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.
Since we’re into the offseason here, we thought it would be worth sharing some of their more interesting scouting takes on some of the Jets players, so we will be sharing these over the coming weeks.
So far, there have been less-than-flattering assessments of Geno Smith and Matt Simms (who ranked 49th and 63rd respectively out of the top 65 quarterbacks in the league). Perhaps even more alarming than that is their take on D’Brickashaw Ferguson who ranks just 23rd out of the top 35 left tackles in the league and about whom they say the following:
Ferguson will never be seen as anything more than a long-armed above-average pass-blocking left tackle. He uses his hands well in shoving defenders up the field and still possesses the natural ability to slide and mirror in pass protection. But if 2013 is any indication, Ferguson’s best years are behind him.
Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comThat’s a rather damning assessment on Ferguson, who is the 5th highest paid left tackle in the league according to OverTheCap. Personally, I still consider Ferguson to be one of the league’s best one-on-one blindside pass protectors and it’s worth emphasizing that they are grading performance based on the 2013 season, not necessarily ranking who they see as the best players.
I always consider that when grading left tackles, the importance of pass protection should be weighted more heavily than run blocking, in the same way that you would prioritize pass catching over blocking when grading the league’s best tight ends. Clearly that is a potential flaw in this project, because Ferguson was still only 14th last year despite the fact he only allowed two sacks. Obviously run blocking has never been his strength although it’s worth noting that PFF gave him the 5th highest run blocking grade for all tackles in 2009, so he is capable of having more of an impact when he had someone more established (Alan Faneca) alongside him.
That brings me to my next point, which is that the fact he played alongside the struggling Brian Winters for most of the season in some respects excuses the worsening pass protection numbers pointed out in the article. It’s worth noting that Ferguson surrendered eight sacks and four quarterback hits for the season, but none of those came over the last four weeks as Winters started to figure it out. He had also only surrendered one of each in the four games before Winters was given a starting role.
I’m confident that Ferguson still has a few years of solid play left in him and hopefully he’ll make more of an impact next year if there is more consistent play from the left guard position.
As for the quarterbacks, it’s not surprising to see Smith and Simms ranked near the bottom based on their body of work last season. There is some acknowledgement that there is room for growth, with the writer stating that Smith “obviously struggled, but he also proved that he has the physical talent and mental acumen to be a franchise quarterback.” The most interesting part of their analysis was that Smith and Simms both received the same score for arm strength and also that Smith’s mechanics received a surprisingly high score of 13 out of 15. I would agree with their take that accuracy was the biggest issue for both though.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on this project over the offseason.