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Pro Football Focus' Jets Free Agent Grades Don't Make Sense

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus is a wonderful website that has a lot of great information. I do have some problems with the site, however. A lot of people don't realize that they pump out two different types of numbers. They have some advanced statistics. They can tell you things like how many yards a back gained after contact or what a quarterback's completion percentage was when he was under pressure. This is really useful information that goes deeper than traditional stats.

PFF also has player grades where they say they grade players on the field. They have never been good at explaining how their system works. It is not a transparent system, and there are significant questions about the validity of the grades. They gave Aaron Rodgers a negative grade in a game this past season where he threw 5 touchdown passes against the Chiefs. This was an extreme case, but there are plenty of cases where their grades in a given game don't make a whole lot of sense.

PFF's grades now rank players on a scale from 1 to 100. Yesterday they released a tracker of free agents to be. Just looking at the free agents the Jets have leads to some real head scratchers.

Player Grade Position Age Team Snaps Free Agent Type
Damon Harrison 91.3 ID 27 Jets 577 UFA
Muhammad Wilkerson 89.2 ID 27 Jets 961 UFA
Chris Ivory 81.2 HB 28 Jets 551 UFA
Bilal Powell 74.5 HB 27 Jets 375 UFA
Stephen Bowen 70.5 ID 32 Jets 141 UFA
Darrin Walls 67.9 CB 28 Jets 125 UFA
Stevan Ridley 66.5 HB 27 Jets 87 UFA
Erin Henderson 64.5 LB 30 Jets 232 UFA
Zach Sudfeld 60 TE 27 Jets 0 RFA
Randy Bullock 60 K 26 Jets 81 UFA
Ryan Quigley 60 P 26 Jets 159 RFA
Ben Ijalana 60 OT 27 Jets 0 UFA
Antonio Allen 60 S 27 Jets 0 UFA
Ryan Fitzpatrick 59.6 QB 33 Jets 1074 UFA
Kenbrell Thompkins 57.8 WR 28 Jets 285 RFA
Calvin Pace 56.5 ED 35 Jets 531 UFA
Chris Owusu 55.6 WR 26 Jets 124 UFA
Leger Douzable 52.9 ED 30 Jets 297 UFA
Jaiquawn Jarrett 52.6 S 26 Jets 13 UFA
Jamari Lattimore 46.5 LB 27 Jets 58 UFA
Kellen Davis 45.3 TE 30 Jets 445 UFA
Willie Colon 44.9 G 33 Jets 349 UFA
Demario Davis 43.5 LB 27 Jets 865 UFA

Now just the top two are puzzling. Damon Harrison gets a higher grade by their methodology than Muhammad Wilkerson. Some people may argue the Jets should keep Harrison over Wilkerson, but they are making a value argument. Harrison will cost less so the Jets can still get a high quality defensive line and have extra money to spend elsewhere.

I don't think anybody is stating the case that Harrison is actually a better player, though. That argument doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Harrison is a premium run defender, but Wilkerson is also very good against the run. When it comes to the pass rush, though, Harrison is a nonentity. He had 0.5 sacks this season. Wilkerson had 12. It's very difficult to argue the gap between Harrison and Wilkerson as run defenders is greater than the gap between Wilkerson and Harrison as pass rushers. And as for value, Harrison played in almost 400 less snaps.

That's nothing compared with the ratings they have for Ryan Fitzpatrick, though. I know Fitzpatrick is polarizing. I know he's a regression candidate. I know he benefited from good receivers. Should his grade really be lower than Stevan Ridley's though? How about Darrin Walls? Ryan Quigley? Antonio Allen and Zach Sudfeld didn't even play this season, and they're graded higher. So bad backups, a bad punter, and two guys who spend the year on IR are worth a higher grade than a quarterback who threw for 31 touchdowns against 15 interceptions?

None of this makes sense, and PFF refuses to explain its grading system beyond vague generalities.

I'll use PFF's stats (rushing yards after contact, completion percentage under pressure), but I sparingly use these grades. This is a good example of why.