Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Browns' best player in preseason was DL Jamie Meder, per Pro Football Focus

Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
September 6, 2015

Jamie Meder was the Cleveland Browns' best player in the preseason.

That’s the word from, which gave Meder its best grade by far in ranking Browns players. Meder was the team’s best defensive player, best run defender and third-best pass-rusher.
That's why he made the roster of 53.

One caveat: Meder did it playing against mainly backups. The next step in his growth is to play against starters.

It also should be considered that backup center Nick Easton was the Ravens' best preseason player, per PFF, and he was traded on Saturday. Easton was an undrafted rookie from Harvard. Pittsburgh’s best player was linebacker Howard Jones, who is on the Steelers' practice squad.

That being said, Meder deserves credit. He was active, aggressive and impressive in the opportunities he received. The backup nose tackle earned his way on the roster the old-fashioned way -- by being productive on the field.

Diving deeper into the 53, it's interesting that PFF's worst run-blocker also made the team: Undrafted rookie tight end E.J. Bibbs, whose grade was by far the lowest of the run- blockers. Bibbs has been very productive in the passing game, but a tight end has to block.

That issue led to Bibbs being the lowest-ranked offensive player overall. Bibbs, who had a very positive grade on pass offense, was dragged down by the run blocking.

Among other tidbits about the Browns' preseason provided by PFF:

• The Browns' best pass-blocker was Joe Thomas, whom the site also called the best pass-blocker in the league. More greatness from Thomas, who doesn't even take a play off in preseason.

• Thomas was not the best overall player on offense, though. That honor went to quarterback Josh McCown, whom PFF rated was the sixth-best quarterback in the league.

• The next three best Browns offensive players were TE Jim Dray and WRsTravis Benjamin and Brian Hartline.

• The worst pass-blocker? Terrance West. Which would make clear why coach Mike Pettine seemed exasperated with West’s inconsistent play this preseason.

• The lowest ranked pass-blocking offensive lineman: First-round pick Cam Erving. PFF raves about Danny Shelton, but also says Erving struggled far more than Shelton.

• The highest-rated offensive player to not make the team was wide receiver Josh Lenz. He earned the respect of coaches and teammates with his work. That had to be a tough cut for Pettine. It would be a huge surprise if Lenz is not on the practice squad.

• While Xavier Cooper’s sacks stood out, PFF gave him the team’s lowest grade in run defense.

• Cornerback Justin Gilbert ranked third lowest in overall defensive play, and second lowest in pass defense.

• The highest ranked defensive player not to make the 53: Cornerback Kendall James. Gilbert and Paul Kruger (?) were the lowest ranked defenders to make the roster.

• In overall play, PFF calls Karlos Dansby the best coverage linebacker in the league, and said McCown ranked ninth in the league in deep passing in 2014. Problem is McCown ranked 31st against the blitz, 28th in short throws and last in intermediate throws.

ProFootballFocus uses its own analytics and metrics to assess the performance of each player, breaking each down by play, then assessing a grade. Their formula can be found here.

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