Good afternoon Panther fans! As some of you may recall, back in October I published an article entitled "The Draft Value Index: Drafting by the Numbers". The DVI system was an early draft of an attempt to put numerical values to players that balance team need and BPA. Many of you liked the system, and gave lots of feedback on how it could be improved. With the draft upon us, and with a few people mentioning and requesting an updated system applied to our current team needs, I have decided to roll out this detailed metric in a three part series leading up to the draft with a results post afterward.
- Part I will be an introduction to the system as a whole, and will detail the TS or "Team situation" metric.
- Part II will detail the PQ or "Player Quality" metric.
- Part III will put it all together in an attempt to formulate a Panthers big board based on a balanced strategy and serve as a prediction for the draft.
- After the draft is concluded, I will give a synopsis of how the system held up, and analyze each pick within the DVI confines.
Without further ado.. I present to you the basics of this system.
As stated above, the DVI attempts to balance team need against BPA and provide a numerical chart for teams to follow on how they should draft in a given situation. While I don't think any team follows an absolute strategy on draft day, it is not unreasonable to assume that teams will draft in a manner that gives them the largest impact as possible with each pick. The great part about the DVI, is that it is actually 3 systems in one. It provides a metric for a pure BPA strategy, a pure need based strategy, and a strategy that attempts to balance the two. While teams may not elect to follow the balanced DVI metric, you should see them follow either one of the other two strategies on every pick.
The introduction continues... after the jump.
The basic formula of the DVI system is...
DVI = TS + PQ
...or DVI value equals Team Situation value plus Player Quality value. This formula has not changed from the original I presented back in October. However, modifiers have been added to both TS and PQ to account for important variables not considered in the original formula. For example, a player's quality in my prior formula was based purely on his talent and projected NFL impact. Now, a player's PQ rating is formed by that as a base value, then changed positively or negatively by factors such as off field problems, injury problems, and positional experience. I will delve more into this later, as more detail is not fit for an introduction.
What the above formula should tell you, is that team need and player talent are weighed equally at the base value. The problem comes in assigning values to a player, and values to a team's situation. These ratings are subjective by nature, and not everyone will agree with them. However, i suspect that the values I assign will not be far off from the general perception of well-learned fans. In the case of both TS and PQ, the position or player in question will be given a base value. The base value is intended as an "all else equal" snapshot that does not take outside factors into consideration. I.E. a players base PQ rating is given purely on his talent and potential alone, and does not weigh his injury history or behavioral concerns.
In the next section, I will introduce the TS rating, and provide some values relevant to our team.
Part I: The TS rating
The TS rating is all about assigning a numeric value to our teams depth chart on a positional basis. The scale is from 1-10 with 1 representing the lowest need and 10 representing a dire need. There are also a couple key terms I should clarify.
Viable starter- Someone you are fully comfortable carrying the load at a position
Serviceable starter – Someone you are comfortable carrying the load until better talent can be acquired
Injury/time issues - Injury issues in play, or old age is in play
10 - No viable or serviceable starter and no legitimate or serviceable future starter
9 – No viable or serviceable starter and serviceable future starter
8 – Serviceable starter with injury/time issues and no legitimate or serviceable future starter
7 – Viable starter with injury/time issues and no legitimate or serviceable future starter
6 – Serviceable starter with injury/time issues and no legitimate future starter, but serviceable future starter exists
5 – Viable starter with injury/time issues and future viable starter exists
4 – Serviceable starter with no legitimate future starter
3 – Serviceable starter with legitimate future starter
2 - Viable starter with serviceable depth
1 – Viable starter with legitimate depth
The above chart represent the BASE TS rating, which will from this point forward be abbreviated as BTS. Below, I will introduce some modifiers, which can either strengthen or weaken a teams BTS.
Schematic Importance Modifier (SIM)
Based on the scheme a team runs, a particular position might be either more or less important than another. Also, just by nature, some positions are not as important as others. For instance, it is far more imperative to have a great QB than a great Punter. This should always influence a draft, and in reality, we see this each year as QBs, LTs, and DTs fly off the board before anyone else. As far as the Panthers are concerned, here is the breakdown. Remember, this is NOT based on need, it is based on a positions importance to the offense/defense.
+2 for Quarterbacks and Left Tackles: Nothing is more important to the Panthers, and the NFL in general, than getting a great QB and protecting his blindside at all costs.
+1 for DTs, CB1, WRs, TEs: Schematically, on defense, McDermott would like to bring exotic blitz packages with players rushing in from all angles. This puts a huge amount of strain on your CBs to hold in man coverage when the blitz is called. Perhaps just as important to the scheme is an NT that can hold the point of attack against the run, and an UT that commands a double against the pass. The interior pressure can make even average DEs and OLBs look great. On offense, the Coryell downplays the run in favor of the deep passing game. This means you need a deep and fast WR core. You also need TEs who can stretch the field and contribute in the run blocking game.
+0 or NO MODIFIER: Any positions not expressly mentioned. These positions have neither an enhanced or lessened value in the scheme.
-1 for G, RT, and SLB: With guards and the draft, it is commonly accepted that they take a back seat to tackles. If you draft a tackle prospect, and he isn't up to that challenge at the NFL level, he simply becomes a guard. Rarely does a team draft a guard very highly. In the Coryell, guards particularly just need to hold their ground for the deep pass instead of being road graders. While the Coryell would like a good pass protecting RT, he doesn't need to be a road grader. In theory, the run will be opened up by the deep pass instead of brute force. Therefore, you can find an RT later in the draft that suits your needs. Your strong side linebacker in a 4-3 is often a 2 down player who might come out on passing downs in favor of a rotational player more focused on the blitz, or the nickel corner.
-2 for PR/KR specialists: Typically, this position, like the OG, is a guy who you draft to be a deep threat WR or RB that ends up falling short of that position in the NFL. However, they show aptitude and ball security on returns, and therefore secure a roster spot.
-3 for P, K, and FB: In general, you can find at least a serviceable starter if not a viable one at this position any time during free agency or even mid-season. In the draft, it takes a truly great prospect to overcome this fact, and they most assuredly won't go early.
So, with modifiers, the formula for team situation is:
TS = BTS + SIM
Or Team Situation Rating equals Base Team Situation plus Schematic Importance Modifier
TS as it pertains to the Panthers
This is where things get a bit subjective, though I will try to keep them as objective as possible. I will give each position a TS rating based on the time of this writing. I'll try to clarify where possible. I welcome comments on this whole system, but particularly as it pertains to this. If there seems to be a conclusion I am off on a measurement, it can be changed. You will be expected to explain yourself.
Quarterback: BTS of 2, SIM of +2, TS = 4
Quarterback is simply not a need for the Panthers. Cam Newton is coming off a record breaking rookie campaign, and Derek Anderson represents veteran depth that is familiar with the scheme. While the offense wouldn't be the exact same with DA under center, it could still maintain its basic attack. Jimmy Clausen is a non-factor at this point as a development project, AE is actually a better fit at the 3rd QB spot and is penciled in there on game day. Drafting one at this point is a luxury.
Running Back: BTS of 1, SIM of 0, TS = 1
Running back is even less of a need than QB. I don't think I need to explain why. We are three deep including our "fullback"
Fullback: BTS of 1, SIM of -3. TS = -2
Fullback is a position in name only in our offense. Mike Tolbert is the "one true fullback" on the roster. TE's help play the role as H-backs. Therefore, you have a viable starter and depth at a position of little schematic importance.
Wide Receiver: BTS of 5, SIM of +1, TS = 6
This is where the fun and controversy begins. In Steve Smith we have a superstar starter that is about to enter the twilight of his career. We have a slew of young WRs with varying degrees of promise behind him. We cannot definitively call any of them a legit #1 yet, but we see enough there that we would be foolish to make wholesale changes. Therefore we have a Viable starter with injury/time issues and a force of servicable to viable starters behind him. That gives us the BTS of 5.
Tight End: BTS of 2, SIM of +1, TS = 3
Olsen is a stalwart and young starter, who is only scratching his role in the offense. He will be our entrenched starter for years to come. Behind him we are a bit unproven with the departure of Shockey (or at least, the current non-resigning). Barnidge is the expected #2 and the coaches are high on him. We will probably also see Tolbert play this role to an extent and there is still a chance we re-sign Shockey.
Left Tackle: BTS of 4, SIM of +2, TS = 6
Left Tackle presents a unique situation when it comes to BTS. We have a very strong viable starter in Jordan Gross who is in a bit of decline. I have full reason to believe he will be a serviceable starter for quite awhile longer, but we should look to find his replacement quite soon. Right now that person is not on the roster, at least we cannot count on it, as our depth is fairly untested. Since I think he probably has some time left (more so than Smitty), and doesn't have an heir apparent, I have rated the position a 4, even though he is more viable than just serviceable right now.
Guard: BTS of 6, SIM of -1, TS = 5
At Guard, with the departure of Wharton we no longer have a good viable starter at either guard spot. We need a talent upgrade at the position. However, we do have a couple guys who can get us by. Hangartner and Bell will probably start at the Guard positions (FWIW, Bell is now officially listed as a guard on the panthers roster) and I think that makes a decent starting pair. We have some jack of all trades guys backing them up. No one spectacular.
Center: BTS of 2, SIM of 0, TS = 2
Kalil is as good a center as it gets. He is also young and well under contract. Should injury befall him, Hangartner can slide in and be serviceable.
Right Tackle: BTS of 5, SIM of -1, TS = 4
If Jeff Otah weren't Jeff Otah, this position would be a 1. But, with Otah, you worry about injuries. Last year we got hit hard on the right side with Otah and Garry Williams both going down to injury. That thrust Byron Bell into the starting role. While he was okay for a UDFA, he proved he is probably a guard at the next level. I think Williams is a great backup at RT, and provided Otah is healthy we are in good shape. But... it would not hurt us to find a talent upgrade.
Defensive Tackle: BTS of 8, SIM of +1, TS = 9
DT is a logjam of mediocrity right now. Ron Edwards is a serviceable starter, we think. Same boat with Neblett. Our two rookies, Fua and McClain remain unknown quantities, but their showing last season was not encouraging. Shirley was a bright spot, but again, not an amazing talent. Therefore, at best we are a BTS 6, and at worst we are BTS 8. In this situation, I'm leaning worse. I think this is our greatest need.
Defensive End: BTS of 2, SIM of 0, TS = 2
Charles Johnson is a star, but behind him we are mediocre but promising. Hardy, Applewhite, and Keiser all had flashes of brilliance last season. I think with an improved interior pass rush, we will see CJ break free more often and Hardy get to the passer earlier. I know some will disagree with me here, but I think our pass rushing woes start inside, not out.
Middle Linebacker: BTS of 7, SIM of 0, TS = 7
Jon Beason is the heart and soul of this defense, and is a star. But right now he is a star coming off an achilles injury. Connor is no longer with the team. We need to treat this situation for what is is, which is a MLB with an injury issue, who doesn't really have anyone behind him. While i don't consider Beason injury prone, I also didn't consider TD that way after his first ACL tear either. Therefore, we need to shore up behind him, just in case he isn't 100%.
Will Linebacker: BTS of 2, SIM of 0, TS = 2
This assumes that Anderson moves back to the Will this season. Unlike in the middle, we have strong depth at OLB, highlighted by the Senn-master's emergence last season and some solid looks at Jason Williams.
SAM Linebacker: BTS of 5, SIM of -1, TS of 4
Thomas Davis is awesome. I think we all know that. But at this point him and Otah share a fate. If you aren't on the field, we have to look past you. Luckily, Jordan Senn asserted himself last season as a capable fill in. We still should probably explore a late round upgrade.
Cornerback #1: BTS of 2, SIM of +1, TS of 3
Cornerback is complicated, because while CB1 and CB2 need to be treated as 2 separate positions, they share depth. Gamble is a great starter. Hogan might be a great starter someday too. Gamble is not injury prone, therefore we are looking good there.
Cornerback #2: BTS of 9, SIM of 0, TS of 9
Munnerlyn was one of the worst corners in the league last year. This year, we hope Hogan will be better, but we clearly need more weapons at this position. Getting a legit corner across from Gamble should be a top priority.
Safety: BTS of 2, SIM of 0, TS of 2
Safety has been addressed in free agency quite well with the additions of Nakamura and Smith. Godfrey is a viable, if not spectacular starter. The cream will rise to the top between Martin and our new safety acquisitions.
Punter: BTS of 10, SIM of -3, TS of 7
No Punter currently on the roster. This looks like something the Panthers will probably address in the draft at a good value, or as a free agent afterward.
Kicker: BTS of 4, SIM of -3, TS of 1
While we would probably all like an upgrade to Mare, the fact is he is under contract and is at least serviceable. He missed some bad kicks, but all kickers do that. The timing just really sucked. Unless someone comes available, or an extreme value shows up in the draft, I expect we'll see another year of O'Mare.
Stay tuned for Part II in the coming week Panther fans!