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Saints Nation: Pro Football Focus Scores for Saints Players in 2011 (Defense & Special Teams)

If you like my weekly in season grading then you’ll love Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately you have to pay $30 a year to get access to their goodies. That’s where I come in to hook you up. For those of you that aren’t familiar, they grade every single player on every single play to give you an evaluation of each player and where they stack up. I generally share with you the final grades of the season to let you know where PFF felt the Saints players stacked up against the rest of the league. Here’s how things shook out in 2010 if you were curious about my write up last year.

Here’s how each Saints player on defense/special teams fared in 2011:

4-3 DE: The Saints didn’t fare too well here. Cam Jordan was 35th overall with a 4.4 score. He was actually 8th best in run support in the NFL, but his rushing skills were obviously poor. With a 1.3 score overall, Will Smith finished just behind at 39th overall. So both players at least had positive scores, but neither was anything close to outstanding. Junior Galette finished 47th out of 67 graded players but did have a positive score in pass rushing.

4-3 OLB: Last year Scott Shanle graded dead last among all graded 4-3 outside linebackers. This year, he graded 42nd out of 44. So hey, there’s that. Slight improvement. Seriously though, once again he is considered by PFF one of the absolute worst starters in the league. Of those 44 linebackers, Jonathan Casillas and Jo-Lonn Dunbar didn’t fare much better, ending 38th and 40th respectively. Needless to say they graded about as miserably as humanly possible.

DT: I was curious to see how Ellis/Rodgers/Franklin would stack up against the rest of the league, and boy this wasn’t good either. Shaun Rodgers was 42nd overall, Sedrick Ellis was 50th, and Aubrayo Franklin was 57th. Tom Johnson also came in as 72nd out of 88 graded tackles. So sadly they all graded out as mediocre at best. Miserable.

ILB: We all knew Jonathan Vilma was playing on a bum knee all season so I don’t think any of us expected a good grade. Like Shanle, in 2010 he was graded as the worst in the entire league at his position. This year he was 47th out of 50 graded linebackers. Horrid.

CB: Patrick Robinson was rated as a total respectable 19th best in the entire league with a 6.0 score. I was really disappointed and surprised to see Jabari Greer at 51st overall with a negative rating. I was not surprised at all to see Tracy Porter rated 91st out of 109 corners because he was terrible all year. An interesting note: Greer was tied for 4th most in the league in passes defended.

S: I had a real bad feeling about this before I even looked it up. Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins were two of the worst graded starters on my player grades. Sure enough, Harper graded 82nd out of 86 graded players. Just horrible. Jenkins graded 42nd overall, or totally middle of the road, with a negative grade. There’s 64 starting safeties in the NFL, so for one to grade as 42nd and another 82nd is horrifying. Basically top to bottom as you look through all the graded players, only our defensive ends (Smith and Jordan) came out as marginal, and one cornerback (Robinson) came out as pretty good. Everyone else graded as mediocre to horrible. Yuck. Our defense sucked even harder than I thought. I hate you Gregg Williams.

K: Thomas Morstead by virtue of being the top rated kickoff man was ranked as the 2nd best kicker in the grades. I was shocked to see John Kasay who was reliable and effective all season end up only as the 38th graded kicker.

P: Purely from his punt duties, Thomas Morstead rated as 9th best in the NFL. That seems very low to me given his excellent net average (2nd only to SF’s Andy Lee), but who knows.

ST: No Saint was really significant in this grading except Courtney Roby who came out 1013 out of 1037. Something must be wrong with that formula. He was only graded for 8 plays, though, so it doesn’t seem like PFF pays much attention to gunners/special teams. The Saints’ leading tackler was Isa Abdul-Quddus with 8 ST tackles, good for 62nd overall.

KR: I was surprised to see this but Darren Sproles was rated as the very best returner in the NFL (combined). Go figure, though having both duties helped as a guy like Patrick Peterson who was #1 in PR’s, for example, didn’t return kickoffs. I thought he was good on punts and mediocre on kickoffs for much of the year but PFF felt otherwise. Individually he was 5th best in the league on punts and 5th best of kickoffs.