Pro Football Focus' Preseason Packers Predictions
Pro Football Focus has provided our first opportunity for a fact check since we put them “on notice.” The boys at PFF have offered up their season preview for the Packers. Let’s rundown five of their predictions.
1. “Aaron Rodgers will bounce back”
“Last season was his lowest-graded in his career as a starter,” writes analyst Mike Renner. But “the talent didn’t disappear, though, and a bounce-back season seems imminent.”
Analysis: No word on exactly what that bounce back would mean, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
2. “Eddie Lacy will be a Top-10 running back in 2016”
“Lacy’s rushing grade was among the top-10 in 2013 and 2014 before it got chopped in half in 2015.” Assuming that Lacy regains a more normal playing weight, “There’s no reason to think it won’t get back to that top-10 level in 2016.”
Analysis: This is one of the few hard and fast claims of this article, and it’ll be easy to fact check at the end of the season.
3. Letroy Guion and Kenny Clark will “easily” replace B.J. Raji.
“B.J. Raji hadn’t been an impact player in some time and his production should easily be replaced by Letroy Guion and first-round pick Kenny Clark.”
Analysis: Another actual statistical claim. We can measure this and check back at the end of the year.
4. “Datone Jones could be ready for big things.”
“If there’s one player that could have a breakout year, I’d tab Datone Jones. He’s quietly been a positively graded pass-rusher the past two seasons, but he’s only played 816 snaps over that time.”
Analysis: For what it’s worth, I totally buy this claim. I think 2016 is the Year of Datone. We’ll see if PFF and I end up agreeing at the end of the season.
5. “Andy Mulumba is in the mix to start at inside linebacker”
I'll quote now at length from the PFF article:
Analysis: This piece of analysis is a disaster from start to finish.
Okay, Andy Mulumba doesn’t play for the Packers, and even when he did he was an outside linebacker. Did you mean Sam Barrington?
Speaking of Barrington, PFF graded him positively in at least one game, as referenced by this analysis. Sure, just one game, but one is more than never.
I can’t speak to Ryan’s grading, but saying he’s never “shown much in the way of potential” is crazy on its face. It was PFF that described Ryan as “solid to a fault” in coverage and gave him the second highest run stop grade of any linebacker in his draft class.
Going on to say he’s “likely to see playing time early” as a rookie sounds like potential to me. Plus, PFF also ranked him as the third best run stopping rookie linebacker last year, coming on strong as the year went on. Of his 260 snaps at linebacker last year, 83% came in the second half of the season.
As far as Martinez being an unknown quality, that’s only true at the professional level. He was, in fact, a very well known quality to PFF. As a senior at Stanford, Pro Football Focus graded him as the best coverage linebacker in his draft class and even had him pegged as one of the ten best players in the entire nation at one point.