Critiquing the B/R NFL 1000 Project: Centers and Guards

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.

In our third installment, we look at their rankings for the center and guard positions. To look back at the previous updates go here and 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.com

I 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.




22 comments
wilkerson
wilkerson

Bent, have you noticed the pattern yet?

Brendan
Brendan

Lol. Slauson was 6th? Haha....ooookay. 

a57se
a57se

I think the report says a ton about Winters since he didn't even make the ranking.........

They are right about both Mangold and Brick, they are both quality guys but they are not the same players they were a few years ago and that is to be expected.

juunit
juunit

Booooooo! You suck. Go home you bum!

williamg1
williamg1

"At guard, Willie Colon is a creditable 26th out of the top 70 guards. Vladimir Ducasse is down in 53rd and Brian Winters doesn’t make the list. Former Jet Matt Slauson is actually ranked 6th."


That stings a little. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@wilkerson  The 8-8 Jets seem to be terrible at every single position?  That pattern?


Rex must be one heckuva coach.

bradysucks
bradysucks

And yet the Jets had one of the better running attacks in the NFL despite having possibly the worst receivers and QB in the NFL in 2013.....Based on this I'd say that Mangold and Brick are pretty good. Teams knew the QB couldn't throw and that the receivers couldn't get open and the Jets STILL had an effective running game ... Which of course is because of Mangold & friends

Before people start getting on me about Geno being the worst QB in the league for 2013 they should look at Geno's November 2013 stats - He was pretty bad.....definitely a bottom 5 QB as a rookie

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@williamg1   The Bears said Slauson was a big part of why their oline substantially improved last season, they gave him a nice raise so I guess he sasified. I can remember Googs saying he wished that had several lineman like Slauson.  I think it is a little overboard but slauson is solid and is cheap.

wilkerson
wilkerson

@Bent @wilkersonWhile I do like Rex as a coach, I think the pattern is that Miller dislikes the Jets and underrates every one of their players and draft picks. I'm going to go ahead and not get super worried as we find out that Mangold, Wilkerson, Richardson, and all these other players are actually bad at their jobs.


When I have a clock that I know is 1 hour slow, I read it accordingly. Got to do the same with Miller.

Bent
Bent moderator

@jake100  A nice raise, yes, but still only $3m a year.  Not exactly elite money, is it?  Especially after playing for less than a million this year.  If Slauson really was the 6th best guard in the league, his agent did a terrible job there.  More likely, he - like the rest of the Bears linemen - benefited from Trestman's emphasis on a quick passing game so they didn't need to sustain their blocks as long.

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@wilkerson @Bent  If you don't like his evaluations so far, wait till you see his Jets moc draft.It's actually on the Jet's site now. I'm thinking this guy is either a Pat's or Finn's fan or he just hates us?

Bent
Bent moderator

@wilkerson @Bent  I am interested to see where he ranks people like Ivory, Cumberland and some of the defensive players.  Based on what you say, maybe if he thinks they're average, that's a sign they're actually good.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se What Brendan says is true - a guy who gets badly beaten for a pressure will receive a worse grade for that play. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @jake100  That would be a terrible grading system.  However, when the QB holds the ball for too long, the lineman does not get graded down or even credited with a pressure.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se You do realize they don't have a flat +/-, right? They have degrees to their positive and negative grades. 

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se@jake100 

So if My QB is running around for 6 seconds not throwing the ball and then my man pressures him to get rid of the ball I get dinged but the guy who is constantly beat but his QB gets rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds and is never pressured gets a plus grade.......That is a terrible grading system.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @jake100  They TRACK time in pocket numbers but it doesn't factor into their grades (although they might take it into account if rating players against one another for the purposes of an article or ranking list).


For pass protection (and pass rush) their analysis is essentially based on if the pass rusher generated pressure or not and that's all.  As with every other position, degree of difficulty for assignment isn't factored into the grades, you need to infer it when adding context.


I'm not disputing that he played well, just that he perhaps doesn't deserve to be rated quite so highly because others below him had tougher assignments.  The deal he signed would seem to back that up.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Should they not give a player a positive grade if he executes a quick block on a pass play? 


Slauson was his up-and-down self until the final month or so of the season. He finished really strong (+13.0 the final five weeks). He's a good player when healthy, but he's always hurt. He's not elite, though. 

a57se
a57se

@Bent @jake100 

If that is the case, how come PFF grades him out so well? I thought they took all that into consideration?