Sunday, April 15, 2012

Looking back on the 2011 NFL Draft 1st Round Ratings/Attributes (#21 - #26).

This is the 5th blog in my Madden 12 Rookie ratings review series (#21 - #26).  In case you missed the first blog covering picks 1 through 5, you can find it here:  I encourage you to read the first blog, as I won't be repeating the entire introduction.

    Picks 6 through 10 can be found here:
    Picks 11 through 15 can be found here:
    Picks 16 through 20 can be found here:

    To give you a short introduction, I am comparing the original rookie ratings to the final rookie ratings in Madden 12.  I will be giving EA a grade on these ratings/attributes.  As the release the of Madden 13 approaches, I believe EA still has plenty of time to make improvements to how they rate player attributes.  There is no reason to stand still and be complacent.  All it takes is a open mind and a willingness to be the best despite the absence of competition.  

** Look past Overall (OVR) rating ***

Blue = increase in ratings/attributes
Red = decrease in ratings/attributes

M12 rating = Madden 12 Player Ratings

Original = First Madden 12 Rating.
Final = Final Madden 12 Rating.

#21 Phillip Taylor (DT), Cleveland Browns

Phillip Taylor played in and started all 16 games for the Browns this season in their new 4-3 system.  Listed at 6'3", 335 lbs, he is a very big man.  To cap off the year, Taylor was selected to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team (not to be confused with Pro Football Focus).

Taylor's Final 2011 regular season statistics:  59 tackles (37 solo), 4.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 Pdef.  His 59 tackles ranked 11th among rookies and ranked 3rd in the NFL at the Defensive Tackle position (Note:  Haloti Ngata is listed as a DE per    

Now with the bad. saw a completely different Taylor; and as a matter of fact, his 2011 grades where horrible.  

PFF Overall grade   = -7.4  (ranked 77 out of 88 DT/NT's)
PFF Pass Rush grade = -2.9 (ranked 49 out of 88)
PFF Run Def grade = -2.9 (ranked 76 out of 88)
PFF Penalty grade = -2.1 (ranked 73 out of 88)
PFF missed tackles = 2
PFF stop %= 5.3 (ranked 34 out of 43 DT/NT's who had at least 50% of teams run defense snaps).
PFF pass rush productivity (PRP) = 3.9 (ranked 38th out of 73 DT/NT's who had at least 2% of team pass defense snaps).

So what does all of this mean?  If you are confused, I don't blame you.  Let's look at what we do know.  Remember, On December 11th, 2011 Donny Moore tweeted

"Have I ever mentioned to you guys who I trust THE most in the world of NFL player and team analysis...."

On December 6th, 2011 he tweeted,

"If you are interested in the most accurate and detailed NFL analysis out there, look no further than . Nobody is better."

I don't think Donny could be any more clear when it comes to PFF.  Unfortunately, the increases Taylor received during the season is the exact opposite of the PFF analysis.  If Donny no longer feels this way about PFF, then he should just come out and say it.  Otherwise, what are Madden fans suppose to think?  This is not the first time the ratings "team" has completely ignored PFF's analysis and it just adds to the frustration gamers have when it comes to the inconsistency in Madden ratings/attributes.  One of my top recommendations for Madden 13 is to install a universal set of procedures for rating player attributes and make those procedures available to all Madden fans.  I don't know about you, but I can't think of anyway to obtain consistency without having guidelines for every attribute that can be objectively applied to all players.  All of the responsibility can't just fall of Donny Moore, he needs a TEAM.     

I give EA an "D-" for Taylor's final attribute ratings. The worst attribute is the elite 95 BSH, which is the 3rd highest BSH attribute out of all Madden 12 DT's.  Even the one decrease Taylor received is inaccurate.  He only missed 2 tackles all season, yet was decreased in the TAK attribute.  Over and over again, the TAK attribute for DT's is flat out inaccurate.  The only attribute change I agree with is the increase in stamina (STA).  He ranked 16th among all DT's in snaps during 2011 with 742 (per PFF).  

One view of Taylor is that his rookie season was a big success, another view is that he was one of the worst starting DT's in the NFL.  If you split the difference, he should not have received any increases or decreases.  What in the hell is going on when it comes to Madden ratings/attributes?
#22 Anthony Castonzo (LT), Indianapolis Colts

Here we have the third Offensive Tackle taken in this draft.  Castonzo played in and started 12 games in 2011.  He missed 4 games due to an ankle injury he suffered in week 4.  The general consensus about Castonzo going into the draft was that he was more of a "finesse" blocker (much of that due to his lack of strength).  He was considered to have good footwork, high awareness, and good speed for an offensive tackle.  Draft experts thought he would struggle in pass blocking against stronger bull-rush DE ends; but that overall, he was above average in pass blocking.  It was also noted that his run blocking relies more on quickness than strength.  Most experts thought he would develop into a good starting left tackle and that he was well suited for a zone blocking scheme.

I really like the original attributes that Donny gave Castonzo.  He was aware of his lack of strength, but also acknowledged his great footwork.  This is a great example of what Donny is capable of.  It's obvious to me that he not only did the research, but applied it correctly. gave Castonzo a grade of -7.0, which ranked 40th out of 76 offensive tackles who participated in at least 25% of their teams offensive snaps.  His pass blocking earned him a grade of -0.8 (33 out of 76) and his run blocking was -4.6 (50 out of 76).  PFF gave him a penalty grade of -1.6 (50 out of 76).  Castonzo received a Pass Blocking Efficiency score of 94.7 (PFF signature stat), which ranked 30 out of 76 offensive tackles.  He gave up 6 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 16 hurries during the season per PFF.    

Based on the PFF analysis, Castonzo was slightly above average in pass blocking and well below average in run blocking (when compared to other tackles).  The draft experts were right on the money when it came to Castonzo.  Although, I am sure it didn't help him that Manning wasn't his starting QB in 2011.    

In this case, Donny seemed to follow the PFF analysis.  You could question his 5 point increase in awareness, but the only problem I have with his final attributes, is that his INJ didn't go down.  The INJ attribute is very inconsistent in Madden 12 and the 98 rating (2nd highest in M12) Castonzo maintained after missing fours games is an example of that.

I give EA an "A-" for the final attribute ratings of Anthony Castonzo.  

#23 Danny Watkins (RG), Philadelphia Eagles

Danny Watkins was the first Offensive Guard taken in this draft and some considered him to be a reach in the first round.  He is already 27 years old and grew up playing hockey and rugby.  He didn't start playing football until college, where he played left tackle.  Experts projected him as a guard due to his lack of arm length and because they believe he lacks the initial quickness in his first step to play tackle in the NFL.  Watkins was considered to have average to slightly above average awareness even though he is still fairly new to football.

The original M12 attributes for Watkins are OK, but I disagree with him having such high RBF and PBF.  Several sources (, ESPN, and Scouts Inc.) suggested that his footwork was not great and definitely lacked when it came to pass blocking.  His footwork was one of the main reasons for moving him to guard in the NFL.

Watkins was inserted into the starting lineup at right guard in week 5 and started the final 12 games of the 2011 season.      

What if I told you that per ProFootballFocus, Watkins didn't give up a sack in his 12 games?  You might think that his PBS and PBF should be elite.  On the other hand, what if I told you that he gave up a total of 23 QB pressures in those 12 games, which was the 11th highest total out of 77 guards who played in at least 25% of their teams offensive snaps?  You might think his PBS and PBF should be below average.  The point is that the sacks allowed statistic doesn't tell the entire story.  That is why I believe the pass blocking analysis that provides is the best available data.  

PFF gave Watkins an overall grade of -8.4, which was 49th out of 77 guards.  He received a pass block grade of -2.7 (52 out of 77) and a run block grade of -4.9 (44 out of 77).  Watkins was also flagged 5 times in 12 games.  His pass blocking efficiency rating (PFF signature stat) was 95.9, which ranked 57th for guards.

One source I found referred to Watkins' rookie performance as "serviceable."  I believe that to be a fair description.  If you were just rating his Madden attributes based on the PFF analysis, both his PBF and PBS would be in the 70's, not the 80s.  

I give EA a "C" for Watkins' final Madden 12 attribute ratings. 

#24 Cameron Jordan (DE), New Orleans Saints

When the Saints took Cameron Jordan with the 24th overall selection, they expected him to give them a much needed boost with their pass rush.  That said, I don't think the Saints did enough research.  He was viewed by many to be more of a run stopper than a pass rusher.  For example, Scouts Inc. gave him an exceptional grade versus the run and only an average grade for pass rush skills.   The draft analysis stated "Not a big-time pass rushing talent by any means, but still has some good power moves."

It's not Jordan's fault that the Saints (fan) expectations were unrealistic for him as a pass rusher.  He finished  his rookie year with just 31 tackles (18 solo), 1 sack, 0 forced fumbles, and 4 Pdefs, despite playing in all 16 regular season games and starting 15 of them.  In two playoff games (starting in one), he added 7 tackles (6 solo) and 1 Pdef.  

There may be some hope for Jordan when it comes to rushing the passer.  New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known for developing defensive lineman, look no further than his work in New York and St. Louis.  I am very curious to see what he does with Jordan in the upcoming season.

Let's look at how Jordan compared to other 4-3 DE's according to ProFootballFocus.

PFF Overall grade        = +4.4 (35th out of 67)
PFF Pass rush grade     =  -4.4 (50th out of 67)
PFF Run defense grade = +12.1 (8th out of 67)
PFF missed tackles       = 1 (0 missed versus the run)

So once again, it appears the draft experts hit the nail on the head with Jordan.  He was outstanding versus the run, but struggled to put pressure on the QB.  

I give EA a "C+" for Cameron Jordan's final attribute ratings.  I think his TAK attribute should be a bit higher, as well as his BSH (block shed).  A TAK around 85 and a BSH in the low 80's would be fitting for the run stopper that he is.  At the same time, his PMV should not be in the 80's, something closer to 75 would make more sense.

#25 James Carpenter (RT), Seattle Seahawks

***  Full Disclosure - I am a life long Seahawk fan (over 30 years).  ***

For the second year in a row, Seattle addressed it's biggest weakness with their first pick.  As a fan, this was not an exciting pick, but knowing how bad the offensive line has been over the last couple of years, it made sense.  I don't remember any draft experts who didn't consider Carpenter a reach in the first round.  He was viewed as a good run blocker with the kind of mean streak that offensive line coach Tom Cable covets.  Many experts viewed Carpenter as more of a guard prospect than a tackle.  It was clear as the season progressed, that Carpenter was not suited to play Right Tackle in the NFL.  He is strong, but doesn't have the footwork required for an offensive tackle.

Prior to the draft, Seattle brought in free agent LG Robert Gallery to help solidify the O-line and help implement Cable's zone blocking scheme.   In the 3rd round, Seattle drafted John Moffitt who was expected to compete for the starting job at right guard.  That left Carpenter playing right tackle.  Ironically, Carpenter's first start came at LG due to an injury to Robert Gallery.  The next 8 games would see Carpenter starting at right tackle until he tore his ACL and was put on the injured reserved list. gave Carpenter an overall grade at OT of -21.4 (63rd out of 76), pass blocking grade of -12.2 (63rd out of 76), run block grade of -4.4 (48th out of 76), and penalty grade of -4.8 (71st out of 76, 8 penalties).  He gave up 5 sacks and 21 total QB pressures in just 8 games for a PBE of 91.6 (71 out of 76).  Those numbers are horrible and they clearly represent Carpenter's performance at Right Tackle.  I watched every Seahawk game and he was that bad, especially in pass protection.

Seattle recently released Robert Gallery, which opens up the LG position.  If Carpenter recovers well from his ACL injury, I think he will compete for and win the LG job.  John Moffit had a season ending injury as well, so both guard positions could be available.  

I give EA a "B+" for Carpenter's final attribute ratings.  Donny Moore did very well initially and throughout the season.    I don't consider Carpenter a bust, because I believe he will be a successful guard for years to come.  His INJ attribute needs to come down (low 80's) and his IMP (Impact block) should go up to the mid 70's. 

#26 Jonathan Baldwin (WR), Kansas City Chiefs

Baldwin was the 3rd and final WR taken in the first round.  At 6'4" and 228lbs, he offers QB's a huge target and could be a legit threat in the redzone.  Think fade route in the back of the endzone.

I really like the original attributes for Baldwin, they match up well with every scouting report I could find prior to this draft.  Even his SPC attribute is on par with everything I could read or watch.  

Here are some video highlights of Baldwin from college:

For determining the Spectacular Catch (SPC) attribute, videos like these are essential.  SPC is one of the most subjective (bias) attributes in Madden, but game tapes can help support the assigned rating.  I think Madden could live without the SPC attribute because it's completely dependent on highlight reel catches.  I have a very hard time with attributes that are based on highlights only, especially when there is only one person deciding what is or isn't a spectacular catch (a real ratings team would reduce bias).  As of now, we have to deal with it and find the best way to rate it.  Rating SPC will never be perfect (see:  Brandon Lloyd, 99 SPC), but it can be improved by compiling the best available data (game tape).

 Side Note:

In Madden 12, SPC was an extremely important attribute and it determined how easily the SPC animation was triggered (rocket catch).  Many competitive gamers would rather have a receiver with a high SPC than a high CAT.  I really hope this is fixed in Madden 13.  CAT should be the most important attribute when it comes to receiving and it should be reflected in gameplay.  Right now, the SPC animation seems to trump the CAT attribute--they should work hand in hand.  Otherwise, I can move the ball at will just by triggering the SPC animation.  It's not realistic in anyway, shape, or form.    

Back to Baldwin.  The biggest knock on Baldwin coming into the draft was his character.  He had some run ins with the law while in college and he carried his poor character into the NFL preseason.  Baldwin got into a fight with veteran RB Thomas Jones during the preseason and hurt his wrist.  His actions (injury) cost him the first five games of the regular season.

Here are Baldwin's 2011 regular season stats:  11 games (3 starts), 21 Rec, 254 yards, 12.1 avg, 1 TD.

Per ProFootballFocus, Baldwin dropped 6 catches during the season on 27 "catchable" targets.  That resulted in a drop percentage of 22.22% (dead last out of 95 WR's who had at least 44 targets).  In other words, Baldwin had some of the worst hands in the entire NFL as a rookie.

He earned a final overall grade of -6.6 from PFF (96th out of 115 WR's).  His grade for receiving only was -4.3 (89th out of 115).  Baldwin also received negative grades in blocking and penalties.  According to PFF, Kansas City quarterbacks had a 47.3 QB rating when targeting Baldwin (93rd out of 95 WR's).  The very traits that got Baldwin drafted in the first round, eluded him during the season - like attacking the ball in the air and fighting for position.

Donny shows what he is capable of with Baldwin's original attributes.  Great job Donny.  Yes, one could argue that his CIT should be a little higher based on those video highlights.  Just remember, those are highlights, we don't see all of the drops he had in traffic.

Donny also showed his inconsistent and inaccurate side by giving Baldwin increases during the season.    How on earth does that rookie season deserve any increases?  Remember, the great thing about in-season roster updates is the ability to correct mistakes and/or improve the accuracy of player attributes.  The ratings "team" failed when it comes to Baldwin's final attribute ratings.  He did not consistently exceed his original attribute ratings and I would argue he was worse.  His CAT should be in the mid 70's at best.  AWR, RTE, and RLS should not have been increased.  I do agree with the STA and INJ decreases, although this just shows how inconsistent the INJ attribute is.  Both Carpenter (7 games) and Castanzo (4 games) missed significant time and neither received a decrease to their INJ attribute.  Come on, is it really that difficult to get accurate and consistent INJ attributes?  I don't think so. You either miss games or you don't.

Here is an injury (INJ) attribute blog I did earlier in the season:

I give EA a "D-" for Baldwin's final attribute ratings.


Thanks for following this blog series, I will have the final installment completed by next Sunday.  Have a great week.

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