2012 NFL Free Agency – 4 Positions, 4 Players

NFL Free Agency starts tomorrow and with it will be a whirlwind of activity in hopes of improving rosters and solidifying playoff chances across the National Football League.  General Managers and Head Coaches will roll out the red carpets, breakout their tour guide maps and be making reservations at the top steakhouses in the country.  You thought College Football’s National Signing Day was BIG?

Where’s the FOCUS?

So where are the “hard earned” bucks of an NFL owner best spent this time of year?  Where should be the focus of General Managers and Directors of Player Personnel in their attempts to put their club in its best position to compete for a Super Bowl championship?  That is what it’s all about, right?  Competing for the Lombardi Trophy?

Some argue that statistics are for LOSERS, that stats are nothing more than a by-product of the game after it’s played.  I’m more inclined to believe that stats are an indicator of how the game is played.  They paint a picture with each stroke and lead you to a better understanding of a Rembrandt versus a Kindergarten “finger painting”.

Addressing the Questions

So with personal focus again on analytical studies of statistics that have shown the most significant and correlating factor to “winning predictivity” in the NFL is Offensive Passing Efficiency, closely followed up by Offensive Pass Success, you might want to ensure you take a look at these positions first.

  1. QUARTERBACK – The Alpha and the Omega of any team’s chances of making it to the Super Bowl.  It easily explains the uncontrollable euphoria of the past few days surrounding Peyton Manning.  It leads directly to Jim Irsay’s controversial decision to release the future Hall of Famer.  And it can only be the reason that the Washington Redskins would mortgage their future without blinking an eye.
  2. OFFENSIVE TACKLE – What, you think Hollywood would make a major motion picture about an Offensive Guard?  The Blindside directly affects Net Yards per Attempt, or aka Offensive Passing Efficiency.  Not to mention the investment above.

Now some fans will argue that you can’t WIN in the NFL without a good defense and certainly that plays into the overall equation.  The first correlating statistic regarding defense is (you probably guessed) Defensive Pass Efficiency.  What could be best described as the Defensive Yang to the Offensive Yin, Defensive Pass Efficiency centers around pressure on the quarterback (along with sacks equated into NY/A) and shutting down an opponent’s receiving threats.

  1. DEFENSIVE END/PASS RUSHER – Strictly from a College Draft perspective, perhaps this explains why DE’s were selected higher and at a greater frequency than any other position.  Tampa Bay’s League low 23 sacks ran parallel to their League high tie in Defensive Pass Efficiency (7.6) and perhaps also reflective of a 4-12 last place finish in the NFC South.
  2. CORNERBACK – Come on.  You can only hide it for so long and then eventually it’ll catch up with you.  Ask Bill Belichick.  Without quality corners on the perimeter it’s just a matter of time.

Finding your Answers

So getting back to the original question, where will (or should I say “should”) the focus be as the 2012 NFL Free Agency EXTRAVAGANZA kicks off tomorrow?

  1. QB Peyton Manning – Hey, I live in the suburbs of Denver and have already had my personal overload in a 48 hour period, but he is the premier player at the most significant position to WINNING in the NFL.
  2. OT Demetrius Bell – Yep, “Nobody circles the wagons like…..”.  Nope, not going there.  But Buffalo did have the least sacks in the NFL for 2011, the lowest Sack Rate % (3.8) and was anchored by the athletic Bell.
  3. DE/OLB Mario Williams – After his rookie year, many wanted to paint him a defensive version of Ryan Leag, but Texan’s star “stud” on the edge presents huge problems for Offensive Coordinators.  Injuries have been a factor the past 2 seasons.
  4. DC Brandon Carr – A big cover Corner with the physicality of a Safety.  Carr forces offenses to throw in the opposite direction.  Hard to be overly “efficient” when your targets are limited.

OK, I know there’s not enough to go around.  I suppose to a degree that’s my point.  Be focused, but be careful.  There are no “quick fixes” in LIFE or in FOOTBALL.  There can be a heavy price to pay if you’re wrong and I’m not talking CAP charge.

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