Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spilling Snyder's Kool-Aid - Skins Worst Young Team in NFL

I have been in a state of confusion since Matt Capps was the winning pitcher in an All-Star game, and the NL won the midsummer classic despite their horribly chosen roster (just wait 2 years from now when you'll see that and say 'Matt Capps was an All-Star?'). Then Football Outsiders came and threw a nice glass of ice water in my my face with their article on ranking all NFL teams in terms of their under-25 year old talent. For those of you without Insider Access, well firstly you should get it, but I probably don't have to tell you that the Redskins finished dead last at #32.....shocker.... In Bill Barnwell's words,

"Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have inherited a wasteland from Vinny Cerrato, who used his draft picks to acquire "has-beens" and "never-weres." As a result, the Redskins only have four "young" starters, and two of them (wideout Devin Thomas and safety LaRon Landry) have been professional flops. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo was extremely effective last year, and rookie tackle Trent Williams should start on the left side from Day One. The only notable young players behind them are tight end Fred Davis and backup linebacker H.B. Blades."

But we got Orakpo still right? The good news is that FO also released their list of top-25 prospects, which only ranks players that meet the following criteria:
• Be in the second, third or fourth year of their pro career
• Have been drafted in Rounds 3 to 7 or signed as an undrafted free agent
• Have started fewer than five career games in the NFL
• Still on their rookie contract

Sure enough, Justin Tryon is #5, as in the 5th best 'prospect', wow. In FO's words,

"...While DeAngelo Hall allows countless completions and LaRon Landry overruns play after play, the team unearthed a bona fide starting corner in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. Tryon only started two games during his second year in the league, but he played like he belonged in the Millionaires' Club. According to the Football Outsiders game charting project, Tryon allowed 5.8 adjusted yards per attempt, nearly a half-yard better than any other Redskins corner. Despite spending time in the slot, Tryon didn't allow receivers to get open deep; passes at him were only thrown an average of 7.8 yards away from the line of scrimmage, the lowest figure -- by far -- among Redskins corners. He took Fred Smoot's job away during the year, and while he has to beat out Phillip Buchanon for the nickel job in camp (spoiler: he will), he may have Carlos Rogers' starting job in his back pocket by the end of the season."

Too bad Tryon is 26 and doesn't count in FO's team rankings....That said, I am not sure how much stock to put into current under-25 talent as a predictor of future success. The clearest example is the San Diego Chargers, who are considered to have an extremely desirable roster (particularly by FO's metrics), but come in at #31 in this list thanks to trading away a few recent draft picks. I think the problem is that we are drawing an arbitrary line at age 25, and overlooking the roster turnover in the NFL. The NY Jets are another team that seems to be building for sustained success, but they only came in at #23, partly because Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson just miss the age cutoff in this relatively absurd exercise. The article is simply titled 'Organizational Rankings', which makes this list appear to be something much more significant than it is, and another reason to hate the piece despite my love of FO.

The bottom line is that I don't need some metrics to tell me that the Skins suck, I know we suck and need to do some serious building (not rebuilding, because Snyderrato never built anything). Having the Redskins at the bottom of the 'Organizational Rankings' is no surprise and I know our lack of young talent is a major issue, but showing me that the Skins suck is easy, there are millions of ways to do that.

(Image courtesy of

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