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15 Apr 2011

The 2005 Draft: Six Years Later

by Tom Gower

Once upon a time, teams with high picks in the NFL Draft had to choose among several very good players from an undefeated Auburn Tigers team. Perhaps more importantly, they had to decide whether a quarterback who played in a spread scheme could transition successfully to the NFL. Sound familiar? Yes, it's time for a Football Outsiders annual tradition -- a look back at the draft that was six years ago.

At Football Outsiders, 2005 was our second year covering the NFL Draft, and we ramped up our coverage. Beyond the customary Report Card Report, former writers Michael David Smith and Russ Levine put together a mock draft and also previewed some of the top offensive and defensive prospects. Following along on the trip to memory lane and, if you wish, refresh yourself on the picks.

Quarterbacks

Conventional wisdom: There wasn't the embarrassment of riches there was in 2004, with three potential franchise quarterbacks in the Draft. Instead, you had a top tier of two, one of them an underclassman who played in a funky offense and the other a Jeff Tedford Quarterback who'd have to overcome the stigma of playing for the man who coached both Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller. Some teams weren't convinced there were two quarterbacks in the top tier.

Highest pick: Alex Smith, Utah, first overall to the 49ers.

Best player: Aaron Rodgers sat on the bench behind Brett Favre for three years before getting the chance to start, but in that time he tremendously improved his craft. He improved his throwing motion, his arm strength, and his understanding of the game, taking full advantage of being a rare high draft pick allowed time to develop on the bench. Once he adjusted to moving in the pocket, he became one of the NFL's best quarterbacks and seems poised to continue at the elite level for years to come.

Biggest bust: David Greene, Georgia, 85th overall to the Seahawks. Alex Smith has certainly been a disappointment for the first overall selection, but for most of his tenure, the 49ers would have been a difficult team for anyone to quarterback. Greene, though, was a Tim Ruskell Special, drafted highly because he'd started four years in the SEC and won a lot of games. He's one of only two quarterbacks drafted in the top three rounds during the past 20 years not to attempt a pass in a regular season game (Giovanni Carmazzi, a 2000 third-round selection of the 49ers, is the other).

Best value: Kyle Orton, Purdue, 106th overall to the Bears and Matt Cassel, USC, 230th overall to the Patriots. Perspectives of Orton are skewed due to his poor play early in his career when he was forced into the lineup, but he's since developed into an above-average NFL starter. Opinions of Cassel vary, but even the harshest critics agree he's been an extraordinarily good player for a seventh-round pick.

Running Backs

Conventional wisdom: While there were no sure-fire franchise quarterbacks, there were three outstanding running back prospects. How highly were they regarded? The mock draft at Football Outsiders (Other Motto:
"Running Backs Are Mostly Pretty Fungible") had all three going in the top eight picks. Thunder and Lightning from an undefeated Auburn squad -- Cadillac Williams as the superior runner and Ronnie Brown the more complete back -- and a power back with good speed from Texas in Cedric Benson were each poised to be Top 10 picks. There were also some intriguing backs later in the draft.

Highest pick: Ronnie Brown, second overall to the Dolphins.

Best player: Brown's versatility and role as Wildcat triggerman makes him a good pick and the best of the highly rated backs, even if the Dolphins were probably expecting more than 800 yards rushing and 250 yards receiving a year on average. Lapping him in both categories, though, is Frank Gore.

Gore was yet another in a long line of phenom running backs at the University of Miami, and flashed talent early in his career that made you think he might be better than Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, or Willis McGahee. The injury bug struck him, though, as tore both of his ACLs in college. The 49ers took a risk drafting him at the top of the third round, 65th overall, and he's put up almost 1,600 more rushing yards and 800 more receiving yards than Brown as the focal point for a mostly talent-poor offense.

Biggest bust: The Broncos surprised most of the league by drafting Maurice Clarett, 101st overall with the final pick of the third round on what was then Day One of the draft. Unfortunately, the Broncos apparently neglected to check whether Clarett had actually been working off in his time away from football, and ignored the slow 40-yard dash and doughy physique that indicated he hadn't. The former Buckeye star didn't make it out of training camp.

Best value: Gore is the clear winner here. Also deserving of a mention are two backs drafted in the fourth round by NFC East teams with consecutive picks: Marion Barber, 109th overall to the Cowboys, and Brandon Jacobs, 110th overall to the Giants. Fullback Madison Hedgecock, drafted 251st overall by the Rams, was one of the best players of recent vintage drafted in the final five picks.

Wide Receivers

Conventional wisdom: As there were three running backs, there were three highly esteemed wide receiver prospects. Former Michigan Wolverine Braylon Edwards was the almost-unquestioned best of those, combining size, athleticism, and speed. Also in the top rank were speedster Troy Williamson from South Carolina and Mike Williams, who'd dropped out of USC when Clarett won at the trial court level and ended up spending the fall of 2004 away from football.

Highest pick: Braylon Edwards, Michigan, third overall to the Browns.

Best player: Roddy White, UAB, 27th overall to the Falcons. It took a couple years, and the acquisition of a shiny new quarterback at the top of the draft, but eventually White the diamond shone through the muck in Atlanta and emerged as one of the top receivers in the league. He's been in the top four in receiving DYAR two of the past three seasons.

Biggest bust: Most years, this would be Troy Williamson, South Carolina, seventh overall to the Vikings, who was supposed to replace Randy Moss, but unfortunately only replaced Moss's production on the plays he didn't seem to be trying. This year, though, it's Mike Williams, ex-USC, 10th overall to the Lions. Opinions on Williams were deeply divided even at the time of the Draft. Mel Kiper had him as the top player, while many NFL teams were skeptical of his very limited track record of production and didn't believe he had the athleticism to be a quality NFL wideout. (Titans general manager Floyd Reese said after the Draft he had Williams graded as a fourth-round pick.) Lions general manager Matt Millen overcame the sunk cost fallacy enough to spend his third Top 10 pick in four years on a wide receiver, only to discover that ... no, Mel Kiper was somehow absolutely wrong.

Williams ranked 78th in DVOA and 76th in DYAR as a rookie, then put up worse numbers in his second and third years before the Lions released him during the 2007 season. The Titans signed him, found out 272-pound receivers who couldn't block weren't very effective, and cut him. He spent two years out of the NFL before re-emerging as a useful player with his former coach at USC Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks, though he did only rank 66th (of 85) in DVOA last season.

Best value: The year did not prove to be a great draft to find productive wide receivers after the first two rounds. Titans third- and fourth-round selections Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams, now of the Saints and Redskins respectively, were the only ones to play in 2010, and they combined for eight receptions last year, all by Williams. If the best value wasn't White, it was Vincent Jackson, Northern Colorado, who went 61st overall to the Chargers. His size and ability to go up for the football proved to be an excellent fit for Philip Rivers' skills, and he ranked in the top four in receiving DVOA and DYAR in both 2008 and 2009 before sitting out much of 2010.

Tight Ends

Conventional wisdom: This was not the best tight end class. Heath Miller was clearly the top prospect, and was seen as a fairly complete player – above average in catching and blocking. He wasn't seen, though, as the sort of explosive vertical threat that recent first-round picks Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow were. Beyond Miller, there were no standout prospects.

Highest pick: Heath Miller, Virginia, 30th overall to the Steelers.

Best player: Miller. The conventional wisdom was absolutely right, and he's been exactly what the Steelers expected and needed.

Biggest bust: There two tight ends picked in the third round, "the other" Alex Smith, Stanford, 71st overall to the Buccaneers, and Kevin Everett, Miami, 86th overall to the Bills. Smith was a useful player for the Bucs for a couple years. Everett was primarily a backup for his first two seasons, then suffered a career-ending spine injury on kickoff coverage Week 1 of the 2007 season.

Best value: Bo Scaife, Texas, 179th overall to the Titans. He rivals L.J. Smith as the worst position player ever to receive the franchise tag, is probably the worst player ever to get a raise the year after receiving the franchise tag, and doesn't have any above-average NFL skills, but has still had a much more productive career than any tight end in this class save Miller.

Offensive Line

Conventional wisdom: There were two clear top offensive tackles. Jammal Brown of Oklahoma was probably better off at right tackle, while Alex Barron had the feet but not yet the strength and technique to play left tackle.

Highest pick: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma, 13th overall to the Saints.

Best player: Logan Mankins, Fresno State, 32nd overall to the Patriots. The back-to-back Super Bowl champions had a lot of positional flexibility with the last pick of the first round and used it wisely. The reason first-round guards tend to perform so well is because teams generally don't draft guards in the first round unless they are exceptional prospects. Mankins was, and he has become one of the best guards in the league, even if his Pro Bowl nomination this year was ridiculous.

Biggest bust: Alex Barron, Florida State, 19th overall to the Rams. When Barron was inserted into the lineup, he added some much-needed athleticism to a fading Rams offensive line. Unfortunately for Marc Bulger and the other Rams quarterbacks, he quickly turned into the punch line of a joke. "False start, No. 70 on the offense, five-yard penalty, repeat first down. Holding, No. 70 on the offense, 10-yard penalty, repeat third down."

Best value: While it may not have been a good draft to find a receiver in the later rounds, it was an excellent draft to find an offensive lineman in the later rounds. The Titans drafted future left tackle Michael Roos in the second round, then drafted future right tackle David Stewart, Mississippi State, 113th overall. Other offensive linemen drafted in the fourth round or later include Jason Brown, North Carolina, 124th overall to the Ravens; Todd Herremans, Saginaw Valley State, 126th overall to the Eagles; Frank Omiyale, Tennessee Tech, 163rd overall to the Falcons; Geoff Hangartner, Texas A&M, 169th overall to the Panthers; Chris Myers, Miami, 200th overall to the Broncos; Chris Kemoeatu, Utah, 204th overall to the Steelers; and Scott Mruczkowski, Bowling Green, 242nd overall to the Chargers. There aren't many great players in that list, but that's an embarrassment of talent compared to most later rounds.

Defensive Line

Conventional wisdom: It was very much like 2011, at least once you got past the first 10 or so picks. There weren't the standout players who will be chosen early this year, but there was an excellent amount of depth, especially when it came to edge rushers.

Highest pick: Travis Johnson, Florida State, 16th overall to the Texans.

Best player: Take your pick of Justin Tuck, Notre Dame, 74th overall to the Giants; Trent Cole, Cincinnati, 146th overall to the Eagles; or Jay Ratliff, Auburn, 224th overall to the Cowboys. Cole has the most sacks, with 57; Ratliff has the most Pro Bowls, with three in a row; and Tuck is the only one to earn All-Pro consideration in more than one season.

Biggest bust: The Texans were hoping Johnson would be the key to their defensive line as a stout run-stopper and excellent pass rusher. He proved instead to be a disappointment whose seeming talent always exceeded his production. He was a better player in San Diego after a 2010 mid-season trade, but he still didn't live up to expectations.

Best value: Most years, Jovan Haye, Vanderbilt, 189th overall, who was a good fit after moving inside to tackle for the Buccaneer's Tampa-Two scheme and then got a big free-agent contract from the Titans, would be a candidate for best value -- but not in the same year as Tuck, Cole, and Ratliff.

Linebackers

Conventional wisdom: It was a good year to find an edge rusher for a 3-4 scheme, as there were both premium prospects and depth. For a 4-3 scheme, Derrick Johnson was an all-around star.

Highest pick: DeMarcus Ware, Troy, 11th overall to the Cowboys.

Best player: It looked for a couple years like this would be Shawne Merriman, Maryland, 12th overall to the Chargers. Merriman had double-digit sacks his first three seasons, but has struggled to remain on the field and show the same explosiveness since then. Ware, meanwhile, has come on and may be the league's best edge rusher.

Biggest bust: Dan Cody, Oklahoma was considered a potential first-round pick and a steal when he went to the Ravens at 53rd overall, but he couldn't stay healthy in the NFL. He missed all of 2005 and 2007 with injuries and didn't find any suitors when the Ravens released him in training camp in 2008.

Best value: Leroy Hill, Clemson, 98th overall to the Seahawks was an unexpected impact player as a rookie for the Seahawks, although he's had some off-field problems the last couple years. The best second day linebacker selection was Michael Boley, Southern Mississippi, 160th overall to the Falcons, even if he hasn't been what the Giants hoped he would be when they signed him to a five-year, $25 million deal in free agency in 2009.

Defensive Backs

Conventional wisdom: There were three corners who stood out and would end up as the first three defensive players chosen. Antrel Rolle had the Miami pedigree, but some questioned if he'd be able to adapt to NFL rules against physicality and if he might have to move to safety. Adam "Pacman" Jones brought explosive return ability, but lacked ideal size and temperament. Carlos Rogers was in between both Rolle and Jones -- a big corner with good but not great athleticism and less star potential.

Beyond the top three, you could find speed, speed, and more speed if you looked at Stanford Routt, Fabian Washington, and Justin Miller. Marlin Jackson and Corey Webster had played extraordinarily well at college's highest level.

Highest pick: Adam "Pacman" Jones, sixth overall, to the Titans.

Best player: Nick Collins, Bethune-Cookman, 51st overall to the Packers. The top corners worked out relatively close to as expected, with Rolle moving to safety, Rogers becoming good but not great, and Jones, well, being Pacman Jones. Collins, meanwhile, has developed into a standout for the Super Bowl champions.

Biggest bust: It's funny to say a player who ranked at the top of our game charting statistics in 2006 and was the league's best punt returner that same year (yes, even better than Devin Hester) is the biggest bust at his position, but Pacman was a massive headache to the entire Titans organization everywhere but on the field on Sundays for two seasons -- even before his involvement with "making it rain," a Las Vegas shooting and a year-long suspension.

Best value: Gerald Sensabaugh, North Carolina, 157th overall, was a good player for the Jaguars for a couple years before the Cowboys signed him in free agency. Although he's bounced around more than you'd expect, Chris Harris, Louisiana-Monroe, 181st overall, has been a good player for the Bears and Panthers and made the Every Play Counts All-Pro Team as a rookie.

Special Teams

Conventional wisdom: Mike Nugent was the best kicking prospect since at least Sebastian Janikowski, and well-deserving of a high pick if you were the kind of organization that believed in spending high draft choices on kickers and punters.

Highest pick: Kicker Mike Nugent, Ohio State, 47th overall to the Jets.

Best player: Punter Dustin Colquitt, Tennessee, 99th overall to Chiefs. There were five specialists chosen in the Draft. Besides Nugent and Colquitt, the Colts took Dave Rayner in the sixth round as a kickoff specialist, the Rams drafted punter Reggie Hodges in the sixth round, and the Broncos took kicker Paul Ernster in the seventh round. Rayner was cut after his rookie season and Hodges during it, while Ernster actually made it to his third season before being given the heave-ho. Consider Colquitt the default winner.

Biggest bust: Nugent. He wasn't exactly a bad kicker for the Jets, merely average. He made most of the field goals you'd expect a kicker to make, and missed his fair share of the more difficult ones. He had an OK leg on kickoffs -- not great, but not horrible either. He performed like an average NFL kicker, the kind you can find as an undrafted free agent.

Best value: The Tennessee Titans, for drafting left tackle Michael Roos in the second round instead of Nugent and finding Rob Bironas, who's been the kickoff man and placekicker the Jets hoped Nugent would be, in a kicking competition during training camp. No specialist has been drafted in the first three rounds since this Draft, which is as it should be.

Previous articles in this series:

Comments

1
by Shawn :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 1:44pm

Isn't it a little harsh to call Kevin Everett a bust? Maybe he didn't play up to an expected 3rd round value in his first two years, but he wasn't so bad in this 2 years to deserve a bust label. At best an incomplete.

2
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:08pm

Alex Smith
Ronnie Brown
Braylon Edwards
Cedric Benson
Cadillac Williams
Pacman Jones
Troy Williamson
Antrel Rolle
Carlos Rogers
Mike Williams

This has to be one of the singly-worst top tens ever in the modern history of the NFL draft.

19
by BJR :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 4:47pm

Indeed. Of those ten players, by my reckoning six are not now playing for the team that drafted them, and of those six only one (Rolle) has switched teams by virtue of free agency after his rookie contract expired. I can't be bothered to check, but I can't imagine many NFL drafts have had five of the top ten picks traded or cut before their rookie contracts ran out.

3
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:12pm

poor dan cody. Despite their great units over the lats decade, the ravens really have struggled in drafting linebackers.

4
by mrbusche :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:13pm

a player picked 101st is the biggest bust at RB? J.J. Arrington at pick 44, Eric Shelton at 54, Vernand Morency, and Ryan Moats are all as big of or bigger busts than Clarett.

7
by Dean :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:52pm

Arrington is still in the league, even if he sucks.

They're all busts, but the "biggest bust" has to be Clarett, partly because he didn't just step on his crank, he did so spectacularly.

8
by mrbusche :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:07pm

Eric Shelton had 8 carries for 23 yards in one NFL season. He was drafted 57 spots ahead of Clarett. I don't see how this is even a contest.

13
by Dean :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:58pm

While Shelton certainly didn't pan out, he did at least carry the football in an NFL game. That's more than Clarett can say. Shelton quietly battled injuries and mediocrity and made a benign exit from the league. I'm sure his mama noticed, but I'm equally sure very few others did.

Clarett was arrested for making an illegal U-turn, then promptly fled the scen in an SUV that wasn't his. The cops caugh him when he drove over a police spike strip. Upon being arrested, Clarett had to be gagged when he started spitting on the cops. In the SUV, the cops found a small arsenal - a loaded AK-47, some loaded pistols, and A JAPANESE DUELING SWORD in his vehicle. Oh, and an open bottle of Grey Goose. Just in case that's not bizarre enough, Clarett had to be maced. Why? BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING FREAKIN' BODY ARMOR. Just for one final detail, Clarett was declared a flight risk, and so bail was set in the millions (which he never made because he was such a bust).

It's one thing to fail. It's another to fail spectacularly. This is why we remember Tony Mandarich, Ryan Leaf and Mike Mamula (yeah, I know), and the plain, garden-variety bust simply fades away.

22
by Will :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 8:06pm

From a pure football level, I'd rather have a guy that's bad enough that he frees up a roster spot for a special teamer than a guy who eat up a roster spot for 8 carries (and was a much higher draft pick).

Clarrett is a bigger knucklehead, but I'm not sure anyone taken with the last pick of the third round should be considered the biggest bust.

Will

31
by Kibbles :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 3:08am

Especially because Maurice Clarett essentially didn't cost the Broncos a dime. In a move that pretty clearly demonstrated his mental state, Clarett opted out of a traditional rookie contract and instead requested a heavily incentive-laden affair... that completely lacked a signing bonus. The only money Denver paid Clarett was the pittance of a workout bonus that they give to all the camp fodder that has no shot of making the roster.

Clarett gets remembered for the sheer spectacle he made as he burned up on re-entry, but plenty of other RBs were far bigger busts. Like Eric Shelton, who was drafted 47 picks earlier (54 vs. 101), paid at least a million dollars more (signed a 4-year, $2.8 million contract), cost a roster spot, and finished his career with a whopping 23 more rushing yards than Clarett (in a pretty clear case of someone editing their own Wikipedia page, Shelton's page humorously notes that he "only" needed 8 carries to amass that unbelievable total).

68
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 12:44pm

JJ Arrington hasn't played in a game since Super Bowl 43. In what way is he still in the league?

5
by Tim Wilson :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:32pm

Yes, that top 10 is awful, but 2005 was a talented first round overall. The first round was worse the next year-- I attended in person and got to see Reggie Bush, Bobby Carpenter, Ernie Sims, Vince Young, Ernie Sims, Matt Leinart, and other such luminaries drafted in the top 32.

I'd forgotten this, but it was a hell of a draft for the Cowboys that year:

#11: DeMarcus Ware, perennial All-Pro

#20: Marcus Spears, 6 year starter at 3-4 DE

#42: Kevin Burnett, nickel "starter" at LB for 4+ years

(no third round pick)

#109: Marion Barber, starting RB for 5 seasons (not counting his sub-par 2010)

#132: Chris Canty, 5 year starter at 3-4 DE

#208 (compensatory pick): Justin Beriault, washout safety

#209 (compensatory pick): Rob Petitti, starting OT for 1 season, although not a good one

#224: Jay Ratliff, 3-time Pro Bowler and one-time All Pro at DT/NT

9
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:07pm

2006 had Mario Williams, D'Brickshaw Ferguson, and Vernon Davis in the top 10, and A.J. Hawk, while not really living up to his draft position, has been a solid LB. Was Reggie Bush worthy of the hype? No, but he's still been a good player.

There were loads of good first-rounders outside of the top 10 in 2006. Cutler, Ngata, Greenway, Cromartie, Hali, Davin Joseph, Jonathan Joseph, a bunch of others. Actually, it's pretty easy to argue that the latter half of the 2006 first round was better than the first half. 2005's first round was lousy in general, IMO:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2005/draft.htm

2006 was better all-around:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2006/draft.htm

24
by Jim Z. (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 9:11pm

The Tuna's finest work.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, he's not selecting players for them on draft day anymore and drafts as exceptional as this probably won't be occuring under the reign of GM Jerry.

28
by Independent George :: Sat, 04/16/2011 - 11:19am

Didn't he also sign Romo as UFA that year, too?

29
by JIPanick :: Sat, 04/16/2011 - 1:59pm

That was the year before (and Austin was the year after).

6
by Dean :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 2:51pm

This is the first I've heard of the Tim Ruskell Special. Maybe I just haven't paid attention? Who else fits this mould?

10
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:18pm

Oh, how about Lawrence Jackson in the 1st round. Arrrgg!!

16
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 4:08pm

Jackson was in 2008. And I forgot Aaron Curry in 2009. HOW could I forget Curry?...Oh, pretty easy!

11
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:24pm

Oh Yeah, and Kelly Jennings in round 1 in 2006.

sigh

14
by Dean :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:59pm

Ah. I was somehow thinking it applied to QBs. Now I'm tracking.

15
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 4:05pm

Every quarterback in the Lewin Career Forecast.

18
by Dean :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 4:23pm

Except that he didn't draft any of them.

17
by Anonymouse 2 (not verified) :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 4:11pm

That's the punchline for a bad Seattle pick. Usually followed by "drafting smurfs for cornerbacks", drafting DT's that hit their ceiling in college, reaching for DE's that fill the "Justin Tuck-light" spot, or desperation trades for old WRs only to trade them back to their team for a fraction of the value.

I feel sorry for the Chicago Bears...

61
by BigCheese :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 10:45pm

Don't remind me. It's what we get for wishing Angelo would find someone else to do the draft...

- Alvaro

12
by andrew :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 3:55pm

I would argue the biggest bust for the defensive line would be Erasmus James, 18th overall (2 behind Travis Johnson). About his only impact his rookie year was being flagged for roughing Favre. He then missed all but 3 games of the next two seasons with the Vikings due to injuries and was dealt to the Redskins for a conditional 7th rounder. He lasted 5 games with the skins in which he didn't record a statistic before being waived and out of football. (Washington got the conditional pick back so Minnesota didn't even have that to show for it).

Comprison:

Erasmus James: 37 tackles, 5 sacks.
Travis Johnson 102 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception.

Johnson is at least still playing.

25
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 10:03pm

Agreed. Johnson's been a crappy player (I'm a Texans fan, I know whatof I speak) but he's a legitimate NFL backup or even a rotation player for a bad team. He belonged in the draft, just not in (or anywhere near) the first round.

Tragically, that still makes him the best player the Texans drafted that year. And CC Brown the second best. There was also Jerome Mathis, who was fast enough to be an excellent KR as a rookie but then washed out through a combination of injuries and wifebeating, Vernand Morency, whose 171 career carries were 171 more than his talent merited, Drew Hodgdon and Kenneth Pettway. Remember Drew Hodgdon and Kenneth Pettway? No? I'm shocked.

Casserly was fired for a reason.

34
by Whatev :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 9:36am

CC Brown? Good lord.

20
by JasonK :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 7:04pm

Special "doing more with less" award to the NY Giants. They had only 4 picks in 2005 as result of the Eli trade. They got Corey Webster (2nd round), Justin Tuck (3rd round), Brandon Jacobs (4th round), and Eric Moore (6th round-- a DE who washed out with the Giants, but who is still on an NFL roster).

It's not as impressive as the Cowboys' haul discussed above. (I think Ware is pretty clearly the best player anybody got in this draft.) But any draft that produces an all-pro-caliber DE, a quite solid starter at CB, and a committee RB with a career 4.6 ypc average is a win. Doing so with only 4 picks (and no 1st rounder) is really nice.

27
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 11:24pm

For me, jury's still out on who's the best player from that draft. Ware's done the most to date, but I suspect Rodgers will ultimately have more value, and it's by no means impossible that Tuck and/or Cole could too. Maybe even White or Vincent Jackson. I think if there was a do-over on the draft (sticking with real life trades) it would go something like:

1. (49ers) Aaron Rodgers
2. (Dolphins) Trent Cole (because they ran a 4-3)
3. (Browns) DeMarcus Ware
4. (Bears) Roddy White
5. (Buccaneers) Justin Tuck
6. (Titans) Vincent Jackson
7. (Vikings) Frank Gore
8. (Cardinals) Michael Roos (Mankins is a better guard than Roos is tackle, but left tackles are so much more important than guards)
9. (Redskins) Jay Ratliff
10. (Lions) Lofa Tatupu (I was tempted to say Braylon Edwards, on the grounds that hindsight may be 20/20 but Millen is still Millen)
11. (Cowboys) Logan Mankins
12. (Chargers) Nick Collins
13. (Saints) Thomas Davis
14. (Panthers) Derrick Johnson
15. (Chiefs) Leroy Hill (yup, it's a run on 4-3 OLBs)
16. (Texans) Kyle Orton
17. (Bengals) Jason Brown
18. (Vikings) Braylon Edwards
19. (Rams) Carlos Rogers
20. (Cowboys) Shawne Merriman (this assumes the injury and subsequent decline; he would otherwise obviously be a lot higher)
21. (Jaguars) Heath Miller
22. (Ravens) Luis Castillo
23. (Raiders) Jonathan Stewart
24. (Packers) Marion Barber
25. (Redskins) Matt Cassel (I'm not a huge Cassel fan, but I can't think of anyone else who would be both a fit for the 2005 Redskins and anything approaching a value here)
26. (Seahawks) Oshiomogho Atogwe
27. (Falcons) Mike Patterson
28. (Chargers) Marcus Spears
29. (Colts) Ronnie Brown
30. (Steelers) Todd Herremans (I think the Steelers would probably try to trade down here, realistically)
31. (Eagles) Jonathan Babineaux
32. (Patriots) Antrel Rolle

32
by Kibbles :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 3:14am

Question: What is a "weak draft"?

Answer: Any draft where a retrospective mock of the first round includes Kyle Orton and Matt Cassell.

37
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 11:57am

Definitely a shallow draft, especially at QB (though I think there's still just an outside chance that Alex Smith could yet turn out to be pretty good after all), but I'd say the most valuable players in 2005 were as good as might generally be expected based on the last ten drafts we can reasonably discuss. Compare Rodgers/Ware/Cole/Tuck/White/Jackson with the following:

2006

Mario Williams
D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Greg Jennings
Jahri Evans
Brandon Marshall
Jay Cutler

2004

Phillip Rivers
Jared Allen
Larry Fitzgerald
Ben Roethlisberger
Eli Manning
Matt Schaub

2003

Nnamdi Asomugha
Troy Polamalu
Andre Johnson
Antonio Gates
Kevin Williams
Carson Palmer

2002

Ed Reed
Julius Peppers
Dwight Freeney
Albert Haynesworth
Aaron Kampman
Bryant McKinnie

2001

Drew Brees
LaDainian Tomlinson
Richard Seymour
Shaun Rogers
Steve Smith
Reggie Wayne

2000

Tom Brady
Chris Samuels
John Abraham
Brian Urlacher
Marc Bulger
Keith Bulluck

1999

Champ Bailey
Donovan McNabb
Torry Holt
Aaron Smith
Joey Porter
Donald Driver

1998

Peyton Manning
Randy Moss
Charles Woodson
Alan Faneca
Leonard Little
Hines Ward

1997

Orlando Pace
Walter Jones
Tony Gonzalez
Jason Taylor
Pat Williams
Ronde Barber

52
by Kibbles :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 5:59pm

I don't argue that the best players from 2005 were on par with the best players from other years. I'm just saying, when Matt Cassell is one of the 32 best players you produce (or most valuable, or most draftable, or however you want to define it), I'd say that's a strong argument that the talent level declines pretty damn precipitously from there.

62
by BigCheese :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 11:08pm

Yeah, only 99 and MAYBE 00 are comparable to 05. 97, 98, 03 and 04 completely blow 05 out of the water.

- Alvaro

67
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 12:24pm

I'm not so sure of that. I mean, it's tough to judge, because when you're talking about historical greatness rather than just bust/non-bust 6 years is still much too early to say, but it seems plausible that Rodgers could end up in the very top category of quarterbacks, making him one of the five most valuable players of the period under discussion (with Manning, Brady, Brees and Rivers) while I would peg Ware as likely to end up the second most valuable non-QB behind only Moss, and a better pick due to non-craziness. I also think Tuck and Jackson are stronger than most of the other 5/6s there. What's notable about 2005 is that all 6 players are at high-value positions with all-pro level peak performance (anticipating a bit for Rodgers, but it seems likely) - there are no DTs, no guards, no Tampa-2 CBs, no 4-3 linebackers, no stat-compiling good-for-a-long-time-but-never-great WRs . . .

I think I'd rank 2005 roughly on a par with 1997, behind 1998, 2003 and 2004 and ahead of the rest. Again, though, we won't be able say for certain for at least another 5 years.

72
by Dan :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 6:47pm

A simple way to compare draft classes is to count Pro Bowlers and Pro Bowls (keeping in mind that this will tend to underrate recent classes which still have many active players). Here are those numbers for 1996-2007; "Pro Bowlers" is the number of players who made at least one Pro Bowl (excluding kickers and punters), and "Pro Bowls" is the total number of Pro Bowls made by all players (except K & P) in that draft class.

Year: Pro Bowlers, Pro Bowls
1996: 33, 114
1997: 23, 74
1998: 27, 82
1999: 22, 55
2000: 24, 53
2001: 32, 88
2002: 19, 47
2003: 31, 68
2004: 25, 48
2005: 22, 39
2006: 25, 38
2007: 16, 29

It looks like strong years in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, and probably 2006, with weak years in 1999, 2000, and 2002. 2005 looks pretty average on both counts, although it's really too soon to tell on the total number of Pro Bowls.

73
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 7:29pm

Still not a perfect way because it doesn't count steady starters who don't make pro bowls.

74
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 10:17pm

And because it (presumably) counts kick return and special teams pro-bowlers, and because a pro bowl quarterback is worth more than a pro bowl fullback, and because the pro bowl selection process is, um, questionable . . .

There's no perfect measure, of course, but for drafts where more or less every non-kicker's career is now over I'd be happy to acknowledge aggregate AV as a pretty good one. Hopeless for any draft from 1998 onwards, of course, but there we are.

39
by JonFrum :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 12:50pm

Given the number of first round draft choices that don't pan out, I see nothing wrong with a starting QB in the mix. Where would you expect to draft starting QBs? If you expect to get an All-Pro out of every first round pick every year, you have an expectation problem.

42
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 5:58pm

Hang on, though: we're talking about the certainty of a decentish starting QB versus the certainty of a probably better than just decent player at another position. There's no possibility of a bust other than through injury (or maybe coaching incompetence) - we know more-or-less how all these players pan out. It's not Orton or Cassel vs. Generic First Round Pick; it's Orton vs. Jason Brown or Carlos Rogers or Heath Miller, or Cassel vs. Oshiomogho Atogwe or Ronnie Brown or Todd Herremans. Non-QB superstar is off the menu, but so is non-QB bust.

That said, I stand by both Orton (who I think fairly highly of) and Cassel (who I think rather less highly of) as retrospective first rounders. Coincidentally, the 16th overall pick that I have the Parallel Texans using on Orton is very similar in chart value to the two second rounders and swap of firsts that the real Texans shipped to Atlanta two years later for the in fact superior but at the time somewhat unknown quantity that was Matt Schaub.

53
by Kibbles :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 6:01pm

I stand behind those decisions, too. I immediately thought "wait, you can't tell me that MATT CASSELL was one of the 32 best/most draftable players from 2005", so I looked at the list of players drafted, and I couldn't really come up with anyone to replace him with. That was sort of my point. It's MATT CASSELL.

I'd be curious how many other drafts would wind up with someone the caliber of Matt Cassell in the first round if you did a retrospective mock.

60
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 8:12pm

I can't be bothered to go through in full again for other years right now, but I've had a fairly cursory flick-through via the PFR sort by AV method. Conclusion: there are years where Cassel wouldn't be a first rounder, but most years he probably would. #25 is towards the high end of his range, but not a real outlier. Given that he was in reality traded for a very high second which may possibly have been a slight buddy-discount, that seems reasonable. Orton absolutely would be a first rounder in any year, but not necessarily as high as #16.

I'm slightly surprised by that result too, but I think, as Dan suggests below, that decent starting quarterbacks are scarce enough that they just really are more valuable than you would expect. If there are only 20-25 viable NFL starting quarterbacks at any given time, scarcity is inevitably going to drive up cost.

41
by Dan :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 3:57pm

I think a decent starting quarterback belongs in the top 32.

If we rank players by Pro Football Reference's Career AV, the 32nd best player in each draft class from 1999-2006 was WR Peerless Price, LB Ian Gold, HB Rudi Johnson, LB Ben Leber, OG Vince Manuwai, TE Ben Watson, DT Jonathan Babineaux, and OT Charlie Johnson. Wouldn't you rather have Orton or Cassel?

Right now Cassel & Orton are 26th and 33rd in their class in Career AV, but they're both held back by limited playing time (neither did much of anything their first 3 years) and should move up the rankings with another year or two as a starter.

44
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 6:04pm

Man, I wish I'd realised PFR had a draft finder earlier. I'd been getting so frustrated trying to get precisely those lists out of the play index.

I'm vaguely tickled that Babineaux (unlike many other players, such as Jason Campbell) comes out in so similar a position by AV and by my 100% subjective analysis.

35
by Whatev :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 9:41am

Part of the issue is that prospects don't develop in a vacuum, so it's hard to tell what, if anything, a do-over would change. Even if you don't believe that players can be "ruined" by poor training, teams can certainly fail to utilize their talents properly. So moving to this counterfactual world could very well change the stats generated and thus our perception of the players' values.

36
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 10:59am

Very true, of course. I've tried to allocate players to teams where they would be a schematic fit for what the team was running in 2005 (hence Ware falling behind Cole despite being probably a superior player), but all sorts of unpredictable factors would inevitably come into play - not least alternate reality coaching (and hence scheme) changes.

I'm surprised no-one's yet picked me up on the late night brain fart that led me to send Jonathan Stewart to the Raiders three years before he entered the draft . . .

I meant David Stewart, obviously.

One thing I found interesting doing that excercise was how much it changed what positions could be taken where relative to the real draft. Guys at the lower value positions - interior offensive linemen, safeties, 4-3 linebackers and so on - can go much higher once you know they're definitely good and will therefore outperform their rookie contract even at the back end of the top ten.

47
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 2:58pm

In a merciful world, the Lions take Mankins. They desperately need good line play.

59
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 8:04pm

In a merciful world, the Lions don't hire Millen . . .

63
by BigCheese :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 11:11pm

I think you meant "in a much more boring world."

- Alvaro

21
by Tom Gower :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 7:55pm

Judging the biggest bust is an interesting exercise, and there are different ways to call it. There were a couple I was conflicted on, and of course most of them get mentioned in the comments.

RB: Shelton really didn't have a career, but what put Clarett over him for me was the sheer "WTF?" nature of the pick. The Broncos had had success with plug-and-play RBs, and spending a third-round pick on a guy who seemed like a malcontent and had a doughy physique seemed like an utter absurdity.

TE: There were only three TEs drafted highly enough to earn any sort of "bust" consideration-I can't really say anybody drafted in the sixth round is the "biggest bust." Miller's been very solid, and I thought Alex Smith did more than Everettt before his injury. Everett wasn't a big bust by any means.

DL: Johnson, I think, is a great example of a first-round pick who keeps getting put in the lineup because he was a first-round pick and his team expects him to do something good some day, even though there's no evidence he ever will. He's the biggest bust the same way Joey Harrington is the worst quarterback ever. James was more of an injury risk bet that didn't pan out.

23
by Will :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 8:08pm

If Maurice Clarett went to Kent State rather than Ohio State, he would not be your biggest bust. He's getting the label because of his stardom at Ohio State and his off the field issues more than anything to do with the NFL.

Will

26
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/15/2011 - 10:40pm

If Maurice Clarett had gone to Kent State, he'd have never been drafted in the first place.

48
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 3:12pm

Clarett put up big numbers against a bunch of highly-ranked schools in 2002. He's basically the perfect size for a modern-day running back. He'd have gotten interest coming out of Kent with his body of work.

50
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 3:22pm

He wouldn't have had the opportunity at Kent State; it's not like he'd have played against that many big-name schools at Kent State. Mix together the easier schedule he'd have gone against plus the year off, and no, he doesn't get drafted.

65
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 11:05am

Just like small-school RBs like Tomlinson, Ryan Matthews, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Matt Forte didn't get drafted?

If you put up gaudy numbers (and Clarett destroyed some really good teams, let alone teams that Kent State plays) at a small-school, you'll still get drafted.

69
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 12:50pm

All of those guys played more than 1 year of college, and none of them sat out a year.

70
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 4:55pm

And they were all actually in shape.

78
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 04/20/2011 - 11:51pm

Clarett was in shape. Round is a shape.

38
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 11:59am

"Johnson, I think, is a great example of a first-round pick who keeps getting put in the lineup because he was a first-round pick and his team expects him to do something good some day, even though there's no evidence he ever will."

No, he's a guy who kept being put in the lineup because he played for the Texans. Who were they going to bench him for? Cedric Killings? Lionel Dalton? Anthony Maddox? The festering corpse of Jeff Zgonina? You can say they should have dedicated resources to replacing him earlier, but when Kubiak arrived in 2006 they had NFL-calibre starters at WR1, LG, CB1 and K and nowhere else, and they used a top ten pick on a DT as early as 2007 (who, of course, turned out to be better than Johnson but still not very good). Mediocre highly drafted quarterbacks kill franchises. Mediocre highly drafted DTs don't.

In San Diego, he got too much time because of injuries to the guys in front of him, plain and simple. They signed him as a backup and he's a backup-calibre player.

Edited because I somehow forgot about Dunta Robinson.

33
by Kibbles :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 3:59am

Denver spending a 3rd rounder on Clarett was perfectly in character for the Broncos under Shanahan.

To start with, the whole "3rd rounder" designation is very disingenuous. It was the last pick of the 3rd round, an untradeable compensatory pick. More than 96 picks had already been executed, meaning the pick was essentially a 4th rounder, but "3rd round RB busts!" is much more sensational, so that's the headline people stick with.

Second off... Terrell Davis was drafted 196th overall. Detron Smith was drafted 65th overall. L.T. Levine was drafted 235th overall. Curtis Alexander was drafted 122nd overall. Chris Howard was drafted 153rd overall. Olandis Gary was pick #127 overall. Mike Anderson was picked 189th overall. Clinton Portis was picked 51st overall. Ahmaad Galloway was drafted 235th overall. Quentin Griffin was pick #108 overall. Brandon Miree was drafted 247th overall. Tatum Bell was picked 41st overall. Maurice Clarett was drafted 101st overall. Ryan Torain was picked 139th overall. Peyton Hillis was drafted 227th overall. During Shanahan's 14 years running Denver's war room, the Broncos drafted 15 RBs, most of them right in the same area of the draft that Denver got Clarett. Spending the 101st pick on Clarett was perfectly in keeping with Denver's organizational philosophy (the philosophy that led to all those "plug and play" success stories that you're using to second-guess the drafting of Maurice Clarett). Shanahan drafted an RB in 10 of his 14 drafts, and in 2 of the drafts where he didn't, he only had 3 and 4 picks. There was nothing "wtf?" about Mike Shanahan drafting an RB at the end of the 3rd round- it was probably the most predictable pick he made all draft.

As to whether Clarett was a "reach" with the 101st pick... it doesn't matter. Denver didn't pick again until the 6th round, 100 picks later. The 101st pick was untradeable, because it was compensatory. Maurice Clarett would have been gone before the Broncos picked again. If the Broncos wanted Clarett, their choices were either "reach" for him at 101, or trade multiple picks to draft him somewhere where he wasn't such a "reach". Personally, I'm glad they "reached" for him.

At the end of the day, if you strip away the sensational nature of Maurice Clarett himself (the nearly winning the Heisman as a freshman, the suing the NFL and winning, then losing, the feuding with his Alma Mater, the showing up to the combine out of shape, the refusing a signing bonus, the getting cut in camps, the arrest and further decline), the 101st pick of the 2005 draft was utterly unremarkable. A headline reading "Project RB taken 101st fails to work out" would be stuck on page 97 of the paper, right between "Scientists discover moon still orbits Earth" and "Senate probe discovers instances of Pork Barrel spending".

Heck, you want to talk about Denver Broncos draft busts at RB, the standard isn't Clarett (pick #101 of the 2005 draft), it's Griffin (pick #108 of the 2003 draft), who actively hurt the franchise, rushing for -104 career DYAR and fumbling away at least one sure victory (dropping the ball at the goal line with a dozen seconds remaining in a 1-point loss).

Obviously I'm a bit too invested in this, but the whole "Maurice Clarett is an unbelievable bust!!!1!1!!!1!oneone!" storyline is lazy journalism, the kind that I expect from the national media, but not from a place like Football Outsiders. Clarett was a bad pick, but he did far, far, far less to harm his franchise than a huge number of players, especially because, as I've said, he never counted so much as a dime against the salary cap. A team that had a long history of taking fliers on RBs in the mid rounds took a flier on an RB in the mid rounds because they liked him and it was their only chance to get him (Bill Parcells, who absolutely SLAYED the rest of the 2005 draft, was reportedly looking at taking Maurice Clarett with his 4th round pick). There were reasons to like Clarett, despite how he looked at the combine- remember, this is essentially the only freshman other than Hershel Walker to make a credible run at the Heisman Trophy. He didn't work out, just like 80% of RBs drafted in that area, but because of the trainwreck-like fascination the public had with his fall from grace, everyone remembers Clarett and thinks he's a much bigger bust than he really was.

40
by JonFrum :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 12:53pm

Yes - you are a bit too invested in this. Doesn't make you a bad person, but...

49
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 3:16pm

remember, this is essentially the only freshman other than Hershel Walker to make a credible run at the Heisman Trophy
------

Vick finished 3rd in 1999 as a freshman.

54
by Kibbles :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 6:09pm

Adrian Peterson finished with 997 points to Leinart's 1325, despite the fact that he was splitting votes with his teammate, 3rd place finisher Jason White (957 points). He finished with 58% as many first place votes as Leinart (again, despite splitting the vote). That is a credible run.

Michael Vick finished with 319 points to Dayne's 2042. He finished with 4% as many first place votes as Dayne. Vick's 3rd place finish was a nice showing, but it was most certainly not a credible run. Michael Vick never came within 10 miles of actually walking away with the trophy, but *SOMEBODY* had to finish 2nd and 3rd while Dayne was busy running away with the award in a landslide.

66
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 11:28am

Walker finished a distance 3rd as well. (1128 to 683, with an 861 in between)

But Walker, Vick, and Peterson are the only freshman to finish in the top-3. Peterson is the only freshman to finish higher than third.

51
by mcgatman (not verified) :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 4:13pm

Is "Kibbles" Kyle Shanahan's nickname?

79
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 10:14am

I was thinking Clarret's mom.

30
by DA (not verified) :: Sat, 04/16/2011 - 6:53pm

Nick Collins over Corey Webster? At least there should be an honorable mention.

43
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 04/17/2011 - 5:59pm

So this is a bit of oranges vs grapefruits comparisons. Both players are defensive backs but different defenses, different teams. So lets set the table.

First the teams.

. . . . Record . . . . Pass Def DVOA
YEAR . GB . . . NY . . . GB . . NY
2010 . 10-06 . 10-06 . -17.8 . -12.1
2009 . 11-05 . 08-08 . -13.8 . +11.3
2008 . 06-10 . 12-04 . -08.2 . +01.9
2007 . 13-03 . 10-06 . +05.8 . +03.4
2006 . 08-08 . 09-07 . -15.7 . +03.3
2005 . 04-12 . 11-05 . +10.1 . +05.9
TOT .. 52-44 . 60-36

The Giants, have on average, had slightly better record. Giants made the playoffs 4 times, Packers 3. NFC Championship game, Packers 2, Giants 1. Both teams have one Super Bowl appearance and one Super Bowl win. So the win loss results tip a bit in favor of the Giants. The Packers have had the better pass defense in 4 of the 6 years (by hefty margins in most cases).

So how do the players differ? Well of course they play different positions and have different responsibilities of course. There aren't a lot of advanced stats for defensive backs. So conventional stats.

Games Played / Starts (96 possible)
Collins - 93 / 93
Webster - 85 / 59

So Collins managed to start every game he wasn't injured for on a team that generally had a better defense, though slightly less overall success.

Passes Defensed / Intercepted
Collins - 67 / 21
Webster - 68 / 10

Cornerbacks generally see more targets than safeties, Collins with more games had presumably more plays to accumulate his numbers though. Webster has 6 forced fumbles and 3 fumble returns vs 5 FF and 4 FR for Collins, essentially a wash. Collins has 5 defensive TDs vs 1 for Webster. I think those numbers clearly still favor Collins, more big play potential at the very least.

I poked at Advanced NFL stats as well to get their EPA/G and Success Rate numbers. I'll do year by year on this.


. . . Collins . . . Webster
YEAR . EPA/G . SR . .EPA/G . SR
2010 . 2.09 . 34.9 . 1.99 . 34.8
2009 . 2.70 . 42.4 . 1.45 . 35.8
2008 . 3.49 . 41.3 . 2.33 . 53.8
2007 . 1.12 . 37.0 . 1.01 . 29.4
2006 . 2.43 . 40.0 . 2.07 . 42.1
2005 . 2.08 . 38.6 . 1.16 . 33.3

So in 2008 while Collins had more Expected Points Added per game, he wasn't as successful on plays. That is the only year where on a per play basis that Webster looks comparable to Collins. Collins always had a better EPA/G and only twice did he have a lower success rate.

Webster wasn't even rated the best CB on his team by these measures.

I also know the value of Pro Bowls when comparing players, it's not much, but 3 for Collins to none for Webster.

The Career AV numbers are even worse for Webster as Collins has had more AV every year and it comes out 53 to 28. Weighted numbers are 48 to 26.

Again I agree it can be hard to judge player vs player especially at different positions, but pretty much everything points to Collins being the better player, and it's not that close.

45
by Jay Z (not verified) :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 1:20am

I would beg to differ with Orton or Cassell being the "best value" over Rodgers. When you are looking for top flight quarterback talent, why do you want to be bargain shopping? I think the difference between an MVP-caliber quarterback who can help you win a Super Bowl, and someone who's average or above average but not at the MVP level, way outways the draft pick position. I might still consider Rodgers the best value if he was picked in the top 5. Given that he was picked #24, he's clearly a better value because of his superior performance at the most important position.

46
by Jerry :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 2:00am

You can make a case that the Best Player is always the "best value" at any position, but that makes the Best Value writeup in this article redundant. It's interesting to see which quality players got drafted later, and the Best Value slot handles that.

55
by Kibbles :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 6:15pm

No you can't.

Let's say Player A is 0.000001% better than Player B, but Player A was drafted #1 overall and Player B was drafted #250 overall. I don't think you could possibly make any argument that Player A was a better value. There is not always an argument that the best player was the best value. In situations like this, though, where the best player was so far ahead of his peers *AND* underdrafted to boot, then the best player happens to also be the best value.

If you want a category that rewards late-round gems, then name it "Late Round Gems" instead of "Best Value". In this case, I think Rodgers is clearly a much, much better value. If offered the choice between either trading the #24 pick for Aaron Rodgers or trading the #108 pick for Kyle Orton, I guarantee you all 32 GMs would take the first deal without hesitating.

57
by tuluse :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 7:11pm

Most GMs would always take the best player over the best value. You can only start 22 guys at a time and if they are really good they are worth "over buying."

To carry your example further, I think all 32 GMs would take Rodgers at #1 overall over Orton at Mr Irrelevant, but that doesn't really tell us how much value they would get for their pick.

75
by Kibbles :: Wed, 04/20/2011 - 7:25am

This makes no sense. GMs take the best value, it's just that the fact that only 22 guys are on the field at a time (making NFL players more like Gladiators than Bricklayers) means the top players are so much more valuable than the not-quite-the-top players. It's still absolutely a value decision, though.

If most GMs would trade the #1 for Rodgers before they traded the #250 for Orton, then that tells me that the #1 for Rodgers is a higher-value scenario. If Orton-for-the-250th presented more value, then the GMs would make that trade, instead.

77
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/20/2011 - 7:44pm

Let me ask you this. Would Bill Polian rather have Aaron Rodgers his first round pick in 2005 or Kyle Orton with his 4th round pick?

Value in the NFL is a very nebulous concept, and this nit picking over a section heading has become tiresome.

56
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 6:32pm

This is pretty much how I think of the Best Value column. Rather than a formal declaration of the player who most exceeded the median level of expected performance from that draft slot, it's a way to note players not taken highly who greatly exceeded their median level of expected performance.

As an aside, I'd say Cassel has probably had the best career to date of any quarterback drafted in the 7th round since 1995. The only other seventh-rounder in that time frame to make at least 20 career starts is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Personally, I don't think Rodgers is the best quarterback drafted in the first round since 1995.

58
by tuluse :: Mon, 04/18/2011 - 7:12pm

I think people need to relax more.

What would be the point of giving Rodgers both awards? He's already been acknowledged as the best player, let another player get some glory.

64
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 8:48am

Glory is also a relative term. An award on a somewhat obscure, albeit well-respected, web site isn't that significant. With much larger awards (e.g., the Oscars), it's very common for the same person or thing to receive more than one award when it is clearly the best in the category nominated. Rodgers is clearly both the best player in this draft and the best value. (In fact, he was probably the best value regardless of position played.). He should be both.

71
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/19/2011 - 4:56pm

He should be both.

Even if he is technically both, it's still boring.

76
by Kibbles :: Wed, 04/20/2011 - 7:26am

Really? I mean, the article could still contain an entire paragraph talking about what a great value Cassell and Orton were, but if it threw in one tiny sentence at the end that said "Despite this, Rodgers was the best value", that would bore you? You'd be fully engaged and entertained until you read the last 7 words and then you'd immediately be bored?

Personally, I doubt either your opinion or my opinion of the article are really impacted very much by who "wins" this "best value" "award". With that said, I think it's mildly irritating that the "best value" award is either misnamed or unevenly applied. Name the award "Late-round gems" and it's all Orton. Name it "Best value", though, and I can't for the life of me imagine how it could possibly go to anyone except Rodgers, who is a legit MVP candidate whose nationally televised fall from #1 overall was legendary.