Pro Football Focus is one of the more interesting football-related websites there is. On the one hand, it offers a thorough analysis of each snap played in the NFL and even counts 13 franchises as its clients. On the other hand, its system of grading players has both been praised and been criticized – who could forget all the PFF-related debates on Pats Pulpit?
Since we are in the middle of the offseason it is the perfect time to go back to this well of interaction and revisit an article originally published on June 1: the grading of the New England Patriots' current depth chart (a part of PFF's 2015 depth chart series).
Before we take a look at how the PFF team grades the players on the Patriots' roster, we have to take a look at what the site calls the "key points":
1. The grade given is for now – it’s not a prediction of future development. While it’s primarily based on last year (or their last year of action) it does include more than just a nod to their career. [...]
2. Elite is as advertised. Broadly it’s the best 50 players in the NFL but that doesn’t mean its two or three from each position group across the board. There may be none or there may be seven or eight. [...]
3. The grade is for the position specified and doesn’t include their usefulness on special teams. [...]
4. 2013 was the first season we began to grade long-snappers and other special teams positions in unrivaled fine detail. We don’t just factor totally botched snaps into a long snapper’s grade, but snaps that are significantly off-line in any direction, whether that inaccuracy was compensated for by the punter or holder or not. A long-snapper’s grade will also be made up from his work on coverage units and can be harmed by missed tackles, poor lane-discipline among other factors.
When looking at how PFF grades the Patriots, we have to keep those points in mind; except number four, as special teamers – kicker, punter, long snapper – are not graded. That being said, let's take a look at the Patriots' June 1 depth chart (some players are no longer on the roster but that doesn't change the overall concept).
Some notes on the two images:
-- The defending Super Bowl champions have three elite players on their roster: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty.
-- They probably would have a fourth, had special teamers been rated: kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
-- Two others – linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins – are considered very good.
-- Josh Kline's rating (average) is interesting when being compared to others. He is considered as good as players like Brandon LaFell or Sealver Siliga and is the third highest rated offensive lineman behind Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer (rated "good").
-- The Patriots look vulnerable at cornerback and defensive tackle, where only Siliga is considered "average". The rest of the DT depth chart is rated worse than that.
Does this look accurate? To PFF it does. But does it look accurate to you as well? Let us know in the comment section.