Critiquing the B/R NFL 1000 Project: 3-4 Defensive Ends

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 sixth installment, we look at their rankings for the 3-4 defensive end position. To look back at the previous updates go here, here, here, here and here.

This is probably the most controversial ranking so far, as we find Muhammad Wilkerson all the way down in 9th. He’s not even rated as the best 3-4 defensive end on his own team, as rookie Sheldon Richardson is just ahead of him in 7th.

Here’s what they said about Wilkerson:

Wilkerson is a disruptive player whose impact often goes well beyond the statistics, even though the emergence of other stars on the New York Jets defensive line helped him put up great numbers in 2013.

Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

This won’t do much to quieten the growing numbers of TJB readers that seem to be taking issue with the rankings Miller and his colleagues have come up with.

The fact they had Richardson up in 7th makes it difficult for us to attribute this to an anti-Jets bias, but few Jets fans will agree that the second team all-pro Wilkerson should be down in 9th. Their rationale that “the emergence of other stars on the New York Jets defensive line helped him put up great numbers” seems somewhat backwards considering Wilkerson was usually the one taking on double teams that allowed others on the team to exploit one-on-ones. Even more baffling is the fact that they acknowledged he did that earlier in the article when they say he “does a good job drawing double-teams at the line of scrimmage to free up the players around him.”

Here is an example of him doing just that so that Richardson could get a sack. Also, this BGA Extra from earlier in the season contains three examples of him taking on double teams so that Damon Harrison could blow up three runs while single-blocked (scroll down about one-third of the way down the page).

It’s almost as if one person did the film study and initial analysis and then someone else picked the grades and wrote the conclusion. Could they have deliberately rated Wilkerson low in an effort to attract more traffic from dissenting Jets fans?

Check out their analysis for Wilkerson’s pass rushing:

With 10.5 sacks this past season, Wilkerson tied for the second-most quarterback takedowns among 3-4 defensive ends. He has the power to bull rush opponents backward, while he is tremendous at using his hands to work his way off blocks. He doesn’t have the burst to beat blockers with his quickness alone, but he demonstrates that he can work his way around them both inside and on the edge.

Okay, so he’s one of the most productive at his position and able to dominate despite lacking natural quickness? Fair enough. Now compare that with what they said about Arthur Jones.

Athletically, Jones has the goods to be a dynamic pass-rusher. His natural strength and quickness make him a tough player to handle in space, and he uses that combination well to mix up his pass-rushing moves. If he’s asked to contain or slow-play at the line, Jones can struggle to break off blocks and attack. Improved leverage would be a bonus here, but as it stands, he’s physically dominant enough to beat most tackles without having truly established technique.

So he isn’t as productive as Wilkerson, struggles to get off blocks in spite of his natural strength and quickness and could improve his technique and leverage. Yet, he scores highly because he “has the goods to be a good pass rusher” despite the fact this project isn’t supposed to account for past performance or future potential.

Jones finished up one place ahead of Wilkerson in 8th and with a higher score for pass defense. It just doesn’t make sense.

On a more positive note, while I disagree that his run defense grade should be higher than Wilkerson’s despite his higher tackle numbers, it’s encouraging to see Richardson turning heads. They say he could be in the top five by next season. I agree that he should improve next year, because he is still a little raw technically and that’s where the less-athletically gifted Wilkerson made his biggest strides from year one to year two. The return of Karl Dunbar is big in that regard.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on this project over the offseason.




61 comments
nyjnym
nyjnym

mo is the 2nd best DE in the NFL the fact he was behind sheldon is a joke. even though i love sheldon he's not on mo's level...yet.

harold
harold

This list is ridiculous, Mike Daniels, Authur Jones and even Richardson (who I love) et al ahead of  Mo shows this list is not very well graded.  It is impossible to believe some of these guys are better football players.  Simply sad that he is getting this little respect.

idothis2
idothis2

forgot how much i like gifs. need more gifs on my favorite site Bent(please)

a57se
a57se

This is a typical product of group think, similar to the PFF DROY awards......


bob
bob

Wouldn't it be smart to get Wilk sign up to a long term contract this year rather  than waiting to next year . I guess what I'm trying to say is the closer Wilk gets to free agency and other teams are aware of that . That's when the rumblings get to begin with other offers  teams may start or offering Wilk.

juunit
juunit

$20 says they actually call JB Shugarts the number one OL in the NFL.

Brendan
Brendan

It's as though fantasy experts tried to evaluate players like they were scouts. 

Kyle Ely
Kyle Ely

Bent do you think the Jets will sign a safety?

Bent
Bent moderator

One other thing I failed to mention was Mike DeVito all the way down in 34th place.


His run defense score is just 37/50, no better than his pass defense score and he "loses points for his limited ability to shed blocks".  What are these guys watching?

Vinnie Pedi
Vinnie Pedi

Mo is the 3rd best DE in the NFL, Richardson will be the 2nd. :D

twin
twin

@harold We get No Respect!!!! RODNEY DAngerfield

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se  Yeah, that was similar to this.  I was thinking about that as I wrote this.


In that example, the guy who ran the project ended up getting voted down by the others.  Whereas, in this system (which arguably overrates Richardson) the guy running the project seems to make the final decision based on their work.

Juan Montalvo
Juan Montalvo

@bob You are so right bob, we can use the Bleacher Report against him to keep his price down.

Bent
Bent moderator

@bob  It would be even smarter to wait until next year because then you save $10m that can be used next year in free agency.


He will still be under contract for two more years when they exercise his year five option, so there's no need for urgency yet.


With that said, I wouldn't gripe if they announced his extension tomorrow.

Kyle Ely
Kyle Ely

@bob Why not they certainly won't spend the money on any good FA

juunit
juunit

@Brendan  

I'm not sure they understand that often times the guy being double-teamed is determined pre-snap. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Kyle Ely  I want them to bring back Ed Reed.

Kirk Michael
Kirk Michael

@Bent  So Wilk doesnt make Rich better but, thats pretty crazy how did his pass rushing numbers not go up and his run stopping went down we were so high up against the stopping the run.

Vinnie Pedi
Vinnie Pedi

Mo is still a victim of publicity. He needs to have a beastmode like 4 sack game on a monday night against the broncos or some high profile team to then hit the upper ranks of fandom and pro bowl votes. Richardson is close because of the droy, if he flashes to the world he'll be a pro bowler as well.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

I don't know how the final decisions are made.......he doesn't reaslly go into it from what I have seen.

This is what I meant the other day when I said 'Big deal' about another one of these reports........

They are so subjective and there is no way anyone can fairly do something like this.

bob
bob

@Bent @bob


So that would be next year would be time for the Jets to try and get it done...cool  Bent wasn't sure about when to get it done.

juunit
juunit

@Bent @juunit 

Ha, yeah.

I think these rankings are a perfect example of why I respect literally almost nobody's opinion about the draft stuff. This is the level of discourse to be found on the draft sites for the most part. 

Steven Windeler
Steven Windeler

@Bent @Kyle Ely I want Reed back as well. Did he not play very well the last 4 games? He also gave up only 6 completions all year. I realize he was in centerfield so he was not held responsible a lot, but the other side of that coin is he got no credit a lot as well.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Kirk Michael @Bent  


"Each player was scouted by me and a team of four experienced evaluators—Dan Bazal, B.J. Kissel, Dan Hope and Cian Fahey. "


I don't know these guys, but he does say they are "experienced evaluators".  Miller himself has an impressive resume:


"Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer, Matt's work has been featured in Madden 13 and Madden 25, on ESPN, SiriusXM, NFL Network, SI.com and USA Today as well as utilized by NFL, CFL and AFL teams. Matt was the secondary and special teams coordinator for the three-time league champion Joplin Crusaders of the Central Football League. Matt is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America."

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent  That's why I'm critiquing it objectively.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @Bent  1,000 players tho.  Maybe the other analysts he employed to help him with that were the ones at fault.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent @Brendan Ah, okay. Still, the lead-anything NFL writer who is this bad is not a good sign. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @Kyle Ely  He's their lead NFL DRAFT writer.  They have some other bigger names.

Brendan
Brendan

@Kyle Ely *$4 mil. And that's really not an overpay at all. He's making less than guys being paid to be stop-gap starters, but more than strict back-ups. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Kyle Ely He was the best QB on the market talent-wise, it's still a win considering he wanted a guaranteed starting job and ended up taking Idzik's original offer. 

Steven Windeler
Steven Windeler

@Kyle Ely @Bent If he signs a reasonable contract I would take him. I wouldn't mind trying out Major Wright to see if he's recovering from his injuries physically, and mentally.

Vinnie Pedi
Vinnie Pedi

Manish Mehta has an impressive...umm...nothing comes to mind