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wogitalia
03-23-2010, 05:54 AM
This draft has really got me thinking re - positional value, especially for safeties but also for a few other positions, or more importantly types of players at positions.

Safeties

Has the league "missed the boat" on the true vale of safeties? The league has changed from run heavy to pass heavy and oriented, in particular over the last 5 years as teams such as New Orleans, New England, Minnesota, Indianapolis and San Francisco add elements of the spread. This trend is growing as well with Minny and San Fran only really doing it last year and there are other teams also that do it.

Now the spread as it has entered the NFL is the pass based version and has been used in particular to create matchup problems with safeties and linebackers. Now we have seen an influx of many smaller and quicker linebackers, will touch on this later, but the safety position remains mostly unchanged, it's value seems the same as 5 years ago and I just don't agree with this.

Look at this draft, you have Berry as the best example, by all accounts a top 5 player and elite talent but he most likely doesn't go top 5 and the main reason is because he is a safety. It seems that MLB has been "devalued" as a position somewhat appropriately given the stylistic changes to the game but the safeties that are picking up the slack have not been appreciatively valued.

Looking at the top defenses in the league for the last few years and some of the notable defensive turnarounds...

Tennessee - Last year with Griffen leading the safeties they were elite, this year with him playing relatively poorly they were not elite. There were many other changes, but is just one example.

Pittsburgh - The "best" test case. With Polamalu, an elite game changing safety, they were an elite and aggressive defense. Without him they were very vanilla and beatable.

Baltimore - Have been elite defensively for a decade. The constants in that period are Reed and Lewis. How much credit should Reed get?

New Orleans - Darren Sharper was the difference in that defense from very ordinary to I guess game changing at least, if not actually good.

Cardinals - Defense has sort of ebbed and flowed with Wilson's performance.

Giants - Looked pretty solid and then Phillips went down and fell to pieces.

Colts - Sanders coming back helped them win a Superbowl. Improvements from their safeties this year helped get them back there.

Denver and Philly - See the improvement/decline with the Dawkins switch.

There are probably other examples but all those teams had elite or damn near it safety play combined with great defensive play overall. Sure there are still teams that get by without(Minny spring to mind first and foremost) but there seems to be a pretty strong trend that game changing or at least altering safeties and good defenses are linked.

Given this, does anyone else feel that the safety position has become undervalued and that teams should place more emphasis? Especially on guys like Berry and Thomas who offer elite coverage skills, I don't see any move away from the passing game, the main rule change this year seems to be yet more emphasis from the league on reducing physicality and increasing passing. The league seems set in this way, teams are going to embrace it and as the league outlaws contact in the middle of the field putting explosive slots in only makes more sense. Safeties that can play the ball become more vital to defend this.

Any thoughts? Does anyone see an inherent error in my thoughts on this? I actually think that within 5 years safeties will be every bit as valuable as CBs and pass rushers, probably just one notch below truly elite pass rushers, OTs and QBs because the game is changing. The next couple of points relate back to this in many ways...

Linebackers

Have already touched on the big MLB being worth less now. See last years draft, the apparent slide of McClain at the moment and the value put on Spikes. As a MLB if you don't run 4.5 you basically can't be a top 15 pick right now, fair enough, this relates largely to my next point, but the backs are changing, the MLB has to as well.

As for OLBs, this point is two fold. Firstly they need to be faster than ever now, covering slots is going to increase, big thumpers at OLB are going to go the way of the dinosaur, imo.

On the flipside, big pass rushers will also decline. Check the sack leaders over the last 3 years, trending smaller, shorter, lighter and faster. As OTs have got bigger and taller to try and stop future Peppers and Allens they have perhaps got a little too large. Guys like Doom and Harrison who start under the pad level of the huge OTs have a natural leverage advantage. Stocky, strong and fast rushers can get under and bull rush or go around. Mathis, Freeney and Cole are further examples in a 4-3 no less to show it is not just standup outsides doing it. You will still have the Ware's out there who are prototypes, but I expect guys like Graham to join a growing number of undersized(traditionally) OLBs who will shift the trend as well. This links back to the speed needed for coverage also and also the next point.

Any thoughts on this? Again, point out the flaws you see.

Running Backs

This is perhaps the driving point behind the whole movement. Guys like Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Felix Jones and Leon Washington are driving a change at RB. Speed is more important than size, ability to catch or better yet, shift out to WR. Versatility at RB is just huge and has become a game changer. Check the top 2 backs this year, Best and Spiller, both this type of player and for the first time this year they aren't being knocked for not being traditional but more lauded for being versatile. Where as Johnson and Bush's inside running was questioned and outside play and receiving was diminished it seems the opposite with Spiller and Best, it is mentioned still but not harped upon. These are the types of backs that open up the spread offense because they can easily motion out of the backfield and be far more than just a decoy. Alternatively guys like Harvin can motion in. The backs getting smaller and faster will drive the MLB, defensive changes are reactive to offensive changes, always have and will be. The spread is changing things rapidly though, it truly is only a matter of time until a team just institutes a full spread offense and calls it as such and it will open the floodgates.

Thoughts on this as well?

Obviously with all this, you still have the Petersons and Willis types at RB and MLB who fit both the traditional mold and also what I see as the future mold and these guys are worth their weight in gold, but I expect the safety position to become far more important and other positions to diminish slightly and I'm just wondering if attentive fans like we have here have picked up the same trends or see something different.

I have put this in the draft thread as the basis is the undervaluing of the safety position and changes in what we will be looking for at LB and RB but if a mod feels it would be more appropriate in the NFL thread feel free to move it.

BuddyCHRIST
03-23-2010, 06:19 AM
I've been saying that about safety's for a while, especially with coverage rules now. The best almost any cb can do (not named Revis/Aso) is cover his receiver into position for the safety to be there to make a play, a good safety can make up for alot of deficiencies with your corners, not to mention they can be huge players in run support.

I've also felt like in the era of the 3-4, that the franchise LT importance has been overrated. Teams can bring pressure from so many different spots, that it has become similar in value to every position on the line. The Center has become underrated, as blocking assignments are more crucial than ever.

DeathbyStat
03-23-2010, 06:41 AM
I've been saying that about safety's for a while, especially with coverage rules now. The best almost any cb can do (not named Revis/Aso) is cover his receiver into position for the safety to be there to make a play, a good safety can make up for alot of deficiencies with your corners, not to mention they can be huge players in run support.

I've also felt like in the era of the 3-4, that the franchise LT importance has been overrated. Teams can bring pressure from so many different spots, that it has become similar in value to every position on the line. The Center has become underrated, as blocking assignments are more crucial than ever.

The center has become super underrated because he now has the job of blocking massive nose tackles more then in the past

AntoinCD
03-23-2010, 07:24 AM
I don't ever think safeties will be valued as highly as other positions. Ideally now safeties should be able to cover like corners and hit like linebackers. Most safeties don't have the body type to do this consistently for 10-12 years. Bob Sanders is always hurt, Polamalu is getting hurt more often, Ed Reed is playing hurt so often he is contemplating retirement, Brian Dawkins has an injury history, Adrian Wilson etc etc. Teams will be unwilling to take even an impact safety that high because safeties have a life span almost as short as a runningback.

QBs, LTs, DEs should all have long productive, hopefully relatively injury free careers and this is why they are valued so high IMO

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 09:17 AM
The giants won the superbowl against the most prolific spread team in the NFL with James Butler and Gibril Wilson in the starting lineup. I'm pretty sure that single handedly proves that safety's are not under-valued.

bigfreak314
03-23-2010, 10:06 AM
The giants won the superbowl against the most prolific spread team in the NFL with James Butler and Gibril Wilson in the starting lineup. I'm pretty sure that single handedly proves that safety's are not under-valued.

The same Giants that had Strahan, Osi Umenryah, Justin Tuck raising hell up front?

A good pass rush always makes mediocre safties look good.

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 10:15 AM
The same Giants that had Strahan, Osi Umenryah, Justin Tuck raising hell up front?

A good pass rush always makes mediocre safties look good.

That's exactly my point, DL is a much more premium position than safety even with the prevalence of the spread.

King Carls 5 Year Plan
03-23-2010, 10:38 AM
Rosebud and bigfreak, you guys are right there. The one similarity between every team with good safety play is they are able to get to the QB. Whether it be from a specific dynamic pass rusher (Freeney) or a scheme that creates alot of pressure (Pittsburgh).

Now this begins the Chicken and the Egg discussion. Does the pass rush make a good safety Elite? Or, does an Elite Saftey make a good pass rush even better?

The more reads a QB has to make because of good coverage, the longer he holds onto the ball. The longer it takes to throw to receiver, a good pass rush will get to the QB.

An Elite pass rush gets to the QB so fast he isn't able to make his proper reads and throws the ball up and makes for an easy INT by a good Safety.

King Carls 5 Year Plan
03-23-2010, 10:48 AM
I do believe that the Safety position is under valued in terms of draft stock. If Berry is the 3rd best prospect in this draft, then he should be able to be drafted in the top 5 without being disparaged.

(Now I get use my least favorite way to start a sentence. It negates everything previously said.) Having said that, I understand why a Safety is devalued in the draft. If Eric Berry is drafted in the top 5, the second he signs his deal, he will be the highest paid Safety in NFL history. All that money based on potential. His contract would effect how other deals use their Franchise Tags on Safeties die to the amount of money in his contract. Give the NFL rookies a salary cap and the "positional value" of the draft goes by the wayside. Teams would address issues with players when they were available. Not when they had good positional value.

wicket
03-23-2010, 10:51 AM
New Orleans - Darren Sharper was the difference in that defense from very ordinary to I guess game changing at least, if not actually good.


iyam the difference was way more the addition of greer and the developement of porter. those two made the cornerback group one of the better ones in the league coming from probably the worst group.
The qualitiy of play at the cornerback position allowed sharper to made the plays he did.

bigfreak314
03-23-2010, 10:56 AM
another note, I do agree that the league has started to trend towards the faster, smaller pass rushers including guys coming into this draft like Hughes and Woodley I believe the next trend is going to be the 6-4 to 6-5 athletic OT who can move with the better athletes at DE and negate pass rushers like that. Guys like Russell Okung and Bruce Cambell, although he hasnt put it all together yet, who can run and have good lateral agility.

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 10:57 AM
I hate the phrase "what came first, the chicken or the egg". That's not a question, it was the egg and from it was hatched a mutant offspring that we know call chickens.

King Carls 5 Year Plan
03-23-2010, 10:59 AM
who layed the egg?

yourfavestoner
03-23-2010, 11:02 AM
Those positions will never be highly valued in the draft unless there is a rookie cap, simply because of the economic hamper drafting in the top 10 brings.

As this is a draft board, pretty much everybody on here knows of George Young/Bill Parcells' "planet theory" - that there is a very limited supply of athletic big men on the planet, and they should be coveted accordingly. It's simple supply and demand economics.

Look at the economic impact of taking a safety in the top five of the draft. By doing that, you're giving him a contract in the range of 6 years, $60 million, with roughly $28-30 million guaranteed. Compare that to Antrel Rolle - who the Giants just made the highest paid safety in the league. Rolle signed a 5 year, $37 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. Polamalu recently just signed a 4 year, $30 million contract. If you're already paying Berry twice as much as the highest paid safeties in the league, think of how much it's going to cost to resign him when his rookie deal is up - especially after other teams have to start paying safeties MORE than what Berry is being paid, completely throwing the market out of whack.

Conversely, with QBs, defensive linemen, and offensive tackles, you'd be spending right along the lines of what the highest paid guys are at their positions. It fits the market price. And that's why these positions will be valued the most at the top of the draft.

In professional sports, it's all about the money. When there's a rookie cap in place, you'll see the value of positions start to even out a little bit. But until then it's all about big men and quarterbacks at the top of the draft. It just doesn't make economic sense to do it any other way.

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 11:03 AM
who layed the egg?

A chicken like species that I'd guess is extinct.

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 11:06 AM
There was some chicken ancestor that laid an egg with a mutant baby in it, that mutant baby was the chicken.

Bengals78
03-23-2010, 11:06 AM
who layed the egg?

the offspring of a ******** fish-frog....
(SP reference)

wogitalia
03-23-2010, 10:36 PM
Those positions will never be highly valued in the draft unless there is a rookie cap, simply because of the economic hamper drafting in the top 10 brings.

I guess you can expand draft value to contracts though. I mean if a safety is considered of equal worth as a RB for example then eventually the pay will reflect it. At the moment I think that the undervaluing of the position is universal, they are underpaid and undervalued and as a result their draft positions are affected by those two elements. Elite safeties have become major.

The giants won the superbowl against the most prolific spread team in the NFL with James Butler and Gibril Wilson in the starting lineup. I'm pretty sure that single handedly proves that safety's are not under-valued.

They did, it may be worth noting though that when they got weaker at safety and lost one of those DEs their defense was significantly worse. How much of the decline can you place on Strahan and how much is on the safety play?

The Vikes are perhaps the best example of poor safety play. I can't remember the last time we had even average level safety play. We have had a pretty elite DL for a while though, certainly amongst the very best in the league. Our CBs have been average or better yet our pass defense has been atrocious. The Vikes are a team that if they don't get overwhelming pressure or turnovers can't stop any team from moving it down the field. Check the Saints game in the playoffs for a classic example.

i don't buy this. johnson's may have been mentioned, but no more than for spiller. bush's ability or inability to run inside was highly scrutinized, since he was expected to be a top 3 pick and was generally hailed as the best running back prospect 'ever' (for various definitions of 'ever'). if spiller had any chance of being picked that high, there'd be the exact same questions.

Perhaps this has as much to do with the declining value placed on RBs in the draft as anything. Spiller is a pretty damn similar player to Bush yet his value is less. RB as a position has declined in value as the game changes. Johnson I guess is different in that he was widely considered a late 1st at best pick and thus you expect a flaw or two.

It seems to me that the NFL is far quicker to "devalue" positions than it is to appreciate them. Right now it feels like safeties are underpaid, whereas the adjustment as they have become less important has been rapid for RBs and ILBs.

another note, I do agree that the league has started to trend towards the faster, smaller pass rushers including guys coming into this draft like Hughes and Woodley I believe the next trend is going to be the 6-4 to 6-5 athletic OT who can move with the better athletes at DE and negate pass rushers like that.

That makes perfect sense. Whilst teams continue to pick the 6'7 guys I think the smaller, quicker tackles will get a chance also, obviously less time should be needed for the spread and more pass oriented means that becomes the priority to block.

Teams can bring pressure from so many different spots, that it has become similar in value to every position on the line. The Center has become underrated, as blocking assignments are more crucial than ever.

Interesting point, one I hadn't really thought about but look at the last couple of years this is so true. Check the teams in the final 4. Jets had elite guard and center play and adequate tackle play. Ditto for Saints with adequate center play instead of elite. Colts are pretty elite inside and probably even poor on the outside. Saints are elite at G, adequate at C and adequate at RT and poor at LT. Year before the strength of the Cards was inside, ditto for the Steelers. Ditto Ravens.

You may very well be on to something there.

iyam the difference was way more the addition of greer and the developement of porter. those two made the cornerback group one of the better ones in the league coming from probably the worst group.
The qualitiy of play at the cornerback position allowed sharper to made the plays he did.

No doubt. He was just a part of it, but he was perhaps the most notable addition. He certainly had a bigtime impact on the way they played, something they didn't have the year before.

Don't get me wrong, pressure and elite corners are still above safeties, if you have them you can cover for other weaknesses, check the Vikes vs Cowboys then Saints to see what a difference pressure makes but it seems like safeties have become undervalued as they have become almost as important as those two spots and perhaps more important than linebackers all together and as a linebacker that pains me to say.

Rosebud
03-23-2010, 10:52 PM
our safety play has gotten better since then...

thetedginnshow
03-23-2010, 10:54 PM
Those positions will never be highly valued in the draft unless there is a rookie cap, simply because of the economic hamper drafting in the top 10 brings.

As this is a draft board, pretty much everybody on here knows of George Young/Bill Parcells' "planet theory" - that there is a very limited supply of athletic big men on the planet, and they should be coveted accordingly. It's simple supply and demand economics.

Look at the economic impact of taking a safety in the top five of the draft. By doing that, you're giving him a contract in the range of 6 years, $60 million, with roughly $28-30 million guaranteed. Compare that to Antrel Rolle - who the Giants just made the highest paid safety in the league. Rolle signed a 5 year, $37 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. Polamalu recently just signed a 4 year, $30 million contract. If you're already paying Berry twice as much as the highest paid safeties in the league, think of how much it's going to cost to resign him when his rookie deal is up - especially after other teams have to start paying safeties MORE than what Berry is being paid, completely throwing the market out of whack.

Conversely, with QBs, defensive linemen, and offensive tackles, you'd be spending right along the lines of what the highest paid guys are at their positions. It fits the market price. And that's why these positions will be valued the most at the top of the draft.

In professional sports, it's all about the money. When there's a rookie cap in place, you'll see the value of positions start to even out a little bit. But until then it's all about big men and quarterbacks at the top of the draft. It just doesn't make economic sense to do it any other way.

LaRon Landry's rookie contract was for 5 years, 41.5 mil.

I do like what you had to say about the Safety though Wogs, since I've always considered it the most important defensive position. I actually think the reason they're "undervalued" though is that since there are so few great ones (kind of like the FB or C), they don't want to put a major emphasis on the position by giving the stars big contracts and artificially raising the value of the rest.

thetedginnshow
03-23-2010, 10:56 PM
Jets had elite guard and center play and adequate tackle play.

Our best linemen were our Center and LT. The Guards were good, but not great.

phlysac
03-23-2010, 11:31 PM
My question doesn't lay as much with the "value" of safeties, in general but with why some teams, including the San Francisco 49ers still hold a great deal of "value" or importance in differentiating between Free and Strong. The 49ers' philosophy, as an example, has been one of utilizing a very strong run-support or "in-the-box" style Strong Safety. Even as the defensive philosophy has shifted, allowing for a more balanced defensive backfield and safety play in general, the 49ers still stress the importance of the "run stopper" safety. Michael Lewis has performed at a high level if that is what is expected of his play. He is very aggressive in run defense and is one of the better, in my opinion, pure "in-the-box" style safeties in the NFL. Unfortunately, this philosophy has lead to an inconsistent, at best, ability to handle various passing schemes. From a coverage perspective, the entire 49ers defensive backfield struggles because of the inabilities of either of its "Strong" safeties (Lewis, Mark Roman) to provide consistent pass coverage. The cornerbacks cannot fully trust to leave their man or zone responsibilities if the man responsible for covering them (Lewis/Roman) are unable to do so. The play of Dashon Goldson can also be affected because he may read a breakdown in the coverage in front of him and fail to negotiate his responsibilities effectively on the deeper routes.

In my opinion, the League is transforming into one where both safeties should be proficient in coverage and at least relevant in run defense. That is why I believe strongly that the 49ers, and teams of similar makeup, should alter their current philosophies. This will not necessarily effect the overall "value" of the safety position as a whole but will place a greater importance on finding players that have a high "value" at the safety position because of their overall skills.

wogitalia
03-24-2010, 12:10 AM
In my opinion, the League is transforming into one where both safeties should be proficient in coverage and at least relevant in run defense. That is why I believe strongly that the 49ers, and teams of similar makeup, should alter their current philosophies. This will not necessarily effect the overall "value" of the safety position as a whole but will place a greater importance on finding players that have a high "value" at the safety position because of their overall skills.

Similar to that I expect we will see a fair few more Antrell Rolle types over the next couple of years, that is CBs converted to safety. Malcolm Jennings will almost certainly be next but I expect there to be a few more, especially with perhaps a de-emphasis on run support from safeties or perhaps more so due to the change in what type of RB they are expected to offer that support on.

our safety play has gotten better since then...

You think? From the games I saw I would say that Wilson was better than anyone who has remained healthy has been since but you would have watched far more.

mqtirishfan
03-24-2010, 12:18 AM
The giants won the superbowl against the most prolific spread team in the NFL with James Butler and Gibril Wilson in the starting lineup. I'm pretty sure that single handedly proves that safety's are not under-valued.

Meh, I doubt there's a position in the NFL where there hasn't been a SB Champion that is weak at it.

Rosebud
03-24-2010, 12:27 AM
Meh, I doubt there's a position in the NFL where there hasn't been a SB Champion that is weak at it.

QB, of course there's the Ravens and Trent Dilfer to disprove that one although they're the exception that proves the rule.

prock
03-24-2010, 12:32 AM
Similar to that I expect we will see a fair few more Antrell Rolle types over the next couple of years, that is CBs converted to safety. Malcolm JENKINS will almost certainly be next but I expect there to be a few more, especially with perhaps a de-emphasis on run support from safeties or perhaps more so due to the change in what type of RB they are expected to offer that support on.


Corrected it for you :)

BeerBaron
03-24-2010, 12:39 AM
Something else to note about the elite pass rushers vs. LTs is that many times, in the 3-4 especially, the top pass rushers are never even touched by the tackles.

They're coming in at such angles and the blitz packages are getting so sophisticated that guys like Ware and Harrison are only being blocked one on one by TEs or RBs. Their athleticism lets them move out that far and still get into the backfield quick enough to be a disruption, and the TEs and RBs are totally overmatched by the pass rushers.

It's obviously not the whole story, as there are plenty of examples of 4-3 pass rushers, like those you mentioned with Freeney and such, who still dominate tackles left and right. (pun. get it?)

wogitalia
03-24-2010, 03:49 AM
QB, of course there's the Ravens and Trent Dilfer to disprove that one although they're the exception that proves the rule.

Brad Johnson says Hai also.

Corrected it for you

Meh... brainfade or what. Love me some Brandon Jenkins ;)...

It's obviously not the whole story, as there are plenty of examples of 4-3 pass rushers, like those you mentioned with Freeney and such, who still dominate tackles left and right. (pun. get it?)

Love the pun :)

They're coming in at such angles and the blitz packages are getting so sophisticated that guys like Ware and Harrison are only being blocked one on one by TEs or RBs. Their athleticism lets them move out that far and still get into the backfield quick enough to be a disruption, and the TEs and RBs are totally overmatched by the pass rushers.

A great point. I think it just further enhances what I was saying for the most part. They have a natural advantage in the old "lowest man wins" theory when engaging directly, but also have the physical tools to move further out and I guess destroy established blocking schemes and whilst you can find prototypical guys that can do it I certainly think that being smaller just makes it easier, or you are more likely to find a 6' guy who can do it than a 6'4 guy.

Hadn't really thought of it but the almost total decline of powerhouse FBs has to help. I mean it is obvious in the running game the changes it makes, but you had to be able to beat 250lb blocking FBs in the past after getting past the tackle, I wonder how much not having those guys back there has helped the pass rushers of a similar size. I mean if you can speed past the tackle then bulldoze the back it is easier than having to speed then finesse past a back. Just another thought. If only my damn brain would think as much when I'm meant to be working on actual work, not football.

descendency
03-24-2010, 03:53 AM
Sometimes, I wonder if team chemistry and talent matter more than positional value.

Of course, this still doesn't apply to un-important positions: K, P, WR.

edit: The Giants and Steelers both won Super Bowls. However, the two teams defensive strategy and playmakers were at different positions. Troy P is clearly a key peice to the Steelers. The Giants won by dominating up front.

I don't think you can be heavily deficient in any area and win.