Okay, after that obnoxious title what I have is a purely football post that is being powered by NE based fruity beers and Erasure, New Order, and Bob Seger. Last week I wrote a bit about our embattered alma mater's history of producing NFL players. This week I wanted to write a little bit about their actual value in the NFL.
A mathematician named Doug Drinen has developed a metric called Approximate Value to assign an objective number to the value of a single player's season. It's a great first step in trying to assign value to individual players in an unit dependent sport. Meaning, a left guard can only be evaluated as being so good in relation to the rest of his offensive line. And that can be measured by the total offensive output compared to the rest of the league, so that if the left guard's teams is below average in yards and scoring, his approximate value will be hurt, even if he is an above average blocker.
While this might be deemed unfair, it's the best we have at the moment. There are new methods sprouting up by Pro Football Focus to help evaluate o-linemen and other position players, but for now, this is the easiest and most comprehensive method available. Also to keep in mind, while said left guard might have a value for 2011 of 10, it is not conclusively saying that he is better or worse than another left guard with a 2011 value of 8. Rather, that a group of left guards valued at 10 will be better than the group valued at 8.
Instead of comparing how our graduates compared to other schools in the NFL, I decided to just focus on the value of our alumni. I'd rather we focus on the value of these players, and then in later posts I can narrow it down to specific university comparisons (i.e. our up coming schedule) or on a position basis (i.e. RBs).
PSU Top 10 Approximate Value (All Time NFL Rank)
Jack Ham 165 (t32)
Franco Harris 134 (t134)
Dave Robinson 119 (t224)
Steve Wisniewski 119 (t224)
Lenny Moore 118 (t234)
Kerry Collins 112
Rosey Grier 110
Mike Munchak 104
Lydell Mitchell 101
Matt Millen 89
Some quick observations based on NFL positions are that 4 were defense, 2 where o-linemen and 4 were skill position players.
Also, you will notice that not many of our top 10 players rank in the top 250 of the NFL all time. I'll have to look further into this to see how we rank compared to other universities but I don't think this is a big deal. My initial impression is that while we might not consistently produce elite NFL players, we consistently produce valuable roster players needed for a championship team. Across eras, you will notice that 4 of these players had their NFL career start at 1980 or later (Wisniewski, Collins, Munchak, Millen).
As for our current players, who are our best hopes to crack the top 10 for our university:
Kareem Mckenzie 78
Tamba Hali 49
Levi Brown 33
Paul Posluszny 30
Cameron Wake 22
I realize that this post by itself might not generate much discusion but I wanted it to serve as a primer for the topic in future posts. Also, if you watched any of these players please feel free to post memories below.