The Kansas City Chiefs are in the process of evaluating their roster and determining their needs for the 2011 season and beyond so we thought we’d do a little bit of evaluating ourselves here at AA.
One way NFL teams will evaluate their players is they will determine whether they guy is an ascending or descending player. Will the player being evaluated be able to significantly improve or are they on the down slope of their career?
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll break down the Chiefs roster and decide whether each player is ascending or descending and whether we think they are the long term answer at their position. We’ll look at the players play this season and we will also evaluate their grades and statistics from Pro Football Focus, a partner of AA that evaluates and grades every player on every play of every game. We trust the stats and evaluations from PFF to be the most accurate out there. Please note that the stats cited in these articles may not match up with the official stats from the NFL but again, we feel they are more accurate.
We’ll start today with linebacker Jovan Belcher, after the jump.
Jovan Belcher has had quite the NFL journey. He played college ball for the Division III Main black Bears. His freshman and sophomore year he played OLB before being switched to DE for his junior and senior year.
After going undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, Belcher agreed to a rookie free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. He turned some heads in training camp, made the team and spent the season as a backup ILB alongside Derrick Johnson.
Early last offseason there were reports that Belcher had put on considerable mass after his first full season in an NFL training program. He wrestled the starting job at ILB away from Corey Mays and started again alongside Derrick Johnson throughout the 2010 season.
Pro Football Focus Breakdown:
Solo tackles: 64
Assisted Tackles: 13
Missed Tackles: 8
QB Pressures: 10
Run D: +1.3
Pass Rush: +4.8
Pass Coverage: -4.6
Overall Grade: +1.3
*Number of defensive tackles made which constitute an offensive failure, including sacks
**Each play is graded and then a cumulative score is added up. An average play where the player does nothing particularly good or bad but just does their job would be graded a 0.0. Anything to the plus is good, anything to the negative is bad. Lawrence Timmons is PFF’s highest graded ILB in a 3-4 defense and currently has a cumulative grade of 31.6 for all games played this season. Jonathan Vilma is the worst with a -14.0.
I am labeling Belcher as an ascending player.
He is only 23 years old and just finished his first season starting in the NFL. Seeing as Belcher played limited snaps in 2009 and came from a division 3 school, he had a significant learning curve to overcome this year and he did a pretty good job.
While Belcher wasn’t a huge impact player there is still a very distinct possibility that he could develop into one. Belcher’s meteoric rise from D-3 to starting for an NFL team shows that he has been able to quickly learn and develop despite a drastic increase in his competition level.
It is way too soon to say that Belcher has reached his potential. If this is as good as Belcher ever gets, it wouldn’t hurt for the Chiefs to upgrade his position but for now, the team has bigger fish to fry and Belcher, while not yet being fantastic, isn’t too much of a liability. I recommend the Chiefs focus on upgrading weaker positions and give Belcher one more year of development to see how much better he can get. If, after another year, it appears Belcher has peaked, the Chiefs can upgrade knowing they have a very solid and experience reserve in Jovan.