Pro Football Focus started grading every player on every play of every FBS game in 2014. With the help of information through two seasons, we can start to recognize trends and see how careers evolve. Using this data we identified the following ten senior players who will need to bounce back from a disappointing 2015 season to improve their draft stocks.
Matt Johns, QB, Virginia
2014 snaps: 345; Grade: +9.0 (9th in the 2017 class)
2015 snaps: 873; Grade: -13.9 (48th)
Johns flashed ability as a backup in the first games of 2014 and then started three games later, in which he did not disappoint. He threw eight touchdowns to five interceptions that year and was the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback going into the 2015 season. However, last year he was one of the lowest-graded quarterbacks in the nation, hitting a low against Boise State in Week 4 with a -8.1 grade. He finished the season with 20 touchdowns to 17 interceptions and a grade of -6.0 when throwing outside the left numbers.
Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA
2014 snaps: 599; Grade: +12.4 (8th)
2015 snaps: 812; Grade: -0.9 (29th)
McDermott took over the starting left tackle duties in Week 7 of the 2014 season and never looked back, as he put together six very impressive performances in the remaining eight games of the season. Unfortunately, he failed to maintain his consistency in 2015 as a redshirt junior and had his fair share of struggles both in pass protection and run blocking. While he allowed only two sacks all year, the former tight end did allow three quarterback hits and 14 hurries. The low point of his season came against Oregon State in Week 10 when he earned a -4.7 run blocking grade.
Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
2014 snaps: 751; Grade: +31.2 (1st)
2015 snaps: 893; Grade: +2.1 (30th)
As a sophomore, Johnson was the No. 1 left guard in the entire nation due to his dominant run blocking and solid pass protection. The latter even got better last year as he allowed no sacks and no quarterback hits at all in 2015. However, while Johnson still had a positive overall grade last season, he was actually a liability in the running game. What earned him a spot on this list was his run blocking, for which he earned a grade of only -7.8 compared to +25.8 in 2014.
Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin
2014 snaps: 842; Grade: +13.7 (3rd)
2015 snaps: 475; Grade: -9.8 (30th)
While Voltz’s grade could have also been influenced by the fact that he missed the second half of the season due to a torn ACL, he was not his dominant self prior to the injury either. His run-blocking grade went from +8.2 in 2014 to -8.0 last year while he struggled especially against Alabama and Nebraska. In addition, he allowed nine total pressures on 255 pass blocking snaps compared to seven pressures on 295 snaps in 2014.
Deon Hollins, Edge, UCLA
2014 snaps: 746; Grade: +21.2 (3rd)
2015 snaps: 643; Grade: +2.9 (63rd)
After a strong 2014 season, Hollins graded out lower in 2015 in all major facets of the game. His run stops went from 15 to 11 as his tackling efficiency decreased as well, which led to his run defense grade falling from +1.6 to -3.4 in 2015. In additon, he could not replicate his success as a pass rusher last season either. While he recorded nine sacks, 10 hits and 39 hurries in 2014, these figures dropped to two, 11 and 27 respectively in 2015.
Josh Carraway, Edge, TCU
2014 snaps: 466; Grade: +16.5 (6th)
2015 snaps: 813; Grade: +3.6 (60th)
As a true edge rusher, Carraway did not offer much in run defense or pass coverage, but made up for it when rushing the passer in 2014. Although he was on the field for only 46.4 percent of TCU’s defensive snaps, he made an impact with his four sacks, seven hits and 20 hurries on 194 pass-rushing snaps. As a result, he earned a bigger role in 2015 and had an opportunity to rush the passer on 389 plays. However, his increase in production was not in line with the new workload, since Carraway finished the 2015 season with six sacks, six hits and 25 hurries.
Nate Norwood, DI, Appalachian State
2014 snaps: 351; Grade: +16.0 (9th)
2015 snaps: 435; Grade: +2.4 (71st)
Norwood finished the 2014 season very strong as he earned a grade of +13.9 in his final four games, which was higher than that of DeForest Buckner, Jarran Reed and Vernon Butler in that period. He could even build on that and put together a couple impressive performances in the first weeks of 2015, but the consistency was lacking and Norwood earned a grade of -3.7 for the last six games of the season. Norwood had more than twice as many missed tackles in 2015 than in 2014 while he also recorded fewer pressures.
Tanner Vallejo, LB, Boise State
2014 snaps: 879; Grade: +45.5 (1st)
2015 snaps: 476; Grade: +7.2 (26th)
Vallejo earned the third highest grade among linebackers in 2014 behind only Paul Dawson and Scooby Wright III. While Vallejo missed two games in 2015 with an unspecified injury, even when he was on the field, he was not playing like he did in 2014. Although he allowed 19 receptions in both seasons, he gave up 235 yards last season compared to 142 in 2014 and also failed to get his hands on the ball. He was not as solid against the run either, since he had twice as many missed tackles in 2015 despite playing significantly fewer snaps.
Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
2014 snaps: 872; Grade: +13.4 (1st)
2015 snaps: 794; Grade: +2.8 (40th)
Although Sutton’s run defense grade also dropped slightly in 2015, he is on this list mainly because of his work in coverage. Sutton had an excellent sophomore season as he recorded three interceptions and had an additional ten pass defenses leading to an (NFL) passer rating of 51.6 for opposing quarterbacks when targeting him. His junior season was not disastrous either, but Sutton still allowed a higher completion percentage (52.5 percent) and got his hands on fewer passes as he recorded one interception and four pass defenses.
Cole Luke, CB, Notre Dame
2014 snaps: 931; Grade: +10.1 (4th)
2015 snaps: 870; Grade: +1.8 (47th)
Similarly to Sutton, Luke’s work in coverage was not as good in his junior season than in his sophomore year. Although, he allowed a lower completion percentage with 49.2 percent, big plays did not tend to go the Notre Dame cornerback’s way as he allowed an average of 15.3 yards per reception compared to 11.6 in 2014. In addition, he allowed five touchdowns in 2015 to two in 2014 and he also recorded two fewer interceptions than in the previous season. Consequently, while he allowed an (NFL) passer rating of 60.5 to opposing quarterbacks in 2014, the figure increased to 87.7 last season.