Monday, July 17, 2017

Analysis: My MMQB All-Time Draft Team

By John Turney
About six weeks ago I was honored to participate in Peter King's MMQB All-Time Draft as one of the drafters, along with Joel Bussert, Ron Wolf, Rick Gosselin, Dan Fouts, Gil Brandt, Bob McGinn, Joe Horrigan,  Bill Polian, John Wooten, Ernie Accorsi and of course, Peter King.

We were to draft against each other, to attempt to build the most competitive team.

My goal was to get as many G.O.A.T.s as possible (G.O.A.T. is greatest of all time) but I knew they'd go fast. I also wanted to have the strongest offensive line possible and that begins with left tackle Anthony Munoz who I took in the first round. In addition to his All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, Munoz won NFL/AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year awards from various legitimate organizations in seven different seasons. I had targeted him and was glad he was there when I picked.
In the second round, Jerry Rice was available and that was an easy choice. It was a gift since though he'd go in the first round.

On the third round, I likely over-drafted Ed Reed, even though he is the G.O.A.T. at free safety I could have had a top cornerback or even a top defensive end. However, I had targeted Reed since I wanted to play a lot of Cover-2 and I knew that Reed was best best-ever at range, instincts, speed, smarts and had played both strong and weak safety at top levels in his career.
In the fourth round, I took right guard (though he can play left guard and tackle) Larry Allen, to me, another G.O.A.T.. He was a tremendous drive blocker and the best pass protecting guard ever. He and Jim Parker are the tops at guard and I was glad to have Allen. I project he could face up to Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen and even J.J. Watt when he slips inside and plays defensive tackle.
In round five I took another G.O.A.T in Dwight Stephenson who was a five-time Offensive Lineman of the Year and was further ahead of the number two center than any other top player is ahead of the number two in NFL history (other than Junior Seau) according to Pro Scout, Inc. Stephenson was too quick and too powerful to pass up and could dominate a player over his head better than any center ever. I had 3/4 of my line and it was time to get other positions, but my line is stacked.
So, with this line, I needed a back but I wanted a complete back. A top runner and receiver and also a top pass blocker. I chose Marshall Faulk. Faulk, who had legitimate 4.3 speed was also a top goal line and short yardage runner. In 2000, during a Rams versus Saint game Hall of Famer Jack Ham was asked who Faulk reminded him of. Ham pondered and said, "Earl Campbell". Ham mentioned Faulk's short yardage ability and his powerful lower body.

Couple that with his pass receiving skills, the best-ever by a running back with the possible exception of Lenny Moore. Faulk's abilities include the skill to run wide receiver routes, both outside and in the slot. He also is one of the top six pass blocking running backs ever. The others? Marion Motley, John Henry Johnson. Walter Payton. Edgerrin James and Emmitt Smith. Thus, I was pleased to get Faulk, who I had targeted all along.

Yes, there are a couple of runners better than Faulk. But I didn't want someone like Barry Sanders. who was taken out on goal line situations and was mediocre at best on third down in receiving and pass blocking. Additionally, Faulk was not a fumbler and that matters, too.

By building the offensive line I missed out on all the great 4-3 tackles and ends so I knew I had to know build a 3-4 defense. So to begin that process I chose the nose tackle Curley Culp, the only nose tackle in the Hall of Fame, another G.O.A.T. I felt there would be great inside and outside linebackers still available so getting the nose was important.
I needed a quarterback and seven had been taken I pulled the trigger on the trigger man:  Aaron Rodgers. I took him because of his mobility, accuracy, arm strength, and the avoidance of super negative plays. What is amazing about Rodgers is that if he keeps up his current pace he will throw his 400th touchdown before he throws his 100th interception. Incredible.
Now was time to get busy on defense and I took Von Miller to played LOLB in the base defense and LDE in the nickel. Miller at about 235 pounds and 4.5 speed it a perfect fit for the 3-4 I am building.
However, in the 10th round, I get distracted by another shiny object—Tony Gonzales at tight end and select him. He was just too good to skip and I still knew the ILBers I was targeting would still be there. So, in the 11th round, I take my left defensive end, Howie Long. Long will be the left end in base and a defensive tackle in nickel, just as he was in the NFL. He was good against the run and had the best arm under ever (rip move).
Aeneas Williams was a player I had targeted. Good run force and a top notch cover player. Yes, likely not as good at man coverage as Deion Sanders, but he was someone who will be there week-in and week-out. For Ron Wolf, who took Deion, five games a year he will have to start his nickel back because Deion will be playing baseball or will be nicked. Williams didn't miss a game until he was 34 years old.

After Williams, I took Andre Tippett and regretted it. Not that Tippett, a Hall of Famer, isn't a great player. He was. However, he's a clone of Von Miller. A left outside linebacker who plays left defensive end in nickel. I wanted a defense that could play as they did, as much as I could. Only myself and Rick Gosselin were trying for this added layer of perfection and I admit Gosselin did a better job. So, later in the draft, I traded Tippett to Ron Wolf for Robert Brazile, who was a weak side linebacker who could blitz, cover, and play the run.
I am sure Tippett could play the right side or Miller, in fact, Miller has some, but I wanted to build it with their own spots and with two exceptions I did. So, I made the trade. I lose some pass rush with Brazile but gain in coverage.

It was time to grab a fullback and I took John Henry Johnson. As I mentioned as good a pass protector as there ever has been at running back. He could also catch and run. He would sometimes even line up on the wing, as a second tight end, either outside the tight end or opposite the tight end in what is now called "Detroit" formation. And he could lead block for Marshall Faulk when I want to run power with Larry Allen short trapping.

Now, in round 15, I get another G.O.A.T.—Devin Hester. He will handle all the returns, plays some nickel back and some slot receiver. Gale Sayers is still the best kick returner but he had such a short career. Josh Cribbs may be the next-best, though it may be Hester. But Hester is the best on punt returns and no worse than third as a kick returner, overall, he's the best returner ever.
I get the inside linebacker I wanted in Randy Gradishar. Pro Scout, Inc. calls he and Ray Lewis the two best-ever at combined "neutralize and range". By that, they mean a player who can take on a neutralize a block by a guard and also has speed and ability to cover sideline to sideline. Stats, LLC. has a "Marshall Faulk number" which is a stat composed of the ability to run and receiver. In baseball, advanced metrics include a "power-speed" number which included the ability to hit home runs and also to steal bases. The "neutralize and range" is similar in that it is a skill set that combines two different things and one player who possesses both is rare.

Steve Hutchinson became the fourth player on my line. He was a powerful left guard who was a two-time Offensive Lineman of the Year. After him, I needed a right end so I took Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea. Bethea played the run well, stayed square and understood his role in the 3-4 defense. He also could get as many as 14½ sacks in a season, which he did in 1976 in a 3-4 scheme.
I took Richard Sherman as my other corner. He is averaging 5.0 interceptions a season, which is more than any of his contemporaries. One would have to go back to the 1960s to find players with a higher average. In this efficient passing era, interceptions are hard to come by and Sherman gets them with the regularity of a bygone era. Bottom line:  he is a true ballhawk, just what I wanted opposite Williams. But, this is one where I wanted someone who was a right corner and Sherman, of course, is on the left. So this is one of my failures in that sense.
On round twenty-one Marvin Harrison is still available and I snag him. He's ideal opposite Rice. Though he played on the right side of the offensive formation almost exclusively he played plenty as an "X"  allowing Rice to be the flanker and go in motion.

The the other inside linebacker I wanted was still there, HOFer Harry Carson. Carson will dominate on run downs but will have to be taken on on pass downs.
The other drafters are starting to go for the kickers and punters so I take the best:  Johnny Hekker. If he keeps his pace up he will set records that will last a long time. Ray Guy is the only punter in the Hall of Fame. He will likely get the nod again. However, keep and eye out for Johnny Hekker. Playing for a mediocre-to-poor team in his five years Hekker owns almost every record in the book, both in terms of gross stats and in terms of "metrics".

Guy was All-Pro six times, Hekker three times in five seasons. Guy's Inside-the-20 to touchback ratio was 1.5 to one. Hekker's is currently 8.3 to 1. Almost double the next best (Dustin Colquitt's 4.6 to one—though when Sam Martin qualifies he will be around the same). But 8.3 to 1? It's unheard of.

Guy only had 3 punts blocked, which is excellent (0.3%). Hekker has had one blocked and his block percentage is 0.2%. For comparison, Jerrel Wilson, the Chief's great has 12 blocked for 1.1%.  That was one reason I avoided Wilson and a few others.

Hekker had, so far, had 38.2% of his punts end up inside the twenty yard-line. Only Dustin Colquitt has a higher percentage (40.5%). Guy's percentage is 24.6% in that metric.

Hekker's net punting average is 43.3 as of the end of the 2016 season. The next closest is Thomas Morstead of the Saints with a 41.2 net average, nearly two yards fewer than Hekker and in this kind of statistic that is a lot since most of the best net yardage punters are all bunched around 40.0.

In the same round, I took Mike Kenn, the best pass protector of the remaining tackles. He was a two-time Offensive Lineman of the year, All-Pro and all the credentials. It is one of the "copouts" though. He's a left tackle and he'll have to play right tackle on this squad. I had the chance to pick someone who played right tackle, Joe Jacoby, for one. Erik Williams for another. But in the 30 seconds or so alloted to make the pick I went with who I thought was best overall tackle left and Kenn edged our Tony Boselli.
I felt Nick Lowery would be there and he was. I thought that because few know how good he was, relative to his peers. Lowery was the most accurate kicker of his era and even past that for a few years. He also kicked outdoors (unlike Morten Anderson) and had good range. He didn't have as much power in his legs as Anderson but Anderson was a freak. Chase Stuart of Football Perspective did a nice piece on Lowery. Pro Football Researcher member Ruppert Patrick is working on a book that will feature Lowery. For me, I followed Lowery's career in the 1980s and 1990s. I remember his clutch kicks and many of the distances. I found it odd he never got the acclaim he deserved. He easily could have been the All-Decade kicker for the 1980s and 1990s (he led both in kicking percentages) but Morten Anderson's pure power and long kicks got more acclaim. However, I am glad I got Lowery in this excecise, he's a guy who gets more points above average than any of the kickers all the other men chose.

Finally, I need my other safety who can play Cover-2. Someone with size, range, hitting ability, smarts. That player is Nolan Cromwell. He was on his way to the Hall of fame until a knee injury in 1984 felled him. He'd been the Defensive Player of the Year, multiple All-Pros and was considered the prototype safety. After the knee injury he played well, but lacked some of the range he'd had before. Cromwell had played both free safety and strong safety in his career, just like Ed Reed did. But with my safeties taking half the field and Gradishar covering the "hole" and Williams and Sherman playing zone (plus some 2 man) I think this secondary can get it done.
Most of the art credits go to Merv Corning.

6 comments:

  1. Tj Troup, after looking at all the teams who do you think would win in a round robbin style tournament?

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  2. ....though many of the teams with the exception of Fouts were well chosen....Team Turney plays Team Gosselin in the SB and goes to overtime.

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  3. I wonder how Anthony Munoz would do against Deacon Jones. Oh man, the match ups.

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  4. neat, fun stuff. I wonder what each player's initial draft order would be( this w/b similar to a 'top x' list.

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  5. Pro scout inc. really loves Randy Gradishar. I never knew that 3-4 ILB was so much harder to play that a 4-3 MLB.

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  6. Its amazing what Dwight Stephenson could do. The ignorant nfl fans say he couldn't play against todays 300 pounders, what do you guys think? I say Dwight dominates like he did in 85 against the Fridge.

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