Where does the 2018 team stack up talent wise?

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Editor’s note: this is a guest article from Josh Wheeler. Josh’s opinion are solely his and not necessarily reflective of those of site management. That said: even though I do not necessarily agree with everything Josh says, he does provide a lot of data that is worth absorbing and many valid points that are worth thinking about moving forward. 

In 2017, it was a common complaint about how bad the talent level was on the field, not that this is overly surprising when you look at the total number of wins collected by the 2017 Gators, and I’m not ignoring the role an awful staff played in Florida being unable to win more than 4 games.

You could barely go a couple minutes during a game without fans and media members talking about how bad the OL was, the WRs dropping balls, why can’t the DL create pressure, where are the linebackers, why can’t the safeties tackle? When compared with Muschamp and Macs recruiting, it seemed like Florida fans were finally starting to see things for how they were, Floridas talent level just wasn’t where it used to be.

Then Dan Mullen was hired.

Suddenly the opinions of Florida fans shifted into believing that Florida “has as much talent as they’ve always had.” A weird sentence to tweet out considering that you could probably find tweets from these same individuals talking about how bad the linebackers were last year. Somehow the hiring of Dan Mullen caused the team to become more talented before the team got through one spring and fall camp and played one game to provide any evidence that they actually are better than last year.

So I decided to look into the talent level on this roster. You didn’t need to put in much research to wonder if this year’s talent level is possibly one of the worst fans have seen since the turn of the century.

But I’m a weird guy, so I got locked into figuring out exactly where this roster compares to recent ones. The process was simple: I decided to utilize 247s composite rating system as my threshold. I also logged the number of 5 star, 4 star, and top 100 kids on each roster. I only wanted to look at the opening day two-deep for this project. I’m not concerned with kids who may never play, and in today’s game there isn’t much difference between a 1st stringer and 2nd stringer, plus coaches rotate heavily now outside of the QB position and so I thought this would be a relatively fair way to look at the roster. I also made this decision because you get into a lot of walk-ons once you enter 3rd string territory and there is no grading system in place for the talent of a walk-on.

I decided to start with 2006, it was the first year that I could find a solid two-deep for opening day and most of the two-deep was logged on 247, 2005 and earlier brings in harder to find two-deep depth charts for (unless I’m really bad at google) and quite a number of recruits with no composite rating, no overall rating, no positional rating. Nothing.

Some notes before I get into the data (and no, I won’t be posting the entire 20+ page data set for all the players), because I think it’s important to be honest to make the strongest point possible, so let’s hereby kill any idea that I tried to cheat to sway the numbers. JUCO kids that ranked as top 100 kids I only included as a top 100 player if their composite rating fit inside the top 100 for the year they were recruited. There are about a dozen or so players from 2006 to 2009 that, for whatever reason, did not have any rankings in their profile (Ahmad Black for example), I have no idea why, but the way I handled this was 1, talking to Gators Breakdown’s Bill Sikes as he has an excellent memory and data of his he fed me on where these kids likely ranked. If the player was a 3 star, I simply took the average of 3 star players and applied it to that recruit. This isn’t perfect, the kid could have been a high 3 or a low 3, but I thought it was the best way to handle it so I had a full data set for all scholarship players.

This is a lot of information, and again, it’s not exact science. There is no way to mathematically apply positive gains for 3s and 4s who exceed their recruiting ranking or a way to punish a 5 and 4 for just being bad football players. This is just straight data using a pretty respected system from 247, use it how you like, not everyone is going to agree with the methods or the results.

Some of these are self-explanatory, others may not be, I will explain the charts and it’s data under the information.

Composite Ratings: Yearly Total

Year Comp Total Equal to 2018
2006 0.898 324
2007 0.9068 272
2008 0.9188 212
2009 0.9314 169
2010 0.9281 179
2011 0.9419 141
2012 0.933 164
2013 0.9266 186
2014 0.9256 189
2015 0.9159 225
2016 0.899 317
2017 0.89 395
2018 0.8764 555

Total Yearly Sort
1) 2011 0.9419
2) 2012 0.933
3) 2009 0.9314
4) 2010 0.9281
5) 2013 0.9266
6) 2014 0.9256
7) 2008 0.9188
8) 2015 0.9159
9) 2007 0.9068
10) 2016 0.899
11) 2006 0.898
12) 2017 0.89
13) 2018 0.8764

This chart is getting right into the meat of the project, this is a look at the total composite rating by year. Offense and defense averaged out. It’s obvious from the numbers and chart there is a big dip in talent. But a lot of people don’t get composite ratings and since they are decimals the small increases and decreases don’t look significant. “Equal to 2018” is straight forward, it’s what that composite rating would equal in terms of player ranking. This gives you a different way of looking at the number. So this roster is equivalent to having an average player rating of 555th. Poor to say the least when you’re Florida. And lastly you can see where each composite rating looks as sorted out by year.

Composite Ratings: Offense and Defense 

Year Offense Defense
2006 0.8923 0.8593
2007 0.9154 0.8981
2008 0.9243 0.9133
2009 0.9322 0.9307
2010 0.9181 0.9381
2011 0.9375 0.9464
2012 0.9247 0.9414
2013 0.9122 0.9411
2014 0.9195 0.9318
2015 0.9046 0.9272
2016 0.8876 0.9105
2017 0.8901 0.8899
2018 0.848 0.9048

Offense Sort Defense Sort
1) 2011 0.9375 1) 2011 0.9464
2) 2009 0.9322 2) 2012 0.9414
3) 2012 0.9247 3) 2013 0.9411
4) 2008 0.9243 4) 2010 0.9381
5) 2014 0.9195 5) 2014 0.9318
6) 2010 0.9181 6) 2009 0.9307
7) 2007 0.9154 7) 2015 0.9272
8) 2013 0.9122 8) 2008 0.9133
9) 2015 0.9046 9) 2016 0.9105
10) 2006 0.8923 10) 2018 0.9048
11) 2017 0.8901 11) 2007 0.8981
12) 2016 0.8876 12) 2017 0.8899
13) 2018 0.848 13) 2006 0.8593

Composite Ratings: Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs

Year DL LB DB
2006 0.9188 0.9363 0.8693
2007 0.89 0.9161 0.8928
2008 0.9078 0.9185 0.9147
2009 0.9655 0.9293 0.9085
2010 0.9345 0.9265 0.9412
2011 0.9639 0.9411 0.9328
2012 0.9572 0.927 0.9365
2013 0.934 0.9343 0.9525
2014 0.9211 0.9256 0.9471
2015 0.9176 0.893 0.9508
2016 0.9053 0.9076 0.9181
2017 0.8862 0.861 0.9116
2018 0.9274 0.8648 0.9032

DL Sort LB Sort DB Sort
1) 2009 0.9655 1) 2011 0.9411 1) 2013 0.9525
2) 2011 0.9639 2) 2006 0.9363 2) 2015 0.9508
3) 2012 0.9572 3) 2013 0.9343 3) 2014 0.9471
4) 2010 0.9345 4) 2009 0.9293 4) 2010 0.9412
5) 2013 0.934 5) 2012 0.927 5) 2012 0.9365
6) 2018 0.9274 6) 2010 0.9265 6) 2011 0.9328
7) 2014 0.9211 7) 2014 0.9256 7) 2016 0.9181
8) 2006 0.9188 8) 2008 0.9185 8) 2008 0.9147
9) 2015 0.9176 9) 2007 0.9161 9) 2017 0.9116
10) 2008 0.9078 10) 2016 0.9076 10) 2009 0.9085
11) 2016 0.9053 11) 2015 0.893 11) 2018 0.9032
12) 2007 0.89 12) 2018 0.8648 12) 2007 0.8928
13) 2017 0.8862 13) 2017 0.861 13) 2006 0.8693

Composite Ratings: Offensive Line, Running Backs, Wide Receiver

Year RB WR OL
2006 0.9351 0.8849 0.865
2007 0.87 0.9409 0.8912
2008 0.9522 0.9424 0.8987
2009 0.9522 0.9261 0.9183
2010 0.9364 0.9519 0.9141
2011 0.9371 0.939 0.9317
2012 0.9428 0.9129 0.9326
2013 0.9623 0.9278 0.9108
2014 0.943 0.9385 0.9192
2015 0.9404 0.9193 0.8902
2016 0.9159 0.9129 0.8708
2017 0.8926 0.916 0.8705
2018 0.8976 0.9278 0.8693

RB Sort WR Sort OL Sort
1) 2013 0.9623 1) 2010 0.9519 1) 2012 0.9326
2) 2008 0.9522 2) 2008 0.9424 2) 2011 0.9317
3) 2009 0.9522 3) 2007 0.9409 3) 2014 0.9192
4) 2014 0.943 4) 2011 0.939 4) 2009 0.9183
5) 2012 0.9428 5) 2014 0.9385 5) 2010 0.9141
6) 2015 0.9404 6) 2013 0.9278 6) 2013 0.9108
7) 2011 0.9371 7) 2018 0.9278 7) 2008 0.8987
8) 2010 0.9364 8) 2009 0.9261 8) 2007 0.8912
9) 2006 0.9351 9) 2015 0.9193 9) 2015 0.8902
10) 2016 0.9159 10) 2017 0.916 10) 2016 0.8708
11) 2018 0.8976 11) 2012 0.9129 11) 2017 0.8705
12) 2017 0.8926 12) 2016 0.9129 12) 2018 0.8693
13) 2007 0.87 13) 2006 0.8849 13) 2006 0.865

Note on WR, RB and OL: I have currently only graded the WRs without Grimes added to the mix. He’s yet to be cleared to play this year by the NCAA and because it’s the NCAA, I’m not assuming that they will actually clear him to play. I also don’t have an official two deep for 2018 yet, but I think most of the offensive two deep is pretty straight forward. I say that because currently I have the top 6 WRs who I expect to be listed on the two deep (in no specific order) as Jefferson, Hammond, Cleveland, Swain, Toney, Massey. If Grimes gets cleared I imagine that moves one of Hammond/Swain out of seeing much playing time. I did the math on what the WR composite average would look like if Grimes is cleared:

.9254 with Grimes, but no Swain
.9363 with Grimes, but no Hammond

I realize that a lot of people are going to mention Copeland, I have not forgotten about Copeland, as of right now I’m not sure that he will make the opening day two deep. Grimes composite rating is .9806, Copeland is .9651, so even if we just swap Grimes and Copelands composite ratings, it’s not enough to change the overall offensive or WR composite average for the better.

Offense: Top 100, 5 star, 4 star

Year Top 100 5 star 4 star
2006 7 4 4
2007 8 5 8
2008 9 6 9
2009 8 5 13
2010 9 5 9
2011 10 5 11
2012 7 3 13
2013 5 3 8
2014 7 4 10
2015 4 2 9
2016 1 1 8
2017 3 1 6
2018 3 1 8

Top 100 Sort 5 star sort 4 star sort
1) 2011 10 1) 2008 6 1) 2009 13
2) 2008 9 2) 2007 5 2) 2012 13
3) 2010 9 3) 2009 5 3) 2011 11
4) 2007 8 4) 2010 5 4) 2014 10
5) 2009 8 5) 2011 5 5) 2008 9
6) 2006 7 6) 2006 4 6) 2010 9
7) 2012 7 7) 2014 4 7) 2015 9
8) 2014 7 8) 2012 3 8) 2007 8
9) 2013 5 9) 2013 3 9) 2013 8
10) 2015 4 10) 2015 2 10) 2016 8
11) 2017 3 11) 2016 1 11) 2018 8
12) 2018 3 12) 2017 1 12) 2017 6
13) 2016 1 13) 2018 1 13) 2006 4

Defense: Top 100, 5 star, 4 star

Year Top 100 5 star 4 star
2006 8 4 9
2007 6 2 12
2008 8 2 13
2009 10 4 13
2010 11 6 11
2011 12 7 10
2012 10 6 13
2013 8 5 13
2014 7 4 13
2015 7 4 10
2016 5 1 11
2017 2 1 7
2018 4 1 10

Top 100 sort 5 star sort 4 star sort
1) 2011 12 1) 2011 7 1) 2008 13
2) 2010 11 2) 2010 6 2) 2009 13
3) 2009 10 3) 2012 6 3) 2012 13
4) 2012 10 4) 2013 5 4) 2013 13
5) 2006 8 5) 2006 4 5) 2014 13
6) 2008 8 6) 2009 4 6) 2007 12
7) 2013 8 7) 2014 4 7) 2010 11
8) 2014 7 8) 2015 4 8) 2016 11
9) 2015 7 9) 2007 2 9) 2011 10
10) 2007 6 10) 2008 2 10) 2015 10
11) 2016 5 11) 2016 1 11) 2018 10
12) 2018 4 12) 2017 1 12) 2006 9
13) 2017 2 13) 2018 1 13) 2017 7

Team Total: Top 100, 5 star, 4 star

Year Top 100 5 star 4 star
2006 15 8 13
2007 14 7 20
2008 17 8 22
2009 18 9 26
2010 20 11 20
2011 22 12 21
2012 17 9 26
2013 13 8 21
2014 14 8 23
2015 11 6 19
2016 6 2 19
2017 5 2 13
2018 7 2 18

Top 100 Sort 5 star sort 4 star sort
1) 2011 22 1) 2011 12 1) 2009 26
2) 2010 20 2) 2010 11 2) 2012 26
3) 2009 18 3) 2009 9 3) 2014 23
4) 2008 17 4) 2012 9 4) 2008 22
5) 2012 17 5) 2006 8 5) 2011 21
6) 2006 15 6) 2008 8 6) 2013 21
7) 2007 14 7) 2013 8 7) 2007 20
8) 2014 14 8) 2014 8 8) 2010 20
9) 2013 13 9) 2007 7 9) 2015 19
10) 2015 11 10) 2015 6 10) 2016 19
11) 2018 7 11) 2016 2 11) 2018 18
12) 2016 6 12) 2017 2 12) 2006 13
13) 2017 5 13) 2018 2 13) 2017 13

Florida compared to yearly rivals, last 5 years

Year Florida UGA LSU FSU Tenn
2014 89.61 90.97 91.25 90.13 89.5
2015 87.26 89.74 89.91 92.54 89.48
2016 88.72 90.77 91.35 91.71 89.12
2017 89.11 92.27 91.05 91.1 87.24
2018 90.69 94.23 90.11 90.91 87.71
 Avg 88.945 91.7525 90.605 91.565 88.3875

This one is self-explanatory I believe, but I wanted to expand on it some more. One of the common takes you will see by a lot of Florida fans is that our rivals are not as far ahead of Florida regarding talent as our rivals think, and you will see fans claim that Florida shouldn’t have issues with LSU or FSU and why should we worry about UGA? We’re not THAT far off in talent. Numbers tell a different story.

I decided to stick with the last 5 full recruiting classes in this sample.

Georgia has an obvious advantage in talent, not a surprise considering how elite of a recruiter Kirby is. The only rival Florida has an advantage over is Tennessee, but it’s not by the gap most Florida fans think it is. FSU has out recruited Florida long enough that the relatively close finish this past transition class for both new coaches did little to close the overall talent gap FSU has over Florida.

Another take away from Florida vs. the competition in regards to recruiting is that recruiting is getting top heavy. In 2006, Florida finished with the 2nd ranked class in the country with an average rating of 90.58, the average back in 2006 was good for 5th overall that year, 90.58 would be the 12th best average rating in 2018. 2007? Florida finished 1st overall with a rating average that put them 6th in the country. That 89.45 average would have been good for 17th in the country in 2018.

My point with that? Not only is the talent gap noticeable among 3 of Floridas 4 rivals, but the teams Florida would have to compete with in a fantasized playoff game are seeing larger talent gains over Florida. To show this, I averaged out the top 10 classes 247 avg from 2014 to 2018, and the increase among the average of the top 10 teams is pretty obvious as it’s been going up for the past several years.

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
93.65 93.73 92.54 93.76 94.23
91.25 92.28 91.35 94.59 94.29
90.59 92.54 91.71 92.27 92.16
90.13 89.48 91.56 91.93 94.23
90.99 89.91 90.42 91.2 91.7
88.78 89.74 90.77 91.1 91.82
89.5 90.31 90.07 91.05 93.45
90.97 90.16 89.86 89.93 90.99
89.61 89.12 90.65 89.34 91.31
87.03 89.43 91 89.37 90.05
90.25 90.67 90.993 91.454 92.423

Floridas classes from 2014 vs the top 10 average? Not pretty.

Year Florida Top 10 avg
2014 89.61 90.25
2015 87.26 90.67
2016 88.72 90.99
2017 89.11 91.45
2018 90.69 92.42

 

The Long Conclusion

This is a lot of information, many of it people just won’t care about. And that’s fine. A lot of people are going to see the data and begin moving the goalposts because they don’t have an exact method of arguing against simple recruiting data with a respected system created by 247.

The 2018 roster from a talent point of view is, well, it’s bad for a school like Florida. There is no way around it. Especially since a common rationalization from Florida fans on why Florida will get back to top 5 classes soon is “Florida recruits itself”. The numbers show Florida doesn’t recruit itself nearly at the level fans think it does. Florida is getting lapped by most of their rivals in recruiting and they’re getting lapped by teams fans dream of playing in the playoffs. There is a 2nd thing that a lot of fans say regarding Floridas recruiting being down, and that is that “Florida has to prove the offense can score to recruit at elite levels again.” I’ve never fully bought into that reasoning and the recruiting of South Carolina right now is a quick, current example of why I think that statement struggles to hold up. South Carolina finished with worse marks on both sides of the ball then Florida in 2017, and South Carolina is currently 5th in the country in recruiting. Muschamp is clearly a better recruiter than Mullen but no one should be having this kind of success  recruiting at South Carolina.

Now going back to the data above, the only two teams that compare with 2018s roster is 2006 and 2017. Again, this is strictly opening day depth chart, to try and gauge the talent level in 2013 when Florida suffered an absurd number of injuries is getting into a much longer argument where the data becomes less reliable because now we’re getting into walk-ons and guys playing positions they weren’t rated for because of depth issues.  Some people are going to look at 2006 and convince themselves that Dan Mullen can win 10 games right away with this talent level. This is why I provided additional information on our rivals and the average ranking of the teams finishing in the top 10. The average rating among the top teams on 247 was lower in 2006, which tells me the talent level was spread out among more than just a handful of teams like you could argue it is right now, and I think that helped Florida win games ugly (and there were quite a number of close, ugly games in 2006) that that same roster might not beat today.

My personal takeaway? Florida has to finish in the top 3 in recruiting for the next several years to even the talent gap vs the best teams in the country. It needs to finish in the top 3 alone just over the next couple of years to get shorten the gap against UGA and FSU. I don’t see this as an exaggeration, I played with the numbers for 2019, even if Floridas 2019 class averaged out at 95.00 and LSU, UGA, FSU and UT averaged what they are currently at as of today, Florida would still only be ahead of Tennessee. UGA and FSU are still comfortably ahead. Florida isn’t averaging 95.00 and I’m not confident that Florida will get over 93.00.

The bottom line: If Dan Mullen can manage a 9-3 regular season with this roster, that would be an incredible job considering this talent level- and more importantly, a good sign for the seasons to come. And regardless of how unfair some people may view it, Mullen doesn’t have any room to wait for a top 3 class to be brought into Florida, it needs to happen in Feb of 2019.

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