2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) February Update-Part 3

Written By: David Maziasz - Feb• 14•14

This article is the third installment of the February edition of the 2014 Pass Blocker Rating.

In the first post, I went over some of my observations and recollections from the process of grading the offensive tackle prospects. But besides introducing the PBR chart, only six players were discussed in any detail. The second post covered next five prospects on the chart. The third article will discuss the final 6 players on the chart.

Like before, peek at the data if you need to refresh.

2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR)

Name
School
Pressures/Passing Snaps
PBR
Zack MartinNotre Dame1/701.07
Morgan MosesVirginia8/191
3.01
JaWuan JamesTennessee3/743.04
Jack MewhortOhio St9/1823.85
Taylor LewanMichigan12/2184.47
Billy TurnerNorth Dakota St5/884.55
James HurstNorth Carolina8/1135.53
Cyrus KouandjioAlabama14/2005.63
Justin BrittMissouri6/805.94
Seantrel HendersonMiami8/1096.19
Michael SchofieldMichigan15/1866.32
Greg RobinsonAuburn5/626.85
Joel BitonioNevada6/656.92
Jake MatthewsTexas A&M30/3416.96
Antonio RichardsonTennessee7/737.53
Cornelius LucasKansas St6/538.49

Picking up where we left off before, another college right tackle, Michael Schofield, struck me as a powerful run blocking tackle for the Michigan Wolverines. He handles power very well, but got into some trouble at times against smaller, quicker rushers. Can this be attributed to his almost 6’7″? Perhaps….Yet, when he lined up opposite larger ends, he seldom had trouble (see game against Michigan St). Of this class of linemen, he gets among the highest marks for versatility, having lined up both at left and right tackle this season, then again at guard early in his career at Michigan. Such a trait is quite useful in the modern NFL, since teams often carry so few linemen on game day.

Speaking of power blockers, Greg Robinson, the Auburn left tackle is a road grader if I have ever seen one. The Tigers operate a run-heavy scheme that features his ability to plow ahead and pancake  all day long. This makes evaluating his pass blocking consistency something of a challenge, since his sample size is more limited than his peers.

In the process of publishing these three posts on the PBR, I continue to evaluate and collect data for these players. And I want to update Greg Robinson’s PBR score to 5.45, which is a 1.4 point improvement from the data on the chart. Nevertheless, this score is one of the more volatile ones at this stage because his smaller data sets lead to larger swings in PBR from game to game.

Pardon the digression.

Robinson, a former guard is a very, very powerful man with preferable size and decent foot speed.  Such is his power, that for the briefest moment, I felt like I was watching Larry Allen. The way he snaps and explodes into defenders and moves them is something special.  Remarkable as he is in the run game, he simply is not asked to pass protect all too often in the Auburn scheme.

Moving over to the Western United States, Joel Bitonio, LT for Nevada, offers something different than Greg Robinson. Comparably speaking, his skills match those of Zack Robinson. He won’t be able to offer teams great size or length (6’4″/ 33 inch arms), but he has pretty sweet feet. He performed well against Anthony Barr, timing his punches well, but it appeared to me that Barr’s length got the best of him on a few occasions. Zone blocking teams will fit him best.

Now here’s the metaphorical kicker. Texas A&M left tackle, Jake Matthews, is widely regarded one of the top 2 offensive linemen in 2014. Yet, his PBR score does not reflect this status. The question is why?

I have watched and studied 10 of his 13 games this season, more than I have studied any other offensive line prospect in this way. He has many things going for him: sweet feet, NFL family members, versatility, and has played against top competition. All these things are to his credit. Although he displays many of the qualities of an NFL caliber lineman, the thing that eludes him is consistency.

Against three of the top pass rushing units that A&M faced this season (Ole Miss, Auburn, Missouri), he allowed 14 pressures, 2 of which were sacks, on 94 countable passing snaps.

What this score suggests is that other closely rated prospects by scouts, such as Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan may be see a slight rise in relation to Matthews. I am not saying his score is bad, since Luke Joeckel, last year’s #2 pick had a very similar score. But such a rating is not going to do him any favors.

Similarly, another wonderfully athletic tackle, Antonio Richardson suffers an average PBR. He looks the part, and moves like you’d expect a top tackle to move, but he is raw. On a give game he will deliver an outstanding performance (2 pressures against South Carolina). Yet, I cannot emphasize this enough, consistent quality is the key. It is truly rare to find a guy who can deliver on a play-to-play and week-to-week basis. This is ultimately how linemen are viewed.

Finally, Cornelius Lucas, is one of those very tall tackles. Bless his heart, he works hard for Kansas State, and did a good job for them.  But from an athletic standpoint, he would have trouble on the edge in the NFL. It is tough to know exactly how capable he is in protection since I didn’t see the offensive line pass protecting too much, and not for any length of time due to scheme.

Overall, about 85 games were watched in the development of this rating system. I like how the process allows me to see these players in a variety of situations and over a course of time. I’ll admit that it isn’t a substitute for scouting players, but I hope that it will become a valuable aid in the process.

Hope you enjoyed, and God bless you.

2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) February Update-Part 2

Written By: David Maziasz - Feb• 04•14

This article is the second installment of the February edition of the 2014 Pass Blocker Rating.

Previously, I was going over some of my observations and recollections from the process of grading the offensive tackle prospects. But besides introducing the PBR chart, only six players were discussed in any detail. The next five prospects I will mention now. The third article will discuss the final 5 players on the chart.

Before we get to it, here is a refresher of the data.

2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR)

Name
School
Pressures/Passing Snaps
PBR
Zack MartinNotre Dame1/701.07
Morgan MosesVirginia8/191
3.01
JaWuan JamesTennessee3/743.04
Jack MewhortOhio St9/1823.85
Taylor LewanMichigan12/2184.47
Billy TurnerNorth Dakota St5/884.55
James HurstNorth Carolina8/1135.53
Cyrus KouandjioAlabama14/2005.63
Justin BrittMissouri6/805.94
Seantrel HendersonMiami8/1096.19
Michael SchofieldMichigan15/1866.32
Greg RobinsonAuburn5/626.85
Joel BitonioNevada6/656.92
Jake MatthewsTexas A&M30/3416.96
Antonio RichardsonTennessee7/737.53
Cornelius LucasKansas St6/538.49

To kick things off, the North Carolina OT, James Hurst, scored very respectably with an overall score of 5.53. Due to some athletic limitations, I do not believe he will stay at left tackle in the NFL. Rather, I do think he has some talent as a blocker though, and could be a capable offensive guard at the next level. He has some good strength and the girth preferred for such a transition.

Why do I say that he may not be best suited for left tackle? Against two top quality pass rushers, Jeremiah Attaochu and Jadeveon Clowney, Hurst had trouble handling the speed of these two. And in my estimation, it had a lot to do with him just not having the elite short-area quickness to negate such speed with any real consistency. But don’t forget his score. It’s a really good one. If you’re a coach, just find a spot somewhere for a guy like this.

Narrowly behind Hurst is one tackle that I am keen on tracking further, Cyrus Kouandjio. What I like about him is the powerful build, long arms, and power to push in the run game. From a physical standpoint, he reminds of Buffalo Bills LT Cordy Glenn. Of the 1st round tackles, Kouandjio posted the second highest score, surpassing those of Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson.

I am aware that he ended his career at Alabama on a sour note, allowing a sack fumble that iced the game for Oklahoma State in the bowl game. Yet, if you are able to look at the broad picture of his career, there are some real positives. Just this year, he posted a shut-out against Texas A&M early in the season, and virtually cleaned house against Auburn in the last game of the regular season. Like Hurst, he may be best positioned at in a way that maximizes his ability to play with power-in some systems that may be on the left side, but more than likely he could see his time spent on the right.

Skipping ahead, Justin Britt, the Missouri LT strikes me as a strong man just from the looks of him. He isn’t an outstanding athlete, but he has heavy hands and can deliver a blow. From a bottom line standpoint, he shut out Auburn, and he fared well against Jadeveon Clowney, allowing just two hurries on 25 countable passing snaps. But without sounding like a broken record, I think he doesn’t have the elite agility required to play NFL left tackle.  And really, there is nothing wrong with that. Such athletes who can move swiftly at 300+ pounds are something of a rarity. I do think he will impress people on the bench press at the Combine, however.

Seantrel Henderson, the #1 overall prospect coming out of high school fits the bill in terms of looking the part of an NFL offensive lineman. He meets all the standard measurements-height, weight, arm length, hand size. He played exclusively at right tackle at Miami, where he was benched intermittently for some off-field concerns. When on the field, he flashed dominance, but struggled with playing with control and balance. I haven’t yet figured him out, but there is enough potential that the teams looking for upside will give him a good look.

So, there you have it. In the final post of this series, I will explain, as I am sure you are wondering, why most people’s top two offensive tackle prospects in the draft are sitting near the bottom of the list. Check back soon to find out!

2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) February Update-Part 1

Written By: David Maziasz - Feb• 01•14

By this time of year, several significant pieces to the draft puzzle are in place. The draft order is all but set, the pool of draftable players is established, and the Senior Bowl is in the books. So, I say to myself, now seems like high time that I release an update of the Pass Blocker Rating. Although there is still a bit of film review left, compared to the October update, the ratings for each player are now much more reliable due to the abundance of data since that time.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, allow me to make one caveat. The Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) is primarily an evaluation of one aspect of offensive tackle play: pass blocking consistency. I chose this quality because the NFL has become such a pass heavy league that this trait is highly valued in the evaluation process.

As a reminder, if you are unfamiliar with the rating/scoring system for the PBR, here is an refresher:

Just as the Pass Rusher Rating quantified the amount of pressure said players applied throughout the season, the Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) will investigate how much pressure a given offensive tackle allowed.

The scoring system remains nearly unchanged from last year,  (remember: low scores are preferable to high scores in this case):

  • Sacks allowed=1.0 point
  • Hits and hurries on the QB=0.75 points
  • Holding penalties=0.75 points

Consider the assigned score to be roughly equivalent to the the percentage of snaps that a blocker allows pressure on his QB. Therefore, a PBR of 10 will roughly equate to allowing pressures on 10% of passing snaps.

Now for the data itself.

2014 Pass Blocker Rating (PBR) Chart

Name
School
Pressures/Passing Snaps
PBR
Zack MartinNotre Dame1/701.07
Morgan MosesVirginia8/191
3.01
JaWuan JamesTennessee3/743.04
Jack MewhortOhio St9/1823.85
Taylor LewanMichigan12/2184.47
Billy TurnerNorth Dakota St5/884.55
James HurstNorth Carolina8/1135.53
Cyrus KouandjioAlabama14/2005.63
Justin BrittMissouri6/805.94
Seantrel HendersonMiami8/1096.19
Michael SchofieldMichigan15/1866.32
Greg RobinsonAuburn5/626.85
Joel BitonioNevada6/656.92
Jake MatthewsTexas A&M30/3416.96
Antonio RichardsonTennessee7/737.53
Cornelius LucasKansas St6/538.49

To avoid any single 6,000 word post, I’ll just discuss the top performers now, and will talk about my findings on the remaining players in a follow up post.

Prior to the Senior Bowl, several of these players were not included in my research. But after hearing some buzz about Billy Turner, Joel Bitonio, and Zack Martin, I pulled up film on them, and boy, I am glad I did!

The Prospects In Review

Starting with Zack Martin, he outperformed every single player I watched throughout this process. I was very impressed with his mobility, balance, and consistency. Against competitors like USC and Michigan State, he allowed just a single pressure on the quarterback, mirroring his opponents play after play. Watching the film of this two-time team captain, albeit I only was able to watch 3 games, he plays like an elite OL prospect.  Here is the catch: his physical measurements are not on par with the NFL average at the position. Sadly, there is nothing he can do about it, either. From what I understand, his natural position at the next level would be guard, which makes some sense based on how Notre Dame used him last season. In many cases, they played 1 and 2 tight end sets to his side, effectively making him the occasional interior lineman. Nevertheless, he has outstanding movement skills which allowed him to recover any time he was initially beat on a play.

At one point, I figured it was an anomaly, but the more I watch Morgan Moses, the more I buy into his ability to play. He is not one of the top athletes in this group, but he is deliberate in his movements, patient, and strong. He can handle speed rushers like Jeremiah Attaochu from Georgia Tech and Vic Beasley from Clemson, and I like that about him, since he is a big, powerful man. The question remaining for him is whether he can handle those speed to power rushers-the types that he will see in the NFL.

The right tackle from Tennessee, JaWuan James, has been overshadowed by his teammate, Antonio Richardson. But what James has done last year suggests that this should not be the case. Mid season, James faced off against Jadeveon Clowney, simply stoning him all game long.  He is one of the larger OT prospects in this class, and excels when he utilizes his power. Just like Morgan Moses, he doesn’t have the elite foot speed for the position, and I expect him to stay on the right side in the NFL.

Previously the PBR leader, Jack Mewhort’s rating dropped off slightly with his performance against Clemson in the bowl game. He is a technician at the position, and displays calm and control in his craft. He has shorter than average arms but big hands, which help him steer opposing rushers.  At Ohio State, he was part of a very efficient unit that blocked downfield very well. I am interested to see if some of the zone blocking teams will go after him in the draft.

Similar to Mewhort, Taylor Lewan was putting together an elite PBR score entering late season. But when he faced Ohio State, they got the best of him. In this meeting, he gave up 2 sacks, 2 hurries, and 3 hits on 40 countable passing snaps-by far the most difficult game for him that I saw. Apart from that game, on many occasions, he showed excellent agility, especially out in space, and he can really dominate in pass protection. He was recruited to operate in a zone blocking scheme at Michigan, which is where I think he will fit best at the next level, despite transitioning to the Wolverines’ power scheme under Brady Hoke.

The final player with a  sub 5.0 PBR score was rather new to me, and perhaps to you as well, Billy Turner. A small school prospect from FCS national champion North Dakota State, Turner impressed me a great deal. For a 315 pound man, he can move, move, move. He has technique to improve, but the ability is there for him to grow into a fine NFL lineman. Against the one big school that ND State faced, Kansas State, he handled himself quite well, allowing only 1 hit and committing 1 holding penalty on 29 countable passing snaps.

In the next segment, I will be sure to review the remaining prospects on the chart above.  What do you think of the list? Whose score surprised you the most?

2013-2014 Quarterback Accuracy Rating (QBAR)

Written By: David Maziasz - Jan• 20•14

As befits arguably the most difficult position to play in sports, evaluating a NFL quarterback prospect is an uncommonly challenging task. Many skills and traits go into being a successful signal caller. Yet, I wanted to break down, in depth, one of the critical aspects of this salient position: accuracy.

Speaking of accuracy, this brings us to a new segment in Essential Football Skills series, the Quarterback Accuracy Rating (QBAR).

What is the QBAR?

The QB Accuracy Rating, just like the Pass Blocker Rating and Pass Rusher Rating, focuses in on one of the key factors in the success of a football player. In this case, the QBAR is more or less an adjusted completion percentage, broken down by the length of the throw.

I examined the top four quarterback prospects in this class, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr, charting each of their throws against their three toughest competitors (as decided by opponent’s NCAA ranking in total defense), Also, included was each player’s bowl game performance. Each throw was evaluated, and I chose to categorize them by distance:

  • Short throws (0-6 yards past line of scrimmage (LOS))
  • Medium throws (over 6 yards but less than 15)
  • Deep throws (15+ yards)

Note, many offenses throw significant numbers of what I’ll refer to as “zero throws.” Such throws (various types of screen passes and push passes) that were completed behind the LOS were tossed out of this calculation because I didn’t want these high percentage passes to skew the numbers too much.

After categorizing the throws by distance, I assigned a weight to them, since this is an adjusted completion percentage. Just like with any normal completion percentage calculation, I took the total # of completions and divided that by the total number of throws. This equals the raw completion percentage. But the QBAR goes a little bit beyond that. I wanted to add value to throws that were incomplete because the wide receiver dropped the ball, or if the defense was called for pass interference. Those types of things. so each of those “circumstantial incompletions” count as 3/4 of a completion.

Why the QBAR?

I wanted to break down for you these QB’s accuracy at various ranges because I find it gives insight into which offensive system(s) they might be best suited. On this note, I found a poignant quote from the brilliant Bill Walsh which summarizes the usefulness of charting throws:

You look at how complete an inventory of throws a quarterback possesses — from screen passes to timed short passes to medium range passes and down the field throws. This complete range….But you are looking to evaluate in all facets and distances and types of passes in throwing the ball…. You can see where the emphasis of the offense would be if he were with your team.

Alright, now for the really good stuff.

Teddy Bridewater

Throw Distance
Total # of Throws
Raw Compl. %
QBAR %
Short6674.286.7
Medium3876.382.2
Deep3740.546.6
Total14166.075.0

First, our top performer, Teddy Bridgewater, QB from Louisville. It should be noted that Mr. Bridgewater leads the group in short and medium range throws, by a rather decisive margin. He was regularly making tough throws against some very good defenses. But what stands out most is his calm in the pocket, and his ability to move and slide with ease. By far, he has the most polish of any of the quarterbacks in this area. His one area for improvement was on deep throws over 15 yards. Based on his numbers, Teddy Bridgewater looks best suited for a play-action heavy offense that utilizes decision making and shorter throws, better known as a West Coast scheme. Some teams that run this offense (and also may want a quarterback) are Houston (possibly West Coast), Jacksonville, and Kansas City.

Blake Bortles

Throw Distance
Total # of Throws
Raw Compl. %
QBAR %
Short3969.273.1
Medium3060.067.5
Deep2040.051.3
Total8959.666.3

Second best performer was Blake Bortles of Central Florida. A strong athlete, and very tough, Bortles proved to be one of the better deep ball throwers. But what I liked most were the late game drives he put together: one to beat Louisville, another to seal the Bowl game against Baylor. Numbers-wise, he performed strongly on throws greater than 6 yards, but ranked last in short distance accuracy, by just a tad. Good fits for Blake Bortles are expected to be vertical offensive schemes. Some names that come to mind are possibly Houston (Bill O’Brien coached against him this season, and likes QB’s with his character traits), Oakland, possibly Minnesota, and Arizona.

Johnny Manziel

Throw Distance
Total # of Throws
Raw Compl. %
QBAR %
Short3565.774.3
Medium3863.265.1
Deep4942.953.6
Total12255.763.1

The creative and exciting Johnny Manziel came in as a close 3rd in total QBAR. Aside from his wonderful elusiveness, Johnny actually surprised me by how frequently he was asked to throw the ball downfield. He impressed me by posting the best deep ball QBAR, completing 53.6% of his passes over 15 yards. In terms of offensive fits for him, I find that quite challenging, because there are so few players of his stature and skill set. I wrote previously that Manziel could be a good fit in Oakland because of their offensive coordinator, Greg Olsen. But more generically, I think Manziel can fit best in a vertical offense that allows him time to scramble and move around. But besides Oakland, Cleveland offers an interesting opportunity, depending on who they choose as their coach.

Derek Carr

Throw Distance
Total # of Throws
Raw Compl. %
QBAR %
Short6365.178.2
Medium4955.162.8
Deep5429.644.9
Total16650.662.8

Finally, Derek Carr of Fresno State finishes off the group. Carr has a big-league arm, and uses it on a regular basis. However, I didn’t see the consistency of ball placement on deep throws that would allow me to recommend him for a vertical style offense. Really, there are two issues that I see facing Derek Carr in games: getting rid of the ball too quickly when pressured, and inconsistent ball placement on deep throws. He has an outstanding skill set, but he has some work to do to catch up to the other three prospects in terms of productivity. Good fits for Carr, perhaps a West Coast scheme like Kansas City. An experienced QB teacher like Andy Reid could take Carr a long way.

All four of these talented prospects could be selected in the 1st round in May. But they will have to continue to work hard throughout this pre-draft season. Who do you think is the most accurate passer of this group, and will it have a significant impact on their draft position?

Thanks to you readers for following the site…God bless.