Hey everyone! Happy to talk about the Top 25 Prospects list, Organizational Rankings, and anything else related to the upcoming NFL season. Also -- you can check out Football Outsiders' new book, Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, at http://www.footballoutsiders.com/store/football-outsiders-almanac-2010. Recommended by Bill Simmons!
Bill, what do you make of the Eagles 3rd down struggles on offense and will they turn things around this year with Kevin Kolb at the helm?
It's hard to say. I think the Eagles were more of a boom-and-bust team last year because of the makeup of their roster and the skill sets of their players. I think Kevin Kolb is more accurate on short and intermediate routes than Donovan McNabb, especially crossing routes -- I can't count how many times I saw McNabb one-hop a pass over the middle over the past few years -- but Kolb lacks McNabb's arm strength. I think they'll be better on third down, but a little worse on first and second down and on play action.
What's your opinion of kenny britt? I think he could be a real sleeper this year, decent season for a rookie last year and probably the teams #1 target by the end of this year.
He might be the answer to Titans' fans prayers! They've seemed to spend most of the last decade drafting receivers who flamed out for one reason or another. Britt's debut season, though, was very promising; putting up those sort of numbers as a rookie is impressive. He might be another year away from being their best receiver. I think Jared Cook -- one of the guys on our Top 25 Prospects list -- will play a bigger role this year than a lot of people expect.
Can CJ Spiller change the way the Bills lose? I can see it now, he breaks a 80 yd run off and fumbles the ball through the end zone celebrating before he gets there.
I'm more sanguine on the Bills' chances than a lot of other people. They had a ton of injuries last year, just like the Bengals did in 2008, and you saw the bounceback the Bengals got last year. Some things will need to go right -- Brian Brohm will need to play like the quarterback we think he can, the line will need to gel, someone will need to step up across from Lee Evans -- but it's possible.
The Texans outlook in FOA 2010 is pretty grim. Any reason for hope or should I start checking out draft prospects for 2011?
I also like the Texans more than our DVOA projection does. We're projecting more injuries this year for the defense, but I think their level of play should improve regardless; there's just so much young talent there that I think you're going to see a significant rise that our projection system may be underestimating.
Is Sweed ever going to fulfill his potential? Or was that a wasted draft pick?
I don't think the situation is hopeless; certainly, it seems like people have given up on Sweed altogether, and I don't think that's fair. But players who have started their career in a similar manner to Sweed sure don't have great development tracks. You always want to give the Steelers a lot of rope to develop players, but...seven catches over what will be three seasons? Ouch.
i think its going to be texans/vikings in superbowl with texans winning. your opinion on that?
Projecting who will win the Super Bowl seven months out is downright impossible. You could pick any two teams and I wouldn't be able to say no.
Hi Bill, I'm curious as to what software you mainly use in your work, the source of your input data, and how that data is input. I really enjoy your work with FBO. Thanks!
There's a lot of different ways we get data. Some data is the official NFL play-by-play. A lot of the other data we gather is from our volunteer Game Charting project, where a group of fans watch every NFL game and mark down a lot of the things about each play that the NFL doesn't capture -- like how many players were in to block on a pass play or why a pass fell incomplete. That data's compiled into Excel, and then we use that to generate a lot of our queries and test hypotheses.
Who do you have ranked number one over-all? What qualities do you look for in your ranking system?
Not sure which list you're talking about, but I'll say that the number-one guy on the Top 25 Prospects list is Mike Wallace and the number-one organization for 25-and-under talent is the Houston Texans.A year ago, we didn't do organizational rankings, but our number-one player on that Top 25 list was Miles Austin, who really had a breakout season. Thanks Miles!
With CJ Spiller coming to Buffalo, I assume M.Lynch will be traded. Where will he be traded too and where does that leave Fred jackson?
At this point, I don't know if Lynch does get traded. No one was willing to meet the Bills' demand for a mid-round draft pick, which makes me believe that the league believes Buffalo will eventually cut Lynch. Where should he go? I could see back to his Northern California stomping grounds of San Francisco.
Am I right to assume that rookies were weighted less in the U25 rankings? I would have thought the Bucs haul of McCoy, Price, Benn and Mike Williams would have pushed them up a bit.
To an extent, yes. You like to see players actually contribute effectively at the pro level before you pencil them in as superstars.
Will Pierre Garcon start for the Colts this year or will it be Anthony Gonzalez?
That's up to Anthony Gonzalez's knee, which the Colts aren't particularly fond of exposing to the press. If Gonzalez is healthy, he starts.Our metrics actually don't say particularly nice things about Garcon; our plus-minus metric, which compares a player's catch rate to similar players thrown similar passes, doesn't look kindly on Garcon's hands. I'd rather start Collie.
Where am I on your list of top 25?
Knox didn't make the list.
Hi BillWhat do you think the Pats chances are in signing Tom Brady to an extension either before the season starts or in the upcoming offseason?
I think the second that the Patriots want to sign Brady to an extension, they'll sign him to an extension.
Bill, with the Top 25...is this the year that Jacoby Jones supplants Kevin Walter and comes up huge opposite of Andre Johnson?
Certainly, the possibility is there. I was surprised that the Texans re-upped Walter after the season, which makes me believe that they're not that high on Jones, but it could just end up being a situation where Johnson is #1 and Jones and Walter are 2A and 2B.
Hi Bill, can you please rank these QBs based solely on arm strength? Cutler, Brady, Carson, Big Ben, Peyton, Eli, McNabb. Am I missing anyone glaring?
Don't be concerned about quarterback arm strength. It's absurdly overrated as far as importance goes to the position.
It seems every year, almost all of the Chargers draft picks are expected to Boom, simply because they are drafted by the Chargers (Jacob Hester, Larry English). Is NT Cam Thomas the real deal, or more hype?
A Chargers fan in Marseille! True story -- I was in a Barcelona subway station at the end of May and I saw a guy in a Kevin Boss jersey walk past me. I was amazed. Of all the jerseys in the world...Clearly, NFL teams weren't happy with Thomas. Nose tackles also don't often make much of an impact as rookies. I think Thomas might be a year or two away from being part of a successful rotation at the nose.
Any chance my Colts return to the Super Bowl, or should we just resign ourselves to the fact that our run of postseason chances---most of which we failed to capitalize on---is finally at an end?
The Colts have a chance as long as Peyton Manning is still wearing blue and white.
Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben, and what's-his-name set the current "bearded QB" standard. Do you see any up-and-coming Paul Bunyan types in 2010 or 2011?
Spike, exposing the weirdness of bearded quarterbacks! I could see Kevin Kolb going with a giant beard.
Who were some of the names left just off the Top 25 prospect list that you really wanted to include?
The honorable mentions didn't make it to the ESPN piece. They were:Danny Amendola, WR, Rams Dan Connor, LB, Panthers Dennis Dixon, QB, Steelers Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons Steve Johnson, WR, Bills Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons Andy Studebaker, LB, Chiefs Wesley Woodyard, LB, Broncos
Will Suh be the stud he was in college or will he end up like so many other top DT picks who are average at best?
Think it's too early to say, but I like his chances with Jim Schwartz coaching him in Detroit. Think he could end up as something close to Albert Haynesworth, and while that might be a dirty word these days, Haynesworth is an absolute force on the field.
with kyle wilson, cromartie, and revis patroling the secondary, could the jets end up giving up less than 5 passing TDs all season? They only gave up 8 or something last year
I wrote about this in the free preview chapter of FOA 2010 -- http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings/2010/foa-2010-preview -- but the Jets pass defense is going to regress this year, simply because pass defenses aren't THAT good from year to year. I know it seems to hard to imagine that considering how well Revis played last year, but as I also write in that chapter, the natural decline from Revis's elite play of a year ago is going to help drive that change.
Alphonso Smith showed real signs of promise in preseason and in Game 1 vs. Cin, but then fell off the map completely. What's your 3-year projection on him?
I think he'll be starting for the Broncos next year, taking Andre' Goodman's spot. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle, and the Broncos brought in Ty Law because they were trying to win now.
Will Martz make a huge difference in Cutlers game? Read the DB cover, cut down on his gave-aways. It's not like could suck anymore than he did last year...right?
He's improved every quarterback that he's ever coached. I think you have to give Martz the benefit of the doubt until he fails.
Dallas Clark: gifted TE who might one day be Canton-bound or merely a very good TE who benefits from a great QB and fairly prolific offense?
Slot wide receiver who gets called a tight end because he wears a fullback's number.
Looking at the Packers it seems like the success of the team is going to be how well the pass defense can hold up against elite offenses. How do you see the Pack's pass defense holding up this year?
I think you'll see some decline there. They'll need a pass rusher to step up across from Matthews, and Woodson isn't likely to play as well as he did a year ago. It's not the worst thing in the world -- they're the Packers. If they get into shootouts, they have the offense to keep up with anyone.
How much of an impact can Donte Stallworth have in the Ravens offense? Does it depend more on Flacco's development or Stallworths ability to play well after a year off?
More the latter than the former. Stallworth's a player who needs to be an ancillary receiver and get in one-on-one coverage against less athletic players; in that limited role, he can be effective.
When will the 2010 FO Almanac be available for ordering on Amazon? Will it be in the brick and mortar stores this year?
We just sent the book in to be printed yesterday, so expect to see the book on Amazon in about two weeks. It will not be available in your local bookstore, no.
what if i picked the browns and the rams? hahaha could u answer that one?
How many people would have picked the Saints and Colts last year? Or the Rams and Titans in 1999? Anything is possible.
Who is a low rated prospect in the past that you had a feeling about and were spot on correct in your projection? Same question but on the other side of the spectrum, what prospect did you really think was a "cant miss" prospect that missed?
Good question. I'll give Miles Austin as the positive example; Austin was the Cowboys' fourth wideout before last year, and he ended up really emerging once he got playing time. On the other side? I really liked Glenn Dorsey coming out of school. I thought he'd be an elite defensive tackle, and he's really struggled. I wonder how much of that has to do it with the move to the 3-4, but it's pretty clear that the guy just hasn't got it done.
Is Calvin Johnson a top 10 receiver? I see a huge season for him this year
I think he has top 10 talent, but I don't think he will have top 10 production. Bad quarterback and too many injuries.
How do you rate the both Dickson and Pitta, the Ravens incoming TE draft picks? Do you think they have big potential to contribute this year?
Rookie tight ends virtually never produce numbers worth writing home about. I'd all but write them off this year.
I was wondering how much of the list is opportunity and how much of it is ability. I am a huge giant fan and have watched Goff over the years, and while he will be the starter not such he has the ability to be anything but a below average linebacker.
Mix of both. We'll have to see on Goff; clearly, I think more of him.
Who has a bigger impact for the Ravens this year, Mount Cody or Sergio Kindle? Are Kindles previous knee injuries a major concern?
Think Kindle as a situational pass rusher, especially across from Terrell Suggs. The injuries are a concern, but for the money they're paying Kindle, it's a risk worth taking. Maybe you end up with 80% of Shawne Merriman's first four seasons for what, six million bucks? That's a heck of a deal.
Of all the impressive WRs drafted last year, who do you expect to have the best career? Where would Nicks rank on that list?
I think Nicks is near or at the top. He led the league in average yards after catch last year, even beating out Austin, and I think that's indicative of what he can do as a downfield receiver going forward.
Is there any way Brady leaves NE, as far fetched as it sounds? Foxboro may implode.
It's possible. Joe Montana left San Francisco, right? If that does happen, I think it might be a few years down the line.
I was wondering in your formula what is more important talent or opportunity (it appeared the 11-25 were more talent guys, while the 1-10 were more individuals with guarenteed opportunity)
Talent also creates opportunity, though, too. It's more talent than opportunity, but if I think that two guys are similarly talented, I would probably err on rating the guy with the clearer path to playing time higher.
Hey Bill, a fellow FO gamecharter here, love the recent articles. So will you make a Tebow prediction? How will he fare this year? Think he will be a middle of the pack starter 2 seasons from now?
Kwame! Thanks for all your great work. I honestly have no idea about Tebow. I really don't, and I don't think anyone who says they do is telling the truth. I will say that I don't think he ends up as a middle of the pack guy; he's either a star or he's out of the league.
Can the Eagles win with Kolb? With the suspect O-Line, running game, and defense in Philly, why do people expect him to do better then J. Harrington, J. Russell, or any other rookie QB who didn't have those key components to begin their career?
Well, he's a much more accurate quarterback than those guys. So that's a plus.
Lots of Panthers in your write up, i think you are the only person i've ever seen mention gary barnridge, nice job! How do you think this young group will do in 2010?
I hope Gary Barnidge's parents have mentioned Gary once or twice! I think they're going to show signs of promise, but Carolina's probably a year away from competing for the NFC West crown.
Do you think the Giants will be able to get to the QB this year?
Yes. Certainly more than a year ago, although I think Jason Pierre-Paul was a wasted pick.
What are your thoughts on Matt Moore?
He played pretty well last year in limited time, although I'm skeptical of his ability to throw a pick every 70 attempts or so over the course of an entire season. Think he ends up as a slightly-below-average starter; the Panthers were able to win with that sort of quarterback at times with Delhomme, but the defense will need to improve to make that happen.
You've said in the past that sometimes young defenses get good all at once. Texans fans have been waiting for that "aha" season to happen for a while. With the second year under defensive coordinator Frank Bush, and another season of many returning starters, what does Football Outsiders' projections say about that with the Texans this year? Are there any young defenses that you expect to have a getting better season?
Our projection system sees a defense that was pretty poor even while they were very healthy last year, and sees that defense suffering more injuries that offset an improvement in play. I think the injuries will come, but I think the improvement in play will be more than what our projection system believes.
Leinhart or Anderson starting for AZ after week 3?
Leinart all the way. Anderson is...yuck.
Looking towards next year, "With the first pick of the draft the (Team) take (Player)." What's your take?
Always a tough question. I actually guessed Matthew Stafford two years ago, although I had the Chiefs taking him and not the Lions.Let's say... with the first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Jake Locker. Because, hey, why should they learn their lessons?
bill, what game are you looking forward to watching most this year?
I think a lot of what makes a particular game great is how well teams are playing. I'll pick an early game with that in mind, and I'll say Jets-Ravens in Week 1.
How do you like the Cowboys chances at the superbowl? Do you think their Defense can be elite?
I don't think they have the defensive line or the safeties to play at an elite level, no.
With the Success of PG and Austin Collie in Indy, do you see the colts being able to keep both when their contracts are up?
I think the Colts will happily let them go to another team and find two more late-round draft picks or undrafted free agents to fill in and catch passes from Peyton Manning, the same way that they cycle through their outside linebackers and offensive linemen.
I'm 5'4" and weigh 113 lbs. Based on your justifiable dkepticism about both Ugoh and Charlie Johnson, do you think the Colts might fare better with me at LT?! (Seriously, why did this team NOT make a better effort to upgrade its offensive line?)
In all fairness, if you are going to play left tackle for any team in the league, the Colts are the team that most frequently look for undersized players. So you've chosen the right team to root for. On the other hand, I think the effects of having a great left tackle are somewhat mitigated by the presence of Peyton Manning, who does a better job of recognizing the rush and getting the ball out of his hands than anyone in football. Look at New Orleans last year, who competed with Jermon Bushrod -- a pretty mediocre, unproven left tackle -- because Drew Brees is so good. Sure, having a great left tackle would help Indy, but I think they'll be able to get by without him. Or her.
Carolina hasn't won the NFC West since 1996! i doubt they will compete for that crown anytime soon...
True. That won't happen.
who do you think the surprise team is going to be this year? someone we dont expect to make the playoffs
Our projection system suggests that Kansas City will win the AFC West. So that would be the surprise pick.
It was interesting to see which teams are the 'oldest' (relatively speaking, of course) in the league. Is there a correlation between team youth and team success?
Not really, no. There's no real obvious correlation between macro statistics like age or salary and success.
Not a fan of Locker I take it??
No. Inaccurate college quarterbacks make great NFL washouts.
Pats have that pick! Suck it Oakland!
Oh, right. Oh boy. Um...I don't think the Patriots take Jake Locker. Let's say the Jags trade up and grab him.
Why do you like Leinart in AZ?? He stands in the pocket like an upright mustard dispenser, has the range of a frozen burrito, and the field vision of a dead corpse. Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey!!!
Well, I mean, none of that is true.
Regarding Pierre-Paul being a wasted pick...do you think he won't ever develop into a good player, or do you just think he won't contribute this year?
The former. Players with his sort of athleticism and college production make notoriously bad pros.
Do you see Douglas taking over for Jenkins this year at the #2 spot, I was at the camp when he tore his ACL and thought he was going to be a huge slot for us before the injury.
Nah. I think he profiles best as a slot receiver.
Is Barrett Ruud any good?
Very good. I just think he's surrounded by a lot of bad players in Tampa.
Week 1 Vikings and saints? take your pick
Saints are at home, so gotta go with the champs.
Do you think the Bears will be able to make a dramatic turn around in the NFC North with the help of Mike Martz?
Yes. Think they challenge for a playoff spot with Minnesota and Green Bay this year.
Big Redskins fan Bill. What are your thoughts on their WR situation? Did they do enough?
Don't think the moves they made really matter at all. What's important is whether Kelly and Thomas develop. The guys they brought in aren't more than spare parts.
You earlier mentioned that Calvin Johnson would not be in the top 10 as a receiver because of a bad quarterback - his numbers were very comparable to Sanchez - do you see him as a bad QB? Sanchez played on a great defensive team that led them to the playoffs while Stafford wasn't so fortunate.
I think Sanchez was about as bad as Stafford last year, but I think that Sanchez has a better shot at improving over the next few years.
Mario Manningham didn't make your top 25 - I liked what I saw of him last year. Thoughts on MM?
He started 10 games, so he couldn't qualify. Think he showed most of his upside last year; might be too small to be a starting receiver, could profile as a downfield guy.
bill if you had to choose 1 of these events to go to which 1 would you go to? super bowl, game 7 of world series, fifa world cup or summer olympics?
Already been to a Super Bowl, so I'll take the World Cup.
Bradshaw made you list this season. Everyone who has watched him knows the skill is their, however does an old Giants line have to be taken into consideration, as their running game should decline in productivity.
Sure, but they were still good enough last year that Bradshaw had spurts of brilliance.
It seems like the team rankings have little to no faith in the Packer's young receivers and DBs...are their holes in the secondary that significant to the rankings?
A lot of those guys have yet to launch.
According to your tape and metrics, who is the best pure fullback? I will take my man, Mike Sellers.
Maybe in 2005. Nowadays? Maybe Moran Norris.
Are the bears going to be who we thought they were (a decidely average team in a good division)?
Sounds about right. Maybe above-average.
So Jets Ravens is one of your favorite early games... who wins?
Ravens. FOA 2010 has them as the best team in the league this year, and I'm inclined to agree.
Alright everyone! Thanks for all the questions, and if you haven't already, go out and buy Football Outsiders Almanac 2010!