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08 May 2007

2007 Draft Report Card Report

Guest column by Jake Schumaker

Michael Wilbon called it "a plague on the world of sports." The guy who drafted Mario Williams, former Houston GM Charley Casserly, referred to it as "the most senseless exercise I have seen." Ira Miller introduced his as "one of the silliest exercises in sports." No, not a Texans game. They're referring to the yearly tradition of handing down NFL draft grades. What I want to do is make the process a bit more meaningful for you. You already have David Lewin's college quarterback projection system. You can read about the curse of signing top draft picks. You know how Mel "Insert hair joke here" Kiper Jr. rates. Our fourth annual draft grade review is another tool you can use to help you truly understand the NFL. It breaks down draft marks from 13 authors, examining their average grades and where they most agree and differ.

This year we used draft grades from:

Now, these are sportswriters we're dealing with, so we'll need to take a few steps if we're going to make any sense out of things. First, remember that they actually rate the average draft as above average, about a B-, as they did last year and the year before. Also note that Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin grades the toughest, about a C+ on average, and Sporting News' War Room Scouts is by far the easiest on teams, with a B/B+ average (that was for you, Dr. Z!). I converted the letter grades into numbers (A+ = 4.3, A = 4.0, and so on). Finally, I rate agreement using a simple statistical measure of spread, standard deviation.

So what about the actual draft? The biggest story was the dramatic slip of large-headed Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. In other words, this wasn't the most star-studded draft, especially compared to last year. Still, teams showed up and drafted, and a few aspects of their performance were clear to our subjects, while others were oddly controversial.

The five drafts our panel most agreed on:

Table 1: Agreement Grades

CLE PIT STL SEA CIN
Cole/Robinson A- B B- D+ C
Curran/Rosenthal A B B C C+
The Czar A+ B B D C
SportsNation A B B C B
Gosselin B B C C C
Kiper B+ B C+ C C+
Miller A C B- C B-
Pierson A C B C- C-
Prisco A+ B- B- D B-
Silverman A- B B- D+ B
War Room A B B+ C B
Weir A B C D B
Dr. Z A B- B- C- C
Average A B- B- C- C+

Everyone thinks Cleveland rocked, snagging their top two targets: left tackle Joe Thomas and the aforementioned Quinn, who comes much cheaper than if he'd gone at the top of draft. The Browns' harshest critic, the stingy Gosselin, gives them a B, still praises them for those picks, and says their third pick, UNLV CB Eric Wright, has "first-round talent." Overall, the Browns were the only team to receive two A+s and the only team with no grade below a B.

The Seahawks didn't have a pick until late in the second round, and like other teams without early-round picks, they were punished. John "Czar" Czarnecki and a few others are highest on the Blue Man Group, but with below-average Cs. He thinks they might have reached with their first two picks, Maryland CB Josh Wilson and Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, and notes that their two late-round receiver picks don't seem likely to replace recently traded wideout Darrell Jackson, gone to San Francisco. Kiper gives the same grade, but adds that Mebane and DE Baraka Atkins will be solid "rotation" players on the line.

The Steelers, Rams, and Bengals acquired some solid talent and filled some needs, but our panel docks them for a perceived lack of upside.

Pittsburgh's grades range from just B to C, and one of those low evaluations still notes that they picked up two good fits for either the 3-4 or 4-3 defense in Florida State OLB Lawrence Timmons and Michigan hybrid LB/DE LaMarr Woodley, as well as a possible replacement for veteran Chris Gardocki in big-legged Baylor punter Daniel Sepulveda. The graders seem to like most of the picks, but they dock Steelers for a lack of star power and for losing out on Pitt CB Darrelle Revis, whom the Jets jumped them to select.

St. Louis gets similar treatment. Most believe they acquired some starting talent, but no huge improvements or potential superstars. War Room Scouts graded them the highest, with a B+, and Weir gave them the lowest mark, a C. Both agree that Nebraska DE Adam Carriker alleviates some of the Rams' D-line woes, but they differ on the value of Rutgers fullback Brian Leonard, who Weir doesn't see as much of a contributor, at least immediately.

Cincinnati grades out more poorly, but gets high marks for getting Michigan CB Leon Hall with the 18th pick. Silverman likes Hall as "the best cover corner in the draft" and TCU safety Marvin White for his athleticism. Pierson also likes Hall, but doesn't believe second-round Auburn RB Kenny Irons, or any of the other picks, will deliver the Bengals from mediocrity.

That was the easy part. The NFL draft is still a crapshoot, but you can take a small measure of confidence in the aggregate ratings of the preceding five teams. The next part is trickier. I'm going to look at the five teams whose draft our panel disagreed about to see what we can learn from their differing opinions.

The five drafts that generated the most disagreement:

Table 2: Disagreement Grades

  MIA NE PHI DEN TEN
Cole/Robinson D A+ D B- D
Curran/Rosenthal D D A- B- C
The Czar C- B C D C
Dr. Z B- Inc. D D- D-
SportsNation F A F B C
Gosselin B D C D A
Kiper C B C- B- C-
Miller D B C B- D
Pierson D A D B+ D
Prisco B A C B C
Silverman D+ A- C- C- B
War Room A+ C A A- C
Weir D B D C C
Average C- B C- C+ C

"Passing on Brady Quinn was ridiculous." Mel Kiper does not mince words. He's referring, of course, to Miami's decision to draft Ohio State WR Ted Ginn over Quinn, which seemed to be enough for about half of our panel to give the Fins an extremely low grade, from F to D+. ESPN's SportsNation poll, open to anyone with internet access, failed them. My roommate, both a Dolphins and Buckeyes fan, actually shrieked when NFL Commission Roger Goodell announced the pick. What shocked me is how high the other half of the experts are on the selections. War Room Experts gave the Fins a perfect score, an A+. Seriously. They think Ginn, BYU QB John Beck, and Hawaii C Samson Satele are starters. Pierson adds praise for the rest of their picks: Utah DT Paul Soliai, Syracuse LB Kelvin Smith, and Colorado DE Abraham Wright, calling them the "backbone of a superb second day." Pierson and Prisco weren't quite so high, giving out Bs, but both feel that Beck is a quality QB and that although Ginn is not a top-ten pick, he's a good player. Finally, Dr. Z thinks his grade, a B-, may end up being far too low, because Beck is a "Jeff Garcia type with a better arm." I'm surprised to find myself drifting to the optimistic camp. Most of the experts agree that Miami picked good prospects with most of their picks. If they didn't have to pay ninth-pick money to Ginn, this draft would have tremendous upside potential.

The dissension over New England's rating turns on what each draftnik thought of the team's off-season machinations. The Patriots ended up with only one first-day pick after trading away their second-rounder for Dolphins WR Wes Welker and their third-round pick for the Raiders' seventh-round pick and their third-round pick in 2008. Plus, of course, they traded their fourth-round pick to the Raiders for Randy Moss. One group of evaluators loved those moves and said so. Jason Cole said the Patriots were "way ahead of the pack." Pierson went with "ahead of the curve." Prisco said that they clearly "get" the draft. Overall, they are impressed that the Patriots were able to add so much talent to an already powerful team.

Another group of evaluations is far less positive. While most like the trades, they, like Tom Curran, suggest we "stick to draft selections." Everyone thinks Miami FS Brandon Meriweather was a good pick. However, says Curran, they failed to fill holes at linebacker and behind RB Laurence Maroney. Gosselin thinks the lack of day-one picks prevented the team from gaining "momentum." War Room Experts thinks every pick but Meriweather was questionable. Oh, and Dr. Z wouldn't even give them a grade, since he doesn't know which Randy Moss they're getting. Those that like New England's draft have a more consistent set of criteria for evaluating a draft, as they all take into account what the team got in return for their picks, but you have to wonder if the Pats linebacking corps will have to use someone like Monty Beisel, as they did in 2005.

Philadelphia's draft produced plenty of disharmony, and not just among their fans (though they did give them an F). Some don't understand how Houston QB Kevin Kolb, who looks like a project, fills a need, since he won't be a capable backup for Donovan McNabb this year. The Eagles also take criticism for trading their first-round pick to Dallas, who selected talented Purdue DE Anthony Spencer and left the Eagles with less awe-inspiring Notre Dame DE Victor Abiamiri. Others were more positive. Rosenthal trusts Andy Reid's instructs when it comes to passers and "loves" Nebraska OLB Bradley Stewart and Penn State RB Tony Hunt in the third round. War Room Scouts actually gave the Eagles an A, calling Kolb the "heir apparent" to McNabb, and believes Abiamiri and Bradley can start this year. Everyone makes good points about the perennial favorites to make the NFC Championship, but know this: Kiper said Kolb reminds him of Kyle Boller. Unlike other draft analysts online, Kiper has apparently never heard of David Lewin's college quarterback projection system.

Opinions on Denver's draft range from criticism for their apparent desperation, to praise for their ability to find talent throughout the draft. Czar thinks the Broncos made a mistake by overlooking "huge character issues" with their two picks from Florida, DE Jarvis Moss and DT Marcus Thomas. Conversely, War Room believes they filled huge holes on the Denver line and calls Thomas "the most talented DT in the draft." Dr. Z gives them a D- for the character issues and compares Marcus Thomas, twice kicked off the team, to another Mike Shanahan gamble, Maurice Clarett. While opinions are mixed, it reflects concern over the player's makeup rather than their play. Hear that, Mr. Goodell?

Our final subject, Tennessee, also spawned a wide variety of judgments, but the disagreement had more to do with the talent of the players and how they fit on the team than any off-the-field problems like with Denver. Rick Gosselin, a relatively harsh grader, gives them one of his four As. He thinks they found good players with every pick without reaching. In particular, he thinks NC State C Leroy Harris, Texas Tech WR Joel Filani, and Purdue OT Michael Otto were "steals."

Most of the rest of the panel is scattered around C or D. They do not understand why a team with many needs went with Texas FS Michael Griffin. Miller speaks for the crowd when he says he sees plenty of upside in second-round pick Arizona RB Chris Henry but thinks the Titans could have done better by filling another need with a more consistent college player. Third-round pick Fresno State WR Paul Williams, fourth-rounder Florida State WR Chris Davis, and Filani may develop into competent targets for Vince Young, but Prisco and Czar are the only two that see much upside beyond that. Kiper calls them "good, but not great." Tennessee is a case of a team with many picks, eight, and many needs, and not everyone was impressed. Still, most see either upside or depth, which belies their low average rating.

Like your guidance councilor, we've given each team a GPA by turning the grades into numbers. USA Today's Tom Weir scored drafts using a star system, from one to four, which made his analysis look something like the Pleiades.

(A+ = 4.3, A = 4, B+ = 3.3, B = 3, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2, C- = 1.7, D+ = 1.3, D = 1, D- = .7, F = 0).

Team Avg Team Avg Team Avg Team Avg
ARI 3.1 DAL 2.5 MIA 1.8 PIT 2.8
ATL 3.4 DEN 2.3 MIN 3.2 SD 2.3
BAL 2.6 DET 3.1 NE 3.0 SEA 1.6
BUF 3.1 GB 2.2 NO 2.4 SF 3.5
CAR 3.3 HOU 2.2 NYG 2.6 STL 2.7
CHI 2.6 IND 2.9 NYJ 2.7 TB 3.0
CIN 2.4 JAC 2.4 OAK 3.4 TEN 1.9
CLE 3.9 KC 2.2 PHI 1.8 WAS 1.3

Jake Schumaker is a student at Northwestern University. Like Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, he plays to win the games.

Posted by: Guest on 08 May 2007

67 comments, Last at 19 May 2007, 11:40pm by skippyx

Comments

1
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:48am

At first, I couldn't see the need for this. After all, we all know you can't judge a draft until at least three years after the fact. But it is interesting to see where some graders really differed. I'd have liked a little more detail about the 22 teams not in the extremes of agreement or disagreement, but that might be because my Packers fell into that category. I think Dr Z should be slammed a bit more for his weaselly incomplete grade on the Pats. After all, you really don't know what you are getting with the other picks either.

2
by buckaluck (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:52am

Nice exercise, but so what?. We now have numbers applied to a completely subjective exercise and can play with said numbers till the grass is done growing. But we didn't learn anything about the quality of the draft grades, only about their level of agreement.

A more meaningful exercise would be to grade the graders based on past performance. Then we could apply a weighted average based on past performance to their current projections.

Of course, for our grades of their grades to make sense we need to create criteria for grading the success of past drafts (see problems with Kiper article).

3
by Omroth (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 9:28am

Cheer up Buckaluck, this is for fun. We all like stats and we mostly think sports writers are pretty idiotic/amusing, so this is just for a laugh.

And I COMPLETELY agree that rating people's draft classes in the months after the draft is probably the most impotent exercise in sports AND I WATCHED THE TWO THOUSAND FIVE TEXANDS OMFG LOL

4
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 9:38am

Re. the Miami draft: I think taking Ginn at #9 was a monumentally stupid decision, not particularly because they passed on Quinn, who I don't think will be all that much better than John Beck, but because I don't think Ginn is going to be any good, and he was certainly a colossal reach at that point.

However, I think the rest of their draft was very good. I've already implied that I think Beck will be a good (not great) NFL starter, and I'm a huge fan of Satele. Soliai was also a nice pick. If they'd taken Okoye or Willis or Carriker or Revis or Hall, or better yet if they'd traded down, I'd say that would be an A kind of draft. How much you downgrade it depends on what kind of weight you give to that first rounder. Personnally, I think the #9 selection is affordable enough cap-wise that you still have to call this an ok draft for Miami.

5
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 9:48am

These articles are perhaps even more pointless than the "did teams draft for best player available according to know-nothing talking draft heads?" articles. Who was that defensive tackle from Stanford again?

6
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:08am

I agree, kind of pointless. This only has meaning if the draft "experts" no something. Many "agreed" that Ryan Leaf was a top prospect QB. Oops.

Jacksonville penalized because the draft experts disagreed with the Jaguars personnel guys. If a guy is the 2nd-rated ILB on your board, taking him in the 2nd round is not a reach. When a WR runs a 4.35 at the combine less than 2 years from an ACL, and has a 90-catch season during which he wasn't even 100% healthy because of said ACL, the third round is not a reach. Experts blast them for taking a punter high in the 4th, well he was the concensus top punter in the draft and Pittsburgh traded UP to take the 2nd-best guy. Jax traded DOWN to get their guy. Let's not forget they were dead last in net punting last year!

Could Brady Quinn have improved the team? Possibly, in the future. But it's doubtful that Quinn would play better this season than Leftwich will (if Leftwich stays healthy). Nelson will start and make a big impact, because safety is a much safer positiont o draft. The one thing Jax could not afford is a 1st-rounder who didn't pan out again. I'm sorry, I just don't see their draft as a C+.

7
by sam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:09am

That's know* something.

In a disagreement, the majority opinion on grading players is not necessarily the right one.

8
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:30am

I agree that this is pretty much pointless. It seems obvious that these people grading the draft over the years have had very little accuracy in assessing immediately after the draft which teams drafted well and which teams didn't.

It also seems obvious that some teams have consistently drafted well in the recent past (such as Baltimore, New England, Chicago (since Jerry Angelo took over), Philadelphia, and San Diego)and some have drafted horribly seemingly year after year (such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston).

I think past consistent success in drafts (or lack thereof) is a far better predictor of success (or lack thereof) than the opinions of these sportswriters and analysts. For example, last year, many sportswriters and analysts (including seemingly everyone in the Chicago media who covered the Bears) absolutely bashed the Bears for their 2006 picks immediately after the draft. "How could they not draft a tight end or a wide receiver? Why did they use their first 5 picks on defense (including a cornerback who was drafted mainly as a return specialist) when their offense was clearly their weakest unit? How could they burn a second round pick on that return specialist, who really didn't have a position?" As it turns out, based on 2006 results, the Bears had one of the best drafts in the NFL, led by "return specialist without a position" Devin Hester, 5th round pick Mark (12 sacks) Anderson, and 2nd round pick Danieal Manning, who earned the starting job at free safety.

On the flip side, although it seems ridiculous in hindsight, for a few years many people praised the Lions drafts every year. "Charles Rogers is going to be great! Now they've added Roy Williams and Kevin Jones! That offense is going to be potent! Wow, the Lions got Mike Williams after he shockingly fell to #10 overall! What a great move by Matt Millen! The Lions will be unstoppable!"

I could go on and on. But the bottom line is that where (as is the case here) the consensus draft grades are higher (and in many cases far higher) for the Browns and Lions than for the Ravens, Patriots, Bears, Eagles and Chargers, my immediate reaction is that the grades are worthless, even without knowing all of the players that each of those teams drafted. The Ravens, Patriots, Bears, Eagles and Chargers, based on their track records, deserve the benefit of the doubt with respect to their draft picks. On the other hand, teams like the Lions (hello, Matt Millen!) deserve the opposite.

9
by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:35am

Kevin Hasset at Bloomberg analyzed the draft using economics (click my name for link) and determined that the Raiders had the best draft, DEPSITE picking Russell first, not because of it. And he rated the Browns as having the 17th best draft overall.

It's an interesting read.

10
by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:36am

Kevin Hasset at Bloomberg analyzed the draft using economics (click my name for link) and determined that the Raiders had the best draft, DEPSITE picking Russell first, not because of it. And he rated the Browns as having the 17th best draft overall. It's an interesting read.

11
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:39am

Jacksonville penalized because the draft experts disagreed with the Jaguars personnel guys. If a guy is the 2nd-rated ILB on your board, taking him in the 2nd round is not a reach. When a WR runs a 4.35 at the combine less than 2 years from an ACL, and has a 90-catch season during which he wasn’t even 100% healthy because of said ACL, the third round is not a reach. Experts blast them for taking a punter high in the 4th, well he was the concensus top punter in the draft and Pittsburgh traded UP to take the 2nd-best guy. Jax traded DOWN to get their guy. Let’s not forget they were dead last in net punting last year!

Could Brady Quinn have improved the team? Possibly, in the future. But it’s doubtful that Quinn would play better this season than Leftwich will (if Leftwich stays healthy). Nelson will start and make a big impact, because safety is a much safer positiont o draft. The one thing Jax could not afford is a 1st-rounder who didn’t pan out again. I’m sorry, I just don’t see their draft as a C+.

Random homer paragraph ftw!

12
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:39am

There's no way with those grades that Denver averages out to a D+...

In Table 2 it should be a C+ average.

13
by Abarine (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:45am

You guys are just mad because the Browns won. ;)

14
by cd6 (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:48am

I'm not prepared to live in a world where the Browns do anything successfully. Ye gods.

15
by Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:56am

When is something a reach? When you take someone in a draft well before someone else would have taken him. In the case of Ginn, I suspect Top 10 pick was a bit of a reach for a return specialist/flanker.

If they wanted Ginn or Brady they obviously could have traded down quite a ways to pick him up and maybe gotten a later pick or a future pick (see Cleveland or Denver for a trade?). However, I suspect the Miami defense is aging and will need some younger players. There were many to be had at that point in the draft or shortly after that (see pick #10 for DT and pick #11 for LB).

16
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:57am

Re #5
Hey, don't mock Babatunde Oshinowo, I hear he's ROBO-PUNTER's best friend.

Gosselin apparently grades drafts based on where players are drafted compared to where he expected them to go. It's an interesting system, and more "objective" than most, but I'm not sure it's a good one.

17
by Cam (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:59am

I still don't understand why my grades weren't factored in

Raiders: INC Depending on the JaMarcus Russell they get, this could be A+ or failing.

Lions: F I'm just ready for next years 5th annual top ten WR selection.

Cleveland A who am I to disagree

Bucs INC Gaines Adams might not turn out to be who they hoped for lets wait and see

Arizona INC Levi wasn't the consensus top lineman, but might show more potential. Depends

Wash INC They didn't have enough picks but LaRon Landry may or may not turn out to be good enough to compensate.

etc. Thanks Dr. Z

18
by cd6 (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:06am

What's with all the commenters complaining that this was a pointless article? It's just for entertainment, like, say, the entire sport of football, which is equally "pointless."

I liked the article... examination of sports pundits groupthink is interesting.

19
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:08am

#6:

I couldn't agree more about Jax's draft. I thought it was very solid. They added a potentially stud safety in Nelson as well as some defensive depth. They got yet another WR. They improved their special teams.

Jax just needs their young WRs (and QBs) to start playing better.

20
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:41am

#14: Plus it's, y'know, tradition. It's also interesting to see "schools of thought" between sportswriters.

Really bugs me. Yeah, draft grading is pointless and subjective. So what? Everyone else does it - at least FO is doing something unique about it.

21
by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:47am

Jake,

It's looks like you just ran out of time. I understand that this is just a fun excercise and consequently, take it at face value. Thank you for your research.

One criticism though. Why didn't you include the individual scores for all of the teams? If you calculated the averages, I assume you have the data.

Nine teams in the third table that aren't included in Table 1 or Table 2 are included in the top 15 teams that FO readers follow. Those nine teams constitute 41.6% of the people that responded to the poll earlier this year. That's quite a large group of readers to ignore.

Just something to consider.

22
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:48am

"Jax just needs their young WRs (and QBs) to start playing better."

Um... so does Detroit. And Oakland. And...

23
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:51am

I want to know how the trend of assigning "grades" became universalized for post-draft assessment. There must be hundreds of ways to actually "rank" or "score" a draft: why did EVERY SINGLE FOOTBALL WRITER unanimously agree to go with the uncreative academic grading style? It's easy, we all understand it, I know, but I always like to see a little creativity.

24
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:52am

Nice article, I would have liked to have seen a chart that compares draft position (or total points available) with the average grade as a means of flatening out the tend towarsd giving the teams at the top of the draft great marks and those at the end crap marks.

For example, CLeveland and Oakland are numbers 1 and 3 and Seattle and washington, who had very few picks are last.

25
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:53am

I'd like to know what Jimmy Johnson, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, etc. think about my team's draft. I like Dr. Z and all, but his Pro experience is limited to playing O-line for the Toledo Mudcocks during the 1907 season. How many of these so called "draft experts" have drafted anybody?

26
by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:57am

One of the raters, I believe USA Today, used stars.

27
by max (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:00pm

The problem I have with all these draft grades is that the media biases the grades to the winning teams.

For example, if a team like Detroit picked the same players that the Patz picked this year, what do you think the grade would have been? Answer: Straight F's.

28
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:01pm

Please don't take my above comment as critical of the article. In fact it was an enjoyable treatment of a process I profess to hate; but still can't seem to get enough of.

29
by calbuzz (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:32pm

23. Also - NE gives trades picks for players, and those players become part of the draft grade. Seattle trades pick for player, and they're docked for not having a #1 pick.

30
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 12:39pm

Re: 14 because I come to FO to read intellectually stimulating articles, and I was in no way stimulated. It was simply a bland recounting of already tedious information.

31
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 1:31pm

26 ftw.

32
by Jake Schumaker (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 1:32pm

Thanks for reading the article, everyone. And thanks for the suggestions.

I'm sure I can put up a table with the full grades from everyone and the standard deviation numbers on my own webspace, if people are interested.

As for the merit of the study, sure, I could have added some depth to it by normalizing the grades or looking at how prescient past ratings have been (I actually did normalize the grades out of curiosity. I can put those up as well). In fact, they sound like good ideas for next year! But for now, this 'wisdom of crowds' approach is at least a good intro to understanding the draft. And it's tradition.

33
by countertorque (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 1:50pm

Liked the article.

34
by RMGreen (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 2:25pm

When did it become an annual tradition to blast post-draft grades? Yeah it's impossible to really judge a draft until 3 years later, but it's friggin' May. I don't care if it's a pointless excersise, just give me something NFL-related to read!

35
by Northern Ice (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:16pm

Can a draft-grade grade be far behind?

36
by Roscoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:16pm

Its not a pointless exercise, what would be a pointless exercise would to grade the teams after the fact. The results are pointless other than to guide or alter another years draft. The point is to be the best at taking in information and following through on it. The team that had the best draft today is still the team that had the best draft 5 years from now. Just like in in the regular season, it is the process that is important they results are propagated by too much random occurance to be worthy of praise.

37
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 3:55pm

32 Yup. Is it August yet?

38
by Northern Ice (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:18pm

The draft grades are largely useless but do provide an alternative to watching the Follies on NFL Network.

An offseason grade on or after the free agency period ends July 23 would be more meaningful. This includes not only draft choices and free agent signings but also coaching and management changes.

Miami was strongly criticized on ESPN for not getting value in their first round choice of Ginn but that pick with the possibility of Trent Green, Beck as an understudy and it makes more sense. They still need to get Green though. Often the mock drafts are so locked into the value charts that they fail to take into account the big picture.

39
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:37pm

I'll always remember Charles Robinson as the analyst that who said he'd eat his laptop if the Bears won the NFC North in 2005.

40
by Hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:40pm

Like most of us who are searching for an oasis in the NFL desert that is baseball season, I like going through the d(r)aft grades simply to pass the time.

However, I've sometimes wondered if it's really more effective to evaluate a draft after three years instead of three seconds after Miami picks Ginn. After all, just as some teams are better at drafting than others, there are some teams that are better at developing their players and getting the most out of them than other teams. Borrowing #25's illustration: if New England and Detroit had equally successful drafts (for sake of argument, this'll be equal talent, potential, filling of needs, and anything else you can think of), I would certainly put my expectations that the New England draft class would look a whole lot better in three years simply because they do a better job with their players.

Hmm...perhaps Ryan Leaf could have worked out if only San Diego knew how to....

...naah...

41
by philly bill (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 4:58pm

Worthy read. Good job.

One correction: the Nebraska LB (read: special-teamer) selected by the Eagles in the third round of their F-minus-minus draft is named Stewart Bradley, not Bradley Stewart.

42
by Seth (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 6:16pm

Mel Kiper does not mince words.

He minces grades, though. Kiper did not hand out a single grade above a B+ or below a C-. If memory serves, he did the same thing last year. I find it quite amazing that a guy who spends that much time thinking about the draft can fail to form any strong opinions about it.

43
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 6:44pm

best picks of draft made by Raiders.
Look at these players: QB Jamarcus Russell , TE Zach Miller, DE Quentin Moses ,OT Mario Henderson, WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, RB Michael Bush. CB John Bowie, DE Jay richardson , S Eric Frampton , FB Oren O'neal

Russell will be only superstar from this draft. Like young Elway (younger fans may not have heard of him)

44
by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 6:58pm

If Ted Ginn Jr. steps on the field and plays at all he will be one of the top 5 Miami #1 draft choices of the last 20 years.

45
by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:05pm

Frampton comes alive in Oakland this year. Oakland secondary gets better. Watch out Cutler and Huard and Rivers. Black Hole is no Passing Zone.

46
by Flux (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:19pm

I enjoyed the article. I don't have time/interest to go skim over all of the individual draft reviews, so it's nice that when someone else does, I can quickly and easily see a quick breakdown of the results.

47
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:26pm

I find it quite amazing that a guy who spends that much time thinking about the draft can fail to form any strong opinions about it.

Not really surprising, actually. Each team drafts enough players that Kiper knows about that good chance they'll all draft some he likes, and some he doesn't like.

48
by Sifter (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 7:51pm

Re 45 - That's right Pat. The grades are based on the ENTIRE class, not just the 1st,2nd and 3rd rounds. For example, what if Mel Kiper has Ginn's pick as a D grade, but the rest of the Dolphins draft as As and Bs, what is their overall grade?? Somewhere between B and C right?

Thanks for the article Jake. It's nice to see all the grades compiled with some decent commentary too.

In response to those criticising the draft, draft grades and the overemphasis of the above by the media, let me share my opinion. It's the OFFSEASON!!!!! There is only so much crap I can hear in the offseason. Free agency is interesting for a week or two. As for the rest of the time, well lets just say that reading rumours about Michael Vick's dogs on PFT becomes old REALLY quickly. I just don't care, not one little bit...

The draft is like the oasis in the middle of the desert, quenching the thirst of the fan - he needs to be rehydrated with meaningful offseason activity and to be inspired by the names he/she hopes to have leading the franchise they love for the next 10 years.

Purely from a nerdy point of view I like to compile the best draft boards and list of draft needs, see how teams go about filling them and who they have their eye on. See how the draft boards correlate with their drafted positions (Gosselin's seems to be the best). In fact the draft is about the ONLY thing in the offseason that can be analysed statistically or with any unbiased opinions (hello Raider Joe, love your optimism by the way)

49
by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:06pm

#23 - That's probably an improvement, but probably not by as much as you think. Those guys are still as knowledgeable as ever, but they would (hypothetically) be handing out grades without having spent the last month doing nothing but watching tape, calling coaches, and interviewing players. That's why I tend to trust in the judgement of GMs more than the analysts; it's true that they sometimes outsmart themselves and overthink things, but, at the end of the day, there's a reason why they're making the decisions, and not the writers.

The best thing about raiderjoe is that he just barely falls on the right side of the annoying/amusing fence, so he hasn't quite brought me to root against the Raiders next season. Of course, their record was bound to improve anyway, because of (a) regression to the mean for both Oakland and SD, and (b) Larry Johnson's legs falling off in week 3.

50
by Jake Schumaker (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:36pm

I bring you data! I uploaded a spreadsheet with every critic's rating of every team to Google Documents. Hopefully it works. And you might have to scroll right to see teams past San Fran.

51
by Jake Schumaker (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 8:58pm

Oh, and I think our goal should definitely be to evaluate the draft as it's happening. Waiting a few years to evaluate a draft is still a worthwhile endeavor, because it provides some insight into a team's drafting skill that we can't get now due to lack of information, but the endpoint should be to judge teams on how they do with information that already exists (say you drafted Chris Carpenter in the 3rd round of your fantasy draft. Seemed like a good decision at the time, even factoring in the risky nature of pitching, right? If you could have forseen his injury then you wouldn't have taken him, but you have to make decisions best on the best information at the time of the draft.)

52
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 9:58pm

Re #47:

It should go without saying that the front offices know more than the analysts, but right now, every team gives itself an A for its draft, and we all know that most of them didn't do that well. The real grades won't be known for another five years, but this kind of consensus of the immediate reactions gives us a first approximation of who drafted well around the league. The first paragraph of this piece shows that some of the analysts take their grades with the same grain(s) of salt that we should, but Jake has done a nice job of putting together what's out there.

53
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 10:23pm

So how you peeps like the Eagles draft? I like it. It will be better than the 2006 draft even if one guy becomes a regular starter.

Go see "Kickin' It Old School." Great movie.

54
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 05/08/2007 - 11:43pm

Hahahahaha...
Any way we can correlate these grades after the year? For example... the draft experts seem to think the Redskins will get the 1st pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

They didn't even give Washington credit for going into next years draft with a full complement of picks.

The draft is over-rated... not even the best GMs can hit 50%... and there are players who stay in the league through all 7 rounds.

55
by Seth (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:29am

#45, 46 - Yeah, I know he's grading the whole draft. But out of 32 teams, every single one is basically either average or slightly above? No outliers in two years? It just strikes me as big-time hedging.

56
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 11:45am

48: Skew?

57
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 12:00pm

#54: Skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of a distribution. So Arizona vs Atlanta, for instance: Arizona has a moderate tail (a 2.0, 1.7) whereas Atlanta's is almost perfectly symmetric.

If you look at the Steelers, for instance, it's a completely asymmetric distribution. 9/13 people gave the Steelers a B. 2 people gave them a B-, and 2 gave them a C. So that's a completely one-sided distribution.

Think about it this way: skew tells you what direction the mean (average value) is pulled away from the mode (most common value) if it were a "smooth" distribution.

58
by Jake (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 12:02pm

I'm a little surprised at the amount of scorn heaped on the Seahawks' draft. Just two years ago all of these guys were ripping on the stupid reach Ruskell made by taking Lofa Tatupu in the second round... Is there anything more to being a "draft expert" than having an opinion and a place that will publish it?

59
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 12:31pm

41: I liked the Higgins and Bush picks for the Raiders, and I think that the latter is an example of larceny. Higgins is, IMO, under-rated because he played at UTEP.

60
by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 12:52pm

I think we need to consider the "balls" factor when grading the draft. Cam Cameron gets an A because of that. He went against the fans and the experts, and that makes him either a genius or a Matt Millen clone.

"The entire sport of football is equally pointless." -cd6

Genius!
Listen up, ye hypocrites who blast grades and do nothing but talk about who had the better draft!

61
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 2:29pm

“The entire sport of football is equally pointless.�
Why do I suddenly feel so cold and empty?

62
by Bill Tobin's Neighbor (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 2:38pm

"Is there anything more to being a 'draft expert' than having an opinion and a place that will publish it?"

No.

63
by Kevin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 4:00pm

The problem with these "experts" is that they often know less about the individual teams than we do. That's not because they're stupid, but it's due to the fact they often have to look at the entire league while we obsess over our favorite team(s). For example, the Giants were given poor grades by some analysts because they didn't draft a LT high in the draft. IMO, they didn't need to. Just because Luke Petitgout was cut doesn't mean the team needed to draft a replacement in the first round. People like Kiper, don't realize that because they didn't watch the entire Giants' 2006 season. Petitgout won't be replaced by Bob "Headbutt" Whitfield, who was AWFUL as the backup LT. He'll be replaced by David Diehl, who's started every game of his NFL career and the team rushed for over 400 yards after he started the last 2 games at LT. Grading drafts a week after it occurs gives them something to write and really accomplishes little else.

64
by Jake Schumaker (not verified) :: Wed, 05/09/2007 - 4:41pm

#61

That gives me an idea. Well, USSMariner (an excellent baseball blog) gets an assists. They set up community projection pages. Basically, a community projection is the average of what individual users project for a player. You could extend that to the draft, letting users take a stab whichever team they know something about's draft grade. Sounds like another idea for next year.

65
by Oily Harry (not verified) :: Thu, 05/10/2007 - 1:14am

re: 16

Why do you say football is pointless?

66
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/10/2007 - 12:15pm

cd6, Football Nihilist.

67
by skippyx (not verified) :: Sat, 05/19/2007 - 11:40pm

I get the surprise about Kolb but get real.

He is a 2nd round QB who had a 67.6 completion percentage, 30 TDs to 4 INTS and 8.82 yards per pass.

His 4 year LOW QB rating was 128.8.
Look at his games against the schools from big conferences. His conference produced Losman, Leftwitch and Pennington.