Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Down Time Coming

While I've been on a torrid pace since mid-February, the daily (multiple) posting will be coming to an end. At least for a few days. I'm leaving this afternoon bound for Pittsburgh, PA for a friends wedding. I won't be back until late Sunday night. Expect new Sports Fountainhead content on Monday, June 1st.

SNT: Instant Impact Ibanez

Click to enlarge.

All of Philadelphia believes that LF Raul Ibanez was the best free agent pick up of the year. Now Sporting News Today agrees. Check out the article above.

And please help not only send Ibanez to the All-Star Game, but make him a starter!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fun with NFL Stats

I'm a statistics guy. I like using numbers. While they have shortcomings, and can be manipulated in many ways, they are able to show you trends and determine who is (or isn't) a great team in sports.

I decided to just play around a little with the NFL results from the last seven seasons (2002 through 2008), the ones since the most recent expansion and divisional realignment. I grabbed the initial statistics from the NFL standings page. After deleting the streak, divisional and conference record columns, I added conference, division, expected win percentage, luck, point differential, and if the team made the playoffs.

Those are mostly basic things but let me explain "expected win percentage" and "luck". Expected win percentage is just an adaptation of Bill James' Pythagorean expectation for baseball. Simply put, a teams expected win percentage is the square of their points scored divided by the sum of the square of their points scored plus the square of their points allowed. In an easier, visual form

Yes, that was created for baseball. Yes, there is a different one for basketball, where the exponent is 14 (or 16.5, depending on the formula used). I didn't find one for football so I just instituted the basic square one. If you have a link to text on a Pythagorean expectation for football, by all means send it to me or leave it in the comments below.

Luck is straightforward after explaining the expected win percentage value. Luck is merely a teams actual winning percentage minus their expected winning percentage. A negative value would mean "bad luck" and a positive "good luck". The more negative or positive, the worse or better the teams luck that season was.

So what did any of this initially pointless playtime with data reveal? Well it definitely confirmed that old saying. You know the one.. "defense wins championships". That cliche is confirmed. You have a better chance of winning a Super Bowl with a stout defense than you do an electric offense.

There are 224 individual data rows (32 teams x 7 seasons). The 1st, 9th, 11th, 18th, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 59th, 60th, 80th, 103rd, 105th, 106th, and 125th ranked offenses based on points scored throughout the regular season made it to the Super Bowl. That's an average rank of 51st. What teams actually won the game? The 18th, 24th, 59th, 80th, 103rd, 105th and 106th ranked offenses. Their average rank is 71st. The average Super Bowl loser has an offense ranked 36th.

So what about the defense? Clearly a top notch offense isn't a necessity, though it really can't hurt. How do defenses appear in this simple statistical analysis? The 1st, 4th, 7th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 28th, 29th, 57th, 60th, 134th, 146th, and 205th ranked defenses (in terms of points allowed during the regular season) made the Super Bowl during the last seven seasons. That's an average rank of 52nd, on spot lower than the offense. Huh? So maybe defenses don't win championships? Well let's look at what Super Bowl contenders came out on top. The 1st, 4th, 7th, 14th, 16th, 134th and 146th ranked defenses of the last seven seasons managed to win a Super Bowl. That's an average rank of 46th, 25 spots better than the average Super Bowl winners offenses. Super Bowl losers had defenses ranked 12th, 17th, 28th, 29th, 57th, 60th, and 205th. That's an average rank of 58th. Clearly having a top defense is more important than having a top offense.

Enough with analyzing cliches, what about luck? Everyone makes claims about a teams luck. Luck is a highly debated topic and people argue for and against it being a reason for success or failure. While not completely scientific, an easy way to determine luck in team sports is to luck at their actual win/loss record versus their expected total (explained earlier). Over the last seven seasons who have been the unlucky or lucky teams? And what did luck look like for our Super Bowl competitors?


  1. 2008 Detroit Lions: -21.2%
  2. 2007 Miami Dolphins: -20.9%
  3. 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -18.2%
  4. 2006 Detroit Lions: -18.2%
  5. 2008 Kansas City Chiefs: -17.9%
  6. 2005 Green Bay Packers: -17.9%
  7. 2008 Green Bay Packers: -17.4%
  8. 2002 Cincinnati Bengals: -14.7%
  9. 2006 Jacksonville Jaguars: -14.7%
  10. 2002 Jacksonville Jaguars: -14.5%
  1. 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers: 25.1%
  2. 2003 New England Patriots: 19.4%
  3. 2004 Atlanta Falcons: 18.4%
  4. 2007 New England Patriots: 17.8%
  5. 2006 Indianapolis Colts: 16.5%
  6. 2003 Carolina Panthers: 15.5%
  7. 2002 Green Bay Packers: 15.4%
  8. 2007 Dallas Cowboys: 15.1%
  9. 2006 San Diego Chargers: 15.0%
  10. 2008 Miami Dolphins: 14.6%
Super Bowl Teams
  • Five of the seven Super Bowl Champions had "good luck". Only the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had "bad luck" during the season. All of the Super Bowl losers had "good luck" during the regular season.
  • The 2003 New England Patriots were the luckiest team to win the Super Bowl.
  • The 2002 Oakland Raiders were the least luckiest team to lose a Super Bowl, with luck of just 0.1%.
  • Of the top 10% luckiest teams (top 22), six made the Super Bowl and three of them won it.
  • The 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls featured some of the luckiest teams of the last seven seasons. Both couldn't come out on top obviously.
  • The luckiest team to not make the playoffs was the 2005 Minnesota Vikings. They were outscored by a total of 38 points over the course of the season but still won nine games. They had a luck score of 12.1%.
  • The unluckiest team to ever make the playoffs was the 2008 San Diego Chargers, they outscored opponents by 92 points over the course of the season but ended up with only a .500 record. They needed to win their final three games and Denver to lose their final three. The last game of the season pitted the team against each other, where the Chargers destroyed the Broncos 52-21.
  • The 2008 New England Patriots are the only team during the analyzed time span (2002-2008) to go 11-5 and miss the playoffs.
  • It has happened to three teams that went 10-6: 2003 Miami Dolphins, 2005 Kansas City Chiefs and 2007 Cleveland Browns.
So those are just some interesting things I noticed while I was aimlessly sorting and manipulating numbers this morning.

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Recap

It took me the better part of a month but I finally completed my team-by-team draft grades on Friday, concluding with the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Below you can see my final grade for each team as well as my picks for rookie of the year. I hope you enjoyed this feature because it won't be back for a year.

  1. Eagles
  2. Bears
  3. Giants
  4. Seahawks
  5. Packers
Just missed: Bengals, Cardinals

  1. Raiders
  2. Broncos
  3. Chiefs
  4. Cowboys
  5. Buccaneers
Just missed: Redskins, Texans

Rookie of the Year Candidates - Offense
  1. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
  2. Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals
  3. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles
  4. Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
  5. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Just missed: Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene

Rookie of the Year Candidates - Defense
  1. B.J. Raji, DT, Packers
  2. Vontae Davis, CB, Dolphins
  3. Brian Cushing, LB, Texans
  4. Brian Orakpo, DE, Redskins
  5. Aaron Curry, LB, Seahawks
Just missed: Peria Jerry, Rey Maualuga

So that's that, the 2009 NFL draft is wrapped up. I hope you enjoyed the coverage here. Please voice your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

Happy Memorial Day

Today is the unofficial start to summer (official start dates: June 1st in meteorology, June 21st in astronomy). As you venture out to a picnic or prepare to watch the ball game, remember what this day is really about. Enjoy the day off from work but take a minute to remember those that are fighting for this country (past or present) and those that paid the ultimate sacrifice as a result. It doesn't matter what your views are; regardless of what you think these men and women deserve our support.

Happy Memorial Day.

POLLS: Moyer Pressing for 250

RECAP: Readers seem to believe that Jamie Moyer is simply pressing for elusive win #250. Or he may just be in a mini-funk. Nobody believes Moyer has lost it, even at the tender age of 46. We'll find out tonight. Moyer takes the mound versus the Marlins, who he is 12-1 against in his career with a 2.84 ERA. He's had a decision in all 13 of his starts versus Florida. Could 250 happen on Memorial Day 2009?

NEW: Should John Mayberry, Jr. stay with the Phillies or be returned to AAA Lehigh Valley? It's a hot topic right now. His right handed bat is wonderful for interleague play. He also could be a premiere bench player. But because of his age (and options available) should he toil in the majors, maybe getting an AB every other game? Or should he try to refine his skills against AAA pitching until he is needed in a platoon (or starter's role) in Philadelphia? What do you think? Cast your vote on the right hand panel.

Voting ends June 1st.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Phillies Weekly Update - 5/24/2009


  • The Phillies were 8-2 on their 10 game road trip which saw them make four stops in Washington to take on the Nationals - who they swept - before playing three in Cincinnati and New York. They were 2-1 versus the Reds and Yankees.
  • The successful road trip stretched Philadelphia's road record to 16-6, best in MLB.
  • With 8 wins in their last 10 games the Phillies have maintained a small lead over the rival Mets for the N.L. East lead. The Phillies are 24-18, 1.5 games in front of New York and Atlanta.
  • One year ago the team was 28-24, 2.5 games behind first place Florida.
  • The Phillies have the 4th best record in the National League and 8th best overall.
  • In 42 games they have scored 239 runs, an average of ~5.69 per game, which is 6th best in MLB. They have allowed 219, an average of ~5.21 per game, 23rd in MLB.
  • Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino remain the only Phillies players to start every game this season.
  • Ibanez continues his torrid offensive pace, leading the team in runs (37), hits (58), doubles (11, tied with Howard), home runs (17), total bases (122), RBIs (43), average (.352), slugging (.739), and OPS (1.151). Chase Utley is first in walks (25) and OBP (.434), Howard is tied with Ibanez for most doubles (11), Victorino has the most triples (4), and Jayson Werth has the most steals (8).
  • With the top of the rotation - Hamels, Myers, Happ, - settling down recently, it's time for the back end (Moyer, Blanton) to come around. They take the mound in the first two games at home versus the Marlins starting tomorrow night. Myers will close out the series on Wednesday. After a day off Thursday, the team hosts the Nationals and will send Happ, Hamels, and Moyer into battle. Hopefully by May 31st Moyer will have win 250 (and 251).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Penn State Update - 5/23/2009

  • The baseball team ended their season on a high note by defeating Minnesota 10-8 last Saturday, preventing the Golden Gophers from winning the regular season Big Ten title. With the win the Nittany Lions finished 25-26 overall with a record in Big Ten play of 8-16. The team finished 8th in the conference. Only the top six make the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State won the regular season title.
  • The men's golf team entered the final day of play at their NCAA Regional in 10th place, needing to improve to fifth to play for the NCAA Championship. They finished Saturday in the same position they started - 10th. The golfers showed great improvement over the three days but a terrible first round doomed them. The team totaled 319, 301, and 290 strokes and missed out on a finals berth by 20 strokes.
  • The women's track team won their second straight Big Ten outdoor track and field title, edging out Michigan by 0.25 points. Sophomore Shavon Greaves took home two individual Big Ten titles, winning the 100 and 200 meter races. The track and field teams will have off this weekend before sending their qualifying teams and individuals to Greensboro, NC for the NCAA East Regional Championships on May 29th and 30th.

Friday, May 22, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite some weaknesses in their game and some mediocre performances from September through December, you can't really argue with the final result if you are a Steelers fan. For the second time in four years Pittsburgh hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, the franchise's sixth in their existence, most in the NFL. They did this despite losing their #1 draft pick - Rashard Mendenhall - for most of the season. They did this despite fielding a below average offensive line. They did this despite having a brutal schedule. Is there really any reason to think they can't do it again in 2009?

The Steelers were anything but prolific on offense. In fact, the offense was below average in all four major categories. Passing yards? 17th. Rushing yards? 23rd. Total yards? 22nd. Points scored? 20th. Yikes! Surely this wasn't a team that won more than six or seven games, right? Completely wrong. And all of the Steelers fans know why. As the old adage goes, defense wins championships. A defense can't get much better than this. First in passing yards, second in rushing yards, first in total yards, and first in points allowed per game. Of course this isn't anything new. Pittsburgh has not been outside of the Top 10 in total yards allowed per game since 1999 (they were 11th). Unfortunately for them they have some key defensive positions that are aging and/or could be gone after this upcoming season.

I'd say Mike Tomlin was a good choice as coach. In his second season he won a Super Bowl. He already has as many as previous coach Bill Cowher. How can anyone believe that Tomlin won't win at least one - or five - more? Tomlin knows what it takes and the organization and city will let him do it. This is possibly the best run franchise in all of football.

1/32/32 - Evander Hood, DT/DE, Missouri
3/15/79 - Kraig Urbik, OG, Wisconsin
3/20/84 - Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi
3/32/96 - Keenan Lewis, CB, Oregon State
5/32/168 - Joe Burnett, CB, Central Florida
5/33/169 - Frank Summer, RB, UNLV
6/32/205 - Ra'Shon Harris, DT/DE, Oregon
7/17/226 - A.Q. Shipley, OC, Penn State
7/32/241 - David Johnson, TE, Arkansas State

  • OL - Check!
  • DL - Check!
  • CB - Check!
  • WR - Check!
The Steelers tackled their needs reasonably well. The general needs listed by were all filled; that's a good start. They didn't grab a tackle on either side of the ball - no OTs or NTs. Both collegiate DTs selected will play DE in their 3-4. That hurts a little but I can't second guess that defending Super Bowl champions too much.

GRADE: 90/100

Pick 1 - It was said that Hood had no interest in playing DE in a 3-4. Well, too earn his millions he's going to have to for the next four or five years. Hood has the prototypical size for the 3-4 DEs and also has enough quickness to help collapse the pocket. Because of the depth - which is rather old - he won't be relied on too much this first year. Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, and Travis Kirschke are all 30 or older so Hood's day will come sooner rather than later. He may be starting by 2010. Grade: 9

Pick 2 - Urbik possesses some versatility, always a good thing. He played primarily at guard at Wisconsin but scouts think he could play RT if needed. He'll learn both positions and most likely be the third guard before long. He could even push Darnell Stapleton from the start. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - And a reach by Pittsburgh. Of course the Steelers need dictated this type of WR, a speed guy suitable as a deep threat. Nate Washington is a goner so Wallace could be set to learn on the fly. Overall WR value though this pick wasn't as cgood as it could have been. Grade: 6

Pick 4 - Again, Lewis wasn't the best available at CB at this point. There were a few others, such as Donald Washington, Coye Francies, and D.J. Moore that had more value. Lewis was a four year starter and showed the necessary skills to become a great nickel back, with the possibility of being a good #2. He has some problems tackling though and that isn't acceptable in Pittsburgh. Grade: 6

Pick 5 - The Steelers had two consecutive picks in the fifth round and they reached on both of them. Burnett is an undersized corner with limited upside. It is doubtful he'll develop into anything more than a dime back. He'll have to beat out William Gay, Keiwan Ratliff, and Anthony Madison. Burnett may need up on the practice squad. Grade: 5

Pick 6 - Summers looks to be the replacement for Gary Russell and adds some flexibility to the roster. He has the size to play FB so Carey Davis, Ryan Powdrell, and Sean McHugh may have some competition. It's doubtful they'll keep more than three of these players so these guys are on notice. Flexibility is always a good thing so Summers (RB/FB) and McHugh (FB/TE) may be the best options. Summers was a bit of a reach but he was the only guy that provided the versatility the Steelers wanted. Grade: 5

Pick 7 - Another DE for their 3-4, though Harris needs more time to develop into a contributor. Someone like Myron Pryor, Vance Walker, and Darryl Richard would have been better value. But Harris plays a position of need and the Steelers didn't need to fill much else. A NT or OT would have been nice but what are you gonna do? Grade: 5

Pick 8 - Now here's a good pick, and not just because he was a Nittany Lion. The local product was expected to go in round five. The Steelers had been showing interest for months so it isn't a surprise that they eventually grabbed him. Shipley was Mike Mayock's favorite player in the draft. The Steelers get their possible center of the future. Shipley doesn't have great size but he has passion and commitment, something that can occasionally over come physical limitations. If he doesn't make the roster as a backup center, he'll be on the practice squad. Grade: 8

Pick 9 - Now if I were Sean McHugh I'd be a little nervous. Johnson is an H-back type of player just like him. Now if Pittsburgh wanted a pure TE I'd have gone Cameron Morrah, who would have been tremendous value here. With so few needs and them all pretty much filled by this point this was really a free pick. Grade: 5

GRADE: 58/90


That was a pretty successful draft. They didn't add a NT or OT but there they addressed the rest along each line. There were a few reaches and an odd pick or two, but what else do you really want? They won the Super Bowl. They should get a free pass for three years. As long as they keep winning a Super Bowl every 3-4 years, who cares?


WHY: If they ha taken an OT and a NT instead of hybrid players in the backfield, this could have been a borderline A-type class. Without them this is still a good class that may not contribute much in 2009 but could assume larger roles by 2010 and 2011. That is the point of a draft really; build the future, few players have the skills and knowledge to play at a high level right away.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Hood
Worst Pick: Burnett
Sleeper: Shipley
Instant Impact: Hood
Developmental: Harris

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Pittsburgh Steelers
CBS Sports (Prisco): B
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): B (Brooks): C+ (Fan's): B
Walter: A+

2009 NFL Draft Grades Review

Nothing! All done!

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals, yes, the Cardinals, were NFC Champions in 2008. And they did the conference justice. Despite their slightly above average record Arizona bounced the upstart Falcons in the Wild Card round, demolished the #2 seed Panthers next, then helped Philadelphia lose their fourth NFC Championship this decade. If that wasn't enough, after looking like a Super Bowl blowout by the Steelers, Arizona clawed back and almost pulled off the upset. Despite their regular season deficiencies the Cardinals proved that they belonged. Can they do it in 2009?

The Kurt Warner revival was in full effect in 2008. Guess it was a good thing for him to be named the starter, huh? All he did was help the team place 4th in pints scored and total yards per game. Oh and thanks to him the team was 2nd in passing yards per game. The only offensive drawback was an abysmal running game, which was last in The League in 2008, averaging a mere 73.6 yards per game. Solving that issue would make the attack more balanced, probably equating to more victories. Though that's just a guess. They did pretty well being one dimensional last season. It's a good thing Warner and Co. scored 26.7 points per game. That average was just enough to squeak by what their defense allowed: 26.6 points per game, 28th in The League. The Cardinals defense was average (or lower) in all areas, finishing 22n in passing yards, 16th in rushing yards, and 22nd in total yards allowed per game. Some improvement in any of those areas may result in another win too. Again, just a hunch.

Ken Whisenhunt's second year as coach of Arizona ended close to perfection. He didn't end up beating his former team in Super Bowl XLIII but he proved he and his staff can comprise and teach a team worthy of being on the same field as the favorites. With fellow former Steelers coach Russ Grimm as his right-hand man, Arizona could be destined for back-to-back Division Titles and another surprise run at February glory.

1/31/31 - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
2/31/63 - Cody Brown, DE/OLB, Connecticut
3/31/95 - Rashad Johnson, FS, Alabama
4/31/131 - Greg Toler, CB, St. Pauls
5/31/167 - Herman Johnson, OG, LSU
6/31/204 - Will Davis, DE/OLB, Illinois
7/31/240 - LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, Pittsburgh
7/45/254 - Trevor Canfield, OG, Cincinnati

  • LB - Try again.*
  • RB - Check!
  • DL - Check!*
  • OL - Check!
The Cardinals were able to fill 75% of their needs with their eight picks. Because of their hybrid scheme, they either didn't fill the LB need (in a 4-3) or didn't fill their DL need (in a 3-4). The DEs they drafted would be lineman in a 4-3 but OLB in a 3-4. See what I mean? They didn't take any big defensive lineman that would stay on the line in either front. The team uses both the 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. Any way you slice it one area was left unfulfilled. Because of their Steelers roots, I'd say it's more likely the missed out on d-linemen; no big guys were taken to play NT or DE in a 3-4.

GRADE: 75/100

Pick 1 - Why did Wells fall to 31 and manage to be only the third RB taken? Injury concerns, mainly. In my opinion he was the most complete back in the draft, the guy who can become the ground-it-out star like Shaun Alexander. Sure maybe Donald Brown was the better receiver and Knowshon Moreno has the home run ability, but Wells is the type of back that wins you games and Super Bowls. Pairing him with Tim Hightower and a faster back gives them a great 1-2-3 punch sort of like the Giants. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - This selection all but confirms the belief that Arizona will feature more 3-4 alignments than 4-3. Brown is an undersized player that will need to add about 5-10 pounds but he has the skill set perfect for an edge rusher in the 3-4. He was solid value at the end of round two and answered a critical need. Grade: 9

Pick 3 - With the presence of Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson I'm not sure where Rashad Johnson fits in, unless Rolle plays CB more often. Johnson is a huge value at the end of round three and could prove to be a huge steal. He was expected to go in the mid to late second round. This wasn't really a need but you can't pass up value like that. Grade: 9

Pick 4 - This was about where Gregory Toler should have been drafted so first glance says this wasn't a reach. And Arizona definitely needed some depth at corner. However, with other DBs available - such as Cary Harris, Victor Harris, Coye Francies, and Mike Mickens - this was a bit of a stretch. Toler needs some development and fine tuning after playing at St. Pauls and not playing against the best opponents. Grade: 6

Pick 5 - Johnson is a mammoth specimen that pretty much could use his weight and brute strength to maul people at the lower levels. In the NFL that won't be an option. Players are faster and will go right around him. If Johnson keeps his weight down and Grimm can shore up his technique and footwork, Johnson could be a premiere guard. I don't see him sliding out to tackle, he's just too big. Another good value pick for Arizona, this time at an area of need. Grade: 9

Pick 6 - At the end of the sixth round this was a nice pick too. Davis gives Arizona another edge rusher that can drop down to DE in a four man front. However, since they already addressed that need, a pure d-lineman such as Myron Pryor, Vance Walker, or Ricky Jean-Francois would have been nice. Davis is still a solid value. Grade: 7

Pick 7 - As a late round pick I don't want to rip on this pick much. While Stephens-Howling was not the best RB available - that would have been Rashad Jennings - Stephens-Howling was the type of runner Arizona needed. With Wells and Hightower they have their feature guy and a bruiser. What about that home run speed, change of pace back? Stephens-Howling is that and will take over for J.J. Arrington. He can also return kicks. Grade: 7

Pick 8 - OK, this is just getting ridiculous. Canfield should have gone in round three and here he is available at 254? He needs work like Johnson but if Grimm can work his magic, the Cardinals may have their two starting guards starting in 2011. And they could last for a decade together. What a draft. Grade: 9

GRADE: 66/80


They didn't grab any defensive linemen but all of the other positions were filled. Not only were they filled with a body, but they were filled with bodies that can become great players that build championship teams. Adding a 3-4 DE or NT would have made this class probably the best of 2009.


WHY: Couldn't give them that coveted A+ because of the lack of d-linemen. But the value they got at the end of each round cannot be ignored. This was an amazing draft class, chock full of impact players and future stars. Give a few of them a year or two to develop and Arizona could be winning division titles every year. Barring Kurt Warner staying healthy through his 40s. Having a capable QB behind him is kind of need still.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Wells
Worst Pick: Toler
Sleeper: Canfield
Instant Impact: Wells
Developmental: Johnson

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Arizona Cardinals
CBS Sports (Prisco): B-
CBS Sports (Rang): C
ESPN (Kiper): B+ (Brooks): B- (Fan's): B
Walter: A+


2009 NFL Draft Grades Review

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: Tennessee Titans

The Titans were one of the most dominant teams during the 2008 regular season. Lead by veteran QB Kerry Collins, a pounding and flashy running game, and a stingy defense, the Titans steamrolled their way to a 13-3 record and were awarded the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Of course they didn't make it past their first game, losing to the Baltimore Ravens who had perfect their game plan to avenge a defeat to the Titans earlier in the year. Tennessee may have reached their peak in 2008 and missed a chance; with Collins a year older and the loss of Albert Haynesworth, the odds of repeating a 13 win season in a competitive division is remote.

The offense was anything but dominant overall. They were 27th in passing and 21st in total yards per game while racking up an average of 23.4 points per game (15th). They were kind of an old school team, using a strong running game and an equally strong defense to stifle opponents. They were Top 10 in the major categories, ranking 2nd in points, 9th in passing yards, 6th in rushing yards, and 7th in total yards allowed per game. The team has shown to take a rather large step back with out Haynesworth in the past and now he is a rich man permanently stationed in D.C. The Titans need to add some help for Collins at WR as well as replace the behemoth Haynesworth at DT. If Vince Young isn't the QB of the future any more then a young QB is needed as well.

Jeff Fisher is entering his 16th season as head coach of the Houston/Tennessee franchise, the longest tenure of an active head coach. Fisher is probably safe from a step back this season considering the 13 win '08 season was unexpected. It will be hard for Fisher to replicate last season again. Not only is Haynesowrth gone but eight year defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is now the head coach in Detroit.

1/30/30 - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
2/30/62 - Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
3/25/89 - Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina
3/30/94 - Ryan Mouton, CB, Hawaii
4/30/130 - Gerald McRath, LB, Southern Miss.
4/35/135 - Troy Kropog, OT, Tulane
5/37/173 - Javon Ringer, RB, Michigan State
6/30/203 - Jason McCourty, CB, Rutgers
6/33/206 - Dominique Edison, WR, SFAU
7/30/239 - Ryan Durand, OG, Syracuse
7/33/242 - Nick Schommer, FS, N. D. State

  • DL - Check!
  • WR - Check!
  • CB - Check!
  • QB - Try again.
After a winning a division title and owning the league's best record, the Titans don't really appear to have too many needs. They had 11 picks when all was said and done. That's a lot. They were able to add a few bodies at DT to stop the bleeding from the departure of Haynesworth. They found a WR that could develop into the #1-type guy they've been lacking. Depth in the secondary is always a plus and they a few bodies there. The one area that they didn't grab a young guy was QB, something that may be questioned. Can Collins play more than the 2009 season? Will Vince Young ever regain his composure and lead a team? Tennessee better hope at least one of those happens.

GRADE: 90/100

Pick 1 - When was the last time the Houston/Tennessee franchise had a true #1 receiver? Maybe Derrick Mason? Well, if they give him time to adjust, Britt could be that guy. He has the prototypical size, bulk, and speed to be an elite WR. Outside of Justin gage and Justin McCareins the Titans really didn't have much and neither of them are anything special. Lavelle Hawkins is young and could team with Britt for a nice duo in the future. Grade: 9

Pick 2 - Sen'Derrick Marks underachieved at Auburn and the questions surrounding him dropped his stock. However the Titans really had nothing at the position after Haynesworth left so a new DT was a necessity. I think San Jose State's Jarron Gilbert may have been a better pick here but there's no doubt Marks has talent but will he get it all together and become a force in the middle? Grade: 8

Pick 3 - Some scouts were saying Cook could leapfrog Brandon Pettigrew (#20, Lions) to be the first TE taken. Obviously that didn't happen. But to fall near the end of round three and be the third TE taken? What were some teams thinking. The Cook selection was a good one for the future. He's behind Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler but both may be gone by 2010. This was tremendous value and because they had so many picks and so few needs they could afford to grab some of the better players available regardless of position. Grade: 8

Pick 4 - This was a little early for Mouton and there were a few DBs available that had more value late in round three. Someone like D.J. Moore or Donald Washington would have filled a need and been a good value. Mouton is undersized and lacks the ideal strength to help in run support. He may be destined for special teams work and that's not something you want from a third round pick. Grade: 5

Pick 5 - Another slight reach here with McRath. The Titans needed some LB depth but there were a lot of LBs available and McRath was not one of the best left. Jason Phillips, Scott McKillop, Nic Harris, Jasper Brinkley, and Marcus Freeman all remained. Each one would have been a better option than McRath at this point. Grade: 4

Pick 6 - Tennessee lacked depth at OT and Kropog was a nice selection at the end of the fourth, going right where anticipated. The only better option was Jamon Meredith. Kropog should backup Michael Roos and David Stewart. He needs to build up his strength but started a bunch in college so he knows what it takes to be successful. Grade: 7

Pick 7 - With the final pick in the 5th round the Titans grabbed Javon Ringer. The selection of Ringer may mean Rafael Little and Chris Henry are goners. Ringer is nice value here but he doesn't really fill a need, since LenDale White and Chris Johnson get a majority of the carries. A developmental QB here may have been best. Grade: 6

Pick 8 - Size and speed. McCourty has both. he's a bit raw but the team was able to turn Cortland Finnegan into a great corner. Give McCourty two or three seasons and he could be an ideal starter. He's a better pick than Mouton but again there were more polished DBs available here. Grade: 6

Pick 9 - Edison was seen as a late round prospect so this isn't much of a reach. A few other prospects may have higher upside though. Someone like Demetrius Byrd or Sammie Stroughter may have had a bigger impact in 2009. Edison needs to add some strength to beat the bump but he is a blazer and could become their deep target. Grade: 6

Pick 10 - The aversion to Trevor Canfield continues. Titans take Durand, who could develop into a serviceable starter but is probably best as the extra interior lineman; someone who fills in for an injury. He has good size and mobility and was a two year starter for the Orange. He doesn't use his size to his advantage at all times and can get beat by the quick DTs and DEs on stunts. Grade: 6

Pick 11 - Schommer is likely just a training camp body and, at best, a special teams ace. He has nice size but is raw in coverage. He'll need some development to provide any help in the secondary. He's a good candidate for the practice squad. There was much better value still available with this pick and the Titans missed big time. Grade: 3

GRADE: 68/110


They filled three of their four needs and did so with some nice players. It appears that having all those extra picks didn't do much for them. They would have probably been best off trading up for higher quality players than staying where they were. Still, Britt, Marks, and Cook are all future starters and Kropog and Durand are nice backups along the OL. They really missed on their DBs, not getting good value there.


WHY: It was a bit of a disappointment to see the Titans waste some of their mid and late round picks. There was a promise for a big class that could be the foundation for the end of the second decade of Fisher's reign. If his top picks don't perform in the next year or two, Fisher could see himself not make it to year 20.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Britt
Worst Pick: Schommer
Sleeper: Cook
Instant Impact: Britt
Developmental: McCourty

OTHER DRAFT GRADES - Tennessee Titans
CBS Sports (Prisco): B
CBS Sports (Rang): B
ESPN (Kiper): C+ (Brooks): B (Fan's): B
Walter: A



2009 NFL Draft Grades: New York Giants

The Giants - surprise Super Bowl Champions after the 2007 season - were considered one of the elite teams entering 2008. They backed that up with a 12-4 record and NFC East Division title. Of course they ran into a team that was hotter than them in the divisional playoffs - the Eagles - which ruined their chance at being the first club since the 1998 Broncos to repeat as Super Bowl champs. But what about 2009? Questions are swirling that Plaxico Burress was the reason for Eli Manning's success. Can the club win without the erstwhile receiver?

Manning and Burress, for most of the season, helped lead an offense that finished 3rd in points scored, 1st in rushing yards, and 7th in total yards. They were only 18th in passing yards per game. Is the notion that Burress was the reason for success absurd? Still probably not. Despite the team ranking in the lower half of the league is passing offense, the threat of Burress was still there. Once Burress was gone teams could stack the box to stop the Giants amazing rushing attack, which lost one of its contributors. The rushing game could suffer if a WR doesn't step into the role vacated by Plaxico. Of course the defense may be even stronger. After finishing in the Top 10 in the four major statistical categories, the Giants get Osi Umenyiora back plus added Chris Canty. The rich get richer. The team was 5th in total yards and points allowed per game. I underestimated the Giants last year. Even with the loss of Burress, I don't think I'll do that again.

Tom Coughlin is the man in charge in New York for a sixth season in 2009. Can he live up to lofty expectations? Unless this team completely bombs, Coughlin will be back in 2010. However, if the Giants capture another title it isn't out of the question for him to go out on top. The Giants are loaded and should be right there with Philadelphia as favorites in the NFC.

1/29/29 - Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
2/13/45 - Clint Sintim, OLB, Virginia
2/28/60 - William Beatty, OT, Connecticut
3/21/85 - Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly
3/36/100 - Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
4/29/129 - Andre Brown, RB, North Carolina State
5/15/151 - Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State
6/27/200 - DeAndre Wright, CB/S, New Mexico
7/29/238 - Stoney Woodson, CB/S, South Carolina

  • WR - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • TE - Check!
  • OL - Check!
  • QB - Check!
  • RB - Check!
Yep that's a clean sweep for their needs. It's what good teams do, fill holes with the right players. Jerry Reese knows what he is doing. He has a perfect view of areas that need improvement and works to fill those needs without reaching. I can't really say "it would have been nice to get..." because, frankly, they got everything and assured that they should be competitive for some time.

GRADE: 100/100

Pick 1 - The Giants needed a bigger WR that could evolve into a feature guy. They believe that's Nicks. Nicks had a phenomenal season at North Carolina which sent him soaring up draft boards. He has great hands and could eventually replace the production lost with the release of Burress. However it does take WRs a long time to adjust to the NFL so expecting Nicks to be a savior is too much. He was a nice selection for need and value at the end of round one. Grade: 9

Pick 2 - The Ginats have a great defense but the one thing they were lacking is a strongside LB capable of disrupting plays in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. Sintim should not have fallen this far. While it was a surprise to see him go to a 4-3 team - he'd played exclusively in a 3-4 at Virginia - he is more than capable of being the strongside LB the Giants needed. Whether or not he'll start from day one is up in the air but I'd bet he has a strong chance to do so. Grade: 10

Pick 3 - Again, how did this person fall here? Beatty was considered a late first round pick, no later than the early second. Here he is at the end of round two. Why? He was probably the last OT capable of developing into a LT. Did the Giants absolutely need a young OT to groom? Not especially though depth there is always a plus. The value was just to big to pass up. Plus they had already filled two big needs with their first two picks. Grade: 9

Pick 4 - They hedged their bets and went with another big WR; perhaps one of them will work out? Barden was taken right around where expected, though maybe a shade early. Again, he is a huge target but needs some work. He played at Cal Poly so his opponents weren't as strong as the ones Nicks competed against. He'll need time but has the physical tools to succeed. Grade: 7

Pick 5 - The Giants round out the first 100 with Wisconsin's Beckum. The Giants have been looking for a more reliable TE since jettisoning Jeremy Shockey last year. Kevin Boss is nice but is more suited as a #2, where he can excel. Beckum, who suffered through injuries in 2008, is more of a pass catcher than blocker; that's certainly an area that needs to be refined. Grade: 9

Pick 6 - Meet the new Derrick Ward. Andre Brown, who could have easily gone at the end of round two, falls to the Giants who take him to complete their new trio. Just wow. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw now have a guy to share more of the load with. Grade: 9

Pick 7 - Did they really need a QB? That's up for debate. David Carr is the backup for Manning and that isn't changing soon. Bomar will be fighting with Andre Woodson and Anthony Wright for the third spot. Bomar could develop into a solid #2, fringe starter such as Billy Volek and Matt Schaub. In New York he'll get that chance. And the Giants will be the one to benefit from it. Grade: 6

Pick 8 - It is really hard to rip on late round picks and Wright isn't a bad one. He may not be ideal at CB but that's probably where he'll start. He may have to move to safety. There were better options available to fill their need in the secondary, such as Captain Munnerlyn, Ellis Lankster, and Mike Mickens. Grade: 4

Pick 9 - Almost the exact thing said for Wright can be said for Woodson. He may become a safety and there were better prospects left at 238. Did they need another DB? If they did, safety Courtney Greene would have been better. Or OG Trevor Canfield would have added even more quality depth along the OL. Grade: 3

GRADE: 66/90


The top of this class, really 66% of it, was amazing. Sintim may start from Day One, Nicks will see some time this season, as will Beckum. Beatty is great insurance and eventual starter. Barden needs some development but can become an adequate #2. Brown will fil Derrick Ward's position nicely. They even have insurance at QB or a future bargaining chip. They added developmental guys in the secondary. All needs were filled.


WHY: Because of what I just said. All needs were filled and they were filled with arguably the best player available at their position. You don't get much better than that. This class could have been an A+ if the final two DB picks had gone a different way.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Beatty
Worst Pick: Woodosn (if I have to pick one)
Sleeper: Beckum
Instant Impact: Sintim
Developmental: Barden

CBS Sports (Prisco): B-
CBS Sports (Rang): A+
ESPN (Kiper): B (Brooks): B+ (Fan's): B
Walter: A+