Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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20 May 2008

Four Downs: AFC West

by Ned Macey

Denver Broncos

Draft Recap

The Broncos struggled mightily both running the ball and stopping the run during the 2007 season. This draft was obviously dedicated to the offensive side of the problems. First-round pick Ryan Clady from Boise State should step in immediately for retired Matt Lepsis at left tackle. Clady is very athletic, although he appears more polished in pass protection than run blocking to date. If he can start immediately at left tackle, it also frees last year's third-round pick, Ryan Harris, to support other areas of the line.

Clady was the big-ticket item for this year, but the Broncos also added center Kory Lichtensteiger from Bowling Green in the third round and running backs Ryan Torain from Arizona State and Peyton Hillis from Arkansas in the fifth and seventh rounds, respectively. Drafted running backs by the Broncos gain immediate interest in fantasy circles, and Torain is intriguing. He is a physical runner who seems well-suited to the one-cut Denver system. Hedropped in the draft because of a Lisfranc injury suffered his senior year, but he has enormous sleeper potential. Hillis is more of a fullback/H-back type, but could be used creatively as a receiver out of the backfield.

The most questionable decision was the Broncos' selection of wide receiver Eddie Royal with their second-round pick. A Virginia Tech product, Royal is extremely fast but very raw as a receiver. Basically, he is a return man with receiver potential. The selection of Royal over the similar skill-set but larger hype of DeSean Jackson will certainly bear scrutiny. The NFL's new fascination with return men high in the draft is a little disconcerting. Just because Devin Hester is a once-in-a-generation type of player does not make every fast guy worthy of a second-round pick.

Defensively, the Broncos did not make a move until their fourth selection, No. 148 overall, when they grabbed Kent State cornerback Jack Williams. Again, Denver emphasized speed with this selection at the expense of both size and possibly technique. The other pick who may have an impact this season is defensive tackle Carlton Powell, a solid run-stuffer from Virginia Tech.

Veteran Moves

The Broncos are never shy about jumping into the veteran acquisition market's bargain bin. They have been rather active since we last saw them in our draft preview. The biggest impact play is likely the acquisition of Dewayne Robertson from the Jets in exchange for a conditional 2009 draft pick. The bargain is a good one, as Robertson has some talent and seems suited for the 3-4. He is not a great solution to the Broncos' run defense woes, but he seems clearly worth the gamble of a midround 2009 pick.

The Broncos also added a couple of mediocrities to compete for the second or third wide receiver positions: Darrell Jackson, last seen as a productive receiver two years ago in Seattle, and Samie Parker, last seen as a productive receiver five years ago for the University of Oregon. They also signed Dylan Gandy, late of Indianapolis, to provide depth at guard.

Remaining Needs

The Broncos addressed all of their needs in some fashion in the offseason, so they have no unaddressed holes. Some would question their solution of Robertson and middle linebacker Niko Koutouvides as a full solution for the run defense woes, but at least it will get D.J. Williams back to outside linebacker. One unfilled hole is placekicker, where the Broncos wisely let Jason Elam walk but appear to be relying on the very unproven Matt Prater, who lost his job to Morten Andersen in Atlanta last season.

Rookie Free Agents

The Broncos signed seven rookie free agents, and several have a chance to make the team. The most likely candidates are Oklahoma kicker Garrett Hartley and Toledo punter Brett Kern. Hartley's only competition is Prater, while Kern is contending with Sam Paulescu.

The Broncos also added University of Houston running back Anthony Alridge, who averaged an impressive 7.1 yards per carry last season and had one of the best 40-yard times at the Combine. He is very undersized, but given the success that Selvin Young had last year, Aldridge is certainly intriguing. The Broncos also may find a place for offensive lineman Mitch Erickson from North Dakota State.

Kansas City Chiefs

Draft Recap

The early returns are that the Chiefs had the greatest draft in the history of time. They landed defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey AND offensive tackle Branden Albert AND cornerback Brandon Flowers AND running back Jamaal Charles AND tight end Brad Cottam AND safety DaJuan Morgan? That is six players in the first three rounds. Amazing! Of course, to acquire some of this talent, they shipped their best player, Jared Allen, to Minnesota.

The trade for Allen netted the Vikings' the 15th overall selection, which became Albert, as well as the 10th and 19th selections in the third round, which became Charles and Morgan. Before we get into these prospects, let us consider what history shows us they are likely to receive. The three picks were 15, 73, and 82. Let us see who was selected with those picks in the first five drafts of the decade.


Year Pick 15 Pick 73 Pick 82
2000 Deltha O'Neal Ron Dixon Leander Jordan
2001 Rod Gardner Eric Westmoreland Heath Evans
2002 Albert Haynesworth Will Witherspoon James Allen
2003 Jerome McDougle Wayne Hunter Ricky Manning
2004 Michael Clayton Keith Smith Devard Darling

Needless to say, that is an extremely mixed bag and should temper some of the amazing optimism surrounding the Chiefs' draft. Securing six picks in the first three rounds, and two among the first 15 picks, is a recipe for praise from draft evaluators. The Chiefs turned those picks into Albert and Charles, highly touted players in draftnik circles. The three-pick haul for Allen was sizable given the current market, but remember that draft picks, even well-regarded picks, are far from a guarantee.

Pessimism aside, the draft haul was impressive on several fronts. Dorsey has minor injury concerns, but if he remains healthy, he is almost a sure thing. The selection of Flowers is also solid, as the cornerback is very smart and technically sound, and his lack of speed should be protected in the Tampa-2. Charles also provides a solid backup running back who Herm Edwards will hopefully use to spell Larry Johnson.

The difference between a solid draft and an outstanding draft is Albert. A late riser up draft boards, Albert played guard in college but projects as a left tackle in the NFL. His athletic talent is not doubted, but some scouts hesitate to assume that he can play left tackle just because his measurables say he can. If Albert becomes an above-average left tackle, then this draft is a serious winner. If he cannot handle it, he becomes an overpaid guard.

Among the later draft picks, the most intriguing is wide receiver William Franklin from Missouri. The Chiefs are extremely thin at wide receiver -- Devard Darling currently is the No. 2 wideout -- so Franklin should be able to make the team. He has excellent speed and also the ability to play slot receiver. The Chiefs have not had a solid third receiver in years, and Franklin has the chance to grow into that third option.

Remaining Needs

Is it too easy to write "the offense?" The team left its quarterback position unresolved. The Chiefs believe (or at least hope) that Brodie Croyle is the long-term answer, but Croyle arguably has the least potential of any current NFL starting quarterback. Further, Croyle does not have a particularly talented receiving corps. Despite Franklin's potential, the Chiefs still have extreme weakness at wide receiver. Behind the exceptional Dwayne Bowe, they have Darling, Franklin, and Jeff Webb. The offensive line still has enormous holes, with only guard Brian Waters, Albert, and maybe tackle Damion McIntosh as assets.

Defensively, the Chiefs have fewer holes, but they lack depth at the safety position behind two young and unproven starters, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard, relying primarily on John McGraw or the rookie Morgan. They also have a questionable pass rush after the departure of Allen.

Rookie Free Agents

The Chiefs, aware they still have holes, signed 17 rookie free agents. They do know their own weaknesses, at least. They added three defensive ends, including Jonal Saint-Dic from Michigan State and Johnny Dingle from West Virginia. They also added three wide receivers, including big, physical Jabari Arthur from Akron and undersized Luke Swann from Wisconsin.

Oakland Raiders

Draft Recap

One year ago, in the postdraft Four Downs on the NFC North, I questioned the impact Adrian Peterson would have on the Vikings. They already had Chester Taylor and showed many other glaring needs. Of course, Peterson had an extraordinary rookie season and put Minnesota on the cusp of the playoffs.

One year later, I would like to prove that I do not learn from my mistakes. The Raiders' decision to draft Darren McFadden is only a good idea if he has a similar impact. The Raiders had one effective facet of their team last season: their running game. They re-signed Justin Fargas this offseason after he proved he could be a quality running back. Teams constantly demonstrate that they do not need a high pick to have a productive running back.

Yet the Raiders still spent the fourth overall selection on McFadden. For another team -- say the Jets at No. 6 -- McFadden would have been a great pick. The selection was even more galling because the Raiders passed on Glenn Dorsey, who could have solidified their biggest weakness, run defense. McFadden has the chance to be a very special player, so I could be proven wrong again, but the selection was certainly questionable on some levels.

The emphasis on McFadden is in large part because he was the Raiders draft. They did not pick again until the fourth round and only selected four other players. Among those, they took two wide receivers, Arman Shields from Richmond and Chaz Schilens from San Diego State. Both players exhibit a great deal of athletic talent. Most likely to make an impact this season is fourth-round pick Tyvon Branch from Connecticut, who probably will play safety for the Raiders. The only lineman they added was defensive end Trevor Scott from Buffalo.

Remaining Needs

Not running back and cornerback. Really, the Raiders still have enormous needs despite profligate spending. Their offensive line deserves credit for the impressive running performance last year, but they are not exactly an elite unit. The two starting receivers, Javon Walker and Ronald Curry, both have long injury histories. The defensive line features big expenditures in Tommy Kelly and Derrick Burgess but has little depth and little ability to play the run.

Undrafted Free Agents

If you only have five draft picks, you better do a good job with undrafted free agents. The Raiders signed seven undrafted players. One potential keeper is Northwestern cornerback Marquice Cole, who has good speed and could be a solid return man. Also keep an eye on beefy defensive tackle Larry Brown out of Oklahoma State. Their only offensive lineman added was Eddie Keele, who is recovering from an ACL injury but has upside.

San Diego Chargers

Draft Recap

The Chargers had a stacked roster, but few draft picks. One solution would be to draft for possible holes in the future. Instead, the Chargers directly addressed the minor holes they had, and with that showed that they really think 2008 could be their year.

In the offseason, the team's key losses were nickelback Drayton Florence, running back Michael Turner, and fullback Lorenzo Neal. (They let Marlon McCree go because they had better options, not because they could not afford him.) So with their first pick, the Chargers selected cornerback Antoine Cason from Arizona. Cason is an ideal fit as a third cornerback. His weaknesses are run support and pure speed, but he should hold up well in the slot.

The Chargers' next selection addressed the loss of both Turner and Neal. Jacob Hester is a bruising running back from LSU who can punish a defense. Hester also could be used as an undersized fullback. The Chargers are deemphasizing the fullback position in their offense, and Hester could play both backup tailback and short-yardage fullback. Just in case Hester does not translate as a halfback, the Chargers added Marcus Thomas from UTEP with their next selection.

They closed their draft with cornerback DeJuan Tribble from Boston College and offensive tackle Corey Clark from Texas A&M.

Remaining Needs

The Chargers have no holes in their starting lineup. Their starting 22 is arguably the best in football, but they could have depth issues, particularly on the offensive line and at safety.

Undrafted Free Agents

The Chargers roster is pretty much set, so this is not the best place to get a tryout as an undrafted free agent. Of course, the team likely touts the success of Antonio Gates in minicamp, but he was a different talent joining a different Chargers team. Still, San Diego takes the process seriously, adding 17 rookie free agents. The most intriguing may be offensive tackle Tyler Luellen from Missouri. Many thought Luellen would be drafted, and he fills a position that lacks depth on the Chargers.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 20 May 2008

59 comments, Last at 04 Jun 2008, 12:59pm by Neoplatonist Bolthead

Comments

1
by Dylan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 3:12pm

First ... now let's prepare for this thread to die ...

2
by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 3:27pm

Given how the draft bobbleheads were falling all over each other to praise the Chiefs' draft, it would be interesting to know what percentage of the bobblhead-favorite drafts over the years actually looked wildly successful 5 years after the draft.

3
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 3:27pm

Nice summary.

Nit: You've got a there/their issue in the 1st paragraph of the SD writeup.

4
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 3:45pm

Securing six picks in the first three rounds, and two among the first 15 picks, is a recipe for praise from draft evaluators.

As it should be, if you are just looking at the draft in a vacuum, stockpiling picks like this should be guaranteed good grade (unless you draft a fullback in the first round, sorry Jets fans). I hate how people say that a team that finds a 1 or 2 players with fewer or later draft picks should get a boost because they did more with less. A draft grade isn't about how a team did on a per pick basis, it's about the total value they added to their team.

5
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:00pm

Thanks for the official definition of a draft grade. I've always wondered where to find that. Could you provide a link?

6
by Charger Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:02pm

Ned, did you deliberately use the word "profligate" in the Raiders writeup to discourage raiderjoe from commenting? Just curious.

7
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:12pm

Saint-Dic and Dingle? Hee-hee.

/immature

8
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:26pm

Tom:

A draft grade isn’t about how a team did on a per pick basis, it’s about the total value they added to their team.

Why?

Team A has 12 picks. They net 3 starters. Team B has 4 picks, call them same average quality as Team A's overall, and they net 2. You're telling me that Team A did the better job with their 25% hit rate than Team B did with their 50% (all other things being equal, I know this is totally oversimplified) because they added an additional discrete player?

I know what I think in that situation, and it's "if Team A had Team B's guys making the decisions they might have gotten 6 hits instead of 3".

9
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:35pm

Ned:

They have been rather active since we last saw them in our draft preview.

One year ago, in the postdraft Four Downs on the NFC North, I questioned the impact Adrian Peterson would have on the Vikings.

You will give FO readers easy opportunity to read more of your stuff if you go to the trouble of linking statements like these to their subject articles.

10
by mrh (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:38pm

Late last night the Denver Post web site put up an article about Travis Henry's hamstring injury. The following is an actual reader comment (link below):

Oh no got buy another Denver rooky running man card on ebay this year. Even five six rounder rooky guy cost ebay a lot when from Broncos.

What happen to litle rhino? What happen to running man henry knives and sticks? Guy need to buck up, run like wild guy. Make hurt enemy player. Run, run over guy and run out clock for to make rain diseased toad in Bolt Cheef Rader lands always.

If only it had been signed broncojoe

11
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:43pm

Re 8:

Team B, probably did a better job with evaluation (it's hard to tell with your example as we don't know the spots each team drafted), but yes I think Team A did better overall. As long as their misses don't hurt the team like say they missed a top 5 pick which the coach feels compelled to play and is a drain on the team. Like I said it's about total value, so if you miss a high pick that is negative value.

You're right, Team B probably would have done a better job with the picks that Team A had, but we aren't grading theatricals here. Picking a bad player is only a lost opportunity, which is no worse as never having the opportunity to begin with.

12
by Dean (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:44pm

Harris - I'm still laughing about Johnny Dingle sitting on the bench next to Scooter Berry!

Ned - "The NFL’s new fascination with return men high in the draft is a little disconcerting. Just because Devin Hester is a once-in-a-generation type of player does not make every fast guy worthy of a second-round pick. " - Does this mean you're not a fan of the Iggles drafting Jackson?

13
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 4:50pm

#6 - Do not unerdestmate raiderjoe's vocbullarie.

14
by Vince Verhei :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 5:13pm

9: Indeed.

Also fixed that stupid there/their. English am hard.

15
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 5:47pm

#11: Tom, tell me more about what a team can do right in the draft other than evaluate the talent effectively that puts Team A in front of Team B.

16
by Munney (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 5:54pm

Great article- Robertson actually just came from a 3-4. He is more suited as a 3 technique in a 4-3.

17
by Kenneth (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 6:04pm

Ned:

The biggest impact play is likely the acquisition of Dewayne Robertson from the Jets in exchange for a conditional 2009 draft pick. The bargain is a good one, as Robertson has some talent and seems suited for the 3-4. He is not a great solution to the Broncos’ run defense woes, but he seems clearly worth the gamble of a midround 2009 pick.

Is that supposed to be 4-3? I thought the Jets ran a 3-4, and the conventional wisdom was that Robertson didn't have a place in that scheme. And I thought the Broncos ran a 4-3, although it's been awhile since I checked.

18
by Grafac (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 6:28pm

I know the Chargers may not have "holes" at WR and having the best TE in the league and a good pass catching back helps, but is anyone worried about the improvement of the passing game?

19
by ClamsTheCat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 7:17pm

#18
I wouldn't say that the Chargers have a deficient passing attack, but I would not call it the strength of the team either. Also if you recall it was more consistent than the running game towards the end of the season and the playoffs.

If you compare their passing game to other teams (namely the other strong AFC teams like Indy and NE) the main difference is QB play. If Rivers continues to mature and play well as he did near the end of the year, I can't see them going anywhere but up. At the very least he earned his teammates respect and admiration playing through injury. This is more than he had after the first 4 games when they nearly imploded.

20
by bubqr (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 7:31pm

#11 Grading the draft is grading the ratio value added/total value of draft picks. Not only Total value. Dude you're on the FO website !

21
by Tom D (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:12pm

Re 20:

It depends what you are trying to ascertain. If you are trying to find out how good a front office is, then I agree a rate grade of their picks is acceptable, but for the most part draft grades and articles like this are focusing on how a team will perform in the next year, so total value is all that really matters.

22
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:19pm

I got the impression that Jacob Hester was drafted to be LTs backup and NOT play fullback.

Here is something I think about. If you took the starting QB off every teams roster and compared talent, who has the most talented roster minus the man under center. I believe San Diego has the most talented team in the NFL minus the QB position. Once you add Brady/Manning/Rivers to their respected roster it changes, but from a 21 man roster ( minus the QB) I see SD as the most talented starting roster in the league. Does anybody agree/disagree or have anything to add? I mean if you are AJ Smith, what the heck do you do besides look for BPAs.

23
by Jimbohead (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 8:27pm

21 - Total value is only a good indicator when you take into account the value of trades. Case in point is the Jared Allen trade. The difference in talent (and, relatedly, performance) between this year's Chiefs team and last years isn't simply the value added through the draft, but also the value lost through losing Jared Allen. Or the 49ers trade for Joe Staley in the first round of 2007. Yeah, NE got a #7 pick, but the Niners got a tackle they really like, and an extra year to groom him.

Thats why a ratio is a good indicator. Generally teams have less draft picks when they trade them away to get something else (unless you're the Patriots). This leaves you with two options: evaluate every trade involving draft picks and the value of players acquired/lost, then establish value of players drafted, or just evaluate the ratio of value acquired to relative position in the draft after trades. The first is probably more accurate (assuming perfect player evaluation), but it is much more time consuming. The second will probably give similar results, within tolerances for scouting errors.

24
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 10:27pm

McFadden will be great player for Raiders. Possibly bets running back since Bo Jackson. Raiders rush offense 6th last year, probably be 1 or 2 in 2008. especially with passing attack of Russell to keep defense s honest.
Wr corps very xcpetional with Walker, Curry, Crater, Higgins, Schilens, nad Shields. Schilens to be major steal like M Colston of Saints.
Raiders didn't need Dorsey cause he can't play nose tackle
and Raiders going to use lots of 3-4 defensive looks and to pick a guy that high to play inside you better make sure he can play nose tackle and Dorsey just can't do that.

25
by Pio (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:07pm

23: I think that in many cases the two methods yield rather significant differences in grades, and so you really have to use the former, more accurate method (involving evaluating trades as well as picks made) to get the grade right. I'm thinking of cases like the Redskins for example - they have a habit of getting fleeced in trades, and had they succeeded in trading 2 number 1s for Chad Johnson then any draft grade would have to penalize them to be at all reasonable. The acquisition of Randy Moss for a 4th rounder, by contrast, dramatically changes the picture of New England's draft last year.

26
by Tom D (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:12pm

I'm of the feeling that trades should be treated separately. Unless you are trying to grade the whole offseason. The didn't draft Randy Moss, in fact they made there draft worse to acquire Randy Moss. There is nothing wrong with that, I would say that it worked out for them. However, they still didn't draft him.

27
by JoRo (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:16pm

Denver got their center in the fourth.

28
by JoRo (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:30pm

Also a question: I am curious about the study that one article in the Prospectus touched on that stated one of the biggest things that affect sack rate and such on offense is the O.C change.

With an extreme D system change would a similar affect be possible? Because as some people may know (but the media seems to lack) is that Bates system for the 4-3 is wildly different than previous Denver 4-3's. It uses a 7 man front and relies on the DT's tying up blocks so that you only need 7 to hold the run down. In theory it is a great D but Denver lacked the players and Shanny didn't want to have to build the D and overhaul an entire unit for a coordinator that may take the first HC job that comes along (if one did)
With the system that is now in place it relies on a traditional 8 man front more, or the ability of a safety to come down. That lessens the burden of having to tie up two blockers by both DT's (though it would still be ideal) because there is another run defender at least nearby.

I am just curious because, while Denver obviously lacks players at DT. With that system change it seems entirely likely to me that they may be at least somewhat average against the run next year without having to have drafted a top 10 DT that the draft guru's seem to think year in year out is the only solution. (Despite an article by FO last year that this wasn't the case at all)

ALSO: is there any way to space these posts out more? I looked at what my comment would look like and I actually had had it into three paragraphs to not overwhelm anyone.

29
by Kenneth (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:33am

Re:28

They always do that in the preview, but they come out okay in the post (see yours for example). I'm not sure why.

30
by yoyo (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:47am

Aren't those Raiders UDFAs from last year?

31
by Scott C. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:50am

Tom, #21, etc:
"but for the most part draft grades and articles like this are focusing on how a team will perform in the next year, so total value is all that really matters."

Sorry, but I find that completely silly.

#1. Drafts are for long term value, not how the team will perform next year.
#2. Drafts are for LONG TERM value, not how the team will perform next year.
#3. Assessing a draft before any of the players have played, and giving grades based on that combined with perceived needs is not remotely accurate.
#4. Previously mentioned issues with trades distort "total value" assessment of a draft.
#5 Predicting player total value is no more accurate than just summing up the salary paid to your draft picks -- now thats an easy way to grade! Alternatively, just add up the total value of all picks on the draft value chart. You could even use statistics to build a "real draft value chart".

Essentially, any "total value" attempt at assessing a draft the year of the draft is completely useless and proven wrong based on rookie performances. Any assessment that tries to go for long term value will be dominated in retrospect by any bust or hidden gem that is realized down the road.

Sure, you COULD try to do your idea of figuring out who is most likely to have an impact in year one, but draft success is NOT about a race to get the Rookie of the Year. Most positions return value to the team in later years.

If you're going to judge by total value, you have to do it by career value. Otherwise, its a useless grade. You can attempt to judge based on pick value and team need though (more DVOA than DPAR).

So in my view, the only sane way to measure a draft the year of is expected long term value to opportunity cost ratio adjusted for risk. Basically, just like how you would analyze stocks or other investments.

Total value doesn't factor in total cost (in $ or opportunity), or risk.

32
by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 2:01am

You get the impression from watching the draft grades that the Chiefs draft was graded in a vacuum. Anybody who watched the Chiefs in '07 knows the draft was an F.

The Chiefs biggest needs - after the Allen trade - were QB, LT, DE, WR, CB, RG, C, nickle CB, 3rd WR. Unlike a lot of teams, those aren't positions the Chiefs would like to be better at. Those are positions that require an actual player to fill in order for the Chiefs to be able to lineup on Sundays.

The Chiefs spent their top 6 picks on DT, LG, CB, RB, TE, S.

Out of their nine biggest needs, the Chiefs drafted to specifically fill ONE of those positions! Of course, the Chiefs "braintrust" would argue that the DT pick frees up one of the currently lousy DTs to move to DE, and that Albert will be a LT.

The Chiefs turned Jared Allen, the best defensive player in the NFL in '08, into a LG who will change positions, a backup TE, and a backup safety. If that isn't an F, I don't know what is.

We can argue whether total value or value per pick is a more accurate way to judge a draft (although it's clearly contextual based on the complexion of a team and what previous moves set up their current # of picks). However, a team that supposedly had "an all-time great draft" and yet under needs you could write "offense" either didn't have a good draft (check) or were previously so mismanaged their entire leadership should have been fired (check) or both (obviously).

33
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:27am

why are the detriot lions the worst team in NFL (or near bottom!). Look at their 2007 Draft. The worse a team is, the more chances it's draftees would have to play (at least some part of the games). This is how they fared -

1st - Calvin Johnson - 48 catches, 756 yards, 4 TDs
2nd - Drew Stanton -
2nd - Gerald Alexander, S - 81 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs:
2nd - Ikaika Alma-Francis, DE - 12 tackes, 0 sacks
4th - A.J. Davis (obtained through trading Josh McCown & Mike Williams): NOT IN TEAM - IN BROWNS ROSTER. In effect, they just let go of Josh McCown & Mike Williams
4th - Manuel Ramirez, G: Backup
5th - Johnny Baldwin, LB: Playing for Kansas City Chiefs (3 Tackles)
7th - Ramzee Robinson, CB: 7 tackles

Apart from CJ and Alexander, none of them made any impact to the team. Unless either of them or Stanson turn out into ALL-PRO, the 2007 draft is yet another washout for the team ...

and still Matt Millen is secure as the team's GM ...

34
by phill (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:36am

If you are going to argue that geting Randy Moss for a 4th round draft pick shouldn't be part of evaluating a draft, since they didn't draft him, then fair enough, but I do have to wonder then what the actual point of such an 'evaluation': it makes about as much sense as evaluating a team only the gains and losses players whose surname begins with a 'T'. It is drawing a fairly arbitrary circle and only evaluating players within that circle.

Each team has 7 draft picks, one in each round, assigned to them every year. The [i]interesting[/i] (to me, at least) question is how much value they get from their use of those seven picks. It's not puyrely about how well they evaluate college draft prospects. It's about taking that limited amount of 'currency' and improving your team as much as possible with it. Deciding whether to use a draft pick as a draft pick vs using it to acquire a veteran player is part of the whole parcel of evaluating how best to spend those picks.

To put it a slightly different way: if the Pats decide not to trade a 4th roundeer for Moss, and draft some rookie instead, then yay! their draft would be 'better', since they would have added more talent through the draft than they actually did. The team would be much worse off on the other hand.

If you want to know how much value a team is adding with its 7 draft picks, you have to include trades. If you want to know how good a team's rookie evaluation is then you are looking at the percentage of hits and misses, not total numbers.

Looking at total quality of all players drafted (ignoring trades, except for some reason ones that are obviously draft related such as moving up or down in the draft...) tells you very little apart from how that team over/under values draft picks in relation to veteran players. And even then, the over/under valuing is only in comparison to the NFL average rather than the 'true' value 9if such a beast can be known).

35
by Fan in Exile (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:17am

Nice review of the draft. For the Broncos I've heard a lot of good things about Tyler Polumbus as well. He's an UDFA to keep an eye on at least.

36
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:40am

Did anybody watch that Chiefs minicamp making of the team show? Tony Gonzalez and his backup Dunn fight like a married couple.

37
by Boesy (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 11:37am

Interesting review of the Chiefs' draft - nice to see counterpoint to all the talking heads. One small nit, however...The Vikings selection was 17, not 15. The Chiefs traded up with Detroit to get Albert. It would be interesting to see if the quality of players changed significantly on your chart.

38
by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 12:40pm

Re 24:

I wish I had some nad Shields...

39
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:24pm

#32 Mr Lebowski, Bob Sanders feels the disrespect.

#37, TFG, you're killing me. Absolutely killing me. LMFAO.

40
by Grafac (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 1:33pm

#19 LT and Gates will probably gobble up 140 receptions this year - less love to go around to WRs - as long as the ball moves who cares. I agree that Rivers will definitely outperform last year and I think they are good for two more wins (13-3).

41
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:12pm

This division looks like a classic SD, DEN, KC, OAK order of finish but the NFL always has injuries, upsets, twists and turns. This looks like maybe the easist division to predict but we shall see what happpens.

42
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 4:19pm

#33

and the Lions improved by 4 games from 3-13 to 7-9, so I guess something was going right. Perhaps could have been better if a LBer fell on a Cowboys fumble late in the game.

Not saying the Lions are going to be good in 2008 (I really have no clue how they will finish, they have some major question marks and are going to be depending on rookies at some of those spots). But judging the 2007 NFL draft and saying: hey these guys did not play, the Lions were terrible is missing what they did accomplish that season.

43
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 7:10pm

The other factor is that, while every team gets 7 draft picks each year, they are not equal in value. IN spite of the burden of a top 5 pick, I would far rather have the Dolphins' seven picks this year than the Giants'.

If you consider the fact that the last pick of the draft, Mr. Irrelevant, rarely if ever makes the team, you could argue that the Superbowl winner essentially gets one fewer draft pick each year than the worst team in football--the SB winner "loses" their first rounder.

44
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 7:17pm

43- But a lot of people on this site would argue that you are better off ( in the long run) having a late first round pick than the #1 pick. The fact that you are going to pay big bucks for an unknown commodity hurts a lot of the teams that showed poor judgement to finish in last place in the first place.

45
by Tom D (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 8:26pm

Re 43:

The Super Bowl winner doesn't necessarily draft Mr Irrelevant, there are almost always 7th round compensation picks given.

46
by Charger Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:20pm

Ok I demand a congressional hearing. This story has been up for 24 hours, and there's only been ONE raiderjoe drunken rant?? As Bill Walton might say,

"HOOOOOORIBLE! VEERRRRY DISAPPOINTING. TAKE IT TO THE HOLE, BIG MAN!"

47
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:21am

MJK, yeah, I can't agree with that logic, either. It almost looks as if you are saying that the guy picked 32 in the 7th is measurably less likely than the guy picked 1st or 10th in the 7th.... I doubt it. Hell, plenty of UDFAs make teams, and they're even LESS likely, no?

Part of the key to the draft is timing--If you need a QB and there is a once-a-decade talent in the draft, you'd be pretty happy to be picking #1. Ask Indy or Cincy. Same goes for 4-5 other positions. If you were NE, SD, Indy (teams with no urgent need) this year and somehow had #1, you'd trade it away.

If your need coincides with the crop of college players, then you want to have a high pick, at least higher than the most likely other shoppers for your particular pick. There are times teams trade out of the first round because there is no particular draftee that suits their needs at their slot. Rather than reach and waste money, they trade down, pick the same guy, and stockpile 3rd-round picks. Indy did that 5 years ago when the drafted nobody in the 1st round but took Bob Sanders in the 2nd, and then the reverse when they traded away their 08 1st round pick to get Tony Ugoh last year. Match supply and demand, mix-in timing, and it shows that it doesn't really matter if you are drafting 1st or 32nd; you have to match your needs with the available talent.

48
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 9:05am

The argument against that is that every team needs everything, and with free agency, even if you don't need position X right now, you might in 2 years ( an eternity in the NFL) so that basically everybody needs everything.

That is why the Saints could draft a RB in round 1 when they just did so previously, The Pats could use their 3rd rounder on a QB who has never been injured etc. etc. etc.

49
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 5:25pm

re48
Is poster drunk? Saints draft guy from USC in 1st round. He is defensible lineman, not a running back.

50
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 5:27pm

I'm actually a little concerned about the Chargers' nose tackle situation. Even if you take out that one ridiculous Vikings game, though, the Chargers' run D over the right side has been kind of mediocre, a lot of the reason they scored so badly on yards allowed while still maintaining a top-five scoring defense. They'll be hard to pass on, though, so that is easily covered if the offense is working in good order.

The Bolts have to draft a D-lineman next year, as Castillo has a hard time staying healthy and will probably be gone after 2009. Cesaire isn't bad, but he too got hurt against Minnesota, and that's what precipitated that awful second-half debacle. So they need one replacement, probably a first-day selection.

That's an early pick they won't have to answer the nose tackle situation. Williams/Bingham/McKinney is fine this year, but next year they really have to know if McKinney is the long-term answer when big Jamal Williams retires (Bingham is A long-term answer, but as a backup NT/LDE, not a starting NT). If he's not, they're going to have to bank on 2010 or a lucky late pick to get a top-notch OLB for when Merriman wants a gigantamundic contract after 2010. Remember, they only have two top-96 picks next year.

Of course, they're going to look good anyway, because they play three of the four weaker divisions (AFCW, AFCE, NFCS). Next year, it's the AFCN and NFCE, so they'll know what they've got for sure by then.

51
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 7:57pm

re41 Is poster drunk?
Order of finish will be Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, Chiefs or Raiders, Chargers, broncos, Chiefs.
Just look at rosters and coaching staffs.
Raiders have arubable best defense in entire leageu, QB next big star QB, drafted best running back in draft, got good WRs, TE great up and cominger, offensiv eline set up good now, cood coaches, schedule is nice esecially with two games vs Cefs and two games verseus Broncos.

Raiders will be 11-5 or 12-4. Charegrs also looking at record of 11-5 or 12-4 or 10-6. All it comes down to is who wins Raiders vs Chargers games. Good chance it is Taiders at least one time or both times. Raiders play very good against Chargers but now with better personnel Raiders are ready to win.

52
by Karl Childers (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 9:41pm

Re: 51

I like them French fried poTaiders.

53
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 11:07am

Saints drafting Deuce puzzeled pundits when they already had the immortal Ricky W. on their roster. The Pats/Eagles fans were puzzeled drafting quarterbacks so high in the past 2 drafts.

OK, here is my best Raiderjoe.
Eli Manning next Peyton Man and will expand on his SB MVP. Bradshaw is stud young back and the next tiki barber. Spanolo is a young Bellicheck and Justin Tuck/Osi are leagues new sack masters. Kenny Phillips is the next Sean Taylor and Mario Manningham was a steal in round 3. Giants beat undefeated Pats and will go 19-0 undefeated next year as they proved to be the best team.

54
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:49pm

Chris,

You used entirely too much punctuation and grammar for that to be convincing.

As I've stated in the previous Four Downs on the AFC West, I think that the Broncos will be surprisingly competitive (9-11 wins competitive) with a rejuvenated (literally) Cutler, as well as an improved running game with Clady holding down the left side.

As for the defense, it will still be a work in progress, but my hope is that the offense plays out of its mind to keep the Broncos in games.

*fingers crossed*

55
by Richard (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 3:43am

51: The Chargers must be pretty good if even RaiderJoe thinks they will finish ahead of his Raiders.

56
by bubqr (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 10:53am

eagles this year champiosn, becaus have Mcnabb best QB was injured, westbrok better than overated tomlinson and good up and cominger return man in draft. also best defense in leageu with raiders and easy scedule because two games verseus cowboys losers

57
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 11:05am

The Broncos also added Michael Pittman yesterday, beefing up their running game even further! Pittman is an excellent all-purpose back who is perfect for their system.

58
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 06/04/2008 - 12:51pm

Hmmm... So C Jeremy Newberry gets picked up off the Raiders by the Chargers and gets a whole offseason to practice against the DL that's been kicking his heinie for the last few years. How do you think he'll do on a good team? Do you think he'll beat out Cory Withrow to start until Nick Hardwick's foot heals?

59
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 06/04/2008 - 12:59pm

@ 54: I think you'll see the Broncos hold on to the #2 spot and maybe even compete for a wildcard. Unless everybody's wrong about Brody Croyle, or Al Davis's spending madness really does have a method to it, or the Chargers' plane crashes into the Atlantic en route to Wembley. So really, the #2 spot belongs to anybody.