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IDP Spotlight: DE Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams

  Posted 7/21 by Jene Bramel, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Leonard Little has seemingly fallen off the IDP radar altogether after having only a single sack in a season essentially lost to injury last year. The FBG staff consensus ranking has Little outside the top 15, with a number of individual rankings outside the top 20, despite Little having finished in the top 15 four times in the last six seasons and in the top five twice. In the "What have you done for me lately?" IDP world, it's disconnects like this that may be a source of big value on draft day.

The staff consensus is based on Little's age (he'll turn 34 during the season) and the potential that he won't recover from the significant toe injury that ruined his 2007 season. Both are major concerns. Leg and foot injuries are extremely difficult to overcome for a defensive lineman that relies on an explosive first step and proper leverage to rush the passer. They're even more difficult for a 34 year old defensive lineman. The most recent news on Little seems to be very positive, however, as the St. Louis media has reported that Little's rehab went very well and that he was looking good during the team's OTAs.

Prior to 2007, Little was a near lock for 40 solos and near double digit sacks. In his most recent healthy season (2006), Little had 56 solos and 12 sacks. Last season, prior to the toe injury, Little had 12 solos in his first three games and, despite the lone sack he had, the game charting project at Football Outsiders gave Little credit for six additional quarterback hits and four hurries. If Little is fully recovered from his injury, it would appear that age has yet to catch up with him. It will help that the Rams could have a very solid front four, with second year tackle Adam Carriker and rookie end Chris Long likely to draw some attention from Little if they play to their potential.

Positives

  • History of very good two-way production
  • Likely to be undervalued by most after a terrible 2007
  • Rehab from toe injury is reportedly progressing very well

Negatives

  • Toe injury that required surgery last year may have lingering effects
  • Managed only one sack last season
  • Has finished a full 16-game season only once in the past six years

Final Thoughts

Little's current ADP, around DL20, makes him a very attractive late DL2 target. His injury history makes him risky, but there are very few defensive ends with 50 solo tackle, double digit sack potential. At that ADP, he looks like one of the best values on the board at DL.


Quotes from the IDP Spotlight Message Thread

To view the entire thread, click here.

lord_helmet:
"I think Little has a very good chance of bouncing back this year, his injury shouldn't bother him into the season and having Long on the other side is a big upgrade. If healthy and in shape, double digit sack numbers should be within reach."

Aaron Rudnicki:
"Based on ADP data and the FBG projections, Little seems to be one of the most undervalued IDPs this offseason. He averaged 11.5 sacks/year from 2001 to 2006 before last year's miserable and injury-shortened season"

Anthony Borbely:
"The fact that Little is going to be 34 years old and coming off of a serious injury sends up a bit of a red flag. While there is a chance of a decline, I feel safe with Little as a low end DL2. He has always put up solid tackle numbers and that usually protects a DL from a steep drop-off."

Weiner Dog:
"The tank is running dry, but the guy can definitely still be semi-productive. With Long manning the RE spot, I do fear the Rams could start to incorporate James Hall as an occasional base LE to help rest Little. If this happens, Little's value would drop substantially. Undersized, 34 year-old DEs simply cannot withstand the every-down punishment of the NFL."

Chachi:
"Leonard Little is one of the few that I won't draft or own on my own team because of his past, I think everyone knows what I'm talking about but I wanted to get that out there. I think his flaws in his personal life, along with fear of another alcohol-induced episode coupled with Roger Goodell's strict conduct policy, and his injury last year are likely the reasons for his low ADP. For all of those negatives, I think he's going to have another solid year as he is one of the most consistent DL in the past 6-7 years and has averaged 11 sacks a year over that time. With Adam Carriker on the inside and the drafting of Chris Long, things look really up for Leonard Little this season and this should be the best group he has had to work with in his career. He should be a good DL2 with a possible top 5 season."


Projections

Source
Solo
Asst
Sack
INT
PD
FF
FR
FPs
Jene Bramel
44
7
8.0
0
2
4
1
126.25
John Norton
46
9
9.0
0
3
3
1
132.25
Aaron Rudnicki
40
6
8.0
0
2
3
1
115.50
MB Consensus
42
8
9.5
0
2
3
1
126.00

IDP Scoring System

  • 1.5 pts per Solo Tackle
  • 0.75 pts per Assisted Tackle
  • 4 pts per Sack
  • 4 pts per Forced Fumble
  • 4 pts per Fumble Recovery
  • 5 pts per Interception
  • 1.5 pts per Pass Defensed
  • 6 pts per Touchdown
  • 2 pts per Safety