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Evaluation Of The 2016 Rookie Classes

The Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured in such a way that teams have inexpensive and exclusive control over players during their first four accrued seasons, before they can earn unrestricted free agency. Now that most of the players on 2016 rookie classes have done so, let’s take a look how those incoming players as a whole did, and look at classes that contributed the most and least on the basis of snap counts, and then see how many of those players got vested veteran contracts during this offseason.

If you wish to see all rookie classes, visit OTC’s Rookie Class Evalaution page here, and learn about the methodology behind this project here.


Players On Track To Be Helped By the New PPE Rules

As part of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, an expansion of the Proven Performance Escalator (PPE) was agreed upon. Article 7, Section 4 of the CBA has the full details, while OTC’s PPE projection page has now been updated to account for this expansion. Brad also took you down an alternate history of the past that shows what the expanded PPE would have yielded to players if it were a part of the 2011 CBA.

The table in this article will go into the future, and show which players are in line to have their fourth year salaries improved due to the PPE expansion.

A total of 57 players are currently helped by the PPE extension. A slight majority of those (31) are 2nd round picks would have received no PPE under the 2011 CBA. The other 26 are 3rd to 7th rounders who have effectively have their PPE boosted from Level One to Level Two.

Note that all 2nd rounders listed are on track to earn the Level Two PPE, due to the 55% snap threshold of that level being lower than the Level One threshold of 60%. Should any of these players’ snap counts fall in their remaining qualifying seasons, their three year average will need to come above 60% to even get a Level One PPE, a potentially narrow window.

Four players–Mark Andrews, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, and Mecole Hardman–are ensured a Level Three PPE due to their original ballot selection to a Pro Bowl. This is particularly important for Chubb (a running back) and Hardman (who made the Pro Bowl as a returner) thus far, as they otherwise would not qualify for any PPE level. Andrews would also fall to Level One without the Pro Bowl.

Broken down by team, the Colts lead the way with the most players with improved PPE projection with four. That’s led by a trio of 2nd round picks that includes Leonard. Four teams–the Partiots, Jets, Chargers, Eagles–have no player that had its projected PPE upgraded as a part of the 2020 CBA. Of those four, the Patriots stand out as having no player eligible for the PPE at all from the 2018 and 2019 draft classes.

To learn about all players eligible for the PPE in addition to those that got an upgrade in the 2020 CBA, please visit OTC’s updated PPE projections page.

NameTeamRound2011 CBA PPEPPE Level2018 Snaps2019 Snaps2020 SnapsSnap Average
Jerome BakerDolphins3YesTwo 62.1% (2) 96.8% (2) 0.0% 79.5% (1)
Orlando BrownRavens3YesTwo 63.9% (2) 100.0% (2) 0.0% 82.0% (1)
Mark AndrewsRavens3YesThree 34.8% 41.5% (3) 0.0% 38.2% (1)
Jessie Bates IIIBengals2NoTwo 98.7% (2) 99.0% (2) 0.0% 98.9% (1)
Nick ChubbBrowns2NoThree 36.2% 68.3% (3) 0.0% 52.3%
Justin ReidTexans3YesTwo 84.8% (2) 85.2% (2) 0.0% 85.0% (1)
Darius LeonardColts2NoThree 91.1% (2) 79.9% (3) 0.0% 85.5% (1)
Braden SmithColts2NoTwo 75.1% (2) 99.9% (2) 0.0% 87.5% (1)
Harold LandryTitans2NoTwo 56.7% (2) 85.4% (2) 0.0% 71.1% (1)
Courtland SuttonBroncos2NoTwo 76.3% (2) 92.0% (2) 0.0% 84.2% (1)
Connor WilliamsCowboys2NoTwo 64.0% (2) 64.9% (2) 0.0% 64.5% (1)
Michael GallupCowboys3YesTwo 68.4% (2) 75.6% (2) 0.0% 72.0% (1)
Will HernandezGiants2NoTwo 99.6% (2) 100.0% (2) 0.0% 99.8% (1)
James DanielsBears2NoTwo 70.9% (2) 100.0% (2) 0.0% 85.5% (1)
Brian O’NeillVikings2NoTwo 76.0% (2) 94.9% (2) 0.0% 85.5% (1)
Donte JacksonPanthers2NoTwo 89.5% (2) 66.1% (2) 0.0% 77.8% (1)
Carlton DavisBucs2NoTwo 68.5% (2) 85.1% (2) 0.0% 76.8% (1)
Jordan WhiteheadBucs4YesTwo 63.0% (2) 81.7% (2) 0.0% 72.4% (1)
Christian KirkCardinals2NoTwo 57.5% (2) 75.4% (2) 0.0% 66.5% (1)
Fred Warner49ers3YesTwo 98.8% (2) 96.1% (2) 0.0% 97.5% (1)
Tre FlowersSeahawks5YesTwo 91.1% (2) 91.2% (2) 0.0% 91.2% (1)
Cody FordBills2NoTwo 69.2% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 69.2% (1)
Dawson KnoxBills3YesTwo 60.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 60.0% (1)
Michael DeiterDolphins3YesTwo 92.5% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 92.5% (1)
Michael JordanBengals4YesTwo 58.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 58.6% (1)
Greedy WilliamsBrowns2NoTwo 64.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 64.0% (1)
Mack WilsonBrowns5YesTwo 88.2% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 88.2% (1)
Diontae JohnsonSteelers3YesTwo 65.5% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 65.5% (1)
Max ScharpingTexans2NoTwo 87.9% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 87.9% (1)
Rock Ya-SinColts2NoTwo 82.4% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 82.4% (1)
Khari WillisColts4YesTwo 60.2% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 60.2% (1)
Jawaan TaylorJaguars2NoTwo 100.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 100.0% (1)
Gardner MinshewJaguars6YesTwo 83.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 83.0% (1)
A.J. BrownTitans2NoTwo 68.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 68.3% (1)
Nate DavisTitans3YesTwo 73.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 73.1% (1)
Dalton RisnerBroncos2NoTwo 96.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 96.3% (1)
Mecole HardmanChiefs2NoThree 45.2% (3) 0.0% 0.0% 45.2%
Juan ThornhillChiefs2NoTwo 90.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 90.3% (1)
Trayvon MullenRaiders2NoTwo 64.7% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 64.7% (1)
Maxx CrosbyRaiders4YesTwo 72.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 72.1% (1)
Darius SlaytonGiants5YesTwo 65.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 65.6% (1)
Terry McLaurinRedskins3YesTwo 81.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 81.6% (1)
Cole HolcombRedskins5YesTwo 63.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 63.3% (1)
David MontgomeryBears3YesTwo 57.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 57.3% (1)
Will HarrisLions3YesTwo 58.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 58.3% (1)
Elgton JenkinsPackers2NoTwo 89.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 89.1% (1)
Irv Smith Jr.Vikings2NoTwo 59.8% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 59.8%
Kendall SheffieldFalcons4YesTwo 67.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 67.0% (1)
Dennis DaleyPanthers6YesTwo 61.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 61.1% (1)
Erik McCoySaints2NoTwo 99.4% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 99.4% (1)
Sean Murphy-BuntingBucs2NoTwo 60.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 60.1% (1)
Byron MurphyCardinals2NoTwo 97.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 97.6% (1)
Taylor RappRams2NoTwo 74.3% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 74.3% (1)
David EdwardsRams5YesTwo 61.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 61.6% (1)
Deebo Samuel49ers2NoTwo 67.0% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 67.0% (1)
Dre Greenlaw49ers5YesTwo 70.1% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 70.1% (1)
D.K. MetcalfSeahawks2NoTwo 83.6% (2) 0.0% 0.0% 83.6% (1)

How Would Previous Draft Picks Have Changed With The Proposed Rooney Rule Expansion?

On Friday, Jim Trotter of the NFL Network reported that the NFL is proposing an expansion to the Rooney Rule in an effort to improve upon the league’s sclerotic efforts in hiring racial minority to executive, head coach, and coordinator positions. One half of the rule, which would abolish anti-tampering rules for assistant coaches interviewing for coordinator positions, would be very important and significant, if also a straightforward rule change.

The other half, one that has received some skepticism from voices like Mike Florio, Michael Rosenberg, and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, would radically alter several aspects of the NFL Draft. This article will focus on that portion of the proposal, by taking an objective look at what changes would have happened in previous drafts dating back to 2003, when the Rooney Rule was first established, with the goal of helping observers form an opinion on this part of the proposal.


Introducing The Collective Bargaining Agreement On Over The Cap

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the owners of the NFL and the NFL Players Association is the most important document in the league, as it is the foundation for its entire operations. Knowledge of the CBA is key to understanding the intricacies of those operations–including, but not limited to, contracts and the salary cap.

That’s why, with the ratification of the 2020 CBA, we at Over The Cap have now published the entire document on our website.

As you can see in the subsequent links of this sentence as examples, each article, section, subsection, and appendix is directly linkable, allowing readers to quickly jump to a particular location of the CBA without having to scroll through a massive PDF. In future articles, you may see OTC make citations to relevant clauses to the CBA via these links.

The legalese of the CBA can be overwhelming at times, so over the course of the 2020 CBA’s duration, OTC will gradually add some “Plain English” paragraphs to portions of the CBA that will help to better explain what they mean, and why they are important. We hope that this project can continue to further knowledge of the NFL to our viewers.

You can get started at viewing the CBA on the web via OTC right here at its root, at the table of contents.

2021 Compensatory Draft Picks Update (4/29/2020)

In the new CBA, the deadline for unrestricted free agents to be able to qualify as compensatory free agents (CFAs) was moved up again, now to the first Monday after the draft. This year, that’s April 27. Now that that date has passed, let’s take a look at where OTC’s projection for the 2021 compensatory picks stand. If you have any questions about how this list is generated, please take a look at the cancellation charts for all 32 teams here.


Estimating The Number Of 2020 UDFAs For Each Team

Last Friday, Lions GM Bob Quinn observed the heightened challenges that undrafted free agents (UDFAs) will face this offseason due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Quinn also observed that his team will likely not have a huge number of UDFAs due to already having 78 players on the roster. Combine that with the nine draft pick the Lions currently hold, and it’s easy to do the math to see why Quinn comes to that prediction.

After reading that, I decided it would easy enough to calculate estimations on the number of UDFA signings for all 32 teams. The table below and to the left has very simple math: take the sum of current rostered players as estimated by OTC and draft picks each team holds, and subtract that from 90 to provide the estimated UDFA signings each team could make.

TeamCurrent Rostered PlayersCurrent # Of Draft PicksEstimated UDFA Signings

Now, obviously these estimates will not be exact. Numerous trades will be executed during the draft that will change these numbers. Teams may also terminate the contracts of some currently rostered players to make room for more UDFAs than they currently have available. Nonetheless, these estimates can provide us some insight on what teams may be planning for UDFAs, both during and after the draft.

Teams With High Estimated UDFA Signings

  • By definition, these teams will have more roster space to sign higher numbers of UDFAs if they so choose.
  • However, there is a tradeoff: because Art. 7, §1(i) of the CBA greatly limits the amount of signing bonus money that may be offered to all UDFAs, that means that they may need to individually offer less signing bonus money to each UDFA if they spread out their pool. This could limit their ability to include high priority UDFAs among their rookie class.
  • These teams may also be candidates to trade down within the 2020 NFL Draft, in order to get more drafted players to fill out the roster.

Teams With Low Estimated UDFA Signings

  • Conversely by definition, these teams currently have limited roster space to sign UDFAs.
  • Also conversely, by signing fewer UDFAs, these teams may have a positive tradeoff by being able to offer those fewer UDFAs more signing bonus money. This could give them an advantage in outbidding other teams for high priority UDFAs
  • These teams may also be candidates to either trade up, or trade picks in the 2020 NFL Draft for ones in 2021 or later, so they don’t risk having to cut drafted rookies after training camp and the preseason.
  • Current fringe roster players on these teams may also be at a higher risk of being cut once the draft is over and terms have been agreed upon with UDFAs.

Should The Redskins & Giants Consider Drafting Tua Tagovailoa?

In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals did something very rare: they used a 1st round pick in back to back drafts on quarterbacks–and in their case, two picks in the top ten. After drafting Josh Rosen 10th overall in 2018, they drafted Kyler Murray 1st overall in 2019. This has only happened two other times–one of them we’ll get to later, but the other had extremely unusual circumstances: 1982 draftee Art Schlichter was suspended for gambling, leading to the Baltimore Colts following up that selection with the (in)famous drafting of John Elway in 1983.

While nowhere near as extreme, the circumstances in Glendale may not have been strictly related to quarterback play. Steve Wilks was fired after only one season as head coach, and was replaced with Kliff Kingsbury, he of the Air Raid fame. The change of the offensive system led the Cardinals to bring in Murray, someone Kingsbury was familiar with in the Big 12 back in his Texas Tech coaching days, and to ship off Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for a 2nd round pick. So far, this rare move has turned out better for the Cardinals: Murray was Offensive Rookie of the Year, while Rosen, coming off arguably the worst rookie season in at least 35 years, failed to hold off Ryan Fitzpatrick from the starting job in Miami in 2019.

Intuitively, the rarity of back to back 1st round quarterbacks by the same team seems straightforward: entering the NFL is a tough task, and teams want to give a quarterback the benefit of the doubt in his rookie season, hoping that he will significantly improve in his second season. However, after taking a glance at the excellent DYAR and DVOA statistics from Football Outsiders, this may be wishful thinking. Looking at its history of quarterback ratings going back to 1985, results like Rosen’s may be much closer to the rule than the exception; thus, perhaps drafting someone like Murray should the opportunity arise also should be more the rule than the exception.

And if that’s the case, as we approach the 2020 NFL Draft, it should leave two teams in a potentially similar situation–the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants–seriously considering drafting someone like Tua Tagovailoa.

The rarity of “false negatives”

In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Giants drafted Daniel Jones 6th overall, while the Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins 15th overall. By DYAR and DVOA, both quarterbacks had very poor rookie seasons. Haskins was dead last in both measures among quarterbacks with at least 200 passes, at -443 and -42.0%. Jones wasn’t much better: at -256 and -19.2% he was respectively fourth worst and fifth worst.

This leads to the question as to how many “false negatives” at quarterback come out of the 1st round, where a quarterback who had a poor rookie season nonetheless was able to put together a good NFL career. What are the odds that Haskins and Jones can consistently bounce back from that rough start?

The table below shows all quarterbacks taken in the 1st round since 1985 that had either DYAR or DVOA that was worse than Jones’s 2019 numbers in the first year that they threw at least 200 passes, as well as their DYAR and DVOA in the subsequent three seasons, for a total of four seasons. Haskins and Jones are highlighted in teal. All blank cells indicate that the quarterback did not throw 200 or more passes in that season, with exceptions highlighted in yellow: Andre Ware and Dan McGwire never threw for 200 or more passes in any season, so their under 200 pass seasons are included.

PlayerDraft YearFirst SeasonSeason 1Season 2Season 3Season 4
Josh Rosen20182018-1145-53.7%TBDTBDTBDTBD
David Carr20022002-1130-47.4%83-7.0%258-3.2%-565-29.2%
Blaine Gabbert20112011-1009-46.5%-268-25.3%
Blake Bortles20142014-955-40.7%54-9.9%52-10.0%4080.3%
Jared Goff*20162016-881-74.8%112524.0%111417.0%5522.0%
Kelly Stouffer19871992-837-72.7%
Akili Smith19992000-700-51.4%
Ryan Leaf19981998-661-51.8%-539-35.5%
Matt Stafford*20092009-653-36.6%117014.9%116012.2%
Donovan McNabb*19991999-629-51.6%389-1.4%251-3.7%267-0.8%
Trent Dilfer19941995-559-31.0%-5-11.3%4495.2%-103-14.7%
Josh Allen20182018-534-35.9%-21-11.8%TBDTBDTBDTBD
Tim Couch19991999-478-28.4%-54-15.1%-421-24.7%98-7.9%
JP Losman20042005-451-41.5%65-9.0%
Dwayne Haskins20192019-443-42.0%TBDTBDTBDTBDTBDTBD
Christian Ponder20112011-404-31.5%173-6.1%-42-13.5%
Josh Freeman20092009-392-31.1%81613.9%-96-13.7%118-8.0%
Mark Sanchez20092009-382-26.5%212-4.3%-53-12.5%-593-29.4%
Kerry Collins19951995-369-23.8%69917.5%-393-26.0%-253-22.0%
Troy Aikman*19891989-299-26.7%-251-20.5%84122.5%124928.1%
Brandon Weeden20122012-291-19.4%-443-36.1%
Joey Harrington20022002-279-20.9%-250-18.2%41-9.9%-93-15.2%
Jake Locker20112012-265-23.6%69-5.7%-171-27.8%
Jamarcus Russell20072008-265-21.6%-834-62.0%
Daniel Jones20192019-256-19.2%TBDTBDTBDTBDTBDTBD
Tim Tebow20102011-221-22.7%
Kyle Boller20032003-220-26.0%-108-14.6%34-9.3%
Jeff George19901990-211-20.3%-581-28.6%-358-28.3%5368.5%
Brady Quinn20072009-207-22.8%-440-43.8%
Eli Manning*20042004-191-25.4%6326.0%5294.1%-190-16.4%
EJ Manuel20132013-190-19.9%-53-17.1%
Dan McGwire19911992-182-98.8%-287-50.9%
Vinny Testaverde19871987-153-24.4%-202-17.8%153-6.5%-16-11.8%
Steve Walsh19891989-138-20.6%110-5.9%40314.3%
Andre Ware19901990-54-36.5%-146-33.6%-138-53.7%

A quick, subjective look at that list of 35 quarterbacks does…not look good–including the observation that Rosen had the worst rookie quarterback DYAR ever. Among that list, there are five quarterbacks that a reasonable consensus could agree had at least decent NFL careers Those five, highlighted in green and marked with an asterisk, are as follows, in descending order from most to least recent:

  • Jared Goff, who had to suffer through Jeff Fisher’s last stand in the Rams’ return to Los Angeles before quickly logging four digit DYAR in his next two seasons upon the arrival of Sean McVay.
  • Matt Stafford, who suffered a rough rookie season in the year after the 0-16 Lions, and then had an injury filled second season before taking off considerably in Seasons 3 and 4.
  • Eli Manning, whose career was a roller coaster as a matter of DYAR and DVOA, but at least logged above average and above replacement in Seasons 2 and 3, and did of course win two Super Bowls.
  • Donovan McNabb, who hovered below average but at least above replacement after a rough rookie season before really taking off for three seasons, starting with his Super Bowl appearance season of 2004.
  • And finally, Troy Aikman, the only Hall of Famer on this list. But it’s at this moment that the final rarity of first round quarterbacks taken in consecutive drafts by a team shall be mentioned. In fact, Jimmy Johnson didn’t even bother seeing one down of Aikman’s rookie season before using the Cowboys’ 1990 1st round pick in the 1989 supplemental draft on Steve Walsh–who also is on this list. Therefore, among these quarterbacks, the only one whose team immediately used a 1st round pick on a competitor was the only one that made the Hall of Fame.

Pitting those five quarterbacks against the 30 others on the list that came before Haskins and Jones (although there is still some time to determine the ultimate fates of the likes of Rosen and Josh Allen), it translates into a 1 in 7 chance for the careers of Haskins and Jones to come out as good as the quarterbacks mentioned above–and a 1 in 35 chance of ascending all the way to Aikman’s level.

Where the Redskins and Giants are at

This leads us to the predicament the Redskins and Giants find themselves in for the 2020 NFL Draft. Both teams had terrible 2019 seasons–bottom six in overall DVOA, and bottom ten in offensive DVOA–contributing to records of 3-13 and 4-12, and being given the 2nd and 4th overall picks. That puts them in the position where highly regarded quarterbacks are considered.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Bengals take Joe Burrow 1st overall, the consensus next best available quarterback, one that has been mentioned as such well before any 2019 action in football, was Tua Tagovailoa. Now, just like any other quarterback entering the NFL from college, there is no guarantee on how he’ll perform, and you should not be drafting a quarterback that high if he’s deemed to not meet that value. And with Tagovailoa in particular, there is the added risk factor of his serious hip injury from last season. Furthermore, it would be painful to pass up on a highly regarded prospect at another position–like Chase Young, who, in the Redskins’ case, could easily go to a division rival in the Giants should they take a quarterback at 2nd overall.

However, if, after weighing all factors and coming to the determination that Tagovailoa has a very good chance to be a successful NFL quarterback, given the importance of the position it may behoove both the Redskins and Giants to at least consider indemnifying what they have now with Haskins and Jones with a prospect like Tagovailoa.