CINCINNATI -- There are so many different ways to evaluate talent in the NFL these days.
Coaches, scouts and player personnel directors have their own tools and statistics and metrics that help them determine how well a player fits their scheme and how well he doesn't. For the rest of us not privy to those tools nor those internal team conversations, when our eyes -- what we see on the field -- aren't enough, we turn to groups like ESPN Stats & Information, Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus for an added layer of clarity.
Numbers can be the great equalizer in sports, particularly when situational statistics are the basis of measurement.
Some numbers, like PFF's player grades, for example, aren't valued by some who cover or work in the league. Critics believe there's a measure of subjectivity in them. Regardless your opinions on those grades, I contend that they are but one piece in the puzzle to answering the age-old question: Is this guy any good?
Ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals' final preseason game Thursday at home against the Colts, we're highlighting some notable Bengals PFF grades through three preseason games. A normal grade is 0.0. Negative grades are bad ones. Positive ones are good. It's a pretty simple concept, even if the formula behind it may be rather convoluted for the average football follower.
In some cases (A.J. Green and Cobi Hamilton, for example), the numbers seem to jibe with how the player has performed this preseason. In others (like Brandon Thompson and Reggie Nelson), they seem a little surprising. Remember, when it comes to player evaluation, coaches are factoring in play in preseason games, versatility, practice habits and the player's ability to positively impact the team on the field and in the locker room. Their evaluation goes far beyond numbers like these.
Here's where a few Bengals stand, according to PFF:
QB Andy Dalton
Overall grade: 0.9, Snaps: 65
Overall grade: -0.9, Snaps: 55
RB Jeremy Hill
Overall grade: 1.3, Snaps: 66
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Overall grade: -2.3, Snaps: 11
WR A.J. Green
Overall grade: 4.0, Passing-game grade: 3.9, Snaps: 63
WR Mohamed Sanu
Overall grade: 1.5, Pass-block grade: -1.3, Snaps: 65
WR Cobi Hamilton
Overall grade: -3.8, Passing-game grade: -4.0, Snaps: 100
TE Alex Smith
Overall grade: -3.5, Snaps: 53
Overall grade: -4.0, Run-block grade: -4.9, Pass-block grade: 1.4, Snaps: 97
Overall grade: 4.9, Run-block grade: 3.0, Pass-block grade: 1.2, Snaps: 89
Overall grade: 2.0, Run-block grade: 0.8, Pass-block grade: 1.0, Snaps: 54
DE Margus Hunt
Overall grade: 5.6, Pass-rush grade: 2.9, Run-defense grade: 2.4, Snaps: 88
DE Will Clarke
Overall grade: -6.7, Pass-rush grade: -1.8, Run-defense grade: -3.8, Snaps: 93
DE Dontay Moch
Overall grade: -3.0, Run-defense grade: -1.7, Penalty grade: -1.8, Snaps: 43
DT Brandon Thompson
Overall grade: -2.3, Pass-rush grade: -0.6, Run-defense grade: -1.9, Snaps: 55
Overall grade: -1.5, Pass-rush grade: 1.2, Run-defense grade: -3.0, Snaps: 71
Overall grade: -4.4, Pass-rush grade: -0.2, Run-defense grade: -2.8, Coverage grade: -1.4, Snaps: 70
Overall grade: -3.1, Pass-rush grade: 0.3, Run-defense grade: -3.1, Coverage grade: -0.3, Snaps: 40
Overall grade: 1.6, Pass-rush grade: -0.1, Run-defense grade: 0.3, Coverage grade: 1.4, Snaps: 30
Overall grade: 2.1, Run-defense grade: 1.2, Snaps: 59
S Reggie Nelson
Overall grade: -2.2, Pass-rush grade: -0.3, Run-defense grade: -1.3, Snaps: 58
Overall grade: 0.0, Pass-rush grade: -0.9, Run-defense grade: 1.0, Snaps: 106
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
Overall grade: 1.8, Coverage grade: 1.8, Snaps: 93
Overall grade: 1.3, Run-defense grade: -0.4, Coverage: 1.7, Snaps: 64
Overall grade: -1.2, Run-defense grade: 0.6, Coverage grade: -1.8, Snaps: 53
Overall grade: -2.7, Pass-rush grade: 0.3, Run-defense grade: -0.9, Coverage grade: -2.1, Snaps: 36
CB Adam Jones
Overall grade: 0.6, Coverage grade: 0.6, Snaps: 42