It’s the point in the off-season where we are desperate for content. No better time now than do to look at each team’s roster additions using PFF to compare to the old rejected players. Yeah PFF, the thing you hate. But PFF is about to show the Lions improved though so we must use it.
NOTE: No rookies have PFF grades but I will note notable additions.
Green Bay Packers
Additions: Devin Funchess, Rick Wagner, Christian Kirksey
Subtractions: Geronimo Allison, Jimmy Graham, Bryan Bulaga, Blake Martinez
Rick Wagner swap in at right tackle while losing Bryan Bulaga is a key change at right tackle for Green Bay. Wagner graded above average to good every year from 2015-2018. Wagner ranked 62nd out of 81 ranked tackles with below average pass pro and run blocking in 2019. He battled some injuries but the Packers hope 2019 was a fluke for Wagner. Bulaga was the 15th ranked tackle in PFF in 2019 so that is a huge drop in production. Wagner better step up to protect Rodgers who is already mad from the offseason. Bulaga>2019 Wagner. Previous Rick Wagners was an above average to good right tackle.
Devin Funchess was injured in Week 1 in 2019 on a one-year deal with the Colts. Funchess was above slightly above average in 2018, good in 2017, below average in 2016 and good in 2015 in terms of PFF grades. He is a big upgrade over Geronimo Allsion (111 out of 122 grade). MVS graded poorly (103 out of 122) but Lazard was solid at 58th out of 122 WRs. Kumerow was 87 out of 122 in 376 snaps but let’s not start a FYS riot. This is an under the radar signing and Rodgers shouldn’t be so mad in terms of PFF grade. However, the stats don’t back up Funchess very well. Funchess=Lazard>>MVS or Allison
2015 16 games 31 rec 64 targets 473 yards 5 TD and 15.3 average (rookie 2nd round pick)
2016 15 games 23 rec 59 targets 371 yards 4 TDs and 16.1 average
2017 16 games 63 rec 113 targets 840 yards 8 TDs and 13.3 average
2018 14 games 44 rec 79 targets 549 yards, 4 TDs and 12.5 average
2019 injured Week 1 with Indy early in the game
If Funchess can get 2017 production, the Packers could be happy with him as WR2. We’ll see how much Lazard and MVS cut into his snaps and targets and if the Packers run the ball more with Jones/Dillon/Williams. Devin has been durable until last year.
Christian Kirksey is oft-injured replacing Blake Martinez. He only played 112 snaps last year and had a poor grade with the Browns. His 2018 grade was poor, 2017 grade was average, 2016 above average and 2015 was good. The Packers are taking a flier he can stay healthy and pair with Oren Burks. Blake Martinez got 10 per from the Giants but was an average LB at 53rd out of 89. Martinez was good in 2018, above average in 2017 and below average in 2016. Oren Burks or Kirksey need to be average to match Blake 2019. Blake>Kirksey/Burks
Additions: Robert Quinn, Nick Foles, Ted Ginn, Tashaun Gipson, Germain Ifedi, Jimmy Graham, Demtrius Harris, Artie Burns
Subtractions: Nick Williams, Chase Daniels, Taylor Gabriel, Prince Amukamara, Kyle Long, Nick Kwiatkowski, Trey Burton
Robert Quinn graded above average but has been very productive. Floyd actually had a better 2019 grade and was above average per PFF. Quinn seems like the better player though but Floyd is young with potential for the Rams now.
Kyle Long was hurt and Germain Ifedi switches to guard. He didn’t grade well at tackle but the guard switch should help him. Guard Rashaasd Cowaard and Ifedi had the same below average grade. Ifedi is a wild card for an upgrade but offers nice tackle depth though.
Ted Ginn graded poorly but can still catch the occasional deep ball. Gabriel graded poorly as well so the Bears save some money for the same production.
Tashaun Gipson was below average replacing an average Clinton Dix. Eddie Jackson was only above average and not elite like prior seasons so the Bears hope he returns to form. Bears hoping for the same with Kyle Fuller who dropped from good in 2018 to average in 2019. Quinn and Mack rushing the passer should help the Bears secondary. Akiem Hicks is a huge returning from injury player as he is good to almost elite interior defender pass rush. Nick Williams was solid but won’t be missed with Hicks back. Big addition through health for the Bears.
Jimmy Graham was below average but Trey Burton was terrible. This plus Cole Kmet drafted is an upgrade at tight end for the Bears.
Artie Burns played less than 100 snaps and is a flier for the Bears. 2nd round pick Jaylon Johnson has the best shot to replace Amukamara. Big shoes to fill with a 45 out of 112 ranking for the Prince. Chicago will need Burns or Johnson to match the above average play.
Additions: Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, Nick Williams, Danny Shelton, Reggie Ragland, Desmond Trufant, Jayron Kearse, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Geronimo Allison
Subtractions: Darius Slay, Snacks Harrison, Devon Kennard, Rick Wagner, Tavon Wilson, Sam Martin
PFF wise Detroit made some big improvements. Let’s start on offense.
Hal Vaitai is a big upgrade over Wagner 2019 as you can see by Wagner’s grades in the Packers section. Big V is good in run blocking and average in pass pro and ranked 22nd out of 81 tackles playing 541 snaps. This was a good grade and he is a legit starter in this league with some big snaps in 2019 and 2017 (Eagles Super Bowl run). Big V>Wagner
Chase Daniel didn’t grade well in 2018 with snaps. I don’t know if he is an upgrade over Jeff Driskel. David Blough had some decent games (Bears/Packers) but couldn’t lead the Lions to a win. Lions got a vet backup though but hopefully Stafford doesn’t miss 8 games again. Stafford and his elite 106 QB rating are needed for 2020. Just hope Stafford isn’t hurt.
Geronimo Allison stunk for the Packers. He will battle for the 4th or 5th WR spot with rookie Quintez Cephus, 2nd year player Travis Fulgham, and deep threat Marvin Hall. Hall and Cephus are better than Allison. Detroit didn’t have much at WR 4 last year when Jermaine Kearse got hurt in pre-season. Chris Lacy, Fulgah, Andy Jones didn’t cut it so Allison will get one chance.
Detroit improved immensely on defense per PFF.
Jamie Collins is the 16th ranked safety out of 89. Detroits best from 2019 (Tavai) is ranked in the 50s. Davis and Christian Jones were brutal. Detroit got a big upgrade that knows the system. Collins is versatile to rush the passer, defend the run and provide some actual LB pass coverage. Even at 30 and 10 million per year this was a great signing. Collins>>Davis or Christian Jones. Kennard was cut and ranked 45 out of 106 for good run defense but average pass rush. Collins and Julian Okwara combo can upgrade over Kennard. Collins allows Davis to blitz more and cover less to turn a weakness into a strength. Christian Jones should see the field much less. Tavai was solid his rookie year and should grow at LB with Collins around him.
Duron Harmon is ranked 18th out of 88 safeties. He is a good free safety and Detroit needs that on the back-end. Tracy Walker is ranked 20th so Detroit has a good starting safety combo. Jayron Kearse graded really well in limited snaps too and replaces Tavon Wilson. Will Harris(79 out of 88) struggled in his rookie year but will be the 3rd safety only now. Harmon>>Harris
Desmond Trufant ranked 32 out 112 in 2019 before injury. He is still a number 1 CB. Slay was elite until 2019 and earned only an 82 out of 112 in 2019. Slay dealt with injuries and lack of Lions pass rush but Trufant graded much better (and dealt with the same things as Slay). I would still say Slay is better but the combo of Trufant/Okudah is better than the combo of Slay/Melvin/rookie Oruwariye. Melvin was 87 out of 112 CBs. Lions improved at CB.
CB Depth addition Daryl Roberts (80th ranked) struggled but provides depth. Amani Oruwariye actually graded well as a rookie playing in the back-half of the season as a 5th round rookie (71.4 grade in 215 snaps). He has potential to improve too as good depth.
Interior Defender Nick Williams was 51st out of 115 Interior Defenders and can play 3-tech or nose. Former Patriots Nose tackle Danny Shelton had a good season and was 39th out of 115. Detroit upgraded on the interior with these additions.
D’Shawn Hand was injured most of 2019 but was a top 10 interior defender in his 2018 rookie season. Detroit has more firepower here. Damon Harrison ranked in the 70s and battled injuries all year. Detroit made the right move to cut him. A’Shawn Robinson graded horribly in 2019 and Detroit properly let him walk to the Rams. John Atkins and Kevin Strong had horrible grades and had way too much playing time due to Mike Daniels injury. Rookies John Penisini and Jashon Cornell should battle for the 4th DT spot. Williams had 6 sacks and Robinson/Atkins/Strong combined for 1.5 sacks. Shelton had one more sack and offers more pass rush than Harrison while still being strong against the run. Shelton and Williams improve Detroit and Hand healthy is a big improvement.
Pass rush the Lions are hoping Collins/Davis can upgrade here. The return of Hand is huge to help a very good graded Trey Flowers. Rookie Julian Okwara will be in the mix and the Lions hope his brother Romeo Okwara returns to 2018 form. R Okwara was solid in run D but below average in pass rush in 2019. His brother Julian is the better pass rusher. Detroit made strides here but we shall see if it is enough. There is plenty of pass rush sitting out in free agency still (Clowney, Liuget, Marcel Dareus, Markus Golden, Mike Daniels, Ziggy Ansah, Everson Griffen, Jabaal Sheard, Cameron Wake)
Additions: Michael Pierce, Tajae Sharpe
Subtractions: Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodses, Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes
The Vikings cut or traded many veterans but added a few to the mix.
Tajae Sharpe had an above average grade (45 out of 112 in 486 snaps with the Titans) and has a chance with snaps at WR for the Vikings. Olabsi Johnson was below average at WR at 82nd ranked but the Vikigns get Thielen back healthy and drafted Justin Jefferson in Round 1. The WRs plus tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith give Cousins enough weapons. Dalvin Cook is still a beast running the ball and backup Alexander Mattison showed some good flashes but an average grade in his rookie year. Losing Stefon Diggs will hurt though as he is a big playmaker.
On defense, the Vikings got a lot younger revamping the CBs. Rhodes (Indy), Alexander(Cincy) and Waynes(Cincy) are gone for two rookies and former 1st round Mike Hughes. Hughes (74 out of 112) had a slight below average grade and another CB Holton Hill was below average in 168 snaps.
However, Rhodes was terrible at 106 out of 112 and a big reason he got cut. He has been regressing for years and hit bottom. Waynes and Alexander were both above average though with 46 and 49 out of 112 respectively. Rookies Jeff Gladney and Cam Dantzler will need to step up early and more from Mike Hughes is needed. The good news is the Vikings have some elite safeties in Anthony Harris (1 out of 88) and Harrison Smith (3 out of 88). Some young CB mistakes can be erased by the safeties.
Michael Pierce is an above average nose tackle and replaces an aged Linval Joseph. Joseph graded slightly better though so this seems like an replacement. The Vikings did get younger though which is helpful. Ste
The Vikings still have strong pass rush with Daniel Hunter and Anthony Barr. Barr struggled in coverage though which hurt his grade to average. Kendricks is an elite LB that can blitz too. Eric Wilson had an above average grade on the weak-side. Ifeadi Odenigbo is a DE for the Vikings that played 403 snaps and earned 29th out of 106 edge defenders. DJ Wonnum was drafted in Round 4 to be the next Griffen. This is a big reason the Vikigns cut Griffen along with cap reasons. The Vikings defense is still strong but needs some young guns to step up even more.
Packers improvement is from the draft (Round 2-4) and depends on Wagner/Kirksey/Funchess finding production from other years than 2019. However, the Packers were 13-3. They had really good 2019 health (as did Vikings/Bears) and probably weren’t as good as that record but still are the team to beat in the North. A pissed off Rodgers may be what the doctor ordered.
The Lions improved immensely per PFF standards at RT and across the board on defense. Plus they were the most injured North team in 2019 by far. Stafford back healthy with 106 QB rating could mean Detroit could actually have a challenge for the division or wild card despite only 3 wins in 2019. Patricia has his hand-picked guys on defense now (Flowers, Collins, Harmon, Trufant, Hand, Walker, Okudah, Shelton), no excuses.
The Bears didn’t really improve PFF-wise but Robert Quinn, Germaine Ifedi, Ginn can be good signings. Hicks back is huge for them to return to their 2018 defensive play. Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller and Roquan Smith need to step up again. Foles/Trubisky battle with just enough weapons to make a run. The Bears defense forcing a ton of turnovers will be key. The Packers and Vikings were +12 and +11 in turnover differential in 2019and the Bears were even in 2019. Lions were -5 in 2019 and need to force more turnovers. Bears were +12 in 2018 which helped them win the division.
The Vikings got younger and lost a playmaker in Diggs. They are a real wild card with these young players but have plenty of talent on offense and defense to challenge for the division. Protection of Cousins is key because when he gets rattled he folds.
Too long didn’t read, Lions win the North!!