I’ve been asked the question “what are the most important areas of emphasis as an NFL General Manager and Player Personnel Director”. That’s a tough one, because it really does take the entirety of a 53 man roster to win a Super Bowl Championship. But for sake of the “emphasis” I fall back on two positions, both sides of the ball. On offense it’s imperative to have an accurate throwing Quarterback and an anchor on his backside at Offensive Tackle.
On defense you must counter with a dominating rush Defensive End or Outside Linebacker, and a “shutdown” Defensive Corner. Some fans have argued that the outside edge player on defense (DC) is not necessary to have an effective defensive unit. But the 3rd statistical correlation to winning in the NFL is “Defensive Interception Rate”. I’m not saying your “shutdown” corner has to be your “Pick Meister”, but he does have the ability to force the ball into other areas and give the rest of the secondary more opportunities to create the turnover.
Accepting the evidence
This combination of pressure on the QB and disrupting an opponent’s #1 WR feeds both “Defensive Pass Efficiency” and the “Interception Rate”. I like my long term odds if I’ve addressed the second and third most statistically significant areas of winning. Where’s the most “fertile” field in the player pool to find help at defensive corner? Two-Deep roster studies in the past have shown in the 1st and 2nd round of the NFL draft. 47% come from the top 64 players, the next highest rate come out of undrafted free agency (14%).
After four games in the 2011 NFL season the top 5 teams in “Defensive Interception Rate” are; Buffalo Bills 5.3% (3-1), New York Jets 5.0% (2-2), Green Bay Packers 4.9% (4-0), Detroit Lions 4.6% (4-0), Atlanta Falcons 4.3% (2-2). Of the 10 starters on all five teams combined there are 5 former 1st round picks, 3 former 2nd rounders and yep, 2 undrafted free agents. Five teams have 35 interceptions, amounting to 28% of the NFL total to date.
Second the motion
Need further confirmation? The next four teams (#6 – #9) all have 3-1 records; New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars at #10 have a losing record at 1-3. The Jags are also #30 in “Offensive Pass Efficiency”, the number one statistical correlation to winning. Give and take, I suppose.
For my Denver Broncos (1-3) readers, your team improved to #28 with 2 interceptions against Green Bay. “Offensive Pass Efficiency” is 24th and “Defensive Pass Efficiency” is 26th
So as a Player Personnel Director you have to put some of your priority focus and internal emphasis on acquiring “highly talented” starters and depth at the defensive corner position. I’ll be the first to say that DC’s aren’t the only players that can influence the third most statistically significant factor in winning. Heck, Baltimore’s All-Pro Safety Ed Reed led the NFL in 2010 with 8 interceptions (the real “Pick Meister”), but having solid “bookends” in your secondary is a great place to start.
Next up? “Scouting stuff”, or “What a football scout looks for in a Defensive Corner”.