Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Aug 2009

"Ultimate" Draft - who has the most WAR over the remainder of their career

Hey all, this is not actually my first post; I've been posting as "c_f" for a while now, but without an account.

Anyhow, every year Michael Silver has a comically bad "Ultimate Mock Draft". It's a thought exercise in which, as far as I can tell, NFL teams suddenly lose all their players and every single person on earth is eligible for selection in a massive re-draft. Contracts disappear into thin air, too.

(His latest masterpiece is at http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-thegameface041709&prov=yhoo&typ... )

Silver wrote that piece merely to provoke discussion, but I think we can do him one better. If such a draft were actually held, presumably the players selected would be those who would contribute the most over the remainder of their respective careers. If I correctly understand the concept behind WAR (in baseball), GMs would select players based on who has the most WAR remaining over his career or at least 5/6 years of a contract.

Consequently, young promising QBs would go like hotcakes, followed by elite young defenders and maybe some promising left offensive tackles. Tradeoffs would have to be made between older "sure bets" and younger "upside" picks. (For instance, Matt Ryan might have more WAR remaining than Philip Rivers, but Ryan is less of a known quantity so we go with the safer pick in Rivers.)

Here's my guess for the first 16 picks:
QB Rivers, Philip 27
QB Cutler, Jay 26
QB Ryan, Matt 24
QB Rodgers, Aaron 25
QB Roethlisb., Ben 27
DE Williams, Mario 24
QB Palmer, Carson 29
QB Brees, Drew 30
QB Flacco, Joe 24
OLB Ware, DeMarcus 27
DE Allen, Jared 27
QB Schaub, Matt 28
QB Romo, Tony 29
NT Ngata, Haloti 25
OLB Merriman, Sha. 25
OLB Suggs, Terrell 26

(Way to go, NC State!)

I figure Palmer and Brees have enough left in the tank to be "drafted" sixth and seventh respectively. None of the young left tackles has been consistently dominant to merit a top-16 selection, but maybe Joe Thomas or Ryan Clady would be worth it. DE Trent Cole (26) and NT Vince Wilfork (27) would surely come off the board soon after the top 16.

Guards, Centers, and DBs are certainly not worth considering so early in such a "draft."

Where would aging stud defenders like Kevin Williams (29), Shaun Rogers (30) or Richard Seymour (29) go? What about suddenly-great Haynesworth (28)?
Where do adequate but unexciting QBs like Eli Manning (28), Jason Campbell (27), or Trent Edwards (25) go?
I know we all like to pooh-pooh running backs, but Adrian Peterson is an amazing talent; should he go in the first "round"?
Patrick Willis is another generational talent at middle linebacker; where does he go?

What do the sharp minds of FO commenters think of this list? Of this bizarre exercise?

Posted by: big ten speed on 30 Aug 2009

2 replies , Last at 03 Sep 2009, 2:13pm by tuluse

Re: "Ultimate" Draft - who has the most WAR...
by Dan :: Sun, 08/30/2009 - 7:17pm

I was thinking about this earlier in the offseason. I'd rank the top 14 QBs: Rivers, Brees, Cutler, Rodgers, Ryan, Brady (32), P. Manning (33), Palmer, Roethlisberger, E. Manning, Romo, Schaub, Cassel, Flacco. Flacco hasn't shown enough yet, Roethlisberger takes a lot of hits and isn't likely to age gracefully, and the big 3 old guys should each have several great years left. There'd probably be about 9 of them (through Roethlisberger) in the first 16 picks. Outside of these 14, Sanchez and Stafford might have the best chance of making the first round (they're already being paid like it). That would leave guys like Orton, McNabb, Leinart, Quinn, Garrard, Edwards, and Campbell for round 2 or later.

CBs have to be in the picture (just look at their salaries to see how valuable they are). Asomugha (28) could be top 16, and Finnegan (25), Revis (24), and maybe Cromartie (25) or Samuel (28) could be first rounders. At safety, Polamalu (28) or Collins (26) could sneak into the first round.

Haynesworth would definitely be up there. You covered pass rushers pretty well, but Tuck (26) and Umenyiora (27) should also be in the discussion. Are Kampman (29) & Freeney (29) too old? I'd put Willis in the late first round - are there any other LBs that could make it besides the pass rushers?

There would have to be some OTs, but it's interesting that no one's really stepped up to replace the generation on the way out. Roos (26) might be the first to go, and Gross (29), Long (24), Ferguson (25), and Gaither (23) could also be first rounders, along with Clady & Thomas. At guard, Snee (27) might make the tail end of the first round; I can't think of anyone else who could.

A few offensive "skill position" players would make the cut - I think Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Jones-Drew, Andre Johnson, and Fitzgerald could all be first rounders. Maybe Roddy White.

That's probably about 50 guys that have been mentioned so we'd need to cut it down. With QBs taking up almost half of the picks you run out of room pretty fast.

Re: "Ultimate" Draft
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/03/2009 - 2:13pm

I think Justin Tuck would go early, and Trent Cole, both 26.

Roddy White (27), Larry Fitzgerald (26), and Andre Johnson(28) would merit some consideration.

I think you have Carson Palmer way too high.

Asomugha (28) and Troy Polamalu (28) would probably go in the first round.

Patrick Willis is only 24, I think he might be top 16 material

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