Dr. Z's All- Pros (cont.)
Posted: Thursday January 10, 2008 9:45AM; Updated: Thursday January 10, 2008 2:36PM
I've been asked how many looks I'll get on a particular player. The most I got on any team this year was 16, for the Giants. I had 13 looks at the Patriots. The fewest was four for the Rams. Generally, the average is around seven or eight. If I'm still undecided about someone, I'll get coaching films from the team. They're generally pretty good about sending them. I did that with two players last year: DeMeco Ryans of the Texans and Kyle Vanden Bosch of Tennessee.
ENDS (Jared Allen, Aaron Kampman) I don't want to brag but ... well, let me brag a little. I had Allen last year. No one else did. Generally, it takes a year or two for someone to get recognized, and then once he's picked to something it takes forever for them to stop picking him. Battling to survive on a desperate team, the NFL's sack leader kept the heat on almost all year. No defensive player, at any position, approached the 7.0 grade I had for him.
I had a problem at the other spot. The Bears' Adewale Ogunleye graded out slightly higher than Kampman, but Wale was basically rushing upfield while Kampman played run and pass. Chicago's defense was vulnerable on the ground, and I couldn't tell how much of that was because there were too many rushers along the front and not enough run-stoppers. So I went against the grades and let the deciding factor be: How much each player meant to his defense. Kampman, who seemed to get less relief than anyone else on that D-line, got the call on that basis.
I did charts on a ton of DEs, 15, tied with cornerback as the heaviest position on my board. After four weeks Marques Douglas of the 49ers was running away with it, while Allen was sitting it out on a suspension. Wow, what a great pick that would be for me. Sometimes you start rooting for players as you watch them and record their efforts. That's what I was doing with Douglas, who was selling out on practically every snap. But it didn't last. By the Arizona game in November he was wearing down. He had been raising hell against the Cards in the opener. By December he was a very tired ballplayer. A shame.
With Mario Williams of the Texans it was the reverse. I didn't even chart him at the beginning of the year. Then the lightbulb seemed to go on in November against Denver and he whipped Lepsis, in a three-sack frenzy. So I went back and did a complete work-up. I didn't think he matched that outing, at least in games I saw.
I felt that Patrick Kerney of the Seahawks was the best player on the field against the Redskins in the wild-card playoff, so I went back and charted him, too. I had thought that, coming from the Atlanta 3-4 he'd go wild with the Seahawks, and he did, kind of, at the end of the year, but not in the earlier contests I had on tape. His overall figures were good, not great.
I enjoyed watching Robert Mathis, who played on the left side, the power end position, for the Colts -- at 235 pounds. It's the old Charles Haley syndrome. Everyone says, "Wow, watch them run against him," but these guys are just so good, technically, they use such fine leverage, that they just don't get buried. People also used to say that about Deacon Jones, the Rams' great pass rusher. "We'll run at him. We'll make him play football." So on first down he slaps the blocker away and now it's second-and-10, and what do you do? Mathis was a high grader on my chart, with me rooting all the way.
TACKLE (Albert Haynesworth) Just one of them. I lined my team up in a 3-4, which is what I've done when the MLB's are better than the DTs. Haynesworth was so good that even the Pro-Bowl selectors didn't screw up the pick. He got tired at times and had to come out, played hard most of the way, tore up the inside of the line, formed a nasty two-man tandem when he and Vanden Bosch, the end next to him, were working their stunts, jumped offside and took an occasional cheap shot. In other words, he gave you a full afternoon.
No one was close. I could list the roster of DTs or NTs I went through, but none were in his class. I will mention two, though. Pat Williams, neglected by everyone except one Dr. in New Jersey two years ago, finally is getting the recognition he deserves, and I'm happy to see it. And Ngata was really fun to watch, mainly because they couldn't move the guy with dynamite. I called a couple of Ravens' offensive coaches about him. They told me that none of their linemen wanted to face him in practice. I could guess why. Because they'd look foolish trying to budge him. Yep, the typical phone booth linemen, but not a real pass-rush threat.