09 Jul 2010
Reading the Packers chapter, I'm confused by Bill Barnwell's take on the Packers' drafting record. I thought I'd give my opinion here, and see if anyone agrees or disagrees.
One aspect of Bill's argument is indisputable — Ted Thompson's draft picks have been terrible at staying healthy. Bill stresses that injuries have been the "primary" cause of what he refers to as Thompson's "very mixed draft results."
I don't disagree with the player-by-player breakdown of Thompson's picks in rounds one-to-three — although I do think there might be some cherry picking in starting the analysis halfway through Round 2 of the 2005 draft, and excluding 2009, which after all brought Clay Matthews and BJ Raji.
But Bill's conclusion — that of Thompson's first 16 draft picks in rounds 1-3, "the Packers have four above-average starters [Rodgers, Finley, Jennings, Collins] to show for them" — is too harsh. Surely Pro Bowlers are more than "above average"? Moreover — and here's where I get confused — a few lines later, Bill recognises that "When [Thompson] does hit on a draft pick, he seems to find players who are among the best at their positions." Wouldn't "four very good starters" out of 16 sound much better?
Moreover, Hawk, Spitz, and Colledge might not be superstars, but they are all four-year starters. It could be argued that they were starters-by-default, but then you'd have to accept that James Jones and Jordy Nelson have remained backups-by-default while Jennings and Driver have stayed healthy and productive.
Indeed, using PFR's Approximate Value (AV) statistic, the Packers have gotten more value out of their top picks than any other NFL team over the period in question. The 16 players that Bill analysed have produced a cumulative 235 AV; only three other teams have gotten more than 200 AV from their picks in rounds 1-3 between 2005 and 2008 (SF, Atl, Jax). For me, that refutes Bill's argument that "If Thompson was just league-average in the situations where he’s been far below-average as a drafter, the Packers would be a dynasty and about to win three or four Super Bowls."
Furthermore, Bill lauds the Packers' GM for his "very solid work in the later rounds of the draft." Again, I would disagree. Not only are the Packers' special teams (full of late-round picks) a mess, but AV indicates that the later picks have been only average on offense and defense. Rounds 4 and 5 have been particularly weak, bringing the likes of Cory Rodgers and Jamon Meredith, Allen Barbre and Junius Coston. The Packers took 13 players in rounds 4&5 from 2005-08, more than any team except Tennessee; yet they produced just 61 AV between them, the 12th highest total in the league. These picks have played an average of 20.8 games since they were drafted, which ranks an ugly 26th, and between them they have managed just 4 years as primary starters at their position.
This is especially frustrating for Packer fans, as Thompson generally chews his pencil during free agency, and is a protégé of Ron Wolf, whose late rounds consistently produced quality players (some of whom — Tauscher, Driver, Hasselbeck, Brunell, Diggs — are still playing, nine years after Wolf retired).
I'm not one of Thompson's army of unconditional admirers, but aside from the AGL factor, I don't think Bill's analysis is quite right. That said, it made for an enjoyable and provocative read!
1 reply , Last at 09 Jul 2010, 10:47pm by Arkaein