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That's the idea behind Football Outsiders' new QB Hope Index. We've taken every drafted quarterback since 1997 and looked at what variables helped determine whether that player became a long-term, successful NFL starter. The QB Hope Index accounts for draft position, on-field performance and a player's roster status (in other words, if he's not starting, who is he sitting behind?). It also incorporates age and our QBASE college quarterback projections.
The QB Hope Index formula changes from first to second to third year, as we actually get to see these players perform on the NFL stage. We've run it below for every drafted quarterback from the past three years who is currently on an NFL roster.
This model gives Nate Sudfeld and 8% chance of becoming a franchise QB. That sounds about right.
Kirk Cousins, however, has a chance to post career-best numbers across the board in 2017. Cousins attempted 606 (No. 6) passes in 2016, while leading the league in Deep Ball Attempts with 94 and posting a 45.7-percent (No. 5) Deep Ball Completion Percentage. It's no coincidence Cousins threw for 4,915 (No. 3) yards last year, almost 1,000 more yards than Carr, including the most Air Yards in football with 3,121. Some may point to Cousins' 46.0-percent (#32) Red Zone Completion Percentage, or the fact Cousins has yet to surpass 30 touchdown passes in a season. However, Cousins was working with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon each of the past two seasons, not exactly ideal red zone threats.
This year, Kirk Cousins will be throwing to Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson. Pryor is 6-4 and 233 pounds, while Doctson is the owner of a 10.36 (96th-percentile) Catch Radius. The mere presence of those receivers will open up the middle of the field for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder, which could catapult Cousins from one of the worst red-zone quarterbacks to one of the best. With neither team showing any signs of changing offensive philosophies, go with the volume and the value in Kirk Cousins.
He threw for 4,917 yards while adding 96 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
With just 34 rushes in 2016, you'd probably think that Cousins' rushing production was more fluky than good, but he's been able to maximize his production. He's rushed the ball a total of 60 times over the last two seasons, scoring nine touchdowns despite averaging just 2.4 yards per carry during that time. He's also been efficient with these types of plays, producing a Rushing NEP per attempt of 0.42 last year.
Kirk Cousins was the most proficient quarterback on curl routes last year with the most DYAR and highest DVOA. Only Russell Wilson (83.9 percent) had a higher completion percentage on curls. The Rams' duo of Jared Goff (60.6 percent) and Case Keenum (60.4 percent) had the lowest completion percentages on curls last year. Matt Barkley (61.3 percent) was close to that, but he also threw the deepest curls in the league at 9.4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage (league average: 6.7). Cousins' average curl was 5.6 yards, longer than only -- you guessed it -- Sam Bradford at 5.2 yards. There was only a very minor correlation (-0.20) between average pass depth and completion percentage here.
The post was one of the signature plays for Ryan and Jones last year in Atlanta, so it is not surprising to see Ryan do well here (second in DVOA). Cousins has now led a third route in DYAR, but as we mentioned in Part I, Jackson and Garcon racked up 155 DYAR on post routes and helped contribute to Cousins having the highest YAC (9.6). He'll have to adjust without those receivers in Washington this year.
Most DYAR by route— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) August 10, 2017
Curl - Cousins (200)
Dig - Cousins (160)
Post - Cousins (199)
Only player to lead on 3 routes https://t.co/zLp1vi8Crj
By request, here are Kirk Cousins's closest comps. Pretty good. Really interested to see what he does with some new pieces this year pic.twitter.com/idIeWUPdsj— Kevin Cole (@Cole_Kev) August 14, 2017
Adjusted potential comps to exclude anyone whose career started before my play-by-play data (2000). Still looks good for Cousins pic.twitter.com/gGsKXje5mt— Kevin Cole (@Cole_Kev) August 14, 2017
And Cousins's two closest comps are Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.— Kevin Cole (@Cole_Kev) August 14, 2017
Is Chris Thompson a new age H-back? This metric says so.
Perine is being drafted a full two-and-a-half rounds ahead of Kelley at the moment. This is after Kelley rushed for 601 yards and six touchdowns over the final nine weeks of last season following a midseason benching of Matt Jones. It's easy to write Kelley off because he was an UDFA out of Tulane last year and isn't the biggest or fastest guy. But he averaged a respectable 4.2 YPC and had Pro Football Focus' No. 2 elusive rating, which factors in forced missed tackles per touch, among all backs, behind only Jay Ajayi.
A good strategy could be to draft Zeke at a discount and pair him with Rob Kelley who has some easy matchups early on (week 5 only hole): pic.twitter.com/g4Pxgm9tzF— Connor Allen (@Fantasy_Matrix) August 11, 2017
Washington Tendencies, Last Two Years:— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) August 11, 2017
Run Rate: -1% below average
Red-Zone Run Rate: -1.3% below avg
Run Rate When Trailing: -3% below avg
Jones measurably better than Kelly in success rate, esp. as compared to NFL avg. [Notable WAS struggled behind C, Stork might have helped] pic.twitter.com/bjPYcaO5Nz— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 10, 2017
Here are all of Brian Quick's quarterbacks:
- Case Keenum: 50 targets
- Sam Bradford: 46 targets
- Austin Davis: 34 targets
- Jared Goff: 32 targets
- Nick Foles: 26 targets
- Kellen Clemens: 17 targets
- Shaun Hill: 5 targets
- Sean Mannion: 1 target
I think it's safe to say that Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback that Quick has ever had. Sam Bradford is the only one in the same ballpark.
2016 TDs: 7 | OTD: 3.9
Crowder ranked 49th among wide receivers with six end zone targets last season (three went for TDs) but was tied for 14th with seven touchdown catches. His other four touchdowns came on post-catch runs of 5, 8, 12 and 57 yards. Crowder is a candidate for a bigger role in Washington this year, but his 5-foot-8, 185-pound frame makes it a near lock he won't see much work near the goal line.
2017 Projection: 4
Washington's Jamison Crowder also had 28 out routes like Beasley, but he had the lowest DVOA (-38.8%) in the league on those patterns. Crowder dropped two of those targets, but also watched Kirk Cousins throw two of them away. Those are rarely the receiver's fault.
By DYAR, the best wide receiver screen of 2016 truly did deserve the title. Washington's Jamison Crowder can thank his blockers for opening a path for a 55-yard touchdown against the Giants on a third-and-15 situation. The play was worth 34 DYAR. Even the most optimistic fan would have viewed that call as a give-up play to gain some field position, but this one broke for the Redskins. The fact that they break open every once in a while, and the fact that it always surprises us when they do, is why we will continue to see this play every week.
Not only did he switch positions, but he dominated at his new gig, successfully converting nearly 82 percent of contested catches (9th best among NFL WRs). Think about this for a minute... Pryor posted a 1,000+ yard and 5 TD season - despite working with a turnstyle of subpar talent under center - last year. Plus, there are over 200 targets up for grabs with Pierre Garcón and DeSean Jackson no longer in the building. It may not be a perfect situation, but I see no reason to trust him any less than the yet-to-break-out Amari Cooperor the oft-injured Alshon Jeffery.
Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins (Undrafted): He is 33 years old, and it wasn't that long ago he looked completely finished. But the veteran tight end got 9.9 YPT last season, which led all tight ends in the NFL (minimum 50 targets). Moreover, Jordan Reed is one of the bigger injury risks in football.
Vernon Davis - Neutral
Sports Injury Predictor gives Jordan Reed an 89 percent chance of injury and projects he'll miss nearly seven games. Expect Davis to be a popular waiver add and streaming option. He scored nearly 10 points per game when Reed missed time last year.
4. Jordan Reed's longest reception of his career was just 38 yards. It happened in the seventh game of his rookie season.
8. Vernon Davis scored 13 touchdowns in 2009, and again in 2013. The other nine seasons of his career, he's averaged 3.4 touchdowns per year.
This is a good trend for the Redskins pic.twitter.com/cFMOSh1vK7— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 6, 2017
Allen played 746 defensive snaps in his senior season at Alabama, where he was successful both against the rush and in the pass rush. He ended the college season with an overall grade of 92.1, the third-highest grade among interior defensive linemen. His pass-rush grade of 93.4 ranked first.
Allen has the versatility to line up and produce in any position on the defensive line. In 2016, Allen recorded 67 total quarterback pressures, the most among the league's interior defensive linemen. Of those 67 pressures, 37 came when lined up at defensive tackle, 28 came from defensive end and two came from nose tackle. His pass-rush productivity of 12.0 ranked first among 2017 draft-eligible interior defensive linemen.
Keim notes "When he faces the starters in full-team work, Allen does a good job holding his ground vs. the run." Allen played 278 run-defense snaps in his senior season, and produced 33 run stops (solo tackles that constitute an offensive failure) for a run-stop percentage of 11.5 percent that ranked first among 2017 draft-eligible interior defensive linemen.
Jonathan Allen knows how to get after quarterbacks pic.twitter.com/gWiU290niz— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 13, 2017
With edge-rusher Trent Murphy set to miss the entire 2017 season due to injury, Washington will hope that Galette can return to 100 percent. The last full season he played, he produced the third most quarterback pressures (67) and second highest pass rush productivity (12.2) among 4-3 defensive ends, and achieved a pass rush grade of 87.9, which ranked fifth among the league's qualifying edge defenders.
Galette has played 4 of his 5 seasons as a 4-3 defensive end, but he spent the 2013 season as a 3-4 outside linebacker, the position he will be playing in Washington. He performed well, racking up 58 pressures from 457 pass rushing snaps, and his 12 sacks ranked third among players at the position.
Inside linebacker: Nico Marley, Washington Redskins, 86.3 overall grade
Marley, the second-highest graded linebacker this week, was sent after the quarterback eight times, and generated pressure twice for a pass-rush productivity of 21.9. He finished with three total stops and not a single missed tackle on 38 defensive snaps.
Foster had a career year in 2016, ranking ninth among linebackers with an overall grade of 86.3. He led both his team and all inside linebackers in the NFC East in tackles (92), total stops (45), run stops (27) and run stop percentage (7.8 percent).
Compton ended the 2016 campaign with an overall grade of 41.8, which ranked 76th of 88 qualifying inside linebackers. On his 936 snaps in 2016, he accumulated 33 total stops, which ranked 43rd, and he allowed a passer rating of 100.8 on throws into his primary coverage, ranking 44th. Compton missed 13 tackles on 93 attempts last year, giving him a tackle efficiency of 8.7, which ranked 47th of 64 linebackers with at least 165 snaps.
Brown ranked 17th among 88 qualified linebackers with an overall grade of 84.0 last year. Brown's 59 stops ranked third among all inside linebackers in 2016, and his 107 tackles ranked sixth.
Fuller wasn't much better than Diggs last year, giving up the most receiving yards (554) and highest yards per snap in coverage (1.99) in the slot. Fuller was targeted 53 times in the slot last year, allowing an opposing passer rating of 122.7 in the process. One note on targeting Fuller this year - he begins the year against a somewhat soft schedule of slot receivers. However, he has a slew of tough matchups in the back half of his schedule this year. Don't let his early-season numbers fool you when it's time to start targeting for DFS purpose - he's a young corner that has yet to prove himself against top competition.
Breeland stood out during the 2015 season, where he graded very well against the run. On 311 snaps against the run, Breeland produced 13 stops (solo tackles that constitute a ‘win' for the defense), for a run stop percentage of 4.2 percent that ranked fourth of 97 qualifying cornerbacks. He ended the season with a run defense grade of 87.2, the second highest grade among the league's corners.
In coverage, Breeland allowed 1.35 yards per coverage snap (above the NFL average of 1.24), and his coverage grade of 79.6 ranked 25th among the league's cornerbacks.
However, he saw a drop in production in 2016. His run defense grade dropped dramatically to 51.8, and his run stop percentage of 2.1 percent ranked 16th of 94 qualifying cornerbacks. In coverage, Breeland put up slightly better numbers, (allowing 1.15 yards per coverage snap), but saw a drop in coverage grade, and ended the season with a coverage grade of 49.7. Once he recovers, Breeland will be looking to return to 2015 form as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.
No Redskins rookie has ever won Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Skins also have never had a Defensive Player of the Year on their roster in the season in which the player in question won the award.
Laveranues Coles is the only Redskins wideout to receive 30% or more of the Redskins targets since 1992 (first year of available target data) and he did it twice (2003 and 2004). His 32.7% target share in 2004 is the 21st most by any player since 1992. Pierre Garcon's 2013 is the only other season that comes close (29.6%).
Of Mark Rypien's 115 career touchdown passes, 68% of them went to Gary Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders.