Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 May 2008

2008 Draft Report Card Report

by Vince Verhei

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to win multiple Super Bowls in the next few years, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do to stop them.

That seems to be the consensus opinion after the weekend of April 26 and 27, when the Kansas City braintrust parlayed a defensive end with sweet pass-rush moves and a sweeter mullet into a trio of draft picks, one in the first round and two in the third. (The Chiefs and Vikings also switched picks in the sixth round.) They then used those picks to bolster the interior line on both sides of the ball, bolster their secondary and add a promising runner. When the smoke cleared, they found themselves with the draft's top defensive tackle, the first guard selected and a renewed sense of hope.

Don't believe us? Just ask, well, anyone. For the fifth year in a row (Here are the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 versions), we've compiled and compared the draft grades of various experts to see which drafts were most popular. Even more fascinating, we'll see which drafts caused the most disagreement.

This year, we looked at ten draft evaluations:

(Looking for Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman from SI.com in that list? You won't find him. The Good Doctor stopped doing letter grades this year, but you can read his thoughts on each team's draft here. We'll miss those endless hours trying to parse the subtle difference between a "B/B+" draft and a "B+/B" draft.)

We translated all of the letter grades into standard numerical form to calculate each team's average grade, and also found the standard deviation of the scores to measure the most controversial teams.

Which brings us back to Kansas City. Thanks to a bevy of A+ grades, the Chiefs' average grade is literally off the hypothetical charts, a 4.1. And the Chiefs' draft wasn't only the most popular, it also had the lowest standard deviation (0.30); nine evaluators graced them with either an A or A+. The lone dissenter was Reuter, who awarded the team with a B+. And that has less to do with the quality of the Kansas City draft than with Reuter's moderate grades; that B+ was the highest grade he gave out, and was matched only by the grade he gave to Cincinnati. Notable praise flowed from Cole ("The Chiefs ... got perhaps the most dynamic defensive player in the draft in [DT Glenn] Dorsey and a terrific talent on the offensive line in [G Branden] Albert. Both are great building blocks for the future"), Czarnecki ("On paper, the Chiefs had the best draft of any team"), and the MSNBC crew ("[Brandon] Flowers was our favorite cornerback"). This was likely the most beloved draft in Draft Report Card history.

On the flip side of the coin, nobody liked the Chargers' draft. With an average grade of 2.1, the Chargers ranked 30th, ahead of only Jacksonville and Tennessee. And it was nearly unanimous; the standard deviation of grades for San Diego was 0.37, smaller than all teams except Kansas City, Green Bay and Arizona. The most common note on the Chargers' draft was that they traded a number of picks in this draft away to acquire WR Chris Chambers, S Eric Weddle and RB Jacob Hester, and while some aren't holding those trades against the team (as Reuter noted, "It's too early to tell"), others have already dubbed them poor decisions. MDS was particularly harsh on San Diego: "First-round cornerback Antoine Cason can return punts and is from all accounts a high-character guy, but in college he never showed the fundamental skill of being able to stick with elite wide receivers. He was a bad choice."

But those are the cases where everyone agrees, which is boring. Let's look at the five teams that caused the most divergent reactions and hope for some real fireworks.

5. Cincinnati Bengals
Average grade: 2.2
Standard deviation: 0.75.
Highest grade: B+, Reuter.
Lowest grade: D-, Cole.

To label this as one of the most controversial drafts is somewhat misleading; the gap between No. 5 Cincinnati and No. 4 Tennessee was bigger than the gap between Cincinnati and No. 21 Pittsburgh (0.61). Still, there's a big difference between a B+ and a D-, and the Bengals got one of each. Reuter was a fan, noting that linebacker Keith Rivers "is no slouch, and should provide a run-stuffing and pass-rushing presence for years to come." He also liked wide receiver Jerome Simpson, and said the Bengals may have found "future starters" in the third and fourth round with DT Pat Sims, WR Andre Caldwell and RT Anthony Collins. Cole agreed that Rivers and Sims would be starters ("by default"), but criticized the Bengals for allowing New Orleans to leapfrog them and select USC DT Sedrick Ellis ("As is typical with Cincy, the Bengals let someone else determine their fate"). MDS gave the team a higher grade, a D+, but called the Simpson pick "a head-scratcher." He also knocked them for failing to select a defensive tackle on Day One. They drafted a pair of DTs on Day Two, Sims in the third round and fifth-rounder Jason Shirley -- who ended his college career with one suspension and two arrests ("So much for the Bengals cleaning up their image").

4. Tennessee Titans
Average grade: 1.6.
Standard deviation: 0.90.
Highest grade: B, Gosselin.
Lowest grade: F, ESPN SportsNation.

If you like the idea of taking the best player available, you were probably OK with this draft. If you believe in drafting for need, you hated it. The SportsNation voters don't leave comments (and if they did, we probably couldn't print them anyway), so we turn to the next lowest grades: Both Cole and Czarnecki gave the Titans a D. Cole noted that "this is the third consecutive year the Titans have spent a first- or second-round pick on a running back. They desperately need receiving help." Czarnecki actually liked the first-round selection of RB Chris Johnson ("He should complement the inside bruising running style of LenDale White") but said they "didn't land a lot of quality" after that. Gosselin was one of the few impressed with this draft, noting that Tennessee was desperate for offensive speed, and that Johnson was the fastest player in the draft. Prisco judged this draft a B-, adding that "second-round pick Jason Jones should help the pass rush."

3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Average grade: 1.9.
Standard deviation: 1.03.
Highest grade: B, Weisman.
Lowest grade: F, ESPN SportsNation.

Perhaps you have noticed that when the SportsNation votes hate a draft, they really HATE a draft. Well, they weren't the only ones. MDS graded this a D-: "Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey might be a fine player, but the Jaguars traded up way too high to select him, dealing a first-round pick, two third-round picks and a fourth-round picks to move into the eighth spot." He's not a fan of second-round DE Quentin Groves either, and says the other draftees "will struggle just to make the team." Reuter said that Harvey wasn't "consistent" and that "giving up those picks for Harvey prevented the team from trying to find replacements for Marcus Stroud and Sammy Knight." Weisman, on the other hand, favored the Jaguars' bold strategy: "Want to knock off the Colts? Then find a way to rush Peyton Manning, no matter the price."

2. Cleveland Browns
Average grade: 2.3.
Standard deviation: 1.07.
Highest grade: B+, Kiper, Prisco.
Lowest grade: F, ESPN SportsNation.

Once again, SportsNation fans are harder on their team than any of the professionals. Part of the problem is that the Browns traded away their first three picks for Brady Quinn, Corey Williams, and Shaun Rogers. "When you factor those transactions," says Kiper, "the Browns are using the draft process the right way." Prisco also gave them credit for the trades, and liked fourth-round selection Beau Bell ("has some character questions, but he's a physical linebacker who has been compared to Jeremiah Trotter") and sixth-round defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin ("a dominant nose tackle for Iowa State"). Czarnecki gave the Browns a D, and suggested that they should have found a way to trade back into Day One ("The Browns' big draft was last season and GM Phil Savage took Saturday off"). Gosselin said the Browns did "remarkably well" considering the status of their picks, but still only gave the team a C.

1. Detroit Lions
Average grade: 2.2.
Standard deviation: 1.19.
Highest grade: A, Gosselin.
Lowest grade: F, MDS.

Yes, the Lions got both an A and an F, and this time the passion of SportsNation had nothing to do with it. Gosselin loved the draft, noting that OLB Jordon Dizon, DT Andre Fluellen, and DE Cliff Avril might all start on defense, and the offense "may benefit even more from the arrival of OT (Gosder) Cherilus and RB (Kevin) Smith." Other fans included Prisco (B+ -- "Give credit to Matt Millen. He added a lot of good football players in this draft") and Reuter (B), who gave the team credit for trading down two spots and picking Cherilus, rather than taking him two spots higher with their original pick. For the opposing viewpoint, we turn once again to MDS, who said the Lions made "a horrible decision" to select Cherilus instead of RB Rashard Mendenhall. He also said trading up for Smith "doesn't make much sense," and noted that Fluellen and Avril "looked better at the combine than they did on the field." Robinson (D) didn't like the draft either, saying that they should have traded up for Derrick Harvey, Jonathan Stewart or Jerod Mayo; instead they traded back to No. 17 "and still reached for Cherilus." And he thought that was their best move: "Other than Cherilus, it's hard to see a lot of room to grow in this class."

The Final Numbers

Here are the final scores for each team, ranked by average grade, with standard deviation:


Rank Team Average Stand. Dev. Rank Team Average Stand. Dev. Rank Team Average Stand. Dev.
1 KC 4.1 0.303 12 NE 2.8 0.568 23 TB 2.4 0.458
2 MIA 3.3 0.655 13 BAL 2.7 0.685 24 CLE 2.3 1.069
3 WAS 3.3 0.662 14 BUF 2.7 0.618 25 SF 2.2 0.510
4 DAL 3.2 0.443 15 IND 2.7 0.476 26 HOU 2.2 0.383
5 PIT 3.2 0.613 16 STL 2.6 0.721 27 SEA 2.2 0.700
6 CAR 3.1 0.667 17 OAK 2.6 0.727 28 DET 2.2 1.191
7 NYG 3.1 0.643 18 NO 2.6 0.631 29 CEIN 2.2 0.746
8 CHI 3.0 0.682 19 NYJ 2.5 0.476 30 SD 2.1 0.374
9 ARI 2.9 0.350 20 MIN 2.5 0.673 31 JAC 1.9 1.025
10 GB 2.8 0.365 21 PHI 2.4 0.739 32 TEN 1.6 0.905
11 ATL 2.8 0.695 22 DEN 2.4 0.661 NFL 2.6 0.798

Evaluating the Evaluators

The softest judge was Prisco, whose average grade was a whopping 2.9. Pete Prisco loved the 2008 draft. The toughest critic? Why, it's our own MDS, whose average score was 2.3 -- a perfect C+. The most erratic voters were those lovable kooks over at ESPN SportsNation (standard deviation: 1.07), followed very closely by MDS (1.06) -- so he was a harsh critic, but he did give out A grades to the Chiefs, Giants and Bills, and A- grades to the Redskins and Cowboys. The most consistent voter was Reuter (0.44); 29 of his 32 grades were between Bs and Cs. Here are the evaluators, ranked by average grade, with standard deviation:


Evaluator Average Stand. Dev.
Prisco 2.9 0.654
Rosenthal/Silva 2.7 0.801
SportsNation 2.7 1.071
Robinson/Cole 2.7 0.893
Kiper 2.7 0.485
Czarnecki 2.6 0.862
Reuter 2.6 0.441
Weisman 2.6 0.685
Gosselin 2.5 0.740
MDS 2.3 1.060

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 01 May 2008

71 comments, Last at 07 May 2008, 5:15pm by TheDudeAbides

Comments

1
by Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabbadu (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 12:43pm

Sweet! It's meta-speculation!

2
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 12:53pm

Woo, worst draft! Worst draft! Worst draft! Time for TEN to make a Fili Moala run!

The comment that if you like BPA you like that team's draft seems more apposite for the PIT section than the TEN section, as the Titans' first 4 picks may all have been reaches.

3
by Oldcat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 1:02pm

The Bengals addressed DT in Round 3, with Sims. The Shirley pick is an additional DT selection in round 5.

Your summation of what MDS said is incorrect, because the clauses are not referring to the same player.

4
by Dave (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 1:34pm

How are the Bears at #8 when they failed to address the most obvious, glaring weakness of any team in the entire league?

5
by the original sam (formerly sam!) (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 1:35pm

Rob Meier has been filling in for Marcus Stroud for two years and outplayed him both seasons. They've already got two mid-round Defensive Tackles for depth from the last 2 drafts. They didn't need that 3rd-round pick to replace Stroud and anybody who says they did is just headline-watching and doesn't know the team. NO offense to MDS.

6
by JMM (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 1:48pm

Anyone care to do a least squares type analysis on mock drafts vs real life?

7
by 1stPrize2Tickets2ndPrize4Tickets (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 1:57pm

I think this is the appropriate space to note that not only did ESPN's/Scouts Inc. Todd McShay run a 7-round mock draft, but that he and they only got 7 out of the 252 picks correct.

8
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:17pm

I've found this an interesting topic in the past but I don't see the point of adding SportsNation grades. With writers you can reasonably expect they are trying to get it right. With a bunch of anonomous fans clicking on voting buttons their motives are less clear

9
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:30pm

Looking through the old draft report cards is pretty interesting stuff. It's fun reading things like "It’s not easy to have the first pick in the draft and still blow it, but the Chargers managed to do so." or "everyone agrees that a team had a terrible draft (Kansas City)" (that was the year KC drafted Jared Allen in the 4th).

Good times. I love hindsight.

10
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:36pm

Re 8: I don't know if the Bears should be judged too harshly for not bringing in a quarterback, mainly because there was noone they could have brought in who would have been certain to be an upgrade. Ryan probably would have been but he is the only guy they could have acquired that could definitely be better that Rex or Orton and the Bears never had a shot at him. In this situation I think that it would have been a bigger mistake for the Bears to waste a pick on a quarterback. I like that the Bears have set themselves up to run the ball more with the selections Williams and Forte, taking the ball out the hands of their poor set of qbs.

11
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:37pm

Err . . . make that Re 4:

12
by MilkmanDanimal (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:47pm

From the 2005 article:

The Bengals had grades all over the board with much of the discussion about the character of the players. Second round linebacker Odell Thurman and third round receiver Chris Henry both have questionable pasts. Prisco cannot overlook their talent and calls Thurman the best linebacker in the draft. Pompei downgrades them for ignoring character, which he calls “a Bengals’ tradition.” Dr. Z does not seem to like the brashness of Henry and offers the not-so-encouraging thought that “Chad Johnson will bring him around.”

Ummmm . . . yeah. I guess sometimes the draftniks get it right?

13
by CarolinaNick (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 2:59pm

And then on April 28, 2008, he would give 31 out of 32 teams between a B+ and a C-. Because everyone pretty much did an "eh" job. Like every year. Except the Chiefs. They get an A -- Mel's first A in the three years we've been tracking this!
From firejoemorgan.com. You'll have to scroll down a little to read it all.

14
by Accuracy (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 3:00pm

7/1stPrize -- That's hardly a fair way to judge a draft, since it's not 200+ independent decisions, but rather 200+ deeply related decisions. An average absolute-value differential (or average differential squared) of player draft position might be more telling, but is BPA oriented (as it doesn't account for player values varying by team).

In the end, of course, this is an attempt to quantify an analysis of a prediction of a prediction of NFL success -- the accuracy of any such system is probably very similar to one employing nothing but monkeys, ice cream, and Kyle Boller.

15
by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 3:31pm

criticized the Bengals for allowing New Orleans to leapfrog them and select USC DT Sedrick Ellis (”As is typical with Cincy, the Bengals let someone else determine their fate”).

The amusing thing is the Saints jumped ahead of them again in the 5th round to make sure the Bengals wouldn't take the DT they wanted in that round. Cincinnati ended up taking a different DT with the next pick, so you have to wonder if they did prefer the Saints guy.

16
by bubqr (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 3:50pm

Philly with a bottom half draft ? Do these experts know they added a 09 first rounder ?
Apart from the B.Smith reach, they got a playmaking return man and maybe WR, a good #3 DT who give them one the best rotation of the entire league at the position, a playmaking S(17 ints in college career) who is a good athlete too(Best 4O time at the combine), some OL prospects and a potential steal in Ikweguonu. I really don't understand how this draft could be ranked after the STL, ATL or WAS draft.

WAS : Last time I checked, their biggest weaknesses were their front 7 and depth on the OL, where their best players(Fletcher and Washington) happen to be quite old now. They didn't adress these needs until round 4, and they get the 3rd best grade of the whole NFL ? That is really really shocking to me. I still don't understand.

17
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 4:00pm

14

Trades don't seem like they've been factoring in too much in grades. KC seems to unanimously be heralded for having a great draft. Too bad it cost them an All-Pro DE to get it.

Meanwhile, Philly had no first rounder, so a lot of people are going to grade them based on the players they got (and since they kept trading down, they didn't get any of the consensus best players, obviously).

18
by Chip (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 4:03pm

#6 I'm pretty sure Rich Gosselin will come out on top. He nailed 9 picks in the first round this year and was equally successful last year. He's the most plugged in draftnik and received input from 27 of 32 front offices in constructing his top 100 players and mock draft.

He made a big call on Detroit and I'm curious to see how that turns out.

19
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 4:09pm

Notes on MDS' Bengals comments have been cleaned up.

20
by 1stPrize2Tickets2ndPrize4Tickets (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 4:52pm

Accuracy:

You're too right. It's not fair, but it is funny that he/they made the effort, and then had such futile results. I hope that it at least was automated, instead of them sitting around pondering how tough the D-lines of Fresno State's opponents were for the 233rd pick.

21
by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 5:07pm

The Colts also receive "bad" grades, but few people take into account that their first round pick was Tony Ugoh and that they do an excellent job with the undrafted players... which would bump up most of their draft grades from previous years if those players were included (and might improve this years class as well... they did pick up a quarterback).

22
by M (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 5:11pm

What happens to the Chiefs draft grade if we assume (for the hell of it) that Glen Dorsey is an oft-injured bust? I'm not saying that he WILL be, but it seems that the first two teams (Al would have picked Darren McFadden even if his future ghost came to him saying he caused the apocalypse with the pick) definitely had concerns about his long-term health.

23
by Paul (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 5:30pm

As a Skins fan, I don't see how anyone could LOVE their draft. They addressed 1 need, and overkilled that one. I thought it was the worst job in the division.

24
by Waverly (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 6:43pm

To continue the "anything they can do, we can do meta" meme:

I like the conversion of grades into numbers, compared to using letters in previous Draft Report Card Reports.

Next task: compute accumulated DPAR values for drafts per team, and then see who's best at judging drafts.

25
by cd6! (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 8:49pm

Obviously whoever gave the steelers 5th place is a huge fan of "best player available" and not "draft for need." Considering that I was hoping for "draft 7 straight o line guys" I'm a little more skeptical than some.

26
by justme (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:00pm

24) In a couple years, when the "six years later" series catches up to the first report card report from 2004, we might be able to have some FO version of who's best at grading the drafts.

27
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:29pm

Really the Lions did bad because...they passed on a RB in the first round? In a RB heavy draft? In a league that has Earnest Graham grabbing over 800 yards rushing? SO they can upgrade over George Foster...at a position that would not have been upgraded if they did not grab Cherilus (I think I understand passing on an Otah or Albert)-but a RB that played entirely in the spread and could not beat out Pierre Thomas...eh I am not big on Cherilus, but really grabbing Mendenhall in the 1st round is the type of thing Millen would have gotten mocked for as well (damned if he did, damned if he did not).

28
by Bob in Jax (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:36pm

Anyone who hasn't gone back and read the previous draft review columns (linked above, top of page) needs to. Some of the "professional" comments cited would be reason to ignore all draft review palaver forever, except they are so darned funny with 20/20 hindsight.

29
by Tom D (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:46pm

Re 4:

No, we drafted a tackle ;)

30
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:54pm

25: That grade above is the AVERAGE of all the evaluators, so the consensus is that the Steelers had the fifth best draft. Gosselin gave them a C, Reuter gave them a B-. Everyone else gave them at least a B.

31
by Vince Verhei :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:58pm

8: Gosselin and Czarnecki each gave Chicago an A. Gosselin sees a lot of potential in their later round picks. Czarnecki thinks Chris Williams will be a great tackle, and likes the rest of their picks too.

32
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:00pm

The Colts also receive “bad” grades, but few people take into account that their first round pick was Tony Ugoh and that they do an excellent job with the undrafted players… which would bump up most of their draft grades from previous years if those players were included

I don't see why you would include undrafted players in grading a draft.

33
by Mystyc (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:36pm

28: I like the 2004 edition:

"Pittsburgh: The grades on this one seem to depend on whether or not you think it is okay in today’s NFL to have a draft without players who can provide immediate help."

Yeah, none of those players were ready for prime time.

34
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/01/2008 - 11:50pm

Darth Goofy #21,

Here's a pertinent question: I am pretty sure that adding picks in the future is discounted on the all-worshipped draft value chart, time value of money and all that... but how about if you got your first rounder a year early and he started 12 games at LT for a team with 13 wins? I'd say based on that that Ugoh's value for the 08 draft is immense.

Unfortunately, I also suspect that last year's draft grades included him (how could they not?). Therefore, it's wrong to double count him this year as well.

In reality, he is a very good pick (esp with Glenn retiring) and the UFAs do add value to the Colts. But they are not drafted--if you include UFAs you should also include FAs and then Randy Moss was the Pats' 4th rounder last year and Adalius Thomas and Wes Welker also figure in. Did they figure into the Draft Gurus' grading calculus? Maybe...

I know they were mentioned a lot by Pats fans as unofficial parts of the draft, but not sure if Official Draft Gurus used them in their evaluations. If so, then UFAs are fair game too. And it's hard to a UFA to stack up against 23 receiving TDs.

35
by jimmo (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:18am

re:27, Yeah I'm kind of disappointed in MDS with that grade and analysis. I know he's a Millen-hater (and should be) but an F for this class is short-sighted. I agree with lionsbob that picking Mendenhall would've been a mistake (but disagree that he would've been mocked for it; I think that pick alone would've assured him A's and B's across the board).

It may have been early to pick a RT, but it was too early for a guard (Albert) and a raw guy with "upside" (Otah) and OLine was their biggest need by far.

My biggest beef is with the Dizon pick,(the 7th round Army safety is bigger than him for goodness sakes) not Cherilus at all. And who's to say trading up for Smith was a bad move? Miami took two backs in this draft, so they were obviously looking for some depth there and the productive in-state kid might've looked good as a backup to recovering Ronnie Brown and messed-up Ricky Williams. No problem with that move at all.

I actually liked this Lions draft; looks like a PFR-special to me, 4 or 5 solid multi-year starters at decent value. Not even close to an F.

36
by andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 7:44am

Its too bad Dr. Z stopped giving grades... from his comments, he apparently did not like the Chiefs draft, and that might have brought them back to the fold a tad...

37
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 7:56am

OK everyone knows the Bears need a QB, but it would have been foolish to reach for a player they didn't like and who they may have thought projects poorly into their system. Plenty of other teams clearly thought Henne and Brohm deserved to be passed over, otherwise they would have been picked higher. I can fully understand why the Bears (who have had trouble with QB injuries over the years) would pass on Brohm when he appeared to be made out of milk bottle tops in college never mind the NFL. As for Henne, if the words 'seperated throwing shoulder' don't a QB rocketing down draft boards then I don't know what would. Any rookie they had got their hands on would have spent this season holding the clipboard anyway.

It is debatable as to exactly which bit of the Bears offense was worst last year - the line, WRs, RBs and QBs all make compelling cases for their ineptitude. Some of these positions in the draft had quality and depth rarely seen in a class. As for QBs the consensus is that after Ryan there were no sure things, if the Bears had taken any of these players they would have been compounding their QB problems instead of solving them.

Having bolstered the talent around the QB, the Bears will go into next year as the last opportunity for the existing QBs to prove themselves in Chicago. If Grossman and Orton play like, well Grossman and Orton it would be wiser and a faster fix to aquire a veteran QB through free agency or trade next offseason. It was less than 18 months ago that this team was playing in the Superbowl crappy QB and all, so they have proven they can be competitive next year without drafting another young QB.

38
by iapetus (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:03am

5: The other thing that a lot of the draft commentators seem to ignore with the Jags draft is that by the trade value chart they gave up enough to move up to position 13, not 8. With the talent distribution in this year's draft, that was probably an even better deal than normal - by all rights, trading up into the top twenty (much less the top ten) shouldn't have been an option.

39
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 11:22am

"In reality, he is a very good pick (esp with Glenn retiring) and the UFAs do add value to the Colts. But they are not drafted–if you include UFAs you should also include FAs "

I disagree there. UDFAs are essentially an unorganized 8th round of the draft. Teams that evaluate the draft well (Pats, indy, Balt, Philly, etc) tend to do well with UDFAs. Its a direct extension of the draft.

FAs certainly are not part of the drafting process though.

40
by Frank (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:15pm

re #4

If you think our biggest need was at QB, you're wrong.

41
by RickD (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:38pm

Draft grades are a bit pointless when taken in isolation. Sure, KC had a great draft - that's because they traded away the best player on the team! It's doubtful they will get equal value from the picks. OTOH, many people pan last year's Pats' draft without mentioning that they picked up Randy Moss cheaply during the process.

Obvious points? Perhaps.

42
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:50pm

Looking back on the 2006 draft, the experts could not have been more wrong. The experts averaged a D+ for the Skins, in a year in which they drafted 3 starters and useful sub. Now, ordinarily that would be a good draft in any circumstance, but the Skins acquired those players despite not having a first, third, or fourth round pick! That's right, they got a starter in the 2nd, then two more starters and a backup in the fifth and sixth rounds! And yet they were assigned a D+ on average. Amazing.

43
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 12:56pm

Sorry, I didn't mean the experts were totally wrong on everything. I mean to write "the experts could not have been more wrong on the Redskins."

44
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 1:04pm

#35

See I loved the Dizon pick, undersized or not. But our track record on 2nd round LBers suck.

45
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 1:28pm

Rich C, I was thinking of an acquisition like Moss and others last year, which was a trade of a 4th round slot for a player. It was wrong to describe that as an FA. Mental shorthand failed me.

But that's what I meant when I said FAs (um, vets you trade draft picks for like Chambers and Jared Allen--we need a simple term for this) should be considered part of the draft too.

Poorly said.

46
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 1:37pm

17, 41 - Amen. I don't have a problem with draft report cards in general, because the draftniks are supposed to be experts on the players taken. But their implementation of trades is just so inconsistent ... witness some accounting for what the Browns and Chargers have gotten for their trades, but not making the corresponding analyses for the Chiefs or Eagles.

I get a chuckle out of this though:

and while some aren’t holding those trades against the team (as Reuter noted, “It’s too early to tell”), others have already dubbed them poor decisions.

So you're putting together a draft report card the day after the draft, and you think it's too early to evaluate trades that were made for players who have actually suited up in the NFL already?

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 2:33pm

If you want to get a sense of how worthless these evaluations are, go look back at 2005, when the Vikings had seven A or A+ scores, two B or B plus scores, and a C minus.

That draft was COMPLETELY without value to the Vikings, with one often injured player remaining on the roster, and practically zero contributions from anyone, unless you want to call being traded for the stellar qb play of Brooks Bollinger a contribution.

48
by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 2:46pm

Re 47:

I'm kind of willing to give the experts a pass on that draft. They can hardly be expected to foresee injuries (unless the player was hurt all the time in college), and Troy Williamson maybe unique in his inability to catch a football. And it must have developed after he was drafted because there is no way he was that bad at catching in college or someone would have noticed. He appeared to be good at everything else as a receiver, he was fast, got open, had good run after the catch ability.

49
by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 2:56pm

re: all who replied to me and the posts that it spawned...

I guess you are right that Ugoh was probably counted on last year's draft... however, his value does count towards this draft... doesn't it? But... the accounting has to be made somewhere, so I guess the year in which the player is drafted is the best place to do so (although the Colts were hammered for drafting a LT when they had a Pro Bowl LT... but that decision turned out ok).

As far as players traded for picks... their value is counted... but not as part of the draft... I guess, which is similar to my first arguement. So, while teams are lauded or panned for trading players for picks, those players don't count towards the draft.

However, the undrafted free agents should most certainly count towards the draft grades, although I don't know how they would be evaluated... maybe after camp when decisions are made on whether they stay or go. Those players are "hidden gems" that few teams find. These players weren't drafted, but they were a part of the draft and were signed as a result of the draft, ie - a team knows it wants a player but also assumes that no one else will draft them. Why waste a pick if you "know" you can get that player after the draft? Isn't that part of the drafting game?

50
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 3:01pm

Tom, Williamson was a guy who never accomplished much in college, and Erasmus James had injury problems in college. Immediate draft grades are worthless.

51
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 3:20pm

Looking over the old articles, the biggest surprise to me is that the 2005 article didn't have a single Mike Nugent joke.

52
by BDC (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 3:33pm

49: "These players weren’t drafted..."

You answered you own question.

Anyway, all these sports writers will write grades on total off season moves that take trades, undrafted free agents, free agents in general, etc. into account, so I mean, it isn't like we won't be able to read about it.

53
by MMM (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 3:55pm

the Chargers ranked 30th, ahead of only Buffalo and Tennessee.

According to your chart that should be Jacksonville and Tennessee.

54
by Richard (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 4:31pm

I love when a nobody sportswriter says in no uncertain terms that one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL made a terrible pick. You know, because MDS is much better at scouting than anyone employed by the San Diego Chargers.

55
by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:07pm

I liked Dr. Z's article, maybe because of the lack of letter grades, but his comment on the Broncos, something about obviously valuing establishing the run over stopping it (just referring to the Clady pick) seems a little... Superficial? No one is angrier than I am that the Broncos waited soooo long to address DT and LB, but with the 12th pick who should the Broncos have picked at either of those positions? Kentwan Balmer? Curtis Lofton? Not knocking either of them, certainly, but with the 12th pick, and an excellent player with good value at another position of (lesser) need, I think going to front 7 help would probably have led to another first-round disaster... And we don't need that here. The names of Willie Middlebrooks and George Foster (among others) ring out in my nightmares, pealing from bells struck by the devil himself.

56
by jmurns (not verified) :: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 10:58pm

I guess Ron Borges was replaced after giving the Chargers the following grades from 2005-2007: D,C+,C. He should have just plagarized as usual.

57
by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Sat, 05/03/2008 - 3:12am

Every time I read something I wrote, I wonder where this compulsion to overuse commas and parentheses comes from. I had grammar teachers growing up. I read a lot, so I should have some idea of how a sentence is intended to work. Yet every time I look back, it turns out that everything I write is either an independent clause or a parenthetical aside. They should give me some sort of lifetime acheivement award in the field of run-on sentences. At least I only used one ellipse in my previous post. I have a lot of trouble avoiding those as well. The Onion article linked in my name kind of sums up my fears of where my writing style is heading.

58
by Vince Verhei :: Sat, 05/03/2008 - 3:33am

Arrgh. No idea where that Buffalo-Jacksonville error came from, but it's been fixed.

59
by jimm (not verified) :: Sat, 05/03/2008 - 1:34pm

57. Hypno-Toad as Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle would say:

"This, is, about, football, not, grammar."

60
by TomHat (not verified) :: Sat, 05/03/2008 - 11:32pm

I always feel as if simply having more draft picks, or having good luck in your position ends up mattering more than being smart. I mean, I think that just given a team, and a set of players, a good 90+% of the GMs would pick either 2 or 3 different players for a specific draft slot, and without hindsight, most any of them would be right (the other 10% being lions, raiders, falcons, etc, who would allow you to know what NOT to do). I mean, drafting Dorsey with #5 overall pick was not smart by the Chiefs, it wasnt them making some awesome move that allowed them to get this bargain player. It just fell into their lap due to there being two incredibly dumb teams above them.

I feel like if I were to judge a draft, there would be the "utterly dumb teams", im looking at you Atlanta Falcons, the "did their job" teams that didnt really trade much, and didnt make any obviously dumb picks, and the "did a great job" teams that made smart trades to put themselves into position to get best available and most needed position at the same time, thus allowing them to get the most for their draft spot. [see redskins] Fleecing dumb teams would also go into this category of course.

And the chiefs trade of their DE was a smart trade for them, allowed them to go into the rebuilding process and everything, but that trade should be a bigger judge of whether or not this was a smart draft for them than the fact that Dorsey fell.

61
by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 7:46am

re#52:

Well done on taking a quote out of context.

I am not concerned about reading about a teams total offseason (I don't recall seing grades for offseasons, however). I am not even that concerned with the Draft report cards, since, as mentioned above, they don't reflect reality, only what one sports writer feels teams did, according to that sports writers own prejudices, knowledge (or lack thereof), and opinions. My point is, teams, such as the Colts, Patriots, and Chargers, use the after-draft period to improve their rosters, so why wouldn't you include that in the draft grade, since it is a part of, and a direct result of, the draft?

(BTW - I think used all of those commas appropriately... I might have stretched the boundaries a bit, but I still thing, that I might have, if not, done well with them.)

62
by bubqr (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 8:08am

#61 Because lots of UDFAs have several offers, and can just chose in which team to go. So where an UNDFA ends up is not entirely related to the scouting department quality, therefore shouldn't be taken in consideration while grading the draft.

63
by George (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 12:59pm

I'd like to point out that both Matt Millen (Lions) and Terry Donahue (fired from the 49ers) were routinely awarded A+, A and A- draft grades.

Whereas most of the other teams didn't.

The 49ers, by 2005, were the most talent bankrupt team in the NFL. Despite all those "A's." The Lions are currently in contention for "most talent bankrupt" team in the NFL.

64
by SocioJoe (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 5:34pm

Do the bears get more points for drafting Forte now that Benson's been arrested?

:sarcasm:

65
by BDC (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 6:10pm

61:

"My point is, teams, such as the Colts, Patriots, and Chargers, use the after-draft period to improve their rosters, so why wouldn’t you include that in the draft grade, since it is a part of, and a direct result of, the draft?"

Because it isn't a part of the draft. The draft is over for this year.

66
by BDC (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 6:10pm

64:

Well, at least now they have an excuse to get rid of him.

67
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 6:36pm

Hmm, a rather complicated Freudian slip ... in certain circumstances, the addition of a D indicates an even greater bust. In the description about the Browns, are you trying to tell us something else about Shaun Rogers?

68
by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 05/05/2008 - 9:57am

Re: #57 Parenthesis and commas

I am just as bad if not worse than you. I do things like (blah blah (blah blah (blah blah) blah)) whenever I do a long e-mail. So you are not alone

69
by brandon (not verified) :: Mon, 05/05/2008 - 5:30pm

I dont understand why so many people trash the Jags draft. They already have a team that has a ton of depth in a lot of positions, and is ready for a superbowl run, therefore did not nead 7 or 8 picks, because most would not make the team. The team picked up some good players in free agency and only had 1 weakness and that was a pass rush.. Well derrick harvey was really really high on a lot of teams boards, and reports are that the benglas and saints were going to take him with thier picks at 9 and 11. groves was the fastest DE in the draft and put up 30 reps, and the team feels he will be an every down end eventually.. monte kiffin said he thinks harvey is a better DE then his own gaines adams..

on top of that, the jags got a CB in round 5 who outperformed mike jenkins over the last 2 years, and was a 3rd round player in trae williams.

and the replacement for stroud is there already in 23 year old 6'7 310 pound tony mcdaniel...

the jags had a great draft, and will be a force this year with a healthy mathis, added CB depth in florence and there SS is healthy in sensabaugh now

70
by Vince Verhei :: Mon, 05/05/2008 - 5:57pm

67: Fixed.

71
by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 5:15pm

As a huge Chiefs fan, I'd like to go on record suggesting that far from an automatic A, the 2008 draft was a disaster.

So the Chiefs got the best player in the 2008 draft. That's great. It's a real testament to the teams drafting in the top 4 that at least three of them are remarkably competitive with the Chiefs in terms of being a complete and total organizational disaster.

Otherwise, the Chiefs went into the 2008 draft needing a new starter at DE, LT, C, RG, WR, and CB at a bare minimum. All but the most optimistic/delusional believe they need a new QB. They also need a WR for the 3-wide set and a cornerback to play in nickel and dime situations (they continued to jettison players at these positions at the offseason because of course their depth is spectacular.)

With those needs, the Chiefs used their first 6 high picks on DT, OG, CB, RB, S, TE.

So, with their 6 most valuable picks they managed to fill 3 of those spots, and TWO of those spots will be filled by players playing OUT OF POSITION (Albert at LT and Boone moving over to DE after the Dorsey pick).

They also managed to pick a RB despite using a pick in last year's draft to back up LJ, a TE who started 7 of 38 games in college, and a safety, despite having such a logjam at that position that they can't find playing time for the best safety they already have (Greg Wesley).

I'm not suggesting those guys aren't good players (although all the great reports I hear about Cottam suggest there are some real optimists out there). But you can't draft like that when, if the season started today, you couldn't field a full team.

One of the picks the Chiefs have gotten a lot of credit for is Brandon Flowers, but I think you have to look at positional value. CB in the Cover 2 is not a huge value position. The Chiefs currently have a disaster at QB and far-and-away the best guy according to FO's Lewin, Brian Brohm, was available. That deserves an F right there.

Again, the Flowers pick. That's a great pick, but look at the Chiefs' needs. The Chiefs finished 10th in pass defense (FO numbers) but 27th in pass offense. In order to improve their passing offense, the Chiefs dumped Kennison and Parker, two WRs who usually profile fairly well in FO metrics, and moved Jeff Webb to starter. Last year 87 WRs had enough targets to qualify for FO's WR rankings. The guy who finished 87th in DVOA? Jeff Webb.

The clear cut best college WR last year, James Hardy, was available when the Chiefs picked Flowers (as were all other top WRs except for D. Thomas who was taken one pick earlier). Obviously, Hardy has character issues that evidently explain his drop, but Bowe, Hardy, and Gonzalez might have given Croyle a snowball's chance. Instead, Croyle will get Will Franklin - MU's 4th best target a year ago - to compete with Webb and fill the 3rd WR position.

And finally, you have to take Jared Allen into the equation. Allen was the best defensive player in the NFL last season and the main reason for the Chiefs' heroic performance on 3rd down.

The Chiefs received approximately 1350 draft chart points for Allen. Immediately when you compare that to the approximately 1125 points the Ravens got for the right to select Derrick Harvey, it would appear the Chiefs got completely taken in draft value. (Yes, the difference between Jared Allen and Derrick Harvey - before you take the opportunity cost of their relative contracts into account - is roughly that of the #73 pick. Interestingly, that's the pick the Chiefs used on Charles, despite re-signing LJ to a ridiculously silly contract a year ago.)

It gets worse when you consider that the Chiefs wasted one of their supposedly incredibly valuable picks (136) to move from 17 to 15 and take a guy who quite possibly would have been available anyway. Or, they could have stayed put and selected Jeff Otah, a guy WHO ACTUALLY PLAYS TACKLE. Or, they could have stayed put and traded their pick to Carolina so that the Panthers could pick Jeff Otah.

Which brings up another point. The Eagles traded the right to select Jeff Otah for somewhere between 1200 and 1500 draft points. That's right, the Eagles traded a pick after the pick the Chiefs used on a guy they plan to switch positions for almost certainly MORE VALUE THAN JARED ALLEN. Of course, most people believe since the most valuable pick the Eagles got was a 2009 pick that you have to discount the pick a full round value because future value represents considerably less value than current value. That's theoretically true, but in terms of actual value, the future year trades made by Dallas and New England last year netted very significant value to those organizations.

Anyway, however you look at it, the Chiefs turned Jared Allen into an offensive guard, a backup running back and a backup safety. That's the very definition of an F any way you look at it.