A Post-Season Look at Defensive Grades

We tackled the offense last week and now it’s time to take a look at the defensive grades as produced by ProFootballFocus. I would like to point out a couple of things to address:

  1. I don’t know how PFF grades players. Obviously, it has to be subjective to a particular point and the person who is doing the grading is most likely a fan of that team. I think that’s how it typically goes.
  2. I’d also add that there’s probably some strict guidelines on how to grade as well, so that it is not as subjective as it could be.
  3. It took me about 3 to 4 hours to pull the information, create the spreadsheet, and then do the posts. Someone asked what it would look like for the rest of the Big 12 and I just don’t have that kind of time to cull that information. This was pretty intensive in terms of being time consuming and it only producing two posts overall (hopefully they are informative posts!).
  4. Yes, this was sort of a downer in terms of what I found. When I start a project, I tend to dig in and not being sure what the results will be, I just have to go with it. Yes, these results weren’t pretty, but this is what they are and when we think about position upgrades, you can pretty well identify what needs to be better.
  5. How it is being graded, with weight given to the snaps played.

    A = 90+
    B = 89-80
    C = 79-70
    D = 69(nice)-60
    F = 59-0

Let’s get to some grades!

Cornerback: C+

What you have here is the highest graded player on the team, Zech McPhearson, who was a solid B in terms of season production and that helped the overall grades significantly. Demarcus Fields is also this close / puts thumb and forefinger really close together / to having a C-, so that’s where a majority of your snaps were at last year. Alex Hogan and JaMarcus Ingram both transferred from this group and both were F players, but so was the play of Adrian Frye and Dadrion Taylor.

Safety: F

The best performer was Adam Beck and he was a D+ in terms of how well he played. The bad part is that he was only in 13% of all snaps. Thomas Leggett and Eric Monroe ate up most of the snaps, with Leggett darning a D- and Monroe earning something that resembles in the 30’s in terms of a grade. The reason why I type that is because an F doesn’t really do a grade in the 30’s justice.

Linebacker: D-

The second best defender on the team was Colin Schooler, who earned a C+. That’s actually excellent. Here’s the deal though, there were 4 linebackers that all played about 20% of the snaps and one linebacker that played about 13% of the snaps. So that’s 5 linebackers getting most of the burn. Krishon Merriweather was a D-, Jacob Morganstern is also a D-. Of all things, Riko Jeffers was a D+ and Brandon Bouyer-Randle was an F. This is probably why Jeffers returned.

Defensive End: D

Eli Howard was the third best defender, a C, but was only able to play 17% of the overall snaps. Devin Drew also earned a C- and played 20% of the snaps, so that’s actually great. Tony Bradford, Jr. was a D+ and played 30% of the snaps and Tyree Wilson was an F, earning 23% of the snaps. True freshman Philip Blidi played 9% of snaps and was an F-, but again, true freshman. Am sort of banking on Drew, Bradford, Wilson, and Blidi all improving their games here at an important spot.

Defensive Tackle: F-

This was really a one-man show here and one that probably needs work, Jaylon Hutchings earned an F- and played 73% of his snaps, with the now transferred Nick McCann getting 19% of snaps and earning a solid C in those snaps. True freshman walk-on Troy Te’o also had an F and played in 9% of the snaps.

Overall Thoughts: Some of the best individual performances happened here on the defensive side of the ball, but I think the overall depth is a problem. The defense as a whole earned a D-, while the offense was a D. it’s good that some players are returning and bad news that others are because they may likely take up snaps that could really improve in a given position. I’m also hoping that some of the recently announced transfers are intended to fill those roles. I should also mention, the roster is updated with Jerand Bradley, Jed Castles, Malik Dunlap, Matt Keeler, Behren Morton, Jesiah Pierre, Mason Tharp, Marquis Waters, and Bobby Young.

North Carolina State safety Malik Dunlap should get a ton of minutes at safety, Jesiah Pierre at linebacker, and Marquis Waters, a defensive back from Duke. As an aside, Malik Dunlap earned an F- last year as a cornerback in 459, Waters earned a D- as a safety and had 745 snaps. Pierre had a C-, but only played 62 snaps.


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