The formula for winning remains consistent. Regardless of revisions and tweaks that have been made over the past few years, I continue to believe in Brian Burke’s (Advanced NFL Stats) statistical correlations to success. We’ve reviewed the first three; Offensive Pass Efficiency, Defensive Pass Efficiency and Defensive Interception Rate.
Seems pretty simple
As a General Manager or Director of Player Personnel, would it not behoove me to focus my attention scouting football talent in areas that will improve those factors most? Wouldn’t it make sense to find accurate quarterbacks, consistent receivers, dynamic pass rushers and shutdown corners? Shouldn’t I develop high standards of technique and production to ensure selection of the very best from the player pool? Seems like the LOGICAL thing to do. So why so many football player evaluation mistakes?
We’ve talked about scouting Quarterbacks to improve Offensive Pass Efficiency. What about one of the “two critical positions” on defense every club must have? Defensive Corner (shutdown)
Where to find one
The Football Educator points to studies showing 47% of the Defensive Corners that make up the 2-Deep Rosters in the NFL come from the 1st and 2nd rounds. Another 14% come from undrafted free agents. Wow! 61% of the DC’s on 2-Deeps come from the 1st & 2nd rounds and CFA’s. Why even bother in later rounds? On average another 23 DC’s are selected every year after the 2nd round. (Note – TFE realizes there are productive players in this area, just not as many)
Over a 16 year period (’93-’08) there were on average 8 DC’s in the top 64 players [1st round (#10, #15, #23, #30), 2nd round (#39, #44, #52, #62)]. Using a somewhat limited, but widely accepted measurement of success, we find the likelihood of making a Pro Bowl drops significantly after the 1st round picks. We also see production numbers drop; years as a starter and interceptions.
What are the chances?
Consider this; a DC taken picks #1 – #10 has a 70% chance of 56 starts in the first 5 years. That drops to 44.4% picks #11 – #20, 37.2% picks #21 – #50 and 17.9% picks #51 – #80. The ten year study shows a 0% chance of reaching that threshold after midway through the 3rd round.
Football scouting analysis of Defensive Corners who Exceed Peer Average (EPA) in 6 of the 7 skill drills at the NFL Combine have a 46.2% chance of starting. That number drops to 24.1% with an EPA of 5, 23% with an EPA of 4. Drop to an EPA of 3 and your chances of starting are 2%. The top DC’s all excel in the short shuttle, 3-Cone, broad jump and 40 yard dash. 83% of all starting DC’s in the NFL Exceed Peer Average in the 40 yard dash (4.49 sec’s). That should tell us what speed means to the corner position (profound, I know).
What to look for
Scouting college football, what are the keys that can lead me to the top DC’s in the draft. Let’s look at the 10 Skills and Proficiency Areas of National Football Scouting, Inc.
- Key & Diagnose – Recognition of run or pass. Quick read & react. A “6th sense” to locate the ball.
- Man Cover – 1 on 1 cover skills. Quick feet & speed. False step, guess or get turned?
- Back Pedal & Turn – Smooth & easy, balance and flexibility to turn. False step or double clutch?
- Zone – Awareness? Route reads? Keeps relationship and breaks with anticipation? Read the QB to get a jump?
- Ball Reaction – Play receiver or ball? Quick to break? Burst to close?
- Range/Catch Up – Acceleration & play speed. Close & cover distance? Types of angles?
- Jump/Adjust – Compete with jump ability and make a play on the ball? Timing at the point?
- Catch-Hands – Ability to catch the ball? Soft or hard hands? Body catcher? Quick hands?
- Run Support – Play off blockers? Contain? Active, a force? Or cautious, reluctant and plays the fringe? Late arriver, “pile jumper”?
- Tackling – “Drag down” or “hard” tackler? Strength to tackle? In the open field? Wrap up, grab, strike or absorb? Drops his head and “block” tackles?
Most clubs set their own Position Specifics, but NFS does a good job in thoroughly covering all aspects in the NFL player analysis of Defensive Corners. So as professional football front office management I can best improve my team’s chances of winning by paying close attention to the details of #2 Defensive Pass Efficiency and #3 Defensive Interception Rate and zeroing my football player evaluations on one of the “most coveted” positions in the game.
Not to do so would be, well, “ILLOGICAL”.