Matt McGuire's NFL Draftology 234:
Positional Value Pyramid Tier 6
Strongside Linebackers, Kickers, Punters
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Updated July 4, 2010
We are in the last tier in the PVP now. This is the bottom of the barrel. While these positions are important in their own right, they are simply dwarfed in comparison to every other position in football.
The first position in Tier 6 is the 4-3 Strongside Linebacker.
4-3 Strongside Linebacker Positional Analysis: The 4-3 "SAM" linebacker is without a doubt the least valuable player in the 4-3 defensive alignment. It is important to have a good SAM linebacker because he can bring a lot of toughness and hard hitting ability to a defense.
Strongside linebackers aren't expected to be gazelles in coverage and they are typically the least athletic linebacker amongst the starters. Size is important at this position because the SAM has to be able to stack and shed at the point of attack, and then tackle the ball carrier. The SAM covers the flats and might have to cover a tight end in man-to-man coverage every once in a while. If you have a SAM who is a solid blitzer, this also helps his value. However, since most SAM linebackers typically aren't very athletic, they lack the speed to be effective as consistent pass rushers when called upon.
The strongside linebacker's primary responsibility is to defend the run. They generally only play first and second down because usually the nickel corner comes on the field on third down, and with the spread offense putting more three-receiver sets on the field in the modern NFL, strongside linebackers don't get as many snaps as they used to.
Scarcity - 1: It isn't hard to find a solid SAM at all. You just need someone big and tough who can shed blockers and make tackles. He needs to have some athleticism, but he doesn't have to be Patrick Willis or Jonathan Vilma to get the job done.
Effectiveness - 1: Since SAM linebackers have a primary responsibility as the "tough guy" linebacker against the run, they aren't as effective in a game when compared to other positions and the SAM can also be a huge liability in pass coverage.
Money - 3: SAM linebackers are cheap because it's an effective and replaceable position.
Durability - 2: This position has average durability when compared to other respective positions.
The last position in the PVP is the Kicker/Punter whom I grouped into the same category.
Kicker/Punter Positional Analysis: Special teams are very important; make no mistake about it. If a team is really hurting at either position, it can potentially cost them a playoff spot or more wins than you'd anticipate coming into the season.
Michael Lombardi from the NFL Network has a great theory that missed field goals are turnovers. If you miss a field goal, then the other team gets the football immediately. What is the difference between a 45-yard missed field goal and an interception that was returned to the line of scrimmage? Nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Therefore, having an accurate kicker and a smart head coach who knows his range simply makes your team much better. It's much better to come away with three points than the other team having the ball without flipping the field on the opponent.
Punters can change games too because of the field position aspect. They can lodge kicks to the point where return men can't make big plays and they limit where the opponent's drive starts. An inconsistent punter costs your team hidden yardage.
I'm also going to take this time to say I think Ray Guy not being in the Hall of Fame is complete bull****. He's the Michael Jordan of punting, and I think punters deserve some respect. They aren't quarterbacks, but they aren't long snappers either for crying out loud.
Scarcity - 1: Teams that can't find a solid kicker/punter can generally get lucky in free agency or draft one in the later rounds, but it's easier said than done. The downside here is scouting kickers can be pointless. Mason Crosby had an inconsistent senior year at Colorado, but the Packers look like geniuses for getting him in Round 6.
Effectiveness - 1: I hate people who say that special teams should be eliminated from football - we hear this argument every year when a team wins/loses a game because of it. However, kickers and punters are important and I think they bring a different element to the game of football, but I'd be an idiot to say individually that they rival what a No. 2 receiver or inside linebacker brings to the table.
Money - 3: This is a very, very inexpensive position (Editor's note: Unless you're Al Davis).
Durability - 3: Kickers and punters can have careers that last into their early 40s. Once you find a mainstay here, you are stupid to let them go. They are cheap and it's one less thing for a coaching staff to stress over.
This completes the Positional Value Pyramid. Please e-mail me with your comments/questions, and post about how stupid I am on the WalterFootball.com forums. Thanks for reading.
Introduction to the Positional Value Pyramid
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 1 - Quarterbacks
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 2 - Left Tackles, Right Defensive Ends, Cornerbacks, Rush Linebackers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 3 - Defensive Tackles, No. 1 Wide Receivers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 4 Part 1 - Safeties, Nose Tackles, Left Ends, 4-3 Inside Linebackers
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 4 Part 2 - Running Backs, Right Tackles
NFL Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 5 Part 1 - No. 2 Wide Receivers, 3-4 Ends, Weakside Linebackers
Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 5 Part 2 - 3-4 Inside Linebacker, Interior Offensive Linemen, Tight End, No. 3 Wide Receivers
Positional Value Pyramid: Tier 6 - Strongside Linebackers, Kickers, Punters
Positional Value Pyramid Spreadsheets
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