Noles in the NFL Week 17: Did Darby Do Enough for DROY?

Last week I tried to put Jameis Winston's performance in perspective as we examined his credentials for Offensive Rookie of the Year. I believe Winston has put up the performance and earned the necessary kudos across the league to warrant the award, especially with Todd Gurley unlikely to put up one final epic performance this week due to injury. This week, let's take a look at the Defensive Rookie of the Year, for which we also have a Seminole candidate.

DROY is an interesting race, as the observational graders and the traditional stats watchers (as well as the eye testers) have differing opinions on who should be in the discussion. The following table shows the ProFootballFocus grades for three DROY candidates. They clearly see only two prime candidates from this set: Jets DE Leonard Williams and our very own Ronald Darby of the Bills. KC's Marcus Peters grades out very low for them on a play to play basis. On the other hand, looking at their ranks in defensive stats across all players at their positions, Darby and Peters have looked quite impressive, while Williams has not really stood out.

Player PFF Grade Top Stat Rank (Good) Top Stat Rank (Bad)
Leonard Williams 88.3 3 5 #3 in QB Hits, assists; #5 in missed tackles
Ronald Darby 87.1 3 3 #3 in tackles; #3 thrown at
Marcus Peters 73.1 1 2 #1 in Interceptions, PD; #2 in Yards given up

For this reason, you don't hear Williams mentioned as much in the DROY discussions as you do Darby and Peters, who've put up some gaudy numbers. For this discussion, it's a good thing because we can directly compare Darby and Peters since they play the same position. The following table compares the two corners in several salient stats. The contrast is fairly stark.

Player Int PD % complete TD against QB rating against
Ronald Darby 2 21 54.8 4 79
Marcus Peters 8 25 51.1 7 66

Peters, despite not grading as well by PFF, has the distinct edge in the stats we usually assess corners against. Leading the league in both interceptions and passes defensed is huge. When you couple that with the contrasting team narratives of the Bills fading (and Rex Ryan's defense being pointed at as a culprit) while the Chiefs have gone on a stunning nine game winning streak (with a top defense paving the way), I think Marcus Peters has the advantage on this award. But excellent season by Ronald Darby even if he doesn't bring home the hardware.

Roster Movement

Welcome back, Dekoda Watson! The linebacker that just won't die has be re-signed by the New England Patriots for Week 17 and potentially the playoffs.

Rodney Smith has been promoted up from the practice squad as the Cowboys needed another target for Kellen Moore to miss.

Eddie Goldman's promising rookie season has come to an end with the big man being placed on injured reserve by the Bears.

Tony Carter gets to start 2016 on the unemployment line, having been cut from the Saints, the third team to do so this year.

Depth Chart Movement

Antonio Cromartie's a busier guy, as the old man has started to return kicks for the oft-injured Jets as well as playing corner.

Nick O'Leary has slid up the Bills depth chart with starter Charles Clay being placed on injured reserve. Nick should see more than the two targets he's received so far.

Top News from the Past Week

Congratulations to Anquan Boldin, who made his thousandth catch of his career.

Chris Thompson came up big in his game, scoring a TD that helped put Washington over the Eagles, simultaneously vaulting his team into the playoffs and ending the reign of terror of Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly. It's rumored that Kelly may end up in Tennessee, a job I'm sure made more attractive given the presence on the roster of ex-Nole Josue Matias.

Storylines to Watch

It's Week 17, which means for many teams, it's time to give the younger players more time on the field to see what they've got. But there are still a few teams fighting for the playoffs. In particular:

  • Letroy Guion (Packers) and Xavier Rhodes (Vikings) face off against each other for the NFC North title Sunday night.
  • Antonio Cromartie and the Jets want to win to secure their wild card spot.
  • Lawrence Timmons, Vince Williams, and the Steelers hope that Cro and the Jets fail while they win to vault into the wild card themselves.
  • Graham Gano and the Panthers still haven't secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs yet and need a win or a Cardinals loss.
  • The Patriots are in a similar situation, meaning Bryan Stork, Tre' Jackson, and Dekoda Watson need a win or a Broncos loss (the Bengals can't pass the Patriots due to tie breakers).
  • Bjoern Werner and the Colts need to beat the Texans and have half a dozen other things happen for a hope at the playoffs.
Now for The Table. I may not be able to update this in a timely fashion due to travel, but I will try. Next week, I will be back for an end of the season post with the second annual Nolies.

Name Team Position Week 17 Status Week 17 Stats Season Stats
Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons Running Back Starter, Limited practice (knee) 24 carries, 81 yards (long: 10), 2 catches, 18 yards (long: 14), 1 TD, 4 targets, 1 fumble lost 240 carries, 980 yards (long: 39), 11 TDs, 71 catches, 560 yards (long: 44), 2 TD, 93 targets, 2 fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Terrence Brooks Baltimore Ravens Free Safety Backup (2nd) 8 tackles (7 solo), 1 PD, 1 QB hit
Timmy Jernigan Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Starter 6 tackles (3 solo) 31 tackles (15 solo, 4 sacks, 2 TFL), 5 QB hits
EJ Manuel Buffalo Bills Quarterback Backup (2nd) 52/84, 561 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 17 carries, 64 yards (long: 16), 1 TD, 2 fumbles
Garrison Sanborn Buffalo Bills Long Snapper Starter 2 tackle (2 solo)
Karlos Williams Buffalo Bills Running Back Backup (2nd), limited practice (hand) 6 carries, 24 yards (long: 6), 1 TD, 3 catches, 3 yards (long: 3), 3 targets 87 carries, 493 yards (long: 41), 6 TDs, 2 fumbles, 8 catches, 111 yards (long: 26), 2 TD, 11 targets
Nick O'Leary Buffalo Bills Tight End Backup (2nd) 1 catch, 37 yards (long: 37), 2 targets
Nigel Bradham Buffalo Bills Linebacker Starter, Did not practice (ankle) Inactive 59 tackles (42 solo, 1 sack, 3 TFL), 3 PD, 2 QB hits
Ronald Darby Buffalo Bills Cornerback Starter. Limited practice (groin) 68 tackles (61 solo, 3 TFL), 21 PD, 2 INT (long: 27)
Graham Gano Carolina Panthers Place kicker Starter 1/1 FG (long: 49), 5/5 XP 29/35 FG (long: 52), 51/54 XP, 3 tackles (3 solo)
Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver IR
Christian Jones Chicago Bears Linebacker Starter 5 tackles (4 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL), 1 QB hit 81 tackles (58 solo, 3 TFL), 4 PD, 3 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery
Eddie Goldman Chicago Bears Defensive Tackle IR 22 tackles (16 solo, 4.5 sack, 3 TFL), 2 QB hit
James Wilder Jr. Cincinnati Bengals Running Back Practice Squad
Cameron Erving Cleveland Browns Offensive Guard Starter 1 fumble recovery
Rodney Smith Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Backup (4th) Inactive
Letroy Guion Green Bay Packers Defensive Tackle Starter, limited practice (foot) 3 tackles (1 solo) 18 tackles (12 solo, 3 TFL)
Bjoern Werner Indianapolis Colts Linebacker Backup (2nd) 13 tackles (7 solo, 3 TFL), 1 fumble recovery
Rashad Greene Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver/punt returner Backup (3rd) RB, Starter punt returner 1 catch, 5 yards, 2 targets, 4 punt returns, 50 yards (long: 20) 16 catches, 88 yards (long: 18), 2 TD, 29 targets, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 14 punt returns, 251 yards, 1 TD (long: 63)
Telvin Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker Starter, Did not practice (shoulder) Inactive 128 tackles (99 solo, 2.5 sacks, 11 TFL), 7 PD, 1 INT (long: 26), 1 TD, 1 QB hit
Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings Cornerback Starter 3 tackles (3 solo), 1 PD, 1 INT, 0 yards 55 tackles (52 solo, 1 TFL), 10 PD
Bryan Stork New England Patriots Center Starter
Tre' Jackson New England Patriots Offensive Guard Backup (2nd)
Dekoda Watson New England Patriots (re-signed by New England Week 17, released by New England Week 4, signed by New England Week 2) Linebacker Backup (3rd) 1 tackle (1 solo) 1 tackle (1 solo)
P.J. Williams New Orleans Saints Cornerback IR
Bobby Hart New York Giants Offensive Tackle Backup (2nd)
Antonio Cromartie New York Jets Defensive Back, kick returner Starter 1 kick return, 24 yards 29 tackles (26 solo, 2 TFL), 12 PD, 1 fumble recovery, 1 kick return, 19 yards
Mario Edwards Jr. Oakland Raiders Defensive End IR 42 tackles (34 solo, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFL), 1 PD, 3 QB hit, 2 forced fumbles, 1 PD
Menelik Watson Oakland Raiders Offensive Tackle IR
Rodney Hudson Oakland Raiders Offensive Guard Starter 1 tackle (1 solo)
Sebastian Janikowski Oakland Raiders Place kicker Starter 1/1 FG (long: 29), 2/2 XP 20/25 FG (long: 56), 36/37 XP, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Lawrence Timmons Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Starter 10 tackles (7 solo, 1.5 sacks), 1 QB hit 110 tackles (70 solo, 3.5 sacks, 3 TFL), 6 PD, 1 INT, 6 QB hits
Vince Williams Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Backup (2nd) 3 tackles (3 solo) 43 tackles (31 solo, 0.5 sacks), 1 PD, 2 QB hit, 2 fumble recoveries
Patrick Robinson San Diego Chargers Defensive Back Backup (2nd), limited practice (calf) 2 tackles (2 solo), 1 PD 47 tackles (41 solo, 2 TFL), 7 PD, 2 QB hit, 1 INT (long: 27 yards), 1 forced fumble
Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Starter 5 catches, 71 yards (long: 33), 1 TD 64 catches, 718 yards (long: 51), 3 TD, 102 targets, 1 fumble lost, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Tank Carradine San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Backup (2nd) 3 tackles (1 solo) 19 tackle (13 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL), 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble
Nick Moody Seattle Seahawks (signed Week 2) Linebacker IR
Lamarcus Joyner St. Louis Rams Cornerback Backup (2nd) 7 tackles (6 solo, 1 TFL) 65 tackles (48 solo, 2 sack, 2 TFL), 2 QB hits, 6 PD, 1 fumble recovery
Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Starter 29/47, 325 yards, 2 INT, 3 carries, 14 yards (long: 6), 1 TD 283/488, 3717 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT, 51 carries, 199 yards (long: 21), 5 TD, 6 fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Josue Matias Tennessee Titans Offensive Guard Practice Squad
Chris Thompson Washington Redskins Running Back/Returner Backup (3rd) RB, Backup (2nd) KR, Full practice (Shoulder) 7 carries, 19 yards (long: 8) 28 carries, 197 yards (long: 42), 35 catches, 240 yards (long: 23), 2 TD, 46 targets, 2 fumbles, 3 return, 63 yards (long: 36)
Dustin Hopkins Washington Redskins (signed Week 2) Place kicker Starter 2/2 FG (long: 33), 4/4 XP 23/26 FG (long: 54), 35/36 XP, 2 tackles (2 solo)
Brodrick Bunkley x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Darnell Dockett x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Everette Brown x-Free Agent Defensive End
Jacobbi McDaniel x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Jarred Haggins x-Free Agent Wide Receiver
Kevin Haplea x-Free Agent Tight End
Mike Harris x-Free Agent Defensive Back
Mister Alexander x-Free Agent Linebacker
Terrance Parks x-Free Agent Defensive Back
Antone Smith x-Free Agent (cut by Chicago Bears week 16) Running Back 1 carry, 11 yards
Andre Fluellen x-Free Agent (cut by Detroit Lions Week 14, signed by Detroit Week 4, cut by Bills Week 4, also cut by Bills Week 1, re-signed by Bills Week 1) Defensive Tackle 4 tackles (4 solo, 2 TFL)
Preston Parker x-Free Agent (released by New York Giants Week 3) Wide Receiver/Returner 5 catches, 40 yards (long: 15), 12 targets
Christian Ponder x-Free Agent (signed by Denver Broncos Week 12, released Week 14) Quarterback
Tony Carter x-Free Agents (cut by New Orleans Week 17, signed Week 15, cut by Indianapolis Colts in Week 10, signed by Indianapolis Colts in Week 8) Cornerback

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