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Ever since PFF began to publish player grades, controversy has swirled around their results. I don’t accept PFF grades as gospel. In fact, I think attempting to quantify play on a numerical scale on a play-to-play basis is mostly fruitless. But it’s still one of the better tools we have at this time. Over the course of a full season, sometimes helpful conclusions can be drawn. And because I study every snap, I can offer my critiques for a few of their Bucs player grades as well.

Bucs Offensive PFF Grades

On offense, the Bucs had only three players play over 300 snaps and grade out below 60: Cam Brate, O.J. Howard and Tyler Johnson. In fact, the top 10 Bucs in offensive snap count totals all graded 7o or higher. That’s an exceptional standard, especially considering it’s not even including Antonio Brown. Brown played just 268 snaps as the second-highest graded Buc on the season.

In other words, per PFF, every starting Bucs player was Good, High Quality or Elite on the PFF scale. Pretty incredible.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and RT Tristan Wirfs

Bucs QB Tom Brady and RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: USA Today

On an individual level, Brady was the top-graded quarterback for PFF during the 2021 season. The Bucs quarterback finished a tad higher than Joe Burrow on the year. Last year, Brady graded out No. 2 overall. Since 2015, Brady has been PFF’s top-ranked quarterback four times.

Other than Brown, Tristan Wirfs, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith were the next 3, all in the 80s. Wirfs ended the season as PFF’s sixth-highest graded tackle in the NFL. Meanwhile, Smith finished in 11th place. Marpet finished as the 7th-highest graded guard in the league. Chris Godwin also landed in the 80s, finishing as PFF’s 13th best receiver. Brown seized fifth place, despite playing less than 300 snaps.

There should be an asterisk for Rob Gronkowski too. His receiving grade is 86.7, which would make him the third highest-graded Buc on offense. But Gronk’s grade takes a hit due to his PFF blocking grade, dropping him to a 79 overall. PFF is notorious for their harsh grading of backs, receivers and tight ends as blockers.

After 17 games, there are not a lot of negatives for the Bucs offensive PFF grades. Howard is the clear disappointment, with a sub-50 grade. Even Scotty Miller, Brate and Johnson managed to land in the mid-50s. If there has been one clear negative for the Bucs this season, it’s that they aren’t as deep at wide receiver and tight end as we thought they were. Below average grades for the top two backup tight ends and for Perriman, Johnson, Miller and Darden reflect that.

Defensive PFF Grades

Due to injuries, the Bucs have had 19 players see the field for more than 300 snaps on defense. Contrary to the offense, five of those players have graded below 60: Devin White, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kevin Minter.

White and Minter are easy to agree with. Both have had miserable seasons, although Minter has played just 331 snaps. White leads the Bucs defense in snaps with 1,080. His performance has been the biggest disappointment of the Bucs season. Out of 88 linebackers, PFF has White graded 80th. If White can’t elevate his game for the playoffs, Tampa Bay will enter the offseason with the third-year linebacker as a massive question mark.

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Pierre-Paul has been a shell of himself while playing injured, so that grade makes sense. As someone who watches every snap, I’m totally lost as to why PFF dislikes Suh and Tryon-Shoyinka’s play. Both are playing well, so I’m confused by those grades. Tryon-Shoyinka has been especially exciting for a rookie. Perhaps PFF’s grading is impacted by Todd Bowles’ usage of the first rounder as a joker on defense?

On the other end of the spectrum, Antoine Winfield is the highest-graded Buc on defense. Winfield and Shaq Barrett are the only Bucs defenders to post grades in the 80s. Lavonte David slots in just behind those two as the Bucs top three defensive players of the 2021 season. Jamel Dean, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards, Vita Vea and Anthony Nelson fall in closely behind, all at 70+. Whitehead carries the highest run defense grade on the team.

The most confusing grade is Carlton Davis’. Davis has been outstanding since returning from injury this season. But PFF has slapped an average 66.6 grade on the fourth-year cornerback. I think Davis’ offseason market as a free agent would reflect his fine play this season. But I expect the Bucs to use the franchise tag on him, recognizing his value.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
9 days ago

So Evans didn’t grade at all?

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
9 days ago

I don’t even know how you grade out Darden, Johnson and Miller since they have played so infrequently. Johnson I can understand somewhat but he has picked up his game in the last two contests. The main reason might be because for some absurd reason Lefty uses him in the outside receiver position which he is not. He is strictly a slot receiver because he lacks the speed and CB’s around the league know it. As for White, he needs to quit horsin around and get his head on straight. He is nowhere near making that $20 mill a year… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  drdneast
9 days ago

PFF grades every player on every play every game, so they do not ignore anyone, even the guy who gets only a few snap a year. However, they also don’t bother with summarizing a player’s skill for the season (other than the numerical average grade very player gets) unless and until he meets a threshhold of 300 snaps, as Jon Ledyard explained.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  drdneast
9 days ago

Johnson can catch the ball but is a terrible blocker, even for a receiver. That would greatly affect his grade. Watching White play since David has been out, he seems confused. The guy should be making far more tackles, especially against the run, but always seems out of position to do so.

captain ahab
captain ahab(@captain-ahab)
9 days ago

Devin White leads the team in tackles and it isn’t even close. He is amongst the lead leaders at 16. I am not understanding all the White hate. I get he has not made as many splash plays with only 3.5 sacks, but the first guy to the ball carrier is kinda important isn’t it? Would we be better off with Britt in there? I don’t think so. I for one want White on the field.

BDOG
BDOG(@borkdog)
Reply to  captain ahab
9 days ago

Its not hate for D White, he misses tackles, is constantly tied up with an opposing OL, does not see and find receivers in his drops, if you sign up for NFL game pass for $100, can watch all games. I will tell you if focus on White every play you will understand quickly the bad play this year, its quite hard to watch. Im with Ledyard, Bucs need to find replacement if he doesnt have an exorcism quickly! Britt just might be better but doubt would be any worse.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  captain ahab
9 days ago

In the last 3 games White has made about 10 tackles! That sucks for a guy with his raw talent. He’s not some 5th round talent, he was a 5th overall pick. He should be a dominant player which he is not.

JSW
JSW(@pewtereyes)
Reply to  captain ahab
8 days ago

Generally, I love watching Devin White play. However, he misses WAY TOO many tackles – can’t count all the sacks he’s missed this year, because QBs just sidestep him (Micah Parsons wouldn’t miss those sacks!). Missed tackles is my biggest complaint on this defense. The two exceptions are Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead. They can be counted on to make the tackle. Everyone else, I just hold my breath! SMB actually looks like he’s trying to avoid having to tackle anyone unless he has to. Fortunately, that is something that is not so hard to fix going into the… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by JSW
aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1(@aredsoxfan1)
9 days ago

I think PFF has it closer to correct than Ledyard does when it comes to Davis. The grade may be a little on the low side. But in my mind, the Bucs will regret it if they slap the franchise tag (and its 17+ mil price) on Davis. To me, corners in that range can cover other teams #1 WR one on one and take them out of the game. I don’t see that from Davis.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  aredsoxfan1
9 days ago

Totally agree. Davis may be the CB1 on this team but he’s no Shutdown CB. His limitations in coverage is the biggest problem Bowles has with the type of scheme he wants to run. See; Baltimore Marlon Humphrey $19.5mil & Marcus Peters $14mil

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
9 days ago

Ranking Tom Brady as the highest performing quarterback in the league is simply more confirmation that he is not only the GOAT but also IS the most valuable player in the league, regardless of how the media weanies vote on the award. Which most prognosticators seem to think was wrapped up by Aaron Rodgers, despite the fact that his team has no better record than the Bucs, and his stats are way below those of Brady, it’s not even close. Rodgers is made to look good by the best receiver in the league – Davonte Adams. Brady makes HIS receivers… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Naplesfan
surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
9 days ago

When we took White with the 5th pick I was all on board. Last years playoffs he was wrecking havoc. I was expecting him to take the next step becoming elite. He didn’t just take a step back this year, he fell down the stairs doing it. You don’t use the 5th pick for a LB ranked 80th out of 88. He said when he was drafted he wanted to be the highest paid defensive player in the league by his next contract. If that’s still true he needs to prove it. Right now he’s nowhere close to earning a… Read more »

pomer1eau
pomer1eau(@pomer1eau)
9 days ago

PFF is so inaccurate. Even the mighty Bill Belichick has explained the negatives of relying on PFF. PFF has no context of each play nor do they know the individual assignments of a player on any given play. Any person with an average football IQ can tell if a player is good or not. These analytics are starting to get way too crazy.

pinkstob
pinkstob(@pinkstob)
8 days ago

That’s funny, all of those PFF grades make sense to me. All of them. My guess on the Suh and Tryon grades are that Suh grades poorly rushing the passer and Tryon grades poorly stopping the run. That’s what I see on the field anyway. As for Davis, the PR staff and most fans think too highly of our CB’s year in year out. It’s like we’re watching two different games. Teams couldn’t run on us until recently when injuries mounted up, but all season long teams could pick up a 3rd and long by throwing the ball near one… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by pinkstob
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