Bloggers, media and sport fans used to heap scorn on Bleacher Report, mainly due to some questionable user-generated content that damaged the site’s reputation in its infancy. However, since their big money deal with Turner 18 months ago, they’ve added some talented and respected names as featured writers and a great deal of their content is now well worth checking out.
One of the featured writers they added to their roster was draft scouting guru and former TJB Podcast guest Matt Miller, who – along with several other film junkies – is spearheading the B/R NFL 1000 project, where they attempt to rank the NFL’s top 1,000 players. The project is now into its third year and they’ve just started releasing this year’s results. For more on how the project works go here.
As you’ll recall, their rankings for the Jets’ starters at tackle (and quarterback and fullback) were not kind, so surely that must mean that the interior line is where their strength lies. Indeed, these rankings are more generous than the previous ones, although still far from glowing.
Nick Mangold ranks 16 out of the 34 best centers in the league. At guard, Willie Colon is a creditable 26 out of the top 70 guards. Vladimir Ducasse is down in 53 and Brian Winters doesn’t make the list. Former Jet Matt Slauson is actually ranked 6.
On Mangold, who was actually ranked one place above Max Unger, who he replaced in this year’s Pro Bowl, they came to the following conclusions:
At 30 years of age, Mangold is showing signs of physical decline. He wasn’t one of the best centers in the league in 2013, but he still has a lot of value as a pass protector.
Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comI was actually looking forward to reading what Miller and his colleagues made of Brian Winters’ rough rookie season, so it’s disappointing to see that he failed to make the list. The project states that they don’t take into account potential (or past performance) and are just evaluating the 2013 season. On that basis, I would assume Winters’ modest improvements over the last month didn’t make up for his struggles earlier in the season.
Winters factors into one of the main observations I have regarded the analysis here. Both Mangold and Colon are marked down for playing too high in the running game. Could that be because they had to be prepared to help out Winters, perhaps? As previously noted, Mangold in particular was much more dominant over that last month and I’m convinced that was because Winters had finally progressed to the point where he could fend for himself.
The other key observation centers around Ducasse. The fact that he was 53rd would suggest that there were several teams starting players ranked below him. The analysis was rightfully critical of his pass protection, but it’s surprising to note that his run blocking score was higher than both Colon and Mangold (who, by the way, scored 45/50 and 49/50 respectively for their pass protection).
Ducasse is not expected to be retained by the Jets, but he’s one of the players who I’m most interested to see where he lands and how he fares.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on this project over the offseason.