Cleveland Browns new players graded much higher than departing veterans
How percentiles are calculated
Because the number of players at each position varies, a percentile system better compares players to their peers. For example, the 32nd best guard is about average, given that the league has 64 starting jobs at that position.
On the other hand, the 32nd best quarterback would be the worst starter in the NFL. The percentile basis conveys the value of the player within his position group (50 is average, the best player is close to 100 and zero denotes the lowest performer within the group.
It’s not possible to neatly lay out the first-stringers at each position, but all 32 NFL teams field 11 players on defense and 11 players on offense, making 704 nominal first-string players. First string is defined as the 22 athletes who are on the top of the depth chart of the base formation of the NFL. Second-string would be the next group of 22.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
The comparison is made a little complicated because not every team uses a fullback in its base formation; some teams elect to start two tight ends and others go for an extra wide receiver. Also, it often changes from week to week depending on the game plan. Likewise, some teams start extra defensive backs, some have extra linebackers,
On defense, most teams start four down linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs. Other teams play 3-4- and still, others use nickel formations using 4-2-5 or 3-3-5. In addition, you could argue that key substitutes are just as valuable as starters.
The position groups are broken down as follows:
32 QBs can be first string. After that, second-string would consist of the 33rd highest grade down to the 64th highest grade. Percentiles are recalculated for second string. So the example used previously was that Case Keenum had the 34th highest quarterback grade, which means he was the second-best second-string quarterback. Thus his percentile ranking is 32 minus two, divided by 32, times 100 or 2nd string, 94th percentile (2/94). Drew Brees is graded as the second-highest inf first string (1/94). Big difference between the two!
8 Fullbacks. Not every team starts the fullback and many do not even have a fullback in today’s NFL. Those who do have a fullback usually do not use him for as many as half the team snaps. Nevertheless, PFF grades ten fullbacks in the NFL. So while admitting that several players do not fit into nice, neat categories (for example, Kareem Hunt last year), eight were chosen as a representative number of first-string fullbacks in the NFL.
64 Tackles. The O-Line, at least, is consistent for each team.
40 Tight Ends. Some teams start two tight ends or use the tight end as a modified fullback or H-back. The Ravens are deep into the two tight end formation, as were the Chiefs, Texans, Colts, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Titans, Panthers and sometimes the Browns. 40 was chosen as a reasonable estimate of how many first-string tight ends are first string.
80 Wide Receivers. A few years ago almost every team started three wide receivers, but recently an extra tight end or fullback may replace the third wide receiver.
Defensively there is ever greater variation. Many teams start extra defensive backs, and many have hybrid safeties that can be used as linebackers.
72 Cornerbacks. Sometimes teams start extra defensive backs instead of a linebacker. In all, there are eight extra CBs who are considered starters and 8 extra safeties. That corresponds to 16 extra wide receivers on offense.
72 Safeties, sometimes hybrids that play with linebackers.
64 Defensive Ends. The defensive end position varies across the NFL. The 3-4 defensive ends are generally bigger than 4-3 defensive ends.
48 Defensive Tackles Some teams start one NT, who is usually about the size of a mountain, but other teams start two DT
96 Linebackers Most teams start three, Some teams start four, others only two, and in many cases, an extra strong safety takes over the linebacker’s duties.
So, these are the populations of first-string players used to create percentiles for discussion purposes. This fan looks at the numbers and sees great improvement in the team across the board.
However, you have to take the Pro Football Focus rankings with a grain of salt, as explained on the next page.