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» Clutch Encounters: Week 4

Blowout week, but not for the Steelers. Do they play down to the competition? Also: bad Foles, Bridgewater's debut, and did J.J. Watt just end EJ Manuel's career in Buffalo?

03 Apr 2012

The 2006 Draft: Six Years Later

by Tom Gower

It's time, once again, to step in the Football Outsiders Wayback Machine and look at the draft that happened six years ago. The customary "report card" report indicates that in those days of yore, the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns were praised for their drafting savvy, while the Houston Texans' decision to draft a defensive end rather than a running back with the first overall pick was deemed deeply controversial.

Many of the headlines surrounding that draft involved the running back the Texans passed on, Reggie Bush, and his Southern California teammates on The Greatest Team of All Time (until they inconveniently lost to Texas). You had Bush's backfield mate LenDale White plus fullback David Kirtman, his quarterback Matt Leinart, his tight end Dominique Byrd, and his offensive linemen Winston Justice, Deuce Lutui, and Fred Matua. On defense, you had safety Darnell Bing, defensive end Frostee Rucker, and defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey. In all, eleven Trojans would be selected before the draft ended. On the other hand, you could instead have the quarterback USC lost to, Texas' Vince Young.

Longtime FO readers may remember it as The Babatunde Oshinowo Draft. The post-draft series of Four Downs included a list of the best players available when each team drafted. As Oshinowo, a Stanford teammate of current FO staffer Ben Muth, was the biggest faller on several of the draft boards used for the comparison, the best player analysis indicated every team in the NFL should have at least considered drafting him before the Browns eventually took him 181st overall. He ended up playing one game for the Browns in 2006 and one game for the Bears in 2007, and his last NFL appearance was spending a week in 49ers training camp in 2009. Keep this in mind when, later this month, players fall. It's generally for a reason. Oshinowo is now a web developer, and you can follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

For a look at the best rookie years, check out Mike Tanier’s 2006 All-Rookie Team. For a reminder, also check out a list of all the picks in the draft.

Quarterbacks

Conventional wisdom: The general consensus was that Leinart and Young were the top-two quarterbacks in the draft, though not everybody liked Leinart’s arm strength or trusted in Young’s ability to become a dropback passer in an NFL scheme. Some people thought Jay Cutler was just as good as, if not better than, Leinart or Young, while not everybody liked the mediocre statistics that he put up in Vanderbilt’s offense or his inability to lead the Commodores to postseason play.

Beyond the top three, a small school shotgun spread quarterback who was a favored sleeper candidate was Omar Jacobs of Bowling Green. As a reminder of the occasional huge misses by even generally very good, diligent, and thorough draft evaluators, Corey Chavous liked Reggie McNeal of Texas A&M more than any other player in the draft.

At Football Outsiders, 2006 saw the introduction of the Lewin Career Forecast (LCF), first as an article on the website, and then as a chapter in Pro Football Prospectus 2006. The LCF liked Leinart best, followed by Cutler, then Young, but noted Young had upside based on what college statistics indicated was elite running ability. Nearly as good was Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens, described in PFP06 as a better prospect than recent Ducks Joey Harrington and Akili Smith. We said he might be "a solid but unspectacular NFL starter with passing ability similar to Donovan McNabb and Drew Brees." Well, I guess Corey Chavous is not the only person who's ever made a mistake.

Highest pick: Young, Texas, third overall to the Titans.

Best player: Credit Mike Mayock for liking Cutler the best of the top-three quarterbacks. While he may be petulant, and Denver traded him for a reason, the 11th overall pick has been the draft's top signal-caller. There wasn't actually a ton of competition for this spot, as only Young, Cutler, and second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson have started more than 20 games in the NFL.

Biggest bust: I spent a lot of time thinking about how the top quarterbacks would fare in 2006, and thought Vince Young had the biggest bust potential, while Matt Leinart was a safer choice but one with a lower ceiling. Well, Leinart did end up having the lower ceiling, as he struggled to make throws against man coverage and didn't have the arm strength to threaten defenses vertically despite playing with Larry Fitzgerald. Thankfully for Cardinals fans, they signed Kurt Warner and made it to the Super Bowl. Honorable mention to Kellen Clemens, 49th overall to the Jets, who now has 12 career starts after losing the Rams' final three games in 2011.

Best value: 2006 was not a good draft for late-round quarterbacks, as only two players taken after third round ever did anything. One of them was Brad Smith, Missouri, with the 103rd overall pick. The Jets quickly converted him to wide receiver/gimmick. The only late-round passer to play often was Bruce Gradkowski, Toledo, who went 194th overall to the Buccaneers. He survived a rookie season playing for Jon Gruden to scratch out a decent career as a journeyman backup.

Running Backs

Conventional wisdom: Reggie Bush was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Beyond him, there were a number of quality running backs. My personal favorite was DeAngelo Williams, but others liked LenDale White or Laurence Maroney. If you wanted a bowling ball, there was also Maurice Jones-Drew. Joseph Addai was one of the few highly-regarded backs to come out of college that was probably more accomplished as a pass protector and receiver than as a rusher.

Highest pick: Reggie Bush, USC, second overall to the Saints.

Best player: Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA, 60th overall to the Jaguars. Somehow, Reggie Bush ended up far short of the greatness of sliced bread, though he was still a very good return man and versatile chess piece for Sean Payton's offense. Jones-Drew has more receiving yards than Bush, though, in addition to over 1,800 more rush yards than second-place DeAngelo Williams.

Biggest bust: As revealed in Michael Holley's War Room, the Patriots scouts clearly regret the fact that Ben McDaniels' experience with Maroney in Minnesota was allowed to overrule their concerns. LenDale White is almost certainly the worst running back in NFL history with an 1,100 yard season and 15 rushing touchdowns in another season. Still, the biggest bust comes to us courtesy of Matt Millen, who took Brian Calhoun in the third round, 74th overall. Calhoun could never stay healthy in the NFL and totaled 54 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards before the Lions released him after three seasons. For a good example of how dysfunctional the Lions were under Millen, see this story about the process of how the Lions ended up selecting Calhoun.

Best value: Jones-Drew. We like to say at Football Outsiders that you can generally find a running back who can be just as effective a rusher later in the draft. Unfortunately that was not true in 2006, as Jones-Drew at the end of the second-round was the last running back draft who's started a full season. Leon Washington, Florida State, selected 117th overall by the Jets, has been the most effective player otherwise. Perennial "top FO prospect" Jerious Norwood and Jerome Harrison had their moments, but never became consistent producers.

Wide Receivers

Conventional wisdom: A down year after three wide receivers went in the top-ten picks of the 2005 draft. Santonio Holmes was the only first-round lock of the bunch. Most of the other top wideouts fell into the category of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but Chad Jackson was the consensus number-two and a borderline first-round pick.

Highest pick: Holmes, Ohio State, 25th overall to the Steelers.

Best player: The three most prolific receivers from the 2006 draft are all within 76 receiving yards of each other. Brandon Marshall, Central Florida, 119th overall to the Broncos, is in the lead, with 6,247 yards. Seventh-round pick Marques Colston, Hofstra, 252nd overall to the Saints, is in second with 6,240 yards. Finally, Greg Jennings, Western Michigan, 52nd overall to the Packers, has 6,171 yards. Marshall and Jennings are actually closer in yards than they are in receptions, as Marshall has 494, 105 more. By touchdowns, Jennings is in the lead, with 49, one ahead of Colston and 14 ahead of Marshall. By career receiving DYAR, Colston is clearly on top with 1,669, well ahead of Jennings at 1,283 and Marshall at 804. Though he has benefited from playing with Drew Brees, I will still give the honors to Colston.

Biggest bust: Once again, Michael Holley's War Room provides context for a Patriots draft failure. In this case, it was Chad Jackson with the 36th overall pick, and Belichick chose to listen to his friend, then-Florida coach Urban Meyer, and overrule his own scouts. A friendly reminder: it's probably not a good idea to draft a college receiver who barely averages 10 yards per reception his final year. Jackson was far from the only wide receiver to flame out, though, as the Giants took Sinorice Moss eight picks later and got career production worse than older brother Santana Moss’s worst season. Third-round picks Travis Wilson, Oklahoma, 78th overall to the Browns, Brandon Williams, Wisconsin, 84th overall to the 49ers, and Willie Reed, Florida State, 95th overall to the Steelers, combined for six catches.

Best value: Colston. Jason Avant, Michigan, 109th overall to the Eagles, has been the fifth-most productive receiver after the big three and Holmes.

Tight Ends

Conventional wisdom: Vernon Davis was a serious candidate to be the highest-drafted tight end ever after running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the Combine despite weighing in at a chiseled 254 pounds. As with the wide receivers, you had a consensus second-best prospect, this one Marcedes Lewis, but which of Lewis, Leonard Pope, Joe Klopfenstein, Dominique Byrd, or Anthony Fasano you preferred depended on what you were looking for.

Highest pick: Davis, Maryland, sixth overall to the 49ers.

Best player: While he hasn't always been the sort of difference-maker he was in this year's postseason, Davis has been the most prolific receiver in the class and is also well-regarded as a blocker.

Biggest bust: There were nine tight ends drafted in the first four rounds, and seven of them had at least decent careers. The other two were both drafted by the Rams. First up was 46th overall pick Klopfenstein out of Colorado and then came Byrd at 93rd overall. It seemed like a near-ideal pairing, as Klopfenstein was a traditional in-line player and Byrd more of a move tight end. Together they combined for 40 catches and 480 yards receiving. Klopfenstein last played in 2009, while Byrd's career was resurrected by his college coach Pete Carroll in 2011 after he spent the previous three seasons out of the NFL.

Best value: The Texans took a chance on former Illinois state championship quarterback Owen Daniels' reconstructed knees with the 98th overall pick, and the former Wisconsin Badger has been the draft’s second-most productive receiving tight end.

Offensive Line

Conventional wisdom: D’Brickashaw Ferguson was a consensus top-five overall pick. Beyond him, there were no offensive tackles everybody loved. Winston Justice, Marcus McNeill, Eric Winston, and Jonathan Scott were among the players vying to be the second tackle drafted, though they all had various concerns. If you were a team that was fine with taking an interior lineman in the first round, you had some good choices like center Nick Mangold and guard Davin Joseph.

Highest pick: Ferguson, Virginia, fourth overall to the Jets.

Best player: Jahri Evans, Bloomsburg, 108th overall to the Saints. Honorable mention goes to the Jets' other first-round offensive lineman, Mangold, Ohio State, 29th overall, and not just because he became the first player to give a thank-you speech for winning an FO end-of-season award.

Biggest bust: None really. Every offensive lineman drafted in the first two rounds is still in the NFL. The worst of that bunch is a pair of former Southern Cal Trojans: Winston Justice, 39th overall to the Eagles, who still started for two seasons and spent the rest of the time as a backup swing tackle, and Deuce Lutui, 41st overall to the Cardinals, who has 72 NFL starts. The closest thing to a bust is the first pick in the third round, Charles Spencer, who suffered a nasty broken leg in his second game that more or less wrecked his career.

Best value: Evans. Beyond him, the Texans found right tackle Eric Winston 66th overall, one pick after Spencer. A trio of sixth-round selections, Kevin Boothe, Cornell, 176th overall to the Raiders); Jeromey Clary, Kansas State, 187th overall to the Chargers; and Charlie Johnson, Oklahoma State, 199th overall to the Colts, all exceeded expectations.

Defensive Line

Conventional wisdom: While the Texans' decision to pass on Bush was unexpected, nobody expected Mario Williams to fall outside the top five if they passed on him. Fellow early entry junior (and man-mountain) Haloti Ngata was considered the top defensive tackle, though teams looking for more of an interior penetrator may have had their eye on Brodrick Bunkley instead. Most people thought the depth was better at defensive end than at defensive tackle.

Highest pick: Williams, North Carolina State, first overall to the Texans.

Best player: Ngata, Oregon, 12th overall to the Ravens, who's been voted first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press the past two seasons. Williams has probably been the best defensive end in the class, but the leading sacker in the class is Tamba Hali, Penn State, 20th overall to the Chiefs, whose sack numbers did not take off until the Chiefs switched to a 3-4 defense and he started playing outside linebacker.

Biggest bust: Playing on the same collegiate line with Williams and Manny Lawson, taken 22nd overall by the 49ers, John McCargo was widely viewed as a reach when the Bills took him with their second first-round selection at 26th overall. As it happened, everybody else was right and the Bills were wrong. The Buccaneers picked him up off the street after putting a couple defensive tackles on injured reserve in 2011, but he's still sitting on one career start.

Best value: The Broncos took a chance on an undersized defensive end who had a disappointing week at the Senior Bowl when they grabbed Elvis Dumervil with the 126th overall pick. Dumervil was tremendously productive at Louisville and immediately carried that over to the NFL with 8.5 sacks as a rookie. He's third in the class in sacks, 0.5 behind Williams and 1.0 behind Hali, but would have the lead had he not missed the entire 2010 season. Despite whiffing on McCargo, the Bills hit in the late rounds with Kyle Williams, LSU, 134th overall.

Linebackers

Conventional wisdom: Everybody thought A.J. Hawk was the top linebacker available and an elite playmaker. Hawk was far from the only good linebacker in the draft, as Ernie Sims, Chad Greenway, and DeMeco Ryans were also considered likely first-round picks, while Hawk’s teammate Bobby Carpenter, Manny Lawson, and Kamerion Wimbley were among the players who might make the transition to pass rushing 3-4 outside linebacker.

Highest pick: Hawk, Ohio State, fifth overall to the Packers.

Best player: A fairly uninspiring class with no clear standouts, really. By Pro-Football-Reference’s Approximate Value method, it's Hawk, followed by Wimbley, Florida State, 13th overall to the Browns. Wimbley was a college defensive end who started his career as a 3-4 outside linebacker, then played 4-3 strongside linebacker and defensive end, and will now be playing full-time defensive end. The only player from 2006 who started his NFL career at linebacker to make the Pro Bowl is Ryans, Alabama, 33rd overall to the Texans. Greenway, Iowa, 17th overall to the Vikings, is up there as well, as is D’Qwell Jackson, Maryland, 34th overall to the Browns, when he’s actually on the field.

Biggest bust: Sims, Florida State, ninth overall to the Lions. While not quite as succinct as the fabled "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" scouting report, an evaluation of Sims' career is about as straightforward: "Should be able to play in space, but can't."

Best value: Only four linebackers drafted after the third round are still in the league. The only one of those who is now a starter is another member of the vaunted North Carolina State Wolfpack defense, Stephen Tulloch, 116th overall to the Titans.

Defensive Backs

Conventional wisdom: Some people thought he was a safety, others a corner, but either way Michael Huff was going in the top fifteen and probably the top ten. Cornerbacks with speed to burn who were likely go in the first-round included Jimmy Williams, Kelly Jennings, Tye Hill, Johnathan Joseph, and Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie was perhaps the most intriguing player in the entire draft, as he only started one game at Florida State and declared after missing the entire 2005 season with an ACL injury. Still, his combination of size and speed, plus the Seminoles pedigree, produced the inevitable Deion Sanders comparisons.

Beyond Huff, the top safeties included Jason Allen, another player who could end up as either a corner or a free safety in the NFL. The aforementioned Darnell Bing, Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson, Roman Harper, Bernard Pollard, and Daniel Bullocks were among the safeties expected to go somewhere between the end of the first round and the third round.

Highest pick: Huff, Texas, seventh overall to the Raiders.

Best player: Take your pick of two of the biggest cornerback prizes from the past two offseasons: Johnathan Joseph, South Carolina, 24th overall to the Bengals, or Cortland Finnegan, Samford, 215th overall to the Titans. The players who’ve drawn the most headlines, though, are Devin Hester, Miami, 57th overall to the Bears, and Cromartie, who went 19th overall to the Chargers.

Biggest bust: 2006 was really the first year Senior Bowl practices were televised on NFL Network, and one of the biggest stars of that week was Clemson cornerback Tye Hill, who had a spectacular interception on Monday. The Rams ultimately drafted him with the 15th overall pick, and found out he was not really good enough to play in the NFL.

Best value: Finnegan was a steal in the seventh round. Beyond him, the Colts found Antoine Bethea, Howard, with the 207th overall pick in the sixth round, and the Ravens drafted a good complement to Ed Reed in the fifth round, 146th overall, in Dawan Landry out of Georgia Tech.

Special Teams

Conventional wisdom: After Mike Nugent's mediocre rookie season, absolutely nobody was going to take a kicker or a punter in the second round.

Highest pick: Stephen Gostkowski, Memphis, 118th overall to the Patriots.

Best player: Gostkowski has been a fine kicker. About as fine a kicker as he's been, the Ravens found about as fine a punter in Sam Koch, Nebraska, with the 203rd overall pick.

Biggest bust: Two years after taking Nate Kaeding in the third round, A.J. Smith went to the kicker well again, drafting Kurt Smith out of Virginia with a sixth-round pick, 188th overall. Smith was only a kickoff specialist for the Cavaliers, so Kaeding's job was never in jeopardy. Unfortunately for the Chargers, Smith proved much less proficient kicking off the shorter NFL tee and ultimately never played in an NFL game.

Best value: Koch. Only four specialists were drafted, with the fourth being punter Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest, 239th overall to the Seahawks.

Previous articles in this series:

Posted by: Tom Gower on 03 Apr 2012

159 comments, Last at 08 Apr 2013, 12:55pm by Anonymousse

Comments

1
by AnonymousTofu (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:49am

Colston went 252nd overall? Isn't that higher than 7 rooms?

7
by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:16am

Comp picks.

2
by AnonymousTofu (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:50am

Er, rounds.

3
by Kwame (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:50am

One quick edit, the Giants drafted Sinorice Moss, not the Jets.

4
by AnonymousTofu (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:50am

Nevermind! Forgot about supplementals, and he went fourth from the end. Wow.

5
by JC (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:57am

The Giants took Sinorice Moss, not the Jets.

6
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:04am

I would've loved to be named Ryan Plackemeier.

I really enjoy this series, especially as we are moving towards the drafts I've known.

I don't think Colston has been the best WR - I would absolutely take Greg Jennings over Colston. I'd even consider taking Marshall as well, if we're talking about on field production anyway.

Better value Finnegan or Colston?

108
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:33pm

I'd unquestionably take both Jennings and on-field Marshall over Colston, and probably on-field Santonio Holmes as well. Jennings vs. Marshall is a tough one; were it not for Marshall's troubles away from the pitch I might even be slightly inclined to take him. But re-run that draft with everyone knowing what they do now, and there's no doubt in my mind Jennings is the first receiver taken, probably around 4th overall (behind Cutler, Williams and Ferguson, with Hali, Dumervil, Joseph, Ngata, Jones-Drew and Finnegan probably rounding out the top 10).

111
by chemical burn :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:34pm

The first team that plays in a 3-4 would take Ngata with anything but the #1 overall (unless they were totally incompetent.) I suspect a couple teams would switch to 3-4 just to accommodate him. Jennings (or any of these receivers) going #4 overall would be surprising, if not out-and-out a bad move. I also think you're little deluded if you have "no doubt" Jennings would be the first WR taken - there's legitimate arguments to be made for any of those top 4 guys going first (and not all of the arguments are even of the "he's the best WR!" variety.)

I suspect if there were a new draft with what we know now, that even the top ranked WR's would end up falling a surprising amount just because "best player available" doesn't really end up ruling the draft day the way pundits claim it does - teams would draft for need and I bet at least one of those guys would fall to the 20's, even late 20's. Jennings could easily be the 3rd WR taken and still go late in the first round. Hell, you could end up with Santonio Holmes or Brandon Marshall as a second rounder...

(Even now, I still think you'd get a QB starved team taking a gamble on Vince Young in the first round - or rather, the first 4 years of Vince Young's career and the attendant Jersey sales.)

8
by big_jgke :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:49am

I haven't even looked at this article but I am super stoked. This is generally my favourite article of the year on FO, thanks for this and the rest of the excellent work guys.

9
by big_jgke :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:01pm

I think Donte Whitner deserves some consideration for biggest bust, considering where he was drafted and what his on-field impact was.

11
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:51pm

He was pretty good for the 49ers last year.

16
by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:10pm

Yeah, and Jason Allen as well.

------
We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

109
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:12pm

Both of those guys are marginal starters/quality role players who are still in the league, though. Sure, they haven't played up to their draft status, but they're far better than Hill.

10
by Travis :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:28pm

LenDale White is almost certainly the worst running back in NFL history with an 1,100 yard season and 15 rushing touchdowns in another season.

You could make a case for Karim Abdul-Jabbar, who never had a season over 3.6 ypc or with a positive DVOA.

26
by Scott de B. :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:22pm

He had a mean sky hook, though.

75
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:17am

And was in Airplane!

97
by Marko :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 5:50pm

No no no. That wasn't him. That was Roger Murdock. He was the co-pilot.

102
by Nic (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:58am

I'll never forget how'e came unglued.

114
by Independent George :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:22pm

My dad says he doesn't play hard enough on defense.

118
by dbostedo :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:31am

Your dad should try dragging walton and lanier up and down the court all game...

12
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 12:58pm

Yes. Sharmin Shah was crap especiially fkr changing name twice and makeing it worse each time

126
by masoch (not verified) :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 10:12am

In his defense, he changed it the second time because the REAL Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sued his jersey off. Literally.

127
by Shattenjager :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 11:22am

Not quite. They settled that lawsuit and all that was reportedly required of the football player was that he, for commercial purposes, be called "Abdul" rather than "Abdul-Jabbar." He then changed his name again two years after settling the lawsuit.

13
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:03pm

Surprised not to see Jason Allen considered for biggest bust. One pick after Tye Hill to the Dolphins, and 23 career starts in 6 years.

Now expected to compete with Pacman Jones for the nickel spot on the Bengals next year.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

73
by BlueStarDude :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:56am

Jeff Ireland wasn't working for the 'Phins yet.

77
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:22am

I know. The Ireland thing is my signature. I can't imagine Randy Mueller was any better though...

Fire Jeff Ireland.

110
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:15pm

Allen's still in the league, and was the second best corner on the Texans the last two years, even if internal politics meant they did start Kareem Jackson ahead of him. Hill's career is over, and was worse while it was ongoing.

14
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:08pm

While I enjoy these draft retrospectives, simply analyzing which players are the best doesn't tell a very complete story of how teams did. After all, if people knew how good players like Colston or Finnegan were, they would have gone in the first round, so it's hard to give too much credit to the Saints or Titans for uncovering them.

I've been analyzing past drafts using a simple system based on PFR's AV metric: if a player has a higher AV than the player at the same position drafted before and after them, the team gets two points; if he's better than one of those two, the team gets one point, and otherwise the team gets zero points for the pick. So essentially, if a player turned out to be better than other players at his position drafted in the same range, the team gets points. Since these players have played five seasons, they must have an AV greater than 5 to earn two points (since players who average less than 1 AV per season aren't very distinguishable from those who didn't earn any AV at all).

For the 2006 draft, the Broncos and Colts led the way with team scores of 11. The Broncos get twos for Cutler, Scheffler, Marshall, Domenik Hixon, and Chris Kuper (Dumervil only gets a 1 because Ray Edwards, drafted one spot after him, has the same career AV). The Colts get twos for Addai, Freddie Keiaho, Charlie Johnson, and Antoine Bethea.

Also doing well in the 2006 draft are the Bills, Packers, Texans, Saints, and Jets, all of whom had team scores of 10. The worst drafting teams in 2006 by this metric were the Falcons (2), Lions (2), Bengals (3), Chiefs (3), and Seahawks (3).

Let me know if you'd like to see more - I've analyzed the 2005 through 2009 drafts using this method.

17
by toosuchnow (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:14pm

I would. However it should be averaged on a per-pick basis.

53
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:03pm

Why? All teams start with the same number of picks. At least theoretically. That some teams have less picks is because they've traded them away for players or higher picks (along with the rare instance of a pick taken away for NFL violations). I wouldn't argue if you wanted to include what you got for the picks beyond drafted players (e.g., the Packers traded a #1 for an unwanted Brett Favre once upon a time). But that some teams have more than others is usually because a team traded them away, especially when you consider most extra comp picks are low picks that rarely pan out.

105
by cjfarls :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:40am

I think the biggest problem of not normalizing is that if you don't, how do you account for the value of the veteran player they aquired with the pick they traded away?

For example, is NE penalized because they traded a mid-round pick for Welker? They made it up in other picks, but lose value for the picks they did trade away. It gets complicated quickly (especially with multi-pick/player trades), so you really have to focus only on draft results... and that implies normalizing to the number of draft picks made.

106
by tuluse :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:46am

I'm fine with that. Welker wasn't a draft pick. He was an excellent trade, but he made their draft of college players weaker.

18
by AnonymousD (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:16pm

I'm curious about Dallas' 2005 draft. How good is it compared to other teams in 2005, and how good is it overall in the drafts you've covered? I've always felt that it was a very good draft.

19
by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:29pm

They (well Bill Parcells) hit the ball out of the park. Ware, Spears, Burnett, Barber, Canty and Raitliff in the seventh. Maybe three or four teams picked up more than a couple of players in that draft (Jerry Angeo gets crucified by Bears fans for that draft amongst others but he probably had a top five draft, most teams came up short).

27
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:29pm

Dallas gets a 9 for 2005, which is a high score overall but not the highest - annual bests are usually in the 11-12 range. They get twos for Barber, Canty, and Ratliff, and ones for Ware, Spears, and Rob Pettiti (Ware gets a one because he was the first LB drafted - the system only can give one point for the first player drafted at each position.)

In 2005, the Titans (who had 11 picks, including twos for Michael Roos, David Stewart, Roydell Williams, Bo Scaife, and Reynaldo Hill) led the way with 13 points, and the Packers, Eagles, and 49ers each got 10 points. The Falcons, Panthers, Jets, and Cowboys got 9 points.

Dallas knocked it out of the park in 2005, but that's largely because their draft produced one superstar in Ware and a few other high-level starters in Spears, Barber, Canty, and Ratliff. However, the upside to any one pick is limited - although any team would love to pick up a Pro Bowl NT like Ratliff in the seventh round, if the Cowboys would have known how good he would be, they would have picked him earlier. Also, the Cowboys only had eight picks, and it's tough to turn in an elite score without double-digit picks. I'm going to add a value-per-pick component that will correct for this, but haven't done so yet.

62
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:34am

I like your system, its simple and pretty informative. It does sort of punish a team if someone ahead or behind them gets lucky on a pick, but then it gives them a benefit if someone ahead or behind picks a guy who turns out to be terrible, so it evens out.

Could I suggest you amend the system so that the team gets another point if they pick the first player at a position, and he is the best player drafted at that position? That would sort of replicate the opportunity for getting a 2nd point for picking a guy who is better than the last guy picked, given that he would be better than the last guy picked regardless of who it was.

20
by dbostedo :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:39pm

"...it's hard to give too much credit to the Saints or Titans for uncovering them."

You seem to be completely ignoring the possibility that a team DOES know (or at least suspects - no one ever really knows) that a player will be good, and ALSO knows that they won't be drafted highly.

When you draft someone is very important, not just who you draft. Taking Marques Colston in the first round would have been a big mistake. Not because he's not a great player, but because they could have gotten him later and cheaper easily. If you draft Colston in the first round when no one else would have, you miss out on the chance to take another valuable player that is available then.

24
by Arkaein :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:51pm

What you say is true, but it's a very risky game to play. If even one of the 31 other teams had given Colston even a 6th round grade then the Saints would have missed out on him completely.

If I were a GM I don't think I'd ever let a player slip more than one, maybe two rounds past where I thought his true value lied, even if I suspected he was much lower on other draft boards. The risk that just one other team might have an inkling of that player's value would be too great to rick losing out on a high value pick.

36
by BucNasty :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 4:01pm

While I mostly agree, no team is so smug that they leave guys they secretly covet on the board until the 6th and 7th rounds. If you're fairly certain you've found a hidden gem, you let him slide until the 4th or at most the 5th round and then scoop him up. Any further is an immense display of hubris, because it assumes that you and your scouting department are light years ahead of everyone else. Guys like Brady and Colston were just random guys with upside who exceeded expectations, not part of some master draft strategy to snag a superstar in the last two rounds.

76
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:21am

I've met a couple guys who honestly believe the Pats KNEW Brady would be great but just let him sit, hoping no other team would take him. Hard to argue with crazy...

100
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:51am

Tell them that if it's true, it actually makes the Pats dumber for taking the risk of missing out on a superstar.

112
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:43pm

The Patriots had Brady with like a fourth round grade, right? I mean, clearly they didn't know he was going to be Tom Brady, but they thought he was an insanely good value at the spot where they got him.

113
by chemical burn :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 4:48pm

And yet they were indifferent to other teams rating him correctly and taking him in the 4th, 5th or even 6th before them. Anyway, this is leading down into a very circular and totally speculative argument...

159
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 12:55pm

Or they had other players rated higher than him still on their board.

124
by BucNasty :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:36am

I've even seen it mentioned on this board, and I'm pretty sure they meant it. It's ludicrous. In the sixth round, it doesn't even matter if you do have secret info on the guy, you risk someone picking him just because they need a warm body to throw in camp and hold the clipboard for a few seasons.

63
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:39am

I'm sure I've read quotes from people at the Saints in response to people asking "what did you see that others missed about Colston" basically say "Not a lot, if we'd realised he was going to be this good we'd have picked him earlier."

Ah, 2006. The year Marques Colston was listed as a WR/TE on Yahoo's fantasy football. What a year.

Its not like the Patriots saw Tom Brady thought "my god, he should be the #1 pick, but no one is talking about that. In fact, he's talked about as a 6th or 7th round guy. So lets leave him on there, and then we can pick our Franchise QB is the 6th round, just short of the 200th pick."

21
by Arkaein :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:45pm

I'd be more interested in simply seeing team-by-team AV totals for each draft class. I think that would be more informative.

You approach sounds interesting, particularly in looking at how well teams did at addressing specific needs, but doesn't really say which teams did the best job acquiring value. Additionally, team scores would be influenced heavily by not only the picks made later, but the order of those picks.

For example, let's say teams A, B, and C pick RBs, in that order. Let's say the AV of the picks are A = 10, B = 5, C = 20. In this case A and C did well, while B did poorly.

However, if B and C swapped their picks then suddenly A looks bad, despite making the same pick as before!

It might be more informative to calculate a draft value function that plots AV against draft position for all picks in a draft (this will be a line or a curve where AV trends down as draft position increases), and check how each pick lies relative to that curve, and calculate a total for each team, which indicate how well a team did at drafting within the context of the draft slots they had to work with.

To evaluate picks at specific positions you could plot a similar curve using only picks at one position, then checking the picks against that curve.

25
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:10pm

I evaluated the classes using this method rather than AV for two reasons: first, one excellent player can skew the score for an entire draft class if just using AV, and second, I think luck plays more of a factor in AV. The idea behind this system is to (roughly) compare a player to others drafted around him - it's tough to assign too much blame to the Patriots for taking Chad Jackson rather than Marques Colston in the second round when, if any other team drafting a WR in the second round had a choice between those two, they would have drafted Jackson as well.

I agree, scores for individual players can be skewed by pick order and the success of teams drafting near them. However, this should be ameliorated when totaling a team's entire draft; the chances of a team always drafting immediately before and after particularly strong (or weak) picks is pretty slim.

31
by Arkaein :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:07pm

If you want to avoid a single player having too great of an impact you can use something like the natural log or the square root of AV, instead of AV directly. This will preserve the ordering of values while compressing the range of values to reduce the impact of outliers.

In any case, my suggestion wouldn't penalize the Patriots for not taking Colston, rather it would penalize the Patriots simply for taking a WR that performed so far below what a WR in that round would be expected to do. The impact of picking poorly close to when Colston is drafted is much greater in your system.

28
by milkmeat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:30pm

Interesting way of doing it. I feel it undervalues the 2006 Bengals draft though.

1) Jonathan Joseph
2) Andrew Whitworth
3) Frostee Rucker
4) Domata Peko
5) AJ Nicholson
6) Reggie McNeal
7) Ethan Kilmer
7) Bennie Brazelle

That's 4 regular starters first and then nothing in the last 4 picks. 3 of the starters are well above average.

29
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:57pm

The Bengals get screwed by draft order here. They get ones for Joseph, Rucker, and Peko, players that might have deserved twos in other positions. Joseph is slightly lower than Antonio Cromartie, the DB drafted before him, in career AV (I think because AV likes Pro Bowls and dominant defenses); Rucker trails Chris Gocong, the "DE" drafted before him; and Peko trails Barry Cofield, the DT drafted immediately after him. Whitworth was drafted between Marcus McNeill and Jeremy Trueblood (he actually has the same career AV as Trueblood), so he doesn't get a point.

All of these players represent good value for their draft position; they just happened to be drafted near other players who turned out well, so the Bengals don't get as much credit for them. Think of this as being a win-win choice: the Bengals drafted reasonably well, but if they didn't draft the specific players they did, there was a decent likelihood that they'd draft another good player.

I agree, the Bengals' 2006 draft should be rated more highly, although it's still not a fantastic draft. My initial idea was to add results from multiple years to produce a "front office score," but I haven't done that yet. Once I do so, that should dampen some of these position-based effects.

32
by milkmeat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:16pm

Cool, I see. I guess I have to disagree with AV then :) at least with respect to Joseph and Whitworth. I don't actually know what AV is yet but it just "feels" weird that this is one of the worst drafts, though certainly possible.

35
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:24pm

AV is "approximate value" is a really complex formula designed to match what the majority opinion is on how valuable a player is. It's nice as a very general stat, and I can't think of any other way to measure a draft value in any way, but it's not meant to be used specifically.

I think for instance with Whitworth vs Trueblood, it sees two offensive lineman who have started a similar number of games for offense that haven't been very good, and says these players have created about the same amount of value for their teams.

If you just added up AV, I think the Bengal's draft would look pretty good. The problem with this system is that the Bengal's draft is getting devalued because other teams also had good drafts.

34
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:20pm

I think you are undervaluing the ability to pick a good player when there are multiple good players available. Todd Blackledge still gets picked when Dan Marino and Jim Kelly are available.

Also, I think there is too much variance player-to-player for you system to be accurate as is. You need to compare each player to multiple other picks.

41
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:15pm

That was my thinking too. So I was thinking about comparing to average AV for that draft position. You've got http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=527 which fits AV to a curve so you get expected value and you can look at http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/2011-draft-preview.htm to get the actual average value given by that position over the last 30 years.

So the thought was grade a drafted based on the difference between the expected average AV and what has currently been produced. The problem is that I don't have "average AV by year" because that #1 pick has things like Manning with ~160 AV over ~14 years. It's that 160 that was used in creating the average, not the 84 he would have had (using their 100%, 95%, 90% formula, 95 "raw").

While the average NFL career is something like 3.5 years, the average career of a first round pick is over 9 years, and the average career of a rookie that is on the opening day roster is 6 years.

So 6 years is a good time frame, but those AV average numbers for the first round are all going to have on average 3 more years of accrued AV in them.

I'm not really worried about a bad draft class (and there are some) messing with things because you are still comparing teams within that frame work so if the 06 draft was just a poor draft overall then a lot of teams are going to look bad.

So Mario Williams having 39 AV vs the 60 expected for a #1 pick looks somewhat poor, that is 6.5 a year for Mario and using the 9 years for a first round pick you expect 6.6 a year. So Mario hasn't been too bad for a #1 pick. He wasn't a bust but he wasn't a home run either. But again it would be nice to have the average career length for each spot. I also don't like doing the average per year this way because the AV's that are easy to get are all the weighted ones not raw (so P. Manning lists at 159 but he has 220 raw and I think the raw numbers would be much better for getting the average per year numbers) though I suppose since it's a simple formula I could "unpack" them.

I'm just curious as to other flaws in the thought process. I like comparing to the expect value better than just summing things up per team and better than just comparing to the player at that position taken before or after. Sure it doesn't account for team need, but I think it's pretty well established that long term success is better achieved by getting the most value for a given pick.

Oh http://blog.chron.com/texanschick/2011/04/average-length-of-a-nfl-player... for those average career numbers.

56
by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:19pm

I've been kicking around the idea of creating a table of expected career AV per pick (1-264)[differently than PFR where the values decrease without spikes, then grading each team on how their pick performs compared to expected AV. A player who falls in the 90%-110% range would get a zero, while 110%-150% would get a 1, 50%-90% a -1, over 150% a 2, 25%-50% a -2 and less than 25% a -3. Punishing teams more for really poor picks and capping the benefit of very good picks.

59
by Jerry :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:47am

Another method is what Blogging the Boys used a couple years ago: methodology and rankings.

68
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 8:53am

Yes, but he still gives to much credit for good picks and not enough penalty for bad picks. Picking Peyton Manning deserves some credit, but picking Ryan Leaf.

The reasoning behind capping value at 50% is the Tom Brady, Courtland Finnegan factor. If a team was really sure that a player was the next Peyton Manning, they might trade the #6 pick, #39 pick, 2 future picks (hypothetically #16s) in order to pick him. If a team really believed that a player would perform more than 50% better than the average 199th pick, they probably would have picked the player in the 3rd (say #76) or 4th round (say #127) not the 6th possibly even trading a few low picks to be sure of picking him.

Another problem is measuring kickers. They have value but not AV. How do judge a pick like Janokowski or Sam Koch?

79
by Jimmy :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:49am

Just ignore kickers. One or two drafted a year isn't going to produce meaningful amounts of data for at least another hundred years or so (assuming that kicker performance stays steady over time which is in itself very unlikely), I'd just ignore it.

81
by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:15pm

Unless you draft a kicker in the 2nd round. Then you should get a -10 just for the sheer stupidity.

89
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:32pm

Except for Robo-Punter who I'm guessing might equal or exceed the expected AV of your average 2nd round pick.

101
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:53am

No disrespect to ROBO-PUNTER, but punters don't earn AV. So there is no practical way for us to measure his value. It's ineffable.

104
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 9:37am

Only ROBO-PUNTER has the computational power necessary to calculate ROBO-PUNTER's true value. And that value is ROBO-PUNTER. ROBO-PUNTER is the Alpha and the Omega.

Fire Jeff Ireland.

157
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 04/12/2012 - 10:54am

I know what "F"-able means, what does "NF"-able mean?

158
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 04/12/2012 - 7:44pm
83
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:23pm

While that's true, the whole idea is to judge a team's draft for a particular year and for a team that draft's a kicker that might represent 10-15% of that year's draft. Also it more like 6 a year (173 punters and kickers chosen between 1978 and 2011 picks #1- 264).

38
by Kulko :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 4:52pm

Re: After all, if people knew how good players like Colston or Finnegan were, they would have gone in the first round, so it's hard to give too much credit to the Saints or Titans for uncovering them.

So how is your system not doing the same mistake? The team that got the lucky punch in a guy likeColston still gets two points for missing on him for 6 other rounds.

What you need to do is compare to the predraft consensus.
If a team picks a player who performs higher then his predraft consensus then its a good pick, because you can assume they knew. If a team picks a player only at his consensus position they should only get the credit for developing him, not for discoveriung him, becuase they likely did not discover hiom before training camp.

60
by Jerry :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:53am

Inmate,

Good stuff. Two suggestions:

1. Treat Approximate Value as more approximate and maybe award a half-point if the players are within a point of AV a year of each other. A 53 isn't necessarily better than a 51.

2. Drop Aaron a note and ask if he wants to run your results as a guest Extra Point.

66
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 8:03am

Count me in as someone who'd love to see this. It'd be especially fun to take these results and put them together with GM's tenures with teams to see who (if anyone) is consistently performing well and if Matt Millen is really as bad as we all think.

(Not that THAT needs any more confirmation I guess)

Fire Jeff Ireland.

69
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:01am

I think most numerical analyses have revealed Millen to have been worse than we all thought.

74
by DEW (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:57am

That implies that there is a level of stinkiness as a GM which we believed Millen had not already fallen to... @_@

86
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:08pm

I don't think he accused anyone's mother of being a whore.

Likely because he didn't know what the term meant.

15
by Jimmy :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:10pm

Danielle Manning is probably the best safety out of this draft (at least I would guess he is paid more than any of the others) of course he did get messed around by the Bears for a bit.

Pass rushers late on could also include Mark Anderson (drafted by Chicago and last with New England and now Buffalo) and Jeremy Mincey (6th round by the Patriots now with Jacksonville - but who nearly signed with the Bears in free agency).

22
by Jim D (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:45pm

I haven't ready Holley's War Room, but it seems like in this draft, there were a couple of occasions (Maroney and Jackson) where Belichick let personal recommendations overrule the Patriots overall evaluation.

For those who know, was this something he has done often, but just backfired in 2006, or was this an anomaly that came back to bite him.

Thanks

45
by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 6:28pm

Every time he drafts a player from a Saban or Meyer coached team you have to wonder, due to his relationship with them. While it has backfired, it's also yielded some steals like Hernandez and Spikes most recently.

46
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 6:38pm

Spikes was pretty well regarded. He slipped in the predraft period as a result of his poor 40 time but he was a very good system fit as a big thumping TED in a 3-4. I remember I had an eye on him as a player I thought the 49ers should aim at.

64
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:52am

Yeah, I think Spikes was more highly valued to teams who had one decent 3-4 ILB (which the Pats had in Mayo) and could basically draft him to split snaps with the nickel back. There's not that many teams which that applies to, where 3-4 teams already have one and only one good, 3 down MLB. They still took him pretty high for a guy who's (still) expected to be a pretty 1 dimensional, run stuffing linebacker.

I suspect if he was being drafted now, he'd probably end up going to the Patriots in the second round again. I can't think of too many other places where he really fits at that sort of value. The other places that I can see he'd fit and be worth a second round pick are probably Washington, KC, Arizona, possibly Houston. Most teams picking a linebacker with a second round pick would probably look for him to be a 3 down starter IMO unless they were very happy with the ability of the other MLB that they have in pass coverage.

Maybe I'm being harsh on Spikes (I don't watch that many Pats games, so I'm sort of relying on conventional wisdom), but I still see him as a good run stuffing LB who is too slow to play passing downs. I think most teams would look at that and think you can get a more valuable player with your second round pick, but the Patriots are in a position where what he offers to them is good value. I think Washington, KC and Arizona having Fletcher (I assume), Johnson and Washington (Daryl, not the Redskins) but no real second MLB would be in a position similar to the Pats. I'm not sure who Houston's other MLB is to make a judgement on that.

117
by Alternator :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:29am

Maybe I'm being harsh on Spikes (I don't watch that many Pats games, so I'm sort of relying on conventional wisdom), but I still see him as a good run stuffing LB who is too slow to play passing downs. I think most teams would look at that and think you can get a more valuable player with your second round pick, but the Patriots are in a position where what he offers to them is good value.

No, that's fairly accurate, though he's not an absolute liability in the passing game--if he's on the field, it's not an automatic "Target Spikes' man." Very much a useful player, though, and I doubt Belichick regrets the second round pick.

48
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 7:31pm

In War Room, at least, Maroney and Jackson were described as glaring exceptions to the normal iron-clad rule of the Patriots trusting their in-house evaluations over what anybody outside the building said.

23
by TomC :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:50pm

A bit odd that Hester gets mentioned in the DB class but not with the special teamers. The Bears never had any intention of playing him at corner; they drafted him as a return man first and foremost, and I think most people would agree that worked out fairly well.

30
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:00pm

I wouldn't say they never had any intention to play him at corner, but it does seem odd to list him with the DBs when he has played at receiver longer, and his primary job has been returning.

44
by are-tee :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 6:12pm

Brad Smith was listed with the QB's because he was a QB in college, even though the Jets designated him as a WR when they drafted him. So the drafting team's intent doesn't seem to be relevant here.

57
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:44pm

I'd also have to say that Hester is by far the best Special Teams player in the draft. Gostkowski is a good kicker, Koch is a good punter, but Hester is possibly the best returner ever to play the game. He wins. Automatically.

115
by LionInAZ :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:10am

Automatically? No. Good kickers account for about 20-25% of a team's point production. Prove to me that a good returner provides that kind of value.

128
by Eddo :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:19pm

Bad kickers also account for about 20-25% of a team's point production.

The value of a great returner is the marginal value over an average or replacement returner. There's really not that much difference between the best kicker and an average one.

132
by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 12:08pm

I think the value of Janikowski over an average kicker is really quite considerable. You have to factor kick-offs as well as field goals, and I don't think it's unreasonable to speculate that the marginal value of a great kicker may be as much as that of a great returner.

135
by Eddo :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 10:35pm

That's true, and a good point.

I guess I overstated it in response to the "20-25% of a team's points" argument.

33
by JasonK :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:18pm

If you're basing a nickname for the draft on the associated FO content, I wouldn't call this the Babatunde Oshinowo draft-- I'd call it the Robopunter draft.

37
by rageon :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 4:51pm

As a Broncos fan and most-of-the-time Shanahan supporter, I've always appreciated the greatness of their 2006 draft while at the same time wondering, "Wait, how the heck did Shanahan pull this off?!?"

58
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:33am

That draft was *beautiful* for the Broncos. It would have looked even better in hindsight if McDaniels hadn't completely torpedoed Tony Scheffler's career. In my opinion, the 06 and 08 drafts were both excellent drafts for the Broncos. It would have been fun to see where Shanahan would have gone with that core of young players. I'm sure that he probably would have just followed it with a dozen terrible drafts, but even that would have been preferable to Josh McDaniels burning the franchise down.

Jay Cutler
Tony Scheffler
Brandon Marshall
Elvis Dumervil
Domenik Hixon
Chris Kuper
Greg Eslinger

I mean, whatever on Hixon and Eslinger. It seemed Hixon (understandably) never really got his head back on right after the incident where he partially paralyzed that Bills player and Eslinger apparently was not such a perfect fit at center for the Broncos' system as he was advertised, but grabbing Cutler, Scheffler, Marshall Dumervil and Kuper in one seven-player draft is just about jaw-dropping. Or maybe I've just been conditioned by nearly two decades of horrible, horrible drafting by this team.

39
by Southern Philly :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 4:57pm

The Rams draft that year was one of the worst in recent memory:

1st - Tye Hill: off the team in 3 years, out of the league in 5.
2nd - Joe Klopfenstein: off the team in 3 years, out of the league in 4.
3rd - Claude Wroten: out of the league in 2 years.
3rd - Jon Alston: off the team in 1 year, out of the league in 4.
3rd - Dominique Byrd: off the team and out of the league in 2 years until he resurfaced this year to play 3 games for 2 teams.
4th - Victor Adeyanju: off the team and out of the league in 4 years. P-R career AV says he was the most valuable of their picks.
5th - Marques Hagans: Off the team in 1 year, out of the league in 2.
7th - Tim McGarigle: Out of the league in 1 year.
7th - Mark setterstrom: Off the team and out of the league in 4 years.
7th - Tony Palmer: Never made the team, out of the league in 2 years.

They took ten players in 2006 and in 2008 six of them weren't in the league. Ten players combined for 3 TD, 613 yards of offense, 4.5 sacks and 5 INTs. Ouch.

65
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 8:02am

The only one of them who was a decent pick was Setterstrom, who looked like he would be a pretty decent player, particularly for a 7th round pick (he probably would have been at a minimum a good backup G/C, if not a starter), but could just never stay healthy.

If you want to look at why the Rams have been terrible for the last few years, just look at the drafts in the middle of the decade. I don't even think 2006 was our worst one.

In fact, just had a look through it, and here's how many players I are still at the club and I'd be moderately happy for us to retain next year:

2011 - 4 (all that remain on the roster, I wouldn't be surprised if Pettis got cut though)
2010 - 6 (possibly)
2009 - 2, 3 if Jason Smith can stay healthy.
2008 - 1, although it would be 2 if we could have kept Chris Chamberlain
2007 - 0
2006 - 0
2005 - 0
2004 - 1
2003 - 0
2002 - 0

It does get a bit pointless going back more than a few years, but I'd be surprised if there are any other teams in the league that have only 1 player left on the roster that they drafted between 2002 and 2007!

98
by D2K :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:05pm

I really wanted to accept that challenge of "players drafted between 2002-2007 still on the roster" because I am a Buffalo Bills fan, and the drafting "prowess" or as most would call it extreme ineptitude spanning over multiple front offices for the better part of this century, directly contributes to the current 12 year playoff drought.

Looking through the drafts though in those years, there are 3 players on the current roster (Chris Kelsay/Terrence McGee from 03 and Kyle Williams from 06) and not one of them was from the 07 draft, which I would consider a pretty solid draft from a Bills fans perspective, especially the first 2 picks (Marshawn Lynch/Paul Posluszny).

I will say they seem to be heading in the right direction during the Buddy Nix/Doug Whaley era.

40
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:07pm

Hard to say Donte Whitner is a huge bust. Huff was picked before him to play the same position and only has a few more games and a few more AV. Both have been decent but not impressive players for their teams. Good enough to beat out the camp bodies year in and year out. The only single-digit AV players are McCargo and Bobby Carpenter, and I think McCargo wins, even though he was drafted lower.

I don't think there is any question that if this draft was held again, Ngata and Cutler would go off the board 1-2 in some order.

50
by Eddo :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 8:38pm

Hali might crack the top two. But yeah, I think Cutler goes first (because of position), then Ngata and Hali.

Then Mario Williams and the top three WRs, I'd say.

116
by LionInAZ :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:16am

It doesn't exactly work that way because you have to take into account who was drafting when. There is no way the Texans would have taken Ngata with the no. 1 pick, nor Cutler. You can argue between Mario and Tamba, but I think you could call that pretty much a wash.

119
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:13am

Not only that, but under the old CBA there was no way you could take a nose tackle - even an all pro nose tackle - that high. Ngata is a far better interior DL than Williams is a DE, but who gets paid more money (by a considerable margin)? You can't ignore the importance of position in determining value.

In this parallel world where the teams have 20/20 hindsight, the Texans know that Carr's never going to make it. They take Cutler.

I really don't think Colston's in the same class as Jennings or Marshall, or worth a top ten pick, and I think Marshall's character issues keep him out of the top ten too (otherwise he'd be a lock).

Ok, let's have a crack at the actual first round, given team needs at the time (and retaining draft day trades, because I can't be bothered to go back and try to unpick them):

#1 Houston Texans take Jay Cutler QB Vanderbilt
#2 New Orleans Saints take Mario Williams DE North Carolina State
#3 Tennessee Titans take Greg Jennings WR Western Michigan
#4 New York Jets take D'Brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia
#5 Green Bay Packers take Elvis Dumervil DE Louisville
#6 San Francisco 49ers take Tamba Hali DE Penn. State
#7 Oakland Raiders take Haloti Ngata DT Oregon
#8 Buffalo Bills take Jonathan Joseph CB South Carolina
#9 Detroit Lions take Cortland Finnegan CB Samford
#10 Arizona Cardinals take Maurice Jones-Drew RB UCLA
#11 Denver Broncos take Marques Colston WR Hofstra
#12 Baltimore Ravens take Kyle Williams DT LSU
#13 Cleveland Browns take Jahri Evans OT Bloomsburg
#14 Philadelphia Eagles take Brandon Marshall WR Central Florida
#15 St. Louis Rams take Tramon Williams CB Louisiana Tech
#16 Miami Dolphins take Nick Mangold C Ohio State
#17 Minnesota Vikings take Vernon Davis TE Maryland
#18 Dallas Cowboys take Antonio Cromartie CB Florida State
#19 San Diego Chargers take Marcus McNeill OT Auburn
#20 Kansas City Chiefs take Kamerion Wimbley DE Florida State
#21 New England Patriots take DeAngelo Williams RB Memphis
#22 San Francisco 49ers take Santonio Holmes WR Ohio State
#23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers take DeMeco Ryans LB Alabama
#24 Cincinnati Bengals take Richard Marshall CB Fresno State
#25 Pittsburgh Steelers take Eric Winston OT Miami
#26 Buffalo Bills take Chad Greenway LB Iowa
#27 Carolina Panthers take Owen Daniels TE Wisconsin
#28 Jacksonville Jaguars take Andrew Whitworth OT LSU
#29 New York Jets take Reggie Bush RB USC
#30 Indianapolis Colts take Joseph Addai RB LSU
#31 Seattle Seahawks take Chris Kuper OG North Dakota
#32 New York Giants take Matthias Kiwanuka DE Boston College

Colston ends up going a bit higher than he probably should because of where the Broncos are drafting.

144
by chemical burn :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 6:57pm

Yeah, but this lists still over-values the dubious idea that teams would take the "best player available." There's no way a first round draft goes by with only Qb drafted - somebody would sign up for 4 seasons of Vince Young. There's just no way the Bills and Lions take CB's at #9 and #10, especially two guys who are of the "very good... but ARE they great?" variety. (I'd say overall this draft is weirdly CB heavy.)

Also, do we mean by "know what we know now" just a literal translation of their stats and how much of it still nebulous. I think many coaches would convince themselves that Vince Young is worth, a victim of a bad relationship with Jeff Fisher or poor coaching and that they could do even better with him. Even with hindsight, I think the hot prospects and guys with upside (and QB has more upside than CB ever can) still have the inside track - unless we mean "these dudes will literally put up the same stats for whatever team they play for and whatever situation they go into no matter what."

I just don't think Young would last past that Oakland, Bills, Lions gamut at #7-9. Keep in mind, the management of these teams wouldn't be smarter - if anything Al Davis would love to have a "big-armed athlete" like Young, consequences be damned. Anyway, Tramon Williams would never go as high as #15 in any draft ever, under any circumstances, let alone a CB rich one like this. And Richard Marshal? Come on...

(On a side note, no way the Eagles take Brandon Marshall. That's wrong on about 4 different levels. I think they still take Broderick Bunkley, truthfully - they were in the market for a DT and he's the best one left according to your breakdown. There's not even an impact DE that fits their system left at that point that could have lured them off the DT track. Of course, Kyle Williams could easily have fallen to them and they'd probably take him.)

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by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 8:56pm

"Yeah, but this lists still over-values the dubious idea that teams would take the "best player available." There's no way a first round draft goes by with only Qb drafted - somebody would sign up for 4 seasons of Vince Young."

I tried to give teams the player I thought was the best choice given the needs they had at the time and the system they were running (and assuming they knew the future paths of players already on their rosters as well as the rookies). I've no doubt made mistakes, but that was what I was trying to do, not just list players in order of how good I think they are.

"There's just no way the Bills and Lions take CB's at #9 and #10, especially two guys who are of the "very good... but ARE they great?" variety. (I'd say overall this draft is weirdly CB heavy.)"

My theory is that CB is a high-value position which tends to be in a sense under-drafted because projecting college CBs into the pros is incredibly difficult. If you know how good a player's going to be, that problem goes away. 20/20 hindsight drafts should usually have more first round corners than real drafts, according to this theory. Equally, it's fair to say that 2006 was a very good, deep CB class.

"Also, do we mean by "know what we know now" just a literal translation of their stats and how much of it still nebulous. I think many coaches would convince themselves that Vince Young is worth, a victim of a bad relationship with Jeff Fisher or poor coaching and that they could do even better with him. Even with hindsight, I think the hot prospects and guys with upside (and QB has more upside than CB ever can) still have the inside track - unless we mean 'these dudes will literally put up the same stats for whatever team they play for and whatever situation they go into no matter what.'"

We absolutely don't know everything there is to know about what sort of pros these players could have been, but we know a hell of a lot more than we did in 2006, and not just their stats. If coaches are so convinced that Vince Young has a chance to be a good NFL starter, why the hell is he still a free agent? If he couldn't succeed in Philly, where the hell would he? I'm pretty convinced that no quarterback other than Cutler from the class of 2006 was ever capable of being an above average starter. But yes, of course we're projecting based on what we do know. It's just a lot easier than projecting based on play in college.

"I just don't think Young would last past that Oakland, Bills, Lions gamut at #7-9. Keep in mind, the management of these teams wouldn't be smarter - if anything Al Davis would love to have a "big-armed athlete" like Young, consequences be damned."

This may well be true. I didn't make any allowance for either incompetent front offices or small market teams wanting to increase revenue even at the expense of winning, when in reality both are of course factors.

"Anyway, Tramon Williams would never go as high as #15 in any draft ever, under any circumstances, let alone a CB rich one like this."

This is just us disagreeing about how good Tramon Williams is. Fair enough. You may perfectly well be right.

"And Richard Marshal? Come on..."

Yeah, that probably is a bit high for Marshall, though not as absurdly so as you may think. The Dolphins just paid him a lot more than the #24 pick in the draft used to get, put it that way. One of the things this exercise illustrates is that a typical draft simply doesn't contain 32 players who are as good as most fans hope their team's first round pick will be. Eric Winston's a nice player, but you wouldn't be thrilled if that was how your first rounder turned out, would you?

"(On a side note, no way the Eagles take Brandon Marshall. That's wrong on about 4 different levels. I think they still take Broderick Bunkley, truthfully - they were in the market for a DT and he's the best one left according to your breakdown. There's not even an impact DE that fits their system left at that point that could have lured them off the DT track. Of course, Kyle Williams could easily have fallen to them and they'd probably take him.)"

I defer to your Eagles knowledge. It seemed to me that the post-Owens, pre-Jackson Eagles could have used a good receiver, and that his off-field issues were no worse than those of a number of real life Eagles and better than some. I did wonder about Bunkley for someone like the Colts, but truthfully I'm just not sure how valuable DTs who don't rush the passer and can't play 3-4 nose really are. The market's answer currently appears to be "slightly less valuable than Richard Marshall", but then NFL free agency isn't a perfectly efficient market and the Saints may very well be smarter than the Dolphins (or Bunkley's agent dumber than Marshall's).

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by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 5:34am

"My theory is that CB is a high-value position which tends to be in a sense under-drafted because projecting college CBs into the pros is incredibly difficult."

I always assumed the opposite was true. I haven't got any non-anecdotal evidence but it seems that every year there is a stream of cornerbacks going off the board at the end of the first round just because they're the right size and shape with a decent 40 time. Guys like Kareem Jackson.

148
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 8:16am

I don't mean to suggest that many individual corners aren't over-drafted, just that the position is net under-drafted due to the near impossibility of scouting it well. Unlike say - left tackle - where nearly all the eventual stars are drafted at the top of the first round, top tier corners are found all over the place, and many first round corners bust utterly. For every Kareem Jackson, there's an Asante Samuel. If teams knew exactly how good corners were going to be, I think they'd take the good ones earlier than they usually do at present, and the very best would be candidates for the #1 overall pick. The 2007 version of this exercise would feature a very close call indeed between Revis, Johnson and Thomas.

149
by chemical burn :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 11:18am

Man, your polite, reasonable and intelligent response makes me feel like I was being a jerk (in retrospect.) Anyhoo, I guess the larger point I'm hung up on is that I think even "knowing what we know now" teams will still be tempted to make dubious decision and certain positions just won't be drafted as frequently or as high as others. I personally think Ngata is the best player in this draft and totally worthy of the #1 overall pick for a 3-4 team, but I could easily see him dropping to down to the bottom or the Top 10 or lower because that's just how things shake out in the real world. Part of what's interesting about looking back at the draft closely is to realize that some bad decisions would come awfully close to getting repeated and that there was no way they weren't happening in 2006. (VY going #3 overall for instance and Reggie Bush going #2 overall when he actually has the value of, oh, a 3rd round pick.)

Anyways, I'd be interested to figure out the relationship between being a "star" player and where they are drafted - I think in general, if you are drafted in the 7th round, you have to be twice as good to get the recognition that under-performing first round picks are thoughtlessly given. I mean, there's a lot of folks out there who would rate Dez Bryant on the same level or higher than Greg Jennings, especially media types and casual fans. Bryant is already a bigger "star" than Jennings, who is by any measure the far superior player. Even Marques Colston doesn't get the hype of Bryant and he has some captivating public interest stories raising his profile.

This is a roundabout way of saying, I think most of the "stars" at LT are probably first round picks because what the hell else can a guy do to become a "star" at the position? He'll never have a highlight reel play, he can go to six Pro Bowls with nobody paying attention, he can play for a Championship team and still be pretty close to a nobody. Because of where he was drafted, Joe Thomas can play well his rookie year and instantly become on the short list "best tackles in the game..."

(As for Marhsall, other than Owens, Reid's Eagles have never pursued large, over-the-middle type receivers, decisively placing emphasis on small speed guys who can stretch the field like Maclin, Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown. Marshall is just entirely off-model for them. And in 2006, they weren't in the market for a WR, they just took Brown 35th overall in 2005 and many fans - notably Pat! - thought Greg Lewis was the WR of the future for the organization. They were focused on the lines in the 2006 draft taking Bunkley, Winston Justice, Chris Gocong - a DE they would try to convert to LB - and Max Jean-Gilles in the first 4 rounds and then another DT in the sixth. There's no way they went anything other than a lineman in the first. I still think in a re-draft they could end up with Bunkley whose on-the-filed performance was perfectly acceptable - he was just a headcase from day 1, missing the plane to their first preseason game I believe and getting benched that year for being lazy. Of course, with hindsight knowledge that Trotter was on his last legs, they might have decided to address the issue, pick up another fiery run-stuffer and taken... DeMeco Ryan.)

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by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 8:54pm

No worries, dude - I didn't take your response as in any way rude or obnoxious to begin with. It's an interesting debate.

"I personally think Ngata is the best player in this draft and totally worthy of the #1 overall pick for a 3-4 team"

At the very least, I think he's a better player at his position than anyone else in this class is at theirs. It's a tough call, because if there's one position where I think the NFL may just actually be systematically wrong at the moment it's NT. The rare players at that position who are great on all three downs year in and year out may still be worth significantly more than they're getting paid. The history of Haynesworth, Jenkins and others may be putting people off more than it should in cases like Ngata and Wilfork. I still think the Ravens would trade Ngata straight up for Cutler, though, if they were acting rationally. But maybe I like Cutler better than you. I certainly count myself in the pro-Cutler camp.

"there's a lot of folks out there who would rate Dez Bryant on the same level or higher than Greg Jennings, especially media types and casual fans"

That horrifies me. I guess not living in America I miss out on most of that sort of lunacy.

"This is a roundabout way of saying, I think most of the "stars" at LT are probably first round picks because what the hell else can a guy do to become a "star" at the position?"

I completely understand where you're coming from, but I don't think it's true. I think that to be a truly elite all-round left tackle - that is to say, one who really excels in both pass protection and run blocking - it is more necessary to be an even more astonishing physical specimen than is the case at any other position. There are so few players with these physical attributes that they almost never make it outside the top ten. Note necessary, not sufficient - obviously not every freakish physical specimen ever develops the skills to be a top NFL player. But I don't believe it's possible for a guy to become an Ogden, Pace or Jones without the measurables of an Ogden, Pace or Jones, and I don't believe it's possible for a guy with those measurables to fall far in the draft, short of major red flags relating to character or health. Along the lines of being chief suspect in a presidential assassination, or imminent multiple organ failure and a skeleton made entirely of glass, that kind of thing.

"And in 2006, they weren't in the market for a WR, they just took Brown 35th overall in 2005 and many fans - notably Pat! - thought Greg Lewis was the WR of the future for the organization."

But in the game we're playing (arbitrarily, I admit) do-over 2006 Andy Reid knows that Brown and Lewis will turn out not to be much good, and he still needs a receiver.

"As for Marhsall, other than Owens, Reid's Eagles have never pursued large, over-the-middle type receivers, decisively placing emphasis on small speed guys who can stretch the field like Maclin, Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown. Marshall is just entirely off-model for them."

Fair comment. I freely admit that my thinking went no deeper than "Owens was highly effective when sane there and Marshall's a pretty similar player".

" I still think in a re-draft they could end up with Bunkley whose on-the-filed performance was perfectly acceptable - he was just a headcase from day 1, missing the plane to their first preseason game I believe and getting benched that year for being lazy. Of course, with hindsight knowledge that Trotter was on his last legs, they might have decided to address the issue, pick up another fiery run-stuffer and taken... DeMeco Ryan.)"

I had no idea that Bunkley was a headcase. All the more reason to be wary of him. Ryans is possibly not a bad call - before he got hurt, he was more than just a fiery run-stuffer, he was an excellent all-around three down 4-3 MLB, an outstanding leader on the field and a perfect role model off it. Whether the Eagles staff value the position enough to take one in the middle of the first round is something you'd know better than I.

150
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 2:18pm

I think you are overvaluing the corner position. Firstly, it's the easiest position to game plan around. An elite end can cause disruption on every single play, a corner only has the effect of removing one offensive player and the offense can usually pick which player it is. Secondly, because outside of a healthy Revis, I'm not sure there are any elite corners in the NFL. They all have flaws that can be exploited.

To illustrate what I mean a little more, an average receiver probably has more value than an average corner because when a receiver fails to do his job, the offense can choose not to use him. The defense gets no such choice, the offense gets to choose which corner to attack as well.

Finally, one could argue that this makes corners more valuable since reducing failures even a little could have immediate impacts whereas with receivers multiple receivers succeeding on the same play isn't significantly more valuable than 1 succeeding.

Now that I write that, it actually sounds pretty convincing. So the question is, what is the rate of return for resources invested vs marginal value gained?

151
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 8:29pm

Obviously it's impossible for us really to calculate this sort of thing. My working hypothesis tends to be that, while individual teams may mis-value individual players, the league as a whole tends to do a reasonably good job of valuing positions. If that's true, then the franchise tag number for a position ought to be a fairly good proxy for the marginal value of a very good player at that position. If the figures here are accurate, that would suggest corner is the third most valuable position (at the upper end of the range at least), just behind defensive end in second and noticeably ahead of wide receiver in fourth. I think linebacker and offensive line should get asterisks, as left tackles and 3-4 rush linebackers are very different animals to other OLs and LBs. Both of those sub-positions may well be (in my opinion probably are) more valuable than CB.

I tend to think this supports my position: good corners are valuable enough to pay a lot of money, which means that the upside of a corner is enough to justify a very high draft pick. However, in the real draft, corners don't get drafted super-high because it's too hard to judge which corner should be taken right at the top. With the rookie wage scale now making bad early picks less damaging, this dynamic may change somewhat - note that it seems very possible a corner will be picked in the top five for the second year running.

Anecdotally, this Texans fan thinks that very-good-but-non-Revis Class of 2006 corner Jonathan Joseph made a huge difference to the quality of the Texans defense as a whole, even with Kareem Jackson stinking the place out on the other side.

Then again, I suppose you as a Bears fan are drawing on the experience of watching years of good or great defense without standout corner play. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that in some schemes good corners are very valuable (I'm one of those few who probably wouldn't call Ronde Barber one of the top 5 corners of the 00s, for precisely this reason).

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by tuluse :: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 8:40pm

I believe Joseph made a huge difference, but I'm not sure how much was because of how good he is and how much was just because he at least deserved to be on the field.

Also, I certainly think having good corners is valuable, I just think it's a position that can be game planned around more (from both sides of the ball) than other positions. I think for instance having 2 Charles Tillmans would be more valuable than a Revis and a Jason David.

Color me very surprised that the franchise tag for corners is higher than offensive lineman which I would expect would be based entirely on elite left tackles.

155
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 9:43pm

Maybe elite left tackles never hit free agency and therefore never get bid up to their market value? Maybe there are just so few of them in the league at any one time that their existence doesn't move the tag as far as it should, especially as at least half of them at any given time are probably playing under their ultra-long old-CBA rookie contracts?

I'm honestly not sure what the explanation is.

154
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 5:14pm

I'd probably say that adding both Joseph AND Danieal Manning helped the Texans. Upgrading both the CB and S positions is bound to make a huge difference for any team.

156
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 9:51pm

Oh, the Texans made a vast number of changes on defense, nearly all of which helped. Wade Phillips, the switch to 3-4, Joseph and Manning in free agency, Watt and Reed through the draft, Barwin returning from injury, Cushing taking a big step forward, Quin moving to safety . . . It's very hard to isolate individual elements. But subjectively, based on watching every Texans game in 2010 and 2011 at least once and some extra times with a specific eye towards DB play (it's hard not to get obsessive about it when your team's that bad at it for that long), but without any special expertise, it seemed to me that the most important single change after coaching/scheme was Joseph replacing Quin at CB1 - and Quin was actually a perfectly competent corner, by no means a particular weakness in 2010. Manning missed several games, and the pass defense didn't fall off too badly. Joseph only missed a few plays here and there with minor knocks, and I was terrified every time.

I think most informed Texans fans would probably say Joseph was the player the defense could least afford to lose for any length of time, and behind only Schaub, Johnson and maybe Foster for the franchise as a whole.

42
by Joseph :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:46pm

2006 was the post-Katrina draft--and Loomis & Payton hit a grand slam. Not only did they get Bush, Evans, & Colston as the article mentions, but they also got S. Roman Harper and T Zach Strief, who after years of being a backup, was the starter at RT last year. They also acquired Drew Brees & LB's Fujita & Shanle, as well as their center that year (maybe Hank Fraley? I forget his name), backup-who-became-starter C Jonathan Goodwin, and backup LB Mark Simoneau. That's 7 of their 22 SB starters, plus Bush & Strief who were sometimes starters.
Since the center & Simoneau were acquired for sliding back a few spots, I'll wager that this draft might have been the best of 06. [Remember, it doesn't even include Brees!]
[2008 was a pretty good year for them too, as they drafted DT Sedrick Ellis, CB Tracy Porter, G Carl Nicks; picked up as FA's K Hartley, return man Roby, & DT Ayodele; and traded for Shockey & Vilma. All started in the SB 1 yr later.]

{Completely an aside: if you want to know why Benson is backing Payton & Loomis during this bounty scandal, the player acquisitions listed here are why.}

120
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:20am

"Since the center & Simoneau were acquired for sliding back a few spots, I'll wager that this draft might have been the best of 06"

How you handle players acquired by trades is always a bit of a grey area, but Bush was probably a net negative given how much he cost against the cap, so I think I'd put the Saints draft third, clearly behind Denver and Houston. In my 20/20 hindsight first round do-over above, the Texans and Broncos drafts accounted for four players each (including one of the top two for each team, and another in the top five for the Broncos). The Saints had three, with Colston the highest at 11.

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by Joseph :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 6:47pm

Let me rephrase your quote of my comment. I prob. should have said, "The Saints draft, including the center and Simoneau, was more important than any other draft IN 2006 than any other teams'. In other words, for the Saints team that lost to CHI in the NFCCG, those guys had a major impact, more than any other rookie class had on their team that year. Bush's cap hit was only prohibitive last year, which was part of the reason they traded him to MIA.
The only reason that I included the C & LB Simoneau was because they didn't "GIVE UP" picks to get them, just traded back and still picked a player. You can argue that they gave up the chance to get a certain player who was picked in the interim between their original pick and the one they finally used, but it's hard to argue with the value that they got. They picked up a starter for dropping back about 10 picks (iirc).

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by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 12:15pm

Fair enough. Clearly if you want to look only at impact on the following season you're going to get a very different picture to the one you would looking at the long term performances of the players. I can well believe the Saints might come out top in that metric.

Not included in my figures above is Tramon Williams, who actually signed with the Texans as a UDFA . . . but was cut in I believe the final roster reduction before the start of the season. Considering the quality of cornerback play the Texans have suffered through since then, I think it's fair to say that was a mistake. Kevin Walter was also acquired in a trade for a seventh round pick.

43
by lk (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:59pm

Colston may have bigger numbers than Marshall, Jennings, and Holmes, but he's not the best out of this group.

61
by Theo :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:01am

That's what I was thinking.
Holmes didn't put up the numbers because he played for the Steelers - who weren't as pass happy 6 years ago as they are now.

80
by Joseph :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:12pm

It depends on what you want from that WR. Colston is a first-down machine, and always has been. [IIRC, in a Quick Reads article in Colston's rookie year, he had a string of like 20 catches that had all gone for 1st downs. That's why he has the overall lead in DYAR.] I don't follow the Pack, but I've always thought of Jennings as more of a home-run type, with Driver being the 1st-down/move-the-chains guy. For the Saints, Henderson & Meachem have always run the 9 routes. In fact, I can only think of 2x where Colston caught a pass of over 30 yds--one @ WAS in 2009 where the S (Landry?) bit on his "in" fake, and last year @ TEN where Brees dropped in a perfect pass against good coverage. If the one in the playoffs @ SF was 30+ yds, that makes 3--but it was still against great coverage.
In other words, Colston won't outrun his DB--but he will get open. I've seen several Jennings' highlights where he outruns guys. Colston is also criminally underrated because of the Saints' system & Drew Brees, but you can't say that Jennings has been handicapped in that regard with Stubbleface & Rodgers.

82
by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:16pm

Jennings does everything, he's one of the best receivers in the game.

84
by Joseph :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 12:48pm

Not saying he isn't--just that Colston & Jennings are different types of WR's.
Also, compare their 1st 4 years:
(Rec, Passes, Yds, Catch%, YpC, TD, DVOA & Rank, DYAR & Rank

Jennings 2006--45 of 105, 632, 43%, 14.0, 3TD, -17.3, #75, -39, #77
Colston 2006--70 of 115, 1038, 61%, 14.8, 8TD, 20.5%, #11, 306, #6

Jennings 2007--53 of 84, 920, 63%, 17.4, 12TD, 31.5%, #2, 302, #7
Colston 2007--98 of 144, 1202, 68%, 12.3, 11TD, 16.8%, #14, 351, #5

Jennings 2008--80 of 140, 1292, 57%, 16.2, 9TD, 9.6%, #21, 243, #12
Colston 2008--47 of 88, 760, 53%, 16.2, 5TD, 2.8%, #33, 111, #33
(Colston had an injured hand for 5 games and parts of 2 others)

Jennings 2009--68 of 119, 1113, 57%, 16.4, 4 TD, 10.6%, #26, 224, #17
Colston 2009--70 of 107, 1074, 65%, 15.3, 9TD, 25.3%, #6, 331, #7

Okay, that's a blowout win for Colston in 2006, a close win for him in 2007 (Jennings was more explosive, Colston has more volume), a clear win for Jennings in 2008, and a close win for Colston in 2009. Colston is a top-10 receiver for 3 of 4 years (AVG of DYAR & DVOA), Jennings for 1 of 4.
EDIT: A quick glance @ 2010 stats give Jennings 2 of 5, Colston 3 of 5, and Jennings the clear win head-to-head. Since all stats are courtesy of the Almanacs, I am not posting 2011 stats. If anyone has them, please post them in a reply.
Even if Jennings is better in 2011, and I don't know if he was or not, how are we arguing that Jennings is clearly better? I'd say they are equals, with Jennings looking better for the long run as the clear #1 receiver, where Colston now has Jimmy Graham & Darren Sproles stealing more targets. However, Colston has been a top-flight receiver since he stepped on the field, whereas Jennings needed a year to move into the upper echelon.

85
by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:05pm

"how are we arguing that Jennings is clearly better"

I wouldn't. I think saying they are roughly equal and you can pick whichever one you like best is fine.

121
by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:24am

I would. What Jennings is asked to do is far more difficult and valuable than what Colston's asked to do. Statistics just don't do a very good job of measuring wide receivers. I will be very, very surprised if Jennings doesn't get a considerably larger contract next offseason than Colston did this.

139
by Joseph :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 10:58am

Why do you state that Jennings asked to do "more" than Colston? I mean, Colston isn't a rookie, or the 4th receiver, or anything. Generally, Colston isn't asked to run "go" routes, since that's Henderson's job (and WAS Meachem's too). Other than that, what? Colston certainly runs those TE-style "seam" routes that expose you to the FS trying to separate your torso from your waist. Does Jennings? [IDK, just asking the Q.]
Re: the contract, I'll wager that Jennings may get a bigger contract--but it has nothing to do with either WR's perceived value. It has to do with the salary cap, and the fact that Colston wanted to stay with Brees while the Saints were fairly constrained by the franchise tag placed on Brees. It may also have to do with the fact that this is Colston's THIRD contract, since, irrc, the first one (for a 7th round pick) was torn up 3 yrs ago to pay him more in line with his production. Since he signed for 4 more years, he may STILL get a nice fat contract/extension when this one is over. IMO, since his game doesn't depend on speed, he may age better than other WR's.

140
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 3:15pm

As to Jennings routes, he and Driver would run everything in the playbook the past couple of seasons. Part of the GB offense was moving the receivers around and having them "do the other guys job" so that a defense really had problems using formation to figure routes. This last season Driver wasn't doing as many go routes (or at least he wasn't getting open as much on them) but you would see Nelson, Jennings, and Jones running every route the Packers had. I've seen Jennings motion inside Finley and run the TE routes while Finley was playing more like the WR too.

But it's not just Jennings that is asked to "do more" as another poster said. The Packers really do try to put the receivers in all sorts of route combos. I think the other point is that Jennings has tended to draw the extra coverage the last few seasons as Driver was declining and Nelson and Jones hadn't quite stepped up enough and Finley was injured or just coming onto the scene. Last year Finley drew extra coverage at times and Nelson started to at the end of the season too.

Then mention of Colston not relying on speed applies to Jennings too. Colston clocked a 4.50, Jennings a 4.53. Jennings may actually be the "slowest" straight line receiver the Packers have (well Driver is now that he has lost a step or two but he used to be faster but I'm not sure he is making the roster this year) Nelson and Cobb are clearly faster, Jones I'm not sure, likely right around Jennings (yeah his 40 time was 4.54). Jennings is just really good at running the routes precisely and getting that bit of separation that his QB's need to get him the ball.

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by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 5:00pm

"Why do you state that Jennings asked to do "more" than Colston?"

I didn't - I said what he was asked to do is more difficult and valuable. But yes, if you want to put it simply, Jennings is asked to go deeper more often, as illustrated by his career YPC of 15.9, as compared to Colston's career YPC of 13.9. Jennings is a more complete and more difficult to cover receiver than Colston, who is responsible for more of his team-mates production on the plays where he doesn't catch the ball.

146
by Joseph :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 11:44pm

I would then respond to your YPC averages with catch percentage, which favors Colston every year except the year he busted his hand. And, since Drew Brees set the completion % record AGAIN this year, I doubt Colston's catch % was below ~65%.
Again, his astounding lead in career DYAR which the article mentions is because he is a 1st down machine. That has tremendous value. His hands, his TE-like size, and the know-how to use that size in the end zone is extremely valuable too. I guess we'll just have to disagree on who is better, because they both play on high-powered offenses with (probably) future HOF QB's, multiple receiving threats, and coaches who take advantage of their offense's prowess.

Regarding the speed thing, you got me there. I would never have guessed that.

47
by incredulous (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 6:52pm

"While (Cutler) may be petulant, and Denver traded him for a reason..." -- the reason they traded him being that their new HC had botched the relationship within weeks of being hired?!

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by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:43am

It's still hard to fathom that McDaniels inherited a young Pro Bowl QB and the 3rd ranked offense in the league and decided to immediately tear it down. Even harder to believe that Pat Bowlen sat back and allowed it to happen. McDaniels went after Cassell without ever having met Cutler. Nuts.

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by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:27pm

Yet, in the mind of Mike Lombardi, who guaranteed he would win a Super Bowl in Denver AFTER the 2009 season, he's the next Bill Belichick, just waiting for his second chance.

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by cjfarls :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:56am

To be fair, I think there was a severe case on locker-room rot going on, and while individually many of these headcases probably could be managed, the combined effect meant that the inmates were somewhat running the asylum.

Add in the trauma of the Darrent Williams tragedy, etc. and a house-cleaning probably was inevitable.

While I would have loved to keep Cutler, he is not blameless in the fallout between him and McD. McD recognized the things he did poorly (and which followed him, such as a tendency to fling it into triple coverage, etc.)... I agree that going for Cassel was probably unwarranted, but teams should be on the lookout for players that can improve them, and exploring the options for guys that you think may be a better fit for what you want to shouldn't be considered such a "betrayal" by the front office. The same argument would say that Elway should never have pursued Manning this year... Cutler's sense of self-entitlement showed just how far Shanny had let respect for the front office fall at the end of his tenure in Denver.

I'm also very glad Marshall is gone (and even if Shanny was around, his value has never been worth the big contract he received or his off-field issues). Scheffler is probably one of those guys that could've been managed under a better coach than McD, but definitely also earned his ticket out of town by essentially giving up on the team.

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by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:30am

I actually wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of McDaniels getting over himself and becoming a good head coach some way down the line, but his hiring was sheer idiocy. Bowlen should have hired a defensive-minded head coach and left Dennison to keep the offense exactly how it was, maybe bringing in Greg Knapp or someone to help with the passing game.

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by tunesmith :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 7:44pm

Amazing how this one still needs to be corrected.

Who knows what really went down between McDaniels and Cutler, but there was a point fairly late in the process where both McDaniels and Cutler basically considered the whole brouhaha over and were resigned to starting training camp together. It was then Bowlen's decision to trade Cutler.

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by Jerry :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 2:11am

Is it fair to say that if McDaniels hadn't expressed his interest in Cassel that Cutler would have stayed gruntled? (I don't know if I should include the word "publicly" in that question.)

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by Mr Shush :: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 12:20pm

I do think it's probably fair to say that the whole thing is ultimately Bowlen's fault. The episode doesn't reflect terribly well on Cutler, and even less so on McDaniels, but really the biggest awful decisions were made by the owner.

49
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 8:28pm

Re Sinorice Moss, oops. Added a link to the full draft order.

The Rams' draft that year was truly incredibly awful. Matt Millen thanks them for moving the spotlight away from him, though you should really read the link about how they drafted Brian Calhoun. The offensive lineman they were arguing over was Max Jean-Gilles, and whether he would have been too much of an overdraft.

I graded players based on their listed draft position, trying to take into account only immediate complete position changes. Thus, college DE Hali a DE, since he started off as a DE, while college DE Wimbley a DE an OLB, since he started off as a college OLB.

If I had to pick a receiver on my team for 2012, I'd pick Jennings and not Colston.

There's a distinction in my mind between players who draft stock is inflated by special teams value and players who are pure special teams players. Kickers, punters, and long snappers are clearly in the second category, but teams rarely draft players high without an expectation they'll contribute on offense or defense. To use my favorite comparison, Hester has been more Brian Mitchell, a player most of whose value came on special teams but who still played situationally on offense or defense, than Mel Gray, a pure return man.

While the Robopunter discussion thread is legendary, I don't really think of it as specifically in connection with the 2006 draft. Baba also had "talking about an FO staffer" added value.

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by Eddo :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 8:43pm

ROBO-PUNTER (my apologies, oh Great One, for my fleshy brethren failing to properly capitalize your name; please have mercy on us) did originate as an extreme example of how even the absolutely best conceivable player at his position wouldn't go first overall if the position wasn't one of the most important. It was a specific argument as to why it was appropriate to draft a very good DE prospect (Williams) over the best RB prospect ever (Bush, which is essentially how he was touted by some).

However, ROBO-PUNTER didn't come about until a month after the draft (in a Four Downs article), so I understand still referring to the 2006 draft as the "Babatunde Oshinowo" draft for official FO purposes.

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by John (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 9:36pm

Dunno, after watching Scifres nearly single-handedly defeat the Colts in the playoffs, I'm not convinced that ROBO-PUNTER wouldn't be worth a first overall.

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by Intropy :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 1:09am

The best conceivable punter would be far, far more valuable than any player who has ever actually played the game. He wouldn't just be worth the #1 pick, he would be worth more than the entire rest of the draft class.

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:15am

An analysis of career AV suggests that elite DEs and RBs are worth about the same, suggesting that you should favor an elite RB prospect over a very good DE prospect (and conversely, an elite DE over a very good RB).

And as to fungibility, there were more elite DEs available in later rounds than elite RBs.

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by Eddo :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:03pm

I'd be interested to see such a study.

The point wasn't that elite RBs were necessarily worse, in an absolute sense, than elite DEs. The point of the whole ROBO-PUNTER argument was that a RB drafted #1 overall immediately becomes the highest-paid RB in the league, whereas a DE drafted #1 overall is simply a well-paid one. Therefore, from a financial/roster-building perspective, it's a no-brainer to take the DE.

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by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:34am

That's indicative of a problem with AV, not of RBs and DEs being comparably valuable.

Or perhaps more fairly, it's indicative of the fact that one key purpose of AV is comparison across eras as well as positions, and running backs used to be far more valuable than they are now.

No general manager in the league agrees with the proposition that top DEs and top RBs are roughly equally valuable over their careers, which is why Mario Williams is now getting twice as much per annum as Arian Foster, even though Foster is a better back than Williams is an end.

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 9:02am

Let's not make the argument that present valuation is the correct valuation. Because every other era has thought that as well, and been just as wrong.

In present usage, a top DE is possibly worth more, but an elite RB can prosper when every other ball-carrier is JAG, whereas most elite DEs need at least a competent DE (or good edge rusher LB) on the other side.

White spent much of his career playing with Clyde Simmons or Bryce Paup on the other side. Bruce Smith played with Paup and then a smattering of guys without much acclaim but with decent careers. (Smith was outsacked by the his mirror DE a couple of times) That said, Smith's 1990 season was pretty much all him.

Emmitt Smith played with Daryl Johnston, but he in usage was more of a short blocking TE than a runner. Barry Sanders played with a bunch of guys who aspired to be JAGs. The only notable one I can think of is Vardell, who was basically the 1-yard version of Craig Heyward.

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by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 9:35am

Why focus on just the quality of supporting players at the same position? Ends benefit from quality pass-rushing DTs, and from good coverage. Running backs benefit from good quarterbacking making defenses respect the pass, from deep threats forcing safeties out of the box, and of course from good blocking by offensive linemen, full backs, tight ends and even wide receivers.

I submit that while running backs and pass rushers can both experience massive team mate driven effects on their visible production, a great defensive end with a horrible supporting cast affects his team's win probability more than a great running back with a horrible supporting cast.

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 10:57am

"Why focus on just the quality of supporting players at the same position?"

Because DEs come in pairs and RBs typically don't? You can roll protection away from an elite DE who doesn't have a good mirror. It's harder to roll defenses towards an elite RB, because he plays both directions.

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by Independent George :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 3:26pm

I think the point is that the relevant supporting cast for a RB isn't the #2 RB, but the OL, WR, and QB. You can place eight in the box against a great RB without a deep passing game, or play your gaps straight up against a bad OL. For a DE, the relevant supporting cast isn't necessarily the opposite DB, but can also be the NT, the CBs, S, etc. Suggs doesn't have a great pass rusher opposite him, but he benefits greatly from Ngata in the middle and Reed deep.

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by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 4:25pm

Defenses roll down towards a great RB, not across, and needing two good defensive ends makes ends more valuable, not less.

To look at it another way, if the Doctor had a first round pick in the 2012 draft, he'd use it on rookie Reggie White or rookie Lawrence Taylor or rookie Bruce Smith or any one of a number of other pass rushers before he used it on rookie Jim Brown.

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:11am

Mel Gray served four years as an emergency backup RB/5th WR. He has a rushing TD.

He also did yeoman work on Super Tecmo Bowl as Sanders' backup RB.

54
by David Jonson :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:00pm

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by peterplaysbass :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:10am

really! truly! this specific topic!

(sigh)

55
by RickD :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:09pm

From Tanier, 2006:
"Five years from now, Young might be another Michael Vick, a superior athlete who never evolved into a complete player..."

As they say, "never" is a long time...

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by Mr Shush :: Sat, 04/07/2012 - 8:43am

It's still a long time when it's interrupted by only one injury-shortened season of reality being otherwise . . .

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by Exy (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 8:30am

Is Evans really better than Mangold? I mean both are generally considered the best at their positions, but isn't center a more important position than right guard?

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by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:31pm

I consider Mangold better, but like many fans, is it hard for me to really be able to truthfully, objectively judge offensive lineman.

I will say that Mangold is one of the few guys I've watched and immediately thought "man, is he really, really good."

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by Tom Gower :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:37pm

My judgment, based on what I know, was precisely the opposite: that right guard is a more important position that's harder to play than center. Evans is also a particularly valuable right guard, as Brees benefits more from, and probably requires, strong interior protection because of his height.

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by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:34pm

Several sources much more knowledgeable than I agree with you. I've heard claims that right guard might be the 2nd hardest position on the line (behind left tackle) to play partly because a lot of the best 5 technique D tackles are playing over then and the RG ends up in more one on one match-ups and against often superior athletes on the other side of the ball. I'm sure I agree with it as the #2 position on the line, but I do believe it's the hardest interior position and I'm open for the argument that it matters more than right tackle too.

I always hear that center is the easiest position to cover over a weakness in with scheme. The center as "captain of the line" isn't even true on all teams. There have been some where the guards make the line adjustment calls.

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by tuluse :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:32pm

I think that center is a position where if you don't have minimum competency at, it sinks you. However, at the same time, the marginal value of an elite center over a good center is much lower than other positions.

So it can simultaneously be both very important, but not need an elite player to man.

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by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 4:38pm

That is an excellent point. It has a higher floor (or barrier to entry) but value beyond that doesn't increase as rapidly.

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by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 8:28am

Doesn't that contradict the "staggered" approach to line building which says invest in tackles and centers and skimp on guards?

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by CuseFanInSoCal :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 3:33pm

Interestingly, the 2005 USC Trojans offense appears to have been a case study of exactly how good a college offense could be where every single player is a capable backup or situational player in the NFL, but no one would start on a good team except due to injuries ...

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by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 5:47pm

Virginia Tech has spent 15 years demonstrating how college defenses can be constructed in exactly the same way.