Monday, May 4, 2009

Focus on Hobbs

Sadly, this isn't about Roy Hobbs, the greatest NY Knight of them all. I got stuck writing about Ellis Hobbs, the Eagles new CB.

The Eagles dealt away a pair of 5th round picks on draft weekend to acquire Hobbs from the Patriots. This seemed like a really smart deal at the time. Sheldon Brown was rattling his sabre in the media and the Eagles needed a fall back plan. Getting a starting CB for only a couple of late round picks was great value.

I was busy writing about the draft and didn't have the time to sit down and watch tape on Hobbs. I finally did that this weekend. There are some questions about him. Patriots fans loved to make him the scapegoat when things went bad on defense. Hobbs did get beaten for some big plays and TDs, so it isn't as if he's completely innocent. I also think any Pats fans who thought of Hobbs as a top flight CB were over-valuing him.

Eagles fans wondered why Bill Belichick would deal a starting CB for a couple of late picks. Is the guy a bum or what? There were a lot of circumstances involved. The Pats signed a pair of FA Cornerbacks in Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs. They added Terrence Wheatley in the 2nd round last year and Darius Butler in the 2nd round this year. That gives them a good balance of big and small guys, as well as younger and older guys. Hobbs suddenly became a luxury rather than a necessity. Why not keep him just to be a KOR? The Pats spent a pick last year on Matt Slater and a pick this year on Brandon Tate. Both guys have good RS ability. The other factor at play is that Hobbs was going to be a UFA at the end of the season. Belichick saw there was no chance he was going to keep Hobbs in the future and decided to deal him now. This wasn't a case of him trying to unload some dead weight and shopping him all over the league as we tried to do with Dhani Jones a couple of years ago.

This weekend I watched a full Pats game and parts of 2 others to see what I thought of Hobbs for myself. Here ya go:

Played RCB in all 3 games. Looked at his best pressing and being aggressive. Can play off, but didn't stand out when doing so. Zone awareness is okay. Has pretty good feet. Has solid quickness and agility. I didn't see him jump routes with any regularity. Didn't show anything special in terms of instincts. Didn't give up any big plays or TDs in the action I saw. Gave up a couple of completions. Broke up one pass. Adequate tackler. He will come up and play the run, but doesn't put ballcarriers down with authority. Good blitzer. Comes off the edge quickly, but does stay under control.

Overall, an adequate starter. I'll be interested to see how Hobbs does in our scheme. We're a bit more aggressive up front. That can mean less cover time for the DBs, but can also leave them exposed at times. Hobbs was great value for only a pair of 5th round picks. I'd be comfortable with him starting, but Hobbs isn't a long term solution. I think he is best suited to being a #3 CB / spot starter and KOR.

He isn't as good as Sheldon Brown, although statistically they are very similar players. I looked at the last 2 seasons since that is when Hobbs became a full-time starter.

By the numbers

* Ellis Hobbs *

2007 - 63 tackles, 12 PDs, 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 FF

2008 - 47 tackles, 11 PDs, 3 INTs, 1.5 sacks

He's averaged 27.4 yds per KOR and has 2 TDs.

* Sheldon Brown *

2007 - 68 tackles, 14 PDs, 3 INTs

2008 - 51 tackles, 12 PDs, 1 INT, 1 sack



shlynch said...

I really think that Hobbs will be a fine corner here. I think that he was not an ideal fit for what NE does, but was talented enough to make it work well enough. I do think that he can play like Lito played for us and have success. Wouldn't be surprised for him to be the outside CB in the nickel, with Hanson inside and Brown sitting -- essentially taking the role that Sheppard got last year before sucking so bad they had to take him out.

Adam said...

At the very least he gives us a very good kick returner. I also think he could thrive in this system. I'm glad to have competition at CB this year, it should bring out the best in everybody. I'm excited to see what Ike can do.

rick said...

Thanks for the 'The Natural" reference. It was one of my favorite books in high school - many lifetimes ago... For comic relief on Hobbs, don't know if you caught this: