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 SackSEER on Willie Young 
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Post SackSEER on Willie Young
Hello all,

First, let me thank everybody for their congratulations and well wishes in the SackSEER thread in the NFL Draft Forum. I am sorry that I neglected responding, but I have been pretty busy with SackSEER and work. However, I have a few moments now, so I thought that I would drop a SackSEER projection for Willie Young, the Lions' bright shiny new edge rusher.

For those who missed the thread in the NFL Draft forum, here's the preview article that I wrote about SackSEER:
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/nfl-draft/2010/introducing-sackseer

For those of you who don't want to read the whole thing, here's a quick summary. I have combed through college stats, combine numbers, etc., and I have identified four factors that correlate to edge rusher success: vertical leap, short shuttle time, a sack rate stat called "SRAM" (which includes some important modifications for things such as playing out of position), and missed games (games missed due to injury, academic eligibility, etc). I know that some folks are inherently distrustful of "advanced statistics," but I can say that my goal here was to build the most accurate projection system and not to push any particular agenda. SackSEER projects sacks through the prospect's fifth year in his NFL career. The research will be published in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, but the article will have a greater focus on early round players and probably will not discuss Young.

Anyway, I have two "models" that I could use to project Young. The first does not take into account draft position. This is sort of more of a thought experiment model: what would the model project regardless of draft position? A more accurate version, which I will use here, takes into account draft position. In other words, it recognized the reality that a guy who looks like a stud based on the stat sheet, but is a late round pick, is considerably less likely to succeed than his earlier round counterpart. Anyway, here is Willie Young's projection which DOES take into account draft position.

Willie Young
Vertical: 38"
Shuttle: 4.56
SRAM: 0.42
Missed Games: 1

Projection: 9.2 Sacks Through Year 5.

The model likes Willie Young's 38" vertical, which is very good, and his missed games, which is obviously solid. Young's SRAM is just OK, and he is really hurt by his 4.56 shuttle, which is not good. No guy who has a shuttle slower than about 4.45 seconds has never become elite. His best bet, I think, is to follow the lead of similar "stiff hipped" ends who were successful and put some weight on his frame and become a solid, run-stuffing strong side end.

I know that looks bleak, but it's actually not a bad projection for a seventh round pick. The seventh round has not been a good place to find edge rushers. You have Bobby McCray and Bryce Fisher and that's aobut it.

Some feedback on some Lions draftees:

The model LOVED Bill Swancutt. Bill Swancutt had a great sack rate in college, an above-average shuttle, and was super dependable--never missing a game in his college career. His vertical was just OK though. A lot of pre-draft articles had Swancutt rated a lot higher than the sixth round, and SackSEER agreed. Unfortunately, for some reason Swancutt never developed into a solid pro, but it was still a (rare) good pick that just did not work out.

The model hit Kalimba Edwards' sack totals on the nose--it projected him to have 19.9 sacks and he in fact had 23.0. Believe it or not, Edwards had what would be considered a decent career on average. THAT's how often these players bust.

Jared DeVries has to be the weirdest player that I looked at. He is not technically part of the model because he played defensive tackle in college, but he put up Suh-like sack numbers at Iowa. For whatever reason, his ability to abuse Big 10 interior linemen did not translate into rushing the edge in the NFL.

Ikaika Alama-Francis. One of the worst projections in the history of the model. Yikes.

Mike Pringley and Quinton Reese. Do you remember these guys? Neither do I. They were late round picks that never worked out. SackSEER likes Willie Young better than both of these guys.

Cliff Avril is an interesting case. He was one of those rare players who just takes a whole mulligan on the Combine and does another full workout at the pro day. SackSEER liked the guy who showed up at the pro day and the Combine guy, not quite as much. Interestingly, Cliff Avril is on pace to be the most productive edge rusher of his draft class, which I think speaks more to how horrible the 2008 draft class for the position was than anything else. If I can brag a little, I would like to note that I used SackSEER and Cliff Avril's rookie year sack totals to predict Cliff Avril's year two sack totals within a four tenths of a sack :arrow:

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May 11th, 2010, 11:30 pm
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Thanks S&C.

What's Young's projection for the model that doesn't take into account draft position? I'm just curious.

I know the Lions by their own admission didn't expect to see him in the final round. The more I learn about him the more I hope he makes the team and does well. He certainly passes the eyeball test. The dude just looks like an athlete. And he seems to have good work ethic. Hopefully he can follow the path of Zach Follet.

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May 12th, 2010, 1:49 am
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Honolulu_Blue wrote:
Thanks S&C.

What's Young's projection for the model that doesn't take into account draft position? I'm just curious.

I know the Lions by their own admission didn't expect to see him in the final round. The more I learn about him the more I hope he makes the team and does well. He certainly passes the eyeball test. The dude just looks like an athlete. And he seems to have good work ethic. Hopefully he can follow the path of Zach Follet.

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May 12th, 2010, 7:15 am
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Honolulu_Blue wrote:
Thanks S&C.

What's Young's projection for the model that doesn't take into account draft position? I'm just curious.

I know the Lions by their own admission didn't expect to see him in the final round. The more I learn about him the more I hope he makes the team and does well. He certainly passes the eyeball test. The dude just looks like an athlete. And he seems to have good work ethic. Hopefully he can follow the path of Zach Follet.


Sure, HB.

The projection without draft position is 16.8 Sacks by Year 5. Now, I think that is overly optimistic. Even if Young "should" have gone in the fifth round, his projection would still be much lower accounting for draft position.

The "draft position" free projection is a good way to gauge "value" though. Willie Young ranks as having the 10th highest projection in the class. It is probably a bit higher than that because there are a couple of college defensive ends who don't have Willie Young's frame that will probably be moved to linebacker.

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May 12th, 2010, 7:09 pm
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Hate to continue requesting info from you but there is 1 other person I would love to see run through SackSEER.

Can you run King Kong Suhs #s. I know he is a DT and not a DE, and the measurement wont be accurate , but I am curious how his solid athleticism for a BIg Boy measures up to actual DEs.


May 12th, 2010, 8:58 pm
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
DJ-B wrote:
Hate to continue requesting info from you but there is 1 other person I would love to see run through SackSEER.

Can you run King Kong Suhs #s. I know he is a DT and not a DE, and the measurement wont be accurate , but I am curious how his solid athleticism for a BIg Boy measures up to actual DEs.


Sure. Although this comes with a huge caveat that I am not sure this has any meaning to Suh's success. I am pretty sure that SackSEER does not work at all for interior linemen, and it is even not so great for strongside DE's. Check out Kevin Williams' SackSEER metrics, which are terrible, and he is one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the game. So, yes, I would bold, italicize, and underline this as something that I would not expect to be accurate at all. Defensive tackles tend to be severely underprojected by SackSEER.

Anyway, with that said. Here's a completely irrelevant/not likely to be in any way accurate number spit-out for Mr. Suh!

16.4 Sacks through Year 5

The 35.5" vertical is VERY good for a defensive lineman. None of the top DT's this year did much more than crack 32". The 4.45 shuttle is not bad either. He could probably be a decent defensive end. But why would you play him out of position? There is no question that he has superb athleticism for the position. Very few DT's would probably crack the 15.0 mark in this. I ran an early version of this on Tyson Jackson last year just for kicks and it spit out like two sacks.

Suh's "projection" is really hurt by those ten missed games from his medical redshirt as a Freshman. Any injury by a defensive lineman in college has to be taken very seriously IMHO because the NFL is much tougher than college: longer schedule, bigger and faster players, more training to put a strain on athletes' bodies, etc. But Suh can be so dominant, I can overlook the injury concerns.

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May 13th, 2010, 1:13 am
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Strawberries&Chocolat wrote:
DJ-B wrote:
Hate to continue requesting info from you but there is 1 other person I would love to see run through SackSEER.

Can you run King Kong Suhs #s. I know he is a DT and not a DE, and the measurement wont be accurate , but I am curious how his solid athleticism for a BIg Boy measures up to actual DEs.


Sure. Although this comes with a huge caveat that I am not sure this has any meaning to Suh's success. I am pretty sure that SackSEER does not work at all for interior linemen, and it is even not so great for strongside DE's. Check out Kevin Williams' SackSEER metrics, which are terrible, and he is one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the game. So, yes, I would bold, italicize, and underline this as something that I would not expect to be accurate at all. Defensive tackles tend to be severely underprojected by SackSEER.

Anyway, with that said. Here's a completely irrelevant/not likely to be in any way accurate number spit-out for Mr. Suh!

16.4 Sacks through Year 5

The 35.5" vertical is VERY good for a defensive lineman. None of the top DT's this year did much more than crack 32". The 4.45 shuttle is not bad either. He could probably be a decent defensive end. But why would you play him out of position? There is no question that he has superb athleticism for the position. Very few DT's would probably crack the 15.0 mark in this. I ran an early version of this on Tyson Jackson last year just for kicks and it spit out like two sacks.

Suh's "projection" is really hurt by those ten missed games from his medical redshirt as a Freshman. Any injury by a defensive lineman in college has to be taken very seriously IMHO because the NFL is much tougher than college: longer schedule, bigger and faster players, more training to put a strain on athletes' bodies, etc. But Suh can be so dominant, I can overlook the injury concerns.

:beer:

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May 13th, 2010, 2:48 am
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
Great post, thanks for the info. Im a "what can we figure out with numbers" kind of guy myself.

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May 13th, 2010, 9:54 am
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Post Re: SackSEER on Willie Young
S&C,

I appreciate the work that you do, and it is fun to run these projections. I was thinking about the proliferation of ancillary predictive statistics the other day and thought about baseball as the leader in these sorts of things. And while it may be true, you show that football is right behind them with these sorts of stats.

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May 13th, 2010, 10:58 am
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