Thursday, April 11, 2013

Top Cornerback Short List - 4/11/13

So here comes the NFL draft again.  It's always an exciting time when teams get to carefully select the building blocks of their future.   The draft has become even more important for teams now that the rookie salary cap is in place.  Teams can lock young players for longer and cheaper so a lot of big-name veteran talent are having a much tougher time getting signed for big money as teams focus more on the draft.  Just imagine Alfred Morris was the NFL's 2nd leading rusher and he signed a 4yr rookie contract!  (I disagree with the rookie salary cap, because I think players need to get paid.  I bet a lot of veterans who were in favor of a rookie salary cap aren't now, but that's a topic for another discussion.)  Anyways the draft is always fascinating because there is always such a diverse group of opinions and perspectives for evaluating talent and so many factors involved in a draftee's success.   I think the current bias of talent evaluators are that they focus too much on combine numbers and film.  Although these are important factors for evaluating players, one factor that seems to be overlooked is just a player's raw production.  I say give me the right statistics and info for a player and I don't need to watch film.  With that in mind I plan to give my evaluation of players with production statistics as the core of my analysis.  I started with the cornerback position. 

Overall Ranking
1. Tyrann Mathieu 2.46
2. Jordan Poyer 2.21
3. Dee Milliner 2.09
4. Xavier Rhodes 2.04
5. Logan Ryan 2.01
6. Johnthan Banks 2.00
7. Darius Slay 1.98
8. Desmond Trufant 1.97
9. Jamar Taylor 1.81
10. Blidi Wreh-Wilson 1.80
11. David Amerson 1.79
12. Robert Alford 1.75

Just to give you an idea of how much of a playmaker Tyrann Mathieu the 'Honeybadger' was, in 26 games he amassed 4 ints, 16 passes defended, 2TD's, 11 Forced fumbles, 6sacks, 4QB hurries, 16 Tackles for Loss, and 93 Solo Tackles!  In terms of measurables and combine numbers Mathieu is dead last.  Poyer is second to last with pathetic numbers (30.5 inch vertical?!) and Logan Ryan & Johnthan Banks make up the bottom four.  However they make up 4 of my top 6 in the overall ranking because they are the leaders of the active stat category.  I couldn't have asked for such a stark contrast between measurables and production.  Let's see how this plays out in the future! 

Methodology:  I started with a list from Great Blue North Draft Report & Draft Countdown and selected the top 10 players on each list.  I added one player (Tyrann Mathieu) ranked below the top ten in all the lists because I knew Tyrann was very productive in '11 & '10.  For cornerbacks, the most commonly available and simple statistics are passes defended and interceptions.  Generally those who are active playmakers and have ball skills have higher PD's & Ints.  Secondarily a cornerbacks ability to help in run support can  be measured by forced fumbles, sacks, tackles for losses, solo tackles, assist tackles.   I threw in blocked kicks/punts because although those are for special teams plays and are rare and helps measure a unique kind of athleticism.   I then just combined the statistics based on a fantasy football style point system:

1 point - Passes defended
2 points - Interceptions
6 points - TDs
2 points - Forced fumbles
1 point - Sacks/Tackles for losses
.1 point - Solo Tackles
.05 point - Assist Tackles
2 points - Blocked kicks

I then made an adjustment based on competition.  The best conference power rankings I found was from  I averaged the 2012/2011 seasons and adjusted the stats based on what conference a player competed in.  The SEC as always was the top conference so no adjustments were made for those players in the SEC.  The weakest DI conference received a -30% adjustment and the rest were in between 0% and -30%. (It was -50% for DII)  Sometimes statistics can't be measured in active stats.  Shutdown corners are hardly thrown to.  Some corners are active at playing the ball, but also give up many touchdowns (ie. David Amerson)  Therefore, I used the 2nd Round Stats website analysis on completion % against (the lower the better) for six cornerbacks and gave 0 - 3.75 points. (It would be nice to have TDs & first downs allowed, but those are too difficult to obtain.) I gave an average of 2 pts for those that did not have any statistics and made a few other adjustments based on info I knew about particular players. Lastly I used Draftmetrics to use historical correlations of measurables/combine numbers to measure draft pick success.

Total weightings:
55% Active Stats
20% Passive Stats
25% Measurables

Active Stat Leaders (55% Weighting)
1. Tyrann Mathieu 3.20
2. Johnthan Banks 2.32
3. Logan Ryan 2.24
4. Jordan Poyer 2.08
5. Dee Milliner 2.00
6. David Amerson 1.82
7. Blidi Wreh-Wilson 1.61
8. Darius Slay 1.57
9. Desmond Trufant 1.47
10. Robert Alford (Est. 1.35 due to DII conference)
11. Jamar Taylor 1.32
12. Xavier Rhodes 1.19

List of Awesome Resources
1. CFB Stats
2. TeamRankings
3. Great Blue North Draft Report
4. DraftCountdown

Passive Stat Leaders (20% Weighting)
1. Jordan Poyer 3.74
2. Xavier Rhodes 3.37
3. Darius Slay 2.72
4. Desmond Trufant 2.55
5. Jamar Taylor 2.5 (Team Def Allowed Only 4 Passing TDs)
6. Dee Milliner 2.14
7. Johnthan Banks 1.76
8. David Amerson 1.0 (Allowed incredible amount of TDs)
9. Everyone else 2.0

List of Awesome Resources
Second Round Stats
(Great resource on completion stats against six cornerbacks!  These are the kind of stats we need to track!  Unfortantely stats are limited to 4-game samples.)

Measurables  (25% Weighting)
1. Xavier Rhodes 2.84
2. Desmond Trufant 2.59
3. Robert Alford 2.42
4. David Amerson 2.35
5. Jamar Taylor 2.32
6. Darius Slay 2.28
7. Dee Milliner 2.27
8. Blidi Wreh-Wilson 2.06
9. Logan Ryan 1.51
10. Johnthan Banks 1.50
11. Jordan Poyer 1.29
12. Tyrann Mathieu 1.22

Data Used:
Height 0-.5pts (68 - 74 inches)
Weight 0-.5pts (175 - 215)
40yd 0-1pt (4.27 - 4.67 secs)
Vertical 0-1pt (30 - 42 inches)
20yd shuttle 0-.5pt (3.67 - 4.67 secs)
Bench Press 0-.5pt (3 - 27 times)

List of Awesome Resources:
Draft Metrics (combine stat range for 3yr NFL starters)
(A lot of great studies on combine stats correlation with starting in the NFL and other reports!)

The next position I plan to work on is Safety.... until then keep moneyballin'!

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