of the NFL, for sale after leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 5-1 start. And his play so far has more than backed up the talk.

And on Tuesday, he earned another major recognition. Pro Football Focus named Prescott the NFL’s top rookie through the first eight weeks of the season. Prescott beat out Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz. Wentz was taken with second pick in the draft, while Prescott went in the fourth round.

The two square off on Sunday Night football, as the Eagles and Cowboys play each other.

Prescott has been praised for his lack of turnovers. The rookie set an NFL record for most passes to start and NFL career without an interception with 176. Per Pro Football Focus, Prescott has thrown only three “turnover worthy” passes, good for second in the NFL.

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