Pro Football Focus does a masterful job each and every week of evaluating the performance of all 32 teams and breaking down the productivity of each and every player, all with an unbiased eye towards whether “he did, or didn’t”. One of the responsibilities of an NFL General Manager is to track the progress of his young players through feedback from his coaching staff and through the eyes of talent evaluators in the Personnel Department.
Careful consideration must be given to the growth and development of the youth of your roster. What might have appeared to be a slam dunk pick only a year ago could very well be whithering away for any number of reasons. Setting your future plans is dependent upon how these players are contributing now that they’re no longer rookies.
Nathan Jahnke’s weekly 32 Observations series looks at some of the high profile players from just a season ago and puts them through the unique evaluation process of Pro Football Focus. Does your NFL club have a sophomore slump or sensation on their hands?
Miami Dolphins: Defensive end Olivier Vernon had a slow start to the season with no stops, two missed tackles, and a -9.9 overall grade over the first two games. Over the last six games he had 14 stops, no missed tackles and a +9.0 overall grade.
New England Patriots: Defensive end Chandler Jones has 19 combined sacks and hits which is third most for all defensive players behind J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn.
New York Jets: The move to outside linebacker hasn’t been great for Quinton Coples where his 4.9 Pass Rushing Productivity is second worst amongst 3-4 outside linebackers. As a rookie his Pass Rushing Productivity was 8.0 which was fifth best for 3-4 defensive ends.
Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw had a Run Stop Percentage of 9.9 which was second best for all 3-4 outside linebackers. This year he has a Run Stop Percentage of 3.1, which is fourth among the 38 qualifying 3-4 outside linebackers.
Cincinnati Bengals: As a rookie, guard Kevin Zeitler’s strength was in his pass protection where he only allowed 16 pressures over 671 pass blocks. This year he has equaled his 16 pressures allowed, but has done so on just 375 pass blocks.
Cleveland Browns: As a rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz played every snap. There were seven of 16 games where Schwartz did not allow a sack or a hit, and only four games where he allowed multiple sacks/hits. This year he is still playing every down, but Schwartz has allowed a sack or hit in all nine games. There have also already been five games where he has allowed multiple sacks/hits.
Pittsburgh Steelers: From 2010-2012, the Steelers did not have an offensive line with a grade higher than +6.0. In half of a season, David DeCastro has an overall rating of +11.3which is the second best of all right guards.
Houston Texans: Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus had a strong start to his first year as a starter. He had a Pass Rushing Productivity of 11.7 over his first four games. However over his last three, his Pass Rushing Productivity has only been 6.2.
Indianapolis Colts: Tight end Coby Fleener had a, below average, 10.34 drop rate as a rookie. In his second year, he has only dropped one pass which has led to a 3.85 drop rate which is ninth best among 37 qualifying tight ends.
Jacksonville Jaguars: In 2012 the Jaguars had Austen Lane and George Selvie who did a good job stopping the run while Andre Branch had a below average Run Stop Percentage of 5.0. With Lane and Selvie gone, Branch has taken over as the Jaguars outside run stuffer with a Run Stop Percentage of 9.2 which is sixth best for 4-3 defensive ends.
Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver Kendall Wright has seen his Yards Per Route Run progressively increase. As a rookie it was at 1.5. Over the first quarter of the 2013 season it was at 1.75, and now over the second quarter of the season it is up to 2.1. Wright’s 2.0 Yards Per Route Run over the 2013 season is the best out of any Titans receiver over the last three years.