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.
Here’s what they said about Harris:
Harris is one of those guys who will seem to always be around. He still provides the Jets just enough of everything that he’ll find his snaps, although his reputation still continues to exceed his play.
Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comOn the face of it, these rankings seem about right. If anything, Harris might be ranked a little high, but then again, he had an outstanding first month and these rankings are supposed to reflect the 2013 season as a whole.
While they land in more or less the right place on the rankings list, there are still faults within the analysis that leads Miller and his colleagues to place them where they did.
First of all, they describe Davis as a “two-down linebacker”. That’s inaccurate, because Davis played over 95% of the snaps.
On Harris, they’re correct to note that he struggles to get off blocks and misses too many tackles (interestingly, he had none in the first four games and 13 in the last 12). However, their take on him as a pass rusher – “Harris doesn’t have enough burst to be considered a threat to rush the passer. It’s not something he’s often asked to do” – is off base for two reasons. First of all, while he isn’t blitzing as often as he did when Rex Ryan first arrived (2nd most ILB pass rush snaps in the NFL in both 2009 and 2010), he’s remained in the top ten for ILB pass rush snaps. Also, he has had above average per-snap productivity – 13th at his position in 2013 and 11th in 2012.
Also, the analysis harps on Davis’ limitations in coverage, when in reality that’s more of an issue for Harris and the Jets scheme around this accordingly. Harris will often be tasked with spying a quarterback or keying a runner, but most of the time, he just works underneath in zone coverage so he isn’t forced to cover too much ground. The analysis praises his ability to break on routes to the flat (having earlier highlighted his lack of burst), but as we will all recall from the Panthers game, it was possible to exploit him in such situations.
For the list as a whole, while it’s refreshing to see an ILB ranking list that doesn’t just correspond to tackle numbers, the list does seem to correspond pretty closely to PFF’s rankings list. It’s almost as if they’ve tweaked their own rankings to tie in broadly with that on the assumption that those rankings will be accurate. However, while they are indeed accurate in terms of being an efficiency rating for how well the player did their job, they don’t take into account difficulty of assignment and that’s why you end up with the guy in 5th place (Brandon Spikes) struggling to find a job before settling for a one-year, $3m deal, while the guy in 10th (Brian Cushing) had received a six-year deal for $50m+ six months earlier.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on this project over the offseason.