Browsing Posts published by Matthew Vereb

Through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, fans have witnessed unexpected trades, picks, and antics. We’ve been tracking each pick and have inputted the results into our analytics-based model. The model accounts for several inputs, namely weight-adjusted speed, agility, strength, and collegiate productions. Here’s a brief overview of the Top 5 drafts, by defense.


  1. Green Bay Packers: Kevin King, CB (Pick 33), Josh Jones, FS (61), Montravious Adams, DT (93)
  2. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB (11), Marcus Williams, FS (42), Alex Anzalone, OLB (76),  Trey Hendrickson, DE (103)
  3. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, FS (15), Quincy Wilson, CB (46), Tarell Basham, DE (80)
  4. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB (16), Tyus Bowser, OLB (47), Chris Wormley, DE (74), Tim Williams, OLB (78)
  5. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB (24), Obi Melifonwu, FS (56), Eddie Vanderdoes, DE (88)

After a tough loss in the NFC Championship, the Green Bay Packers addressed their secondary by adding Kevin King and Josh Jones. King, who ranked in the 95th percentile in Speed Score and Agility Score, is arguably the best athlete in the draft. Likewise, Jones is an excellent athlete. Both King and Jones did not grab many interceptions in college, so ball skills will be a priority. Adams was the third ranked defensive tackle in a weak class, but should help generate inside pressure.

The New Orleans’ Saints has been a laughing stock, but four new additions will try to change that. Lattimore is an excellent athlete and is one of the best playmaking corners in recent memory. Alike, Williams showed his play-making ability by grabbing eight interceptions in 2016. Anzalone is a speedy outsider linebacker that graded highly as a coverage player. Hendrickson is undersized as a defensive end, but showed big time production at Florida Atlantic. Will that carry over to the NFL? That remains to me seen!

With new General Manager, Chris Ballard in tow, the Colts have gone ‘all-in’ on defense in free agency and in the draft. In the draft, the Colts’ added the best free safety in recent memory, Malik Hooker. Hooker slid in the draft due to some injury concerns, but he’s a flat out stud that ranked in the 87th percentile (or above) in Speed Score and Production Score. Joining Hooker in the secondary will be, Quincy Wilson, a playmaking corner from Florida. Wilson ranked in the 78th percentile of Speed Score and 85th percentile in Agility Score. The Colts rounded out their first three picks by taking defensive end, Tarell Basham. Basham, alike Hendrickson, is undersized, but displayed playmaking ability at Ohio University.

The Baltimore Ravens keep churning out strong draft after strong draft. Humphrey ranked in the 80th percentile of Production Score, Speed Score, and Agility Score. He’ll play immediately and Baltimore got a steal at Pick #16. Bowser ranked in the 75th percentile of Production Score, Speed Score, and Agility Score. He reminds me of Brian Cushing. Baltimore finished their first three rounds of picks by selecting Wormley and Williams. Wormley, a large, productive defensive end from Michigan, ranked in the 90th percentile for Speed Score and Agility Score. Williams, who has some off-field concerns, was a bit of a reach, but shows playmaking ability.

The Oakland Raiders round out the Top 5 with three intriguing picks. As a player, Conley, a ball-hawing corner from Ohio State, graded out as a 2nd rounder after posting a 72th percentile Speed Score and 71th percentile Production Score. Melifonwu, a 225-pound safety who can also play corner, is big, fast, and intimidating. Melifonwu ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and a 7.09 3-cone. Vanderdoes, a former 5-star recruit, ranked in the 78th percentile in Speed Score.

Through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, fans have witnessed unexpected trades, picks, and antics. We’ve been tracking each pick and have inputted the results into our analytics-based model. The model accounts for several inputs, namely weight-adjusted speed, agility, strength, and collegiate productions. Here’s a brief overview of the Top 5 drafts, by offense and by defense.


  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR (Pick 7), Forrest Lamp, T/G (38), Dan Feeny, G (71)
  2. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB (Pick 8), Curtis Samuel, WR (40), Taylor Moton, OT (64)
  3. Buffalo Bills: Zay Jones, WR (37), Dion Dawkins, OT (40)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR (9), Joe Mixon, RB (45)
  5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB (4), Cam Robinson, OT (34)

The Chargers added two of our highest graded offensive linemen. Of note, Lamp, who graded out as our top-ranked linemen, was selected with Pick #38. Feeny, a player who started 45 games for Indiana and displayed elite agility, will compete to start. Mike Williams did not grade out highly in our metrics and seems somewhat of a redundant talent. Rivers, however, is a great deep ball thrower and having another big target will help this offense.

The Carolina Panthers need to limit hits on Cam Newton, so they added two super-agile, speedy players. McCaffrey, the third-highest rank player on our running back model, can play all four downs. He’ll bring elite pass-catching upside to Carolina’s backfield. Samuel, who graded out as a Top 10 wide receiver, has a similar skill set to McCaffrey, but will likely be split out wide and play on special team. Moton, our sixth highest graded offense lineman, has elite athleticism and started 44 games for Western Michigan.

With Sammy Watkins’ future in jeopardy, Buffalo selected speedy slot receiver, Zay Jones. Jones, who amassed 158 catches for Buffalo last season. Jones graded out as our sixth-ranked receiver after amassing a huge catch total and displaying 4.45 speed. Dawkins, who is arguably the best value in the draft, is a large, mauling, athletic tackle in the same cut as former first rounder, D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

The Cincinnati Bengals secured our second highest-ranked wide receiver, John Ross. Blessed with 4.22 speed and impressive deep-ball tracking ability, Ross has garner comparisons to Desean Jackson. Ross and Corey Davis were the only receivers that graded out as first rounders. Joe Mixon graded out as our fifth-highest ranked running back in a stacked class, but may be the most talented back in this class.

With Tom Coughlin in fold, many were expecting Jacksonville to become a more physical team. Coughlin didn’t waste any time changing the identity of this team by drafting Fournette, our highest ranked running back and Cam Robinson. Fournette ranks in the 92nd percentile (or better) in production premium and speed score. Mauling left tackle, Cam Robinson, brings toughness and physicality to the offensive line. Robinson graded out as our second highest ranked offensive lineman after starting 42 games for Alabama and posting an elite speed score.

  • Your most critical pick: The Champion
    • Avoid teams that shoot a high rate of 3-point shots unless they have 5 future NBA starters LOL
  • Your ‘Champion Pick’ strategy depends on pool size.
    • Small Pool (<10 people): Pick the most likely Champion
      • Medium Pool (<30 people): Pick a Champion whose win probability far exceeds the public pick fraction.
        • Use ESPN to determine public pick fraction.
        • Known as the Contrarian Champion. Don’t pick many early round upsets.
      • Big Pool (>50 people): Don’t bother playing. Too random and sad!
  • Over the last 14 seasons, the higher seed defeated the lower seed 72% of the time. (Don’t go crazy with upsets.)
  • List every team’s margin of victory during the regular season and compare it against the ‘average’ NCAA team.

There’s no denying it–Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest quarterback-coach duo in NFL History. Brady, armed with precision, timing, and experience, willed the New England Patriots to the most unexpected win in Super Bowl history. Facing a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter, Brady and Co. went to work, methodically engineering scoring drives to get back into the game. Granted, Atlanta’s defense, which predominantly played man coverage in the first half, was completely gassed in the fourth quarter. In total, Atlanta’s defense played 99 total snaps, 35 more than the average game. Key secondary members (i.e., Jalen Collins, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, and Robert Alford) all played at least 95 snaps. Brady did not have any issues picking Atlanta’s tired secondary apart as he engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Entering the game, one of the little know story lines was Atlanta’s susceptibility to pass catching running backs. During the season, Atlanta yielded 823 receiving yards against enemy running backs, easily the worst mark in the NFL. Many were expecting Dion Lewis, who scored three touchdowns in the Division Round, to be the focal point of New England’s attack. Instead, James White led the way with eleven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. White, a former fifth round pick, is used to playing second fiddle to more talented runners, but shines when called upon. In high school, White backed up, and even rotated at fullback, for current Bengals’ running back, Gio Bernard. At Wisconsin, White saw limited playing time behind Montee Ball before sharing the backfield with Melvin Gordon, the Chargers’ current starting running back. In the NFL, White has been the third option behind LeGarrette Blount and Lewis, but has earned the trust and respect of Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

Brady, who turns 40-years-old in August, is in great shape, physically, and wants to keep playing. That’s bad news for any of New England’s AFC East foes, including the New York Jets. Brady showed that he has the heart of a champion, and more importantly, character that can overcome any difficult situation.

The 2016-17 NCAA Football has been released and fans have begun circling top match-ups on the schedule. Luckily for fans, the first three weeks in September are chock full of top match-ups between Power 5 Conference foes. Most of the match-ups featured in the first three weeks are not your typical intra-conference match-ups; rather fans can enjoy cross-conference match-ups between some of the best teams in America. In addition, some of America’s most famous venues will host the games.

While Clemson and Alabama are considered the favorites heading into this season, there are numerous teams that could make some noise. Ohio State and Oklahoma are hoping to bounce back after endings to their seasons while Georgia and LSU are led by Heisman Trophy hopefuls. The top upcoming games in September are presented below.

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The New York Jets won their third straight game, demonstrating the urgency needed to make a serious playoff push. New York dominated Tennessee on both sides of the ball, outgaining the overmatched Titans, 439-292. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to dominate, tossing more three touchdown passes, while Chris Ivory turned in his first 100-yard performance in nearly two months. While New York’s offense capitalized and made plays, Tennessee’s defensive play was putrid. Defenders resorted to arm tackling ball carriers and the secondary missed countless assignments. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall connected for the easiest 69-yard touchdown in NFL history. Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall, so Marshall caught a quick screen and ran free for an easy touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a commanding 27-0 lead before halftime and basically ended the game. On the other side of the ball, New York’s defensive line, namely Muhammad Wilkerson, was all over Marcus Mariota; Mariota was sacked five times and looked completely befuddled by New York’s defensive alignments. With Darrelle Revis back in the fold, the secondary locked down Tennesse’s middling pass catchers, giving its talented array of pass rushers to attack Mariota at will. Wilkerson had his first career three-sack game and is just 0.5 sacks away from breaking Shaun Ellis’ career record (12.5 sacks).

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The New York Jets delivered their biggest win under Todd Bowles, rallying from a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to sneak away with a 23-20 overtime victory. By virtue of their win, the Jets snap a five-game losing streak to the Giants and cement their status as a Wildcard contender in the AFC. The Jets were resilient on both sides on the ball while taking advantage of some questionable decisions made by Tom Coughlin. The Jets’ offense was stagnant for nearly three quarters, but Coughlin’s decision to ‘go-for-it’ on 4th-and-Goal from the Jets’ 2-yard line swung momentum in the Jets’ favor. The Giants were holding a 10-point lead, so it was a very questionable decision by Coughlin. Regardless, Coughlin’s decision gave the Jets an opening—and Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall ran through it. Fitzpatrick and Marshall connected for a 9-yard scoring strike with just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. This scoring play knotted the score at 20. In overtime, the Jets pushed the ball downfield, but settled for a field goal by new kicker, Randy Bullock. Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, missed his game-tying kick in overtime, handing the Jets the victory. Overall, it was a very emotional game and tempers ran high at times, but the duo of Fitzpatrick-Marshall, not Manning-Beckham, proved to be the winning combo.

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With the season seemingly on the line, the New York Jets played their best game in nearly two months. Ryan Fitzpatrick was very efficient, throwing for 277 yards and four touchdowns while Chris Ivory looked explosive for the first time in nearly a month. Fitzpatrick hit the ‘trifecta’ by throwing a touchdown pass to each of his starting wide receivers. While Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall regularly hit pay dirt, Devin Smith scored his first touchdown right before halftime. With just seconds remaining, Smith ran a tight post route and Fitzpatrick delivered a strike for a 16-yard touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a 14-0 halftime lead, but more importantly, Fitzpatrick showed a lot of trust in the rookie by targeting him in a high leverage situation. After weeks of drops and poorly run routes, it was encouraging to see Smith haul in this touchdown pass.

Sans Darrelle Revis, New York’s defense completely dominated Miami’s offense, allowing just one third down conversion in the first three quarters. Miami’s offense lost Rishard Matthews and Mike Pouncey to injuries early in the game, but Ryan Tannehill was once again befuddled by New York’s blitz schemes.

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New York’s defense did not have an answer for Houston’s third string quarterback, TJ Yates. Yates managed the offense fairly well and did not shy away from throwing at Darrelle Revis. Revis locked horns with DeAndre Hopkins for the majority of the game—and Yates-Hopkins won the majority of those battles. During the second quarter, Yates hooked up with Hopkins on a 61-yard touchdown bomb off of play action. Revis bit on Hopkins’ double move and Yates dropped a dime over Revis’ outstretched arm. Revis did not have safety help over the top and paid the price against one of the NFL’s best young wide receivers. Revis left the game during the third quarter with a head injury, so his status is worth monitoring.

New York’s offensive line, sans Nick Mangold, did not have an answer for JJ Watt. Watt lined up all over Houston’s defensive front and dominated one-on-one match-ups, particularly against right tackle, Breno Giacomini. New York refused to double-team Watt, which proved to be a foolish decision.

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It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Jets did enough on both sides of the secure their fifth win of the season. New York had to dig down deep in an effort to overcome numerous injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary. In addition, kicker Nick Folk injured his quadriceps during warmups and gave all kicking duties to punter, Ryan Quigley. Ryan Fitzpatrick, injured thumb and all, was able to muster a competitive, winning effort and did not commit any turnovers.

New York’s defense returned to its ball-hawking ways, forcing three turnovers and registering five sacks. New York’s defensive line, which was led by Sheldon Richardson’s dominant effort, simply overpowered Jacksonville’s unit at the line of scrimmage. Monitor the progress of rookie linebacker, Lorenzo Mauldin. Mauldin was strictly utilized in pass rushing situations, but registered two key sacks.

From purely a statistical standpoint, Chris Ivory had one of the worst games for a running back in history. Ivory rushed 23 times for just 26 yards, which was an all-time low for a player with at least 23 carries. Ivory, however, was able to salvage his afternoon by scoring twice. While there were some injuries on the offensive line, namely to Nick Mangold and Willie Colon, Ivory is responsible for some of this ineptitude. Jacksonville’s run defense is fairly good, but it’s far from an all-time great unit that should limit Ivory.

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