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Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 26, 2009
For the three or four folks on Planet Pigskin who still don't comprehend the theory behind the Cold, Hard Football Facts, this is how it works:
We don't ask for "expert" or "insider" opinions. We don't break down game film or comment on a player's "hip flexibility." We don't make judgments or issue edicts based upon biases, assumptions or long-standing conventional wisdom. And we certainly never offer our opinions.
Here's what we do do: We look at the numbers, those we've identified as critical to success in real-life, on-the-field football, and we then tell you what these numbers tell us. The theory is that the numbers have no biases or agendas and will therefore prove more consistently reliable than traditional and tragically flawed humans and human sources and all the inherent biases and agendas that come with these unreliable sources.
The theory of the Cold, Hard Football Facts has worked so well for us over the years that the science community may soon elevate it to the Law of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, like gridiron gravity.
The 2009 draft provided a textbook example of the Law of CHFF in action. It told us that the coaches and GMs bottled up inside various draft war rooms are not reading Mel Kiper's comically bad mock drafts. Instead, teams are probably doing the same thing we do in the lead-up to the draft: they're studying key numbers and raw data about their own team's performance and then trying to determine which players will best fill those concrete, statistical needs. They're studying, in other words, the Cold, Hard Football Facts – not necessarily our Cold, Hard Football Facts, but some version of them that, if the 2009 draft is any indication, apparently look quite similar to ours.
In most cases this draft, our analysis and the actions of NFL teams moved in almost perfect lock step. For proof, here below is what we wrote about each AFC and each NFC team in our pre-draft analysis, and how they acted this weekend in the draft.
We then grade our own performances: we get a high grade when our actions would have been the same as those a team actually took. Our consistently high grades simply re-confirm the unbridled, prairie-roaming awesomeness of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
(By the way, as we mentioned yesterday, our pre-draft analysis was so successful that we may start putting up picks against it before future drafts, just to find a way to dabble in that dismal mock-draft game, but in a way that won't make our beer curdle. But even for us, identifying the exact player that would be available is a foolish exercise.)
We wrote: "The Cardinals need to devote their draft resources to shoring up a defense that was 32nd in Bendability and 30th in Defensive Passer Rating ... and they could definitely use beef on both sides of the line to become a consistent winner."
Arizona's actions: Six of eight picks went to Hogs on both sides of the ball and pass defenders. But two running backs, including the selection of Ohio State's Beanie Wells with their only first-round pick, conflicted with what we identified as their most pressing needs – though not with the fact that Arizona was 31st in the NFL last year, averaging a meager 3.46 yards per rush attempt, which we failed to identify for you in our pre-draft analysis, even though it's a basic part of our Offensive Hog Index.
CHFF's grade (these grades are for our analysis, not the team's draft): F. We failed to note one of Arizona's most pressing statistical needs (its 31st-ranked ground game) ... the team did not. In other words, our flawless Cold, Hard Football Facts were correct, but human error on our end caused us to mis-identify the course of Arizona's draft.
We wrote: "The biggest need ... is on the defensive front. Atlanta was a mere 23rd on our Defensive Hog Index and teams shredded it on the ground." The Falcons need a solution for its "beef-less defense."
Atlanta's action: The Falcons devoted their No. 1 pick (24th overall) to beefing up their defensive front, selecting Ole Miss DT Peria Jerry. Four of their eight draft selections went to Defensive Hogs.
CHFF's grade: A++ for Awesome in Atlanta.
We wrote: "We have only six words of advice for Baltimore management as they enter the draft: Offensive linemen. Offensive linemen. Offensive linemen.'
Baltimore's actions: The Ravens traded up with New England in the first round to get left tackle Michael Oher of Ole Miss, one of the most highly rated offensive linemen in the 2009 draft.
CHFF's Grade: A. Quoth the Ravens: "Doubt the CHFF nevermore!"
We wrote: "Armed with two No. 1 picks, they can do some damage in this year's draft ... it's unlikely the team would pull the trigger on a quarterback ... That leaves a stud on the offensive line and a big-time playmaking talent on either offense or defense to boost a club that was 24th in our Big Play Index last year."
Buffalo's actions: The Bills used their first pick on big-time defensive playmaking talent Aaron Maybin, the Penn State defensive end, considered perhaps the best pass-rushing prospect in the draft. The second pick went to a stud on the OL: Louisville center Eric Wood. Buffalo's first four picks all went to offensive linemen and defenders with great playmaking credentials, including CB Jairus Byrd, who recorded 17 picks during his career at Oregon.
CHFF's grade: A. We wish we had suggested the Bills ship us Buffalo wings every Friday for life.
We wrote: "Look for the team to invest heavily in defense."
Carolina's actions: The Panthers invested heavily in defense. The first three picks went to Florida State defensive end Everette Brown, Troy safety Sherrod Martin and Georgia DT Corvey Irvin.
CHFF's grade: A+ for "Amen CHFF."
We wrote: "The Bears need to beef up its offensive line and continue to find ways to improve their historically moribund passing game."
Chicago's actions: The Bears looked for ways to improve their historically moribund passing game by devoting three of their nine picks to wide receivers, led by third-round selection Juaquin Iglesias out of Oklahoma. But, curiously, they used just one pick on the OL, and not until the seventh round (San Diego State's Lance Louis).
CHFF's grade: C. They SHOULD have followed our advice on the OL, but didn't. Either way, our grade suffers accordingly because half of it missed the mark.
We wrote: "It begins with the Offensive Hogs ... It begins with a wholesale restructuring of the offensive line in the draft this weekend."
Cincy's action: Cincy's draft began with the Offensive Hogs. The top pick, No. 6 overall, went to massive (332-pound) Alabama left tackle Andre Smith. The Bengals also used their fourth-round pick on Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs.
CHFF's grade: A+. It's like teams are powerless to oppose us.
We wrote: The Browns "need to concentrate on ... improving groups of Hogs who were piss poor on each side of the ball last year ... Coach Eric Mangini showed a desire (that we applauded) to address his needs in the trenches when he was with the Jets. And that would be the smart move again here in Cleveland."
Cleveland's actions: Mangini showed a desire to address his needs in the trenches when he made California center Alex Mack his top pick – he also made Mack the first center taken in the first round of an NFL draft since Mangini, then head coach of the Jets, grabbed Nick Mangold with a No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft. The Browns also used a second-round pick on Hawaii defensive end David Veikune. In other words, they devoted picks in the first two rounds to improving Hogs who were piss poor on each side of the ball last year.
CHFF's grade: B. C'mon folks, that's pretty damn good, highlighting Mangini's love for Offensive Hogs just before he went out and became the first guy to use a first-round pick on a center since he did it himself three years earlier. But we did think the Browns would use more than three of its eight picks on Offensive and Defensive Hogs, and they didn't. So our grade is taken down a notch as a result.
We wrote: "The Cowboys need to draft game-breaking defensive and special teams players ... especially in the perpetually under-achieving secondary."
Dallas's actions: The Cowboys did not have a single first day selection. But they invested heavily in special teams and in game-breaking defenders, especially in the secondary. Top pick, Western Illinois OLB Jason Williams, is described in his NFLDraftScout report as "a potential playmaker as an outside linebacker/special teams player." Several other selections, including defensive end Victor Butler and safety Stephen Hodge were selected because of their special-teams experience. The Cowboys also grabbed a kicker, USC's David Buehler, in the fifth round. The addressed game-breakers in the secondary with the selections of both University of Cincy corners, DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens, who combined for over 20 INTs over the past two years, and Clemson safety Mike Hamlin, who was among the NCAA leaders last season with six INTs.
CHFF's grade: A2 for pretty damn Astute Analysis. Seriously, special teams? We nailed special teams? We're so f!$#*$! awesome it's not even funny.
We wrote: "The only practical response ... is to devote every single draft pick to defense. In most cases, this would be considered an over-reaction. In the case of the Broncos, it's the only move that makes sense."
Denver's actions: The Broncos used just four of 10 picks on defense, while the No. 1 went to Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno.
CHFF's grade: F-. Denver SHOULD have followed our advice. But that's their problem. And its our problem for the purpose of grading. We missed badly on their actions.
We wrote: "The thing NOT to do this weekend ... is to draft a high-priced quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. The smart move would be to trade the top pick ... and try to stock up on ... building-block players like left tackles and cover corners. (But) this being the Lions, they're probably going to blow the No. 1 pick on Matt Stafford."
Detroit's actions: The Lions blew the No. 1 pick on Stafford. In fact, the first two picks went to the passing game (Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew was taken with the 20th overall pick), despite the fact that passing the ball was actually one of Detroit's strongest attributes last year (and even then they still sucked at it). The Lions did not grab a single cover corner and did not take an OT until the seventh round (Nebraska's Lydon Murtha).
CHFF's grade: A++. The Lions need to win a game before we take the fall for their prolific draft mistakes. Put most simply, they failed to address their biggest needs in the draft. We did not fail in our analysis of those needs.
We wrote: "The Packers ... surrendered 4.6 yards per attempt on the ground, 26th in the league. The Packers have made few if any moves to solidify its defense in free agency. So they need to make those moves in the draft, specifically acquiring a big-time player on the defensive front."
Green Bay's actions: The Packers acquired a big-time player on the defensive front with their first pick, No. 9 overall: beefy Boston College DT B.J. Raji. Their second pick (No. 26 overall) was devoted to another player who will improve the Defensive Hogs, USC OLB Clay Matthews. In all, the Packers devoted half their draft (four of eight picks) to Defensive Hogs.
CHFF's grade: A. The Packers followed our directives perfectly. Good boy. Now give us a paw. Hell, give us a bratwurst.
We wrote: "The team remains in desperate need of playmakers, especially in the secondary. So look for the Texans to roll the dice again with defense."
Houston's actions: The Texans rolled the dice again with defense – three of their first four picks, including their top two. The No. 1 pick was devoted to USC OLB Brian Cushing, considered one off the most promising defensive playmakers in the draft. The No. 2 pick was devoted to exciting pass-rushing specialist Connor Barwin from the University of Cincinnati. The first DB was not selected until their fourth pick (Glover Quin), a fourth rounder.
CHFF's grade: B-. We nailed the "defensive playmaker" part, though we anticipated that it would be more heavily invested in the secondary than up front.
We wrote: "Let's just agree they still have those same problems on defense that have plagued them for years and suggest that Bill Polian and new coach Jim Caldwell actually do something about it on Saturday."
Indy's actions: Two of the first three picks went to defenders, but the No. 1 was devoted to Connecticut RB Donald Brown, a curious selection given the obvious defensive needs. But the pick seems to be consistent with Polian's highly successful drafting style and M.O.
CHFF's grade: D ... Damn Bill Polian, messing up our analysis and our grade with his history of great drafts.
We wrote: "A substandard offensive line (is) a particular problem for an organization that has embraced traditional smash-mouth football. But they have yet to address their ... pathetic pass defense. So look for a heavy dose of pass rushers and potential shut-down corners in the draft."
Jacksonville's actions: The Jaguars have apparently embraced traditional smash-mouth football even more than we had anticipated: Their first two picks went to offensive tackles (Eugene Monroe in the first and Eben Britton in the second). Jacksonville selected just a single corner, third rounder Derek Cox, and did not grab a single pass-rush specialist.
CHFF's grade: D-. We were dead on with the organization's love affair with Offensive Hogs, but we obviously anticipated that more draft resources would go into other areas of need. They didn't.
We wrote: "Using the draft to solidify that terrible (defensive line) is job No. 1 for Kansas City's new brain trust of GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley ... Some stud Defensive Hogs who can both stuff the run and put pressure on the quarterback will also improve the team's very poor ability to play pass defense (25th in Defensive Passer Rating)."
Kansas City's actions: The Chiefs made solidifying that terrible defensive line job No. 1. They used the No. 3 overall pick on LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson, the top defensive line prospect in the draft. Their second pick, a third-rounder, was used on Purdue defensive tackle Alex Magee. The third pick, CB Donald Washington in the fourth round, was aimed directly at the team's second biggest problem, its porous pass defense.
CHFF's grade: A+, for Arrowhead-like Accuracy.
We wrote: "The Dolphins may have to go back into the Offensive Hog well on draft day ... Another earth mover in the trenches will ... allow Miami to improve its efficiency on offense, as measured by our Scoreability Index."
Miami's action: The Miami top five went CB-QB-CB-WR-WR. They did not take a single offensive lineman until Georgia Tech OT Andrew Gardner in the sixth round, their eighth pick.
CHFF's grade: F-. After last year's turnaround, not to mention a few others in Foxboro and the Meadowlands (twice), Parcells has earned the right not to bend to the almighty power of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
We wrote: "They're going to have to find a way to shore up ... an offense that ranked 19th in Passing Yards per Attempt last year. Elsewhere, the Vikings absolutely need help on the offensive line."
Minnesota's actions: The Vikings shored up an offense that ranked 19th in Passing Yards per Attempt last year by devoting their first-round pick to potential game-breaking wide receiver Percy Harvin out of Florida. The second-round pick by this team that absolutely needs help on the offensive line was massive OT Phil Loadholt out of Oklahoma. With just five picks in the draft, the final three all went to defense.
CHFF's grade: A. We should have just made the first two picks for them.
We wrote: "They won't return to championship form as long as the pass defense struggles ... The rebuilding process begins with some smart draft picks in the defensive backfield on Saturday. "
New England's actions: The Patriots began the rebuilding process with some smart picks in the defensive backfield on Saturday. They grabbed defenders with their first three picks, including a hard-hitting safety in Oregon's Patrick Chung with their first selection and a potential cover corner in Connecticut's Darius Butler with their third selection – both second rounders.
CHFF's grade: A. Hard to be more accurate than that.
We wrote: "The No. 1 problem is to find a stud on the defensive line ... The other key is a game-breaker in the defensive secondary."
New Orleans' actions: The Saints attempted to find a game-breaker in the defensive secondary as their first two picks went to DBs, highlighted by Ohio State's very promising CB Malcom Jenkins with the 14th overall selection. But the Saints, with just four picks, failed to select a single stud on the defensive line. In fact, they used their final pick, a fifth-rounder, on SMU punter (yes, punter) Thomas Morstead.
CHFF's grade: C+. The Saints will probably regret not following our plan for them more closely.
We wrote: "Normally, wide receivers are a poor selection in the first round ... Teams should devote a great deal of resources (such as high draft picks) to the wide receiver position only when they're solid in every other area. The Giants certainly fit that bill. One other position of need, though: Michael Strahan's retirement had an impact on the production of the team's Defensive Hogs and a high pick here could go a long way toward restoring the team's ability to compete for a championship."
New York's actions: Sure enough, the Giants took a wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina, with their first-round draft pick. They also went Defensive Hogs with their second-round pick, grabbing Virginia OLB Clint Sintim, who may also see time at defensive end and was one of the leading sack-masters in college football last year, with 11. The Giants attacked WRs again in the third-round (their fourth pick) by grabbing Ramses Barden of Cal-Poly.
CHFF's grade: A+. The Giants were so obedient that we may enter them in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show next year.
We wrote: "The process for new coach Rex Ryan begins with finding a quarterback ... the word is that they have their eyes on USC's Mark Sanchez. It would be a good move. ... the Jets are a perfect team to take a quarterback high in the draft ... whether they take a quarterback or not with their first pick, they absolutely must devote picks to improving their pass defense."
New York's actions: The Jets traded up with Cleveland to take Sanchez with the No. 5 overall pick. However, not one of their measly three picks went to improving the pass defense.
CHFF's grade: C. We obviously nailed the Sanchez deal. Not one of the mock drafts we're grading right now – Kiper, Mayock, Kirwan, McShay – had Sanchez going to the Jets. But we whiffed on the pass defense.
We wrote: "Oakland's draft-day resources should go toward ... improving what was, collectively, the worst pairing of Offensive and Defensive Hogs possessed by any NFL team this year."
Oakland's actions: Al Davis made a mockery of himself once again by grabbing a speedy wideout, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first round (No. 7 overall), and another, Florida's Louis Murphy, in the fourth. They grabbed three defensive ends in the draft, but not a single offensive lineman.
CHFF's grade: A+. We're not taking the fall for Al Davis here. He would have been better off following our advice and devoting more resources to one of the worst groups of Offensive Hogs in the NFL.
We wrote: "Big-time Offensive Hogs in the draft ... will go a long way toward helping the Eagles win a championship for the first time since its best player was a two-way center and linebacker."
Philly's actions: The Eagles utterly ignored our directives, ignoring the Offensive Hogs until they grabbed Arizona State guard Paul Fanaika in the seventh round. Instead, they went the cheap, short-sighted route toward improving the offensive flaws that we identified last week, taking a wide receiver (Missouri's Jeremy Maclin), running back (Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy) and tight end (Florida's Cornelius Ingram) with their first three picks.
CHFF's grades: AA ... as in Alcoholics Anonymous. We must have been ginned up on cheap booze when we wrote Philly's pre-draft analysis. Or maybe Andy Reid was ginned up for not following our advice. In either case, this was probably our single worst analysis of likely outcomes in what was otherwise a roiling sea of success.
We wrote: "The Steelers must remake their offensive line. It's the one and only priority the team has in the draft."
Pittsburgh's actions: The Steelers did not remake their offensive line. They grabbed just two offensive linemen, Wisconsin OT Kraig Urbuk in the second round and Penn State center A.Q. Shipley in the seventh. They were more aggressive along the defensive line, taking Ole Miss DT Evander Hood with their first-round selection and Oregon DT Ra'Shon Harris in the sixth.
CHFF's grade: C-. Maybe Pittsburgh saw over the past two years the benefits of having the league's No. 1 Defensive Hogs (Giants in 2007, Steelers in 2008) and decided they could live without a major overhaul on the OL as long as their D Hogs were the best in the league, as they were last year.
We wrote: "Given the team's proficiency on offense, and the loss of contributors such as DE Igor Olshansky, stud defenders seem the only way to go here in the 2009 draft. Look for a bold move in the offensive backfield, too."
San Diego's actions: The Chargers realized that a stud defender/Olshansky replacement was the way to go, pegging Northern Illinois DE Larry English with their top pick (16th overall). They grabbed another defensive lineman, DT Vaughn Martin, in the fourth round (their third pick). But Martin is from Canada, so he counts as only a sixth rounder in American drafts. The Chargers did not make a bold move in the offensive backfield, other than taking Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson in the fourth round.
CHFF's grade: B. We nailed the Defensive Hogs part pretty well, right down to the replacement of Olshansky.
We wrote: "Look for a bold move to attract a player with big-time explosive skills (Percy Harvin, anyone?) and efforts to solidify a weak and pathetic offensive line."
San Francisco's actions: The 49ers made a bold move to attract a player with big-time explosive skills, though it was Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall pick, not Florida's Harvin. Still, they absolutely made a bold move for perhaps the most explosive offensive player available. However, they did not take a single step to solidify a weak and pathetic offensive line.
CHFF's grade: C. Perfectly mediocre: we nailed one move as if it were a cheap French whore, but fell limp on the other.
We wrote: "First, they need a big-time impact player in the secondary ... Second, they need a big-time pass-rushing impact player up front. Seattle's 28th-ranked Defensive Hogs ... forced opponents into negative pass plays on just 6.5 percent of dropbacks (29th). That ... needs to improve dramatically before Seattle becomes competitive again."
Seattle's actions: The Seahawks used their top pick – No. 4 overall – on a potential game-changer who absolutely should improve their ability to force opponents into negative pass plays, Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry. However, they did not seek a big-time impact player in the secondary, using only one pick, a seventh rounder, on safety Courtney Greene.
CHFF's grade: C. Our insight here was the flavor equivalent of tofu. Sure, it will meet your nutritional needs, but you won't enjoy it as much as a tasty geoduck clam fritter.
We wrote: "The most obvious need to address in the draft is a building-block offensive lineman to replace Orlando Pace ... The Rams need help just about everywhere, and its 30th-ranked Offensive Hogs are the most obvious place to start the rebuilding program."
St. Louis's actions: The Rams drafted a potential building-block offensive lineman to replace Orlando Pace with their top pick (No. 2 overall) in Baylor OT Jason Smith. However, he was the only lineman the Rams tapped with their seven selections.
CHFF grade: B+. Our directives were just shy of perfect.
We wrote: "The most obvious (needs) sit, as usual in Tampa, with the offense. But given the free-agent moves made on offense, and the fact that the defense will certainly be a question mark in wake of the (Monte) Kiffin departure, it's easy to ... support a scenario in which Tampa ignores its (offense) and focuses instead on defense in the draft."
Tampa's actions: The Bucs attacked their most obvious needs, on offense, by tabbing Kansas State's massive QB Josh Freeman (6-6, 250) with their top pick (17th overall). That should teach us to go against the directives of the Cold, Hard Football Facts. The Bucs chased defense with their second, third and fifth of just six draft picks this year with Texas DT Roy Miller (third round), USC DE Kyle Moore (fourth round) and Western Michigan CB E.J. Biggers (seventh round).
CHFF grade: F. We should have followed the numbers, the data and the Cold, Hard Football Facts. In this instance we didn't, but Tampa management did.
We wrote: "The Titans are a rare team in the eyes of the Cold, Hard Football Facts: a team that should seriously consider devoting valuable high-draft resources to wide receivers."
Tennessee's actions: The Titans devoted valuable high-draft resources to a wide receiver, taking Kenny Britt out of Rutgers with their first-round selection. In all, three of their 11 picks went to pass catchers, including tight end Jared Cook out of South Carolina in the third round and wide receiver Dominique Edison out of Stephen F. Austin in the sixth round.
CHFF's grades: A. For our next trick, we'll tell Jeff Fisher to lose the Burt Reynolds porn 'stache.
We wrote: "The Redskins could have won a Super Bowl with the defense it fielded last year ... That unit will certainly improve with the off-season acquisition of high-priced DT Albert Haynesworth ... So the needs couldn't be more obvious: the Redskins must (drag) their offense out of its ineffective and inefficient (31st in Scoreability) quagmire."
Washington's actions: The Redskins aggressively attacked defense, devoting its first three picks to Texas DE Brian Orakpo (13th overall pick), Maryland CB Kevin Barnes (third round) and Nebraska LB Cody Glenn (fifth round).
CHFF's grade: F-. We failed miserably to identify Washington's battle plan. But that's probably a problem with their efforts, and not our analysis. Their picks this year represent a classic example of a team drafting to add to its existing strengths and not drafting to shore up its statistical weaknesses. We should have weighed the Snyder Ego Index more heavily.
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