2010 NFL Draft Report Card Report

2010 NFL Draft Report Card Report
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Guest Column by Abe van der Bent

In his NFL draft review column, Rob Rang of CBS Sports comes up with an analogy for grading the NFL draft mere minutes after its completion that I have not heard before:

"Grading a draft immediately after it concludes is akin to giving your compliments to the chef before the meal has been served. Sure, the food might sound good (or bad) based on the ingredients listed on the menu, but the true review can’t be done until after the product has been tested."

Of course, Rang, like many other local and national sportswriters, spends the rest of his article doing exactly that: grading the draft for each team. For the seventh straight year, Football Outsiders has gathered the NFL draft grades from a selection of writers and draft experts in order to find out which drafts came out on top and which drafts caused the most disagreement. These rankings are not what FO thinks of the draft (we like to wait six years before evaluating a draft class), but merely a collection of the popular opinions about how this year’s draft went for each team.

(If you want to look back to the past, check out our past Report Card Reports: 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, and 2004.)

This year, 15 draft graders were considered:

While most of these articles used a standard A/B/C/D grading system, Scouts Inc. took a different approach this year. With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, they created an "objective" formula (explained here, ESPN Insider required) incorporating team needs, draft pick value (based on Scouts Inc.’s player ranking), and trade value (a subjective point total ranging from +5 to -5) to rank each team. The lower the score, the better the draft. Since there were no letter grades assigned, I calculated the average score, gave that score a B- grade (the average draft grade for this year), and assigned the rest of the grades accordingly (admittedly, the method for doing so was not remotely scientific). For every article, each letter grade was converted to a grade point average (4.333 for an A+, 4.0 for an A, 3.667 for an A-, etc.), and the average GPA for each team was calculated to determine which drafts were considered the best or worst. Standard deviation was also calculated for each team to determine which drafts had the most disagreement among the chosen writers.

5. New England Patriots

GPA: 3.422
Highest Grade: A (Wolf, Gosselin, McClain, Nawrocki)
Comments: Once again, Bill Belichick shuffled his picks around and ended up with an extra pick, acquiring Carolina’s second-round pick in 2011. And the Patriots' actual draft picks drew positive reviews as well. McClain believes "McCourty and Gronkowski could start" in 2010, while Gosselin believes the picks of Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes made their second round the best in the draft. Wolf offers the most succinct analysis of the Patriots draft: "Does there really need to be any analysis of these picks? Bill Belichick is a draft master. Period."

4. Oakland Raiders

GPA: 3.422
Lowest Grade: C+ (Mel Kiper, Scouts Inc.)
Comments: Surprised? I guess this is what happens when you make value picks in the eyes of the graders. Czarnecki applauded the Raiders for going "against his size and speed measurements and simply took a quality football player in MLB Rolando McClain." The Raiders also acquired Jason Campbell for a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, which is enough in the minds of Rosenthal and Silva to earn an A grade from them. The Rosenthal/Silva combo also noted that, while the Raiders took size/speed guys Bruce Campbell and Jacoby Ford (dubbed by them as "Underwear Olympic Champions"), they were taken in the fourth round, rather than the first, which they felt was the "right place to gamble."

3. San Francisco 49ers

GPA: 3.467
Highest Grade: A (Wolf, Burke, Czarnecki, Nawrocki)
Comments: Czarnecki believes that Anthony Davis "will be given every chance to every chance to start at right tackle" while fellow first-round pick Mike Iupati is a "tremendous run blocker with a nasty streak." Nawrocki also loved the 49ers early picks, noting that the 'Niners have now established a "new core in the trenches." Czarnecki is cautiously optimistic about Taylor Mays: "He didn’t track the deep ball very well and missed so many interception opportunities. But Mays can run and tackle and should be a good fit." Wolf summarized his grade by calling their draft "a taste of the Niners’ next step to taking over the NFC West." One roadblock in their path: Alex Smith will remain behind center in 2010, albeit with some new faces around him.

2. Baltimore Ravens

GPA: 3.622
Highest Grade: A (Kiper, Wolf, Prisco, Burke, Nawrocki, Rosenthal/Silva, Bunting)
Comments: The Ravens also tend to trade down and look for value in the later rounds, and did so successfully in the eyes of this year’s graders. The picks of Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody "made their defense scarier" according to Wolf, while McClain called Kindle "a bookend pass rusher to Terrell Suggs." Bunting cautions readers to keep an eye on Arthur Jones, while also adding: "Not only did the Ravens add elite talent without having a first-round pick, they also filled some major needs while getting impressive value."

1. Seattle Seahawks

GPA: 3.911
Highest Grade: A+ (Czarnecki, Brown, Bell, Nawrocki)
Lowest Grade: B+ (Prisco, Rosenthal/Silva, Bunting)
Comments: Not only did the Seahawks have the highest overall grade by far, they had the lowest standard deviation of any team in the draft, as they achieved the top grade on 10 of 15 grader’s lists. Kiper believes that the Pete Carroll "came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later," while Gosselin compares Carroll’s draft day strategy to "a young Jimmy Johnson." It's a bit early for that, but Carroll certainly acquired talent. Czarnecki called Earl Thomas "a great playmaker," while Rang had Russell Okung as the top-rated offensive tackle on his board. Even relative critics Rosenthal and Silva had positive things to say, adding that Thomas and second-round pick Golden Tate "are game-changing talents and massive upgrades over Jamar Adams and Deion Branch."

5. Indianapolis Colts

GPA:2.378
Highest Grade: A- (Gregg Rosenthal & Evan Silva)
Comments: For the most part, graders didn’t see anything noteworthy about the Colts' draft. Kiper described their draft as "nothing flashy, just [Jerry] Hughes then depth picks on a roster with little room to add," while McClain bemoans the fact that "they didn’t get the help they needed on the offensive line." Nawrocki didn’t like the picks after Hughes either, citing "injury concerns being overlooked on Kevin Thomas (third round) and Brody Eldridge (fifth round)," which "could set [the team] back in years to come."

4. Buffalo Bills

GPA:2.356
Lowest Grade: D+ (Gregg Rosenthal & Evan Silva)
Comments: Bunting asks the question that many graders had: "Who’s going to play quarterback and left tackle for this team?" Rosenthal and Silva are even harsher in their assessment: "Buffalo has long-running problems in their scouting department, and this draft didn’t change that image." Of the players the Bills did take at those positions, Bunting says Levi Brown "lacks the arm to spin the football through the winds of Buffalo" and Ed Wang "is nowhere near NFL-ready."

3. Washington Redskins

GPA:2.156
Comments: Gosselin graded the Redskins down for their lack of early picks: "One pick in the first three rounds is the prescription for disaster on draft day." Both Kiper and Czarnecki downgraded the team for only receiving a fourth-round pick in 2012 for Jason Campbell. Rosenthal and Silva weren’t exactly excited about their later picks either, calling Dennis Morris "a product of Louisiana Tech’s spread system" and writing that Terrence Austin "isn’t going to help on offense."

2. Chicago Bears

GPA:2.156
Highest Grade: B (Mel Kiper, Rob Rang)
Comments: The Bears, like the Redskins, had to overcome a lack of early picks after trading for Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams. Brown notes that the Bears "mortgaged much of their future last season to get QB Jay Cutler and still don’t know if that decision will work out." As for the players they did draft, Rosenthal and Silva thought that they "could’ve used their later-round picks more wisely," specifically adding that Dan LeFevour "just doesn’t have arm strength for deep throws, which is a huge detriment to his chances in a vertical scheme like Mike Martz’s."

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

GPA:1.667
Comments: This grade might as well be called "You reached for Tyson Alualu!" with 10 of the 15 graders placing Jacksonville as the bottom of their list. Kiper describes the general consensus people had about the Alualu pick the best: "To take a guy you could conceivably get 15 to 25 slots later, you’re cheating yourself not just out of sixth- and seventh-round guys, but potentially a late second- or third-rounder. You have to know not just the pick, but the relative value." Wolf holds no punches: "For a team that needs to fill seats, they certainly didn’t draft that way." Brown adds: "Imagine the outrage in Jacksonville if Alualu flops and hometown boy Tebow becomes a star."

5. Miami Dolphins

GPA:2.889
Standard Deviation: 0.686
Highest Grade: A (Chris Burke, John Czarnecki)
Comments: Prisco called Koa Misi "perfect for the Miami defense" and wrote that Reshad Jones "has good range in the secondary." Burke also loved the Jones pick, calling him a "top-50 talent," while Czarnecki added that John Jerry will likely be moved to guard "where his powerful leverage and quickness should be better suited." Kiper was a little harsher in his critique. He felt their draft was "Jared Odrick and the rest," adding that Misi "could be good, but not right away because he’ll need to spend a little time transitioning from defensive end to outside linebacker."

4. Kansas City Chiefs

GPA:2.911
Standard Deviation: 0.707
Comments: Gosselin was in love with the Chiefs draft class, calling first-round pick Eric Berry "the NFL defensive rookie of the year" and Javier Arenas "the best returner in the draft." Brown called Dexter McCluster "a steal" and a "small but elusive playmaker who can catch it, run it and return it." Prisco, on the other hand, doesn’t question Berry’s talent, but the position he plays: "Taking a safety fifth overall is always a risk ... He’s good, but safety isn’t a value position." Even his best pick section has a dig at a player, as he states that Tony Moeaki "has a ton of talent, but never lived up to it at Iowa."

3. Denver Broncos

GPA:2.578
Standard Deviation: 0.781
Lowest Grade: C- (Kiper, Prisco, Bell)
Comments: The standard deviation here can be explained by two words: Tim Tebow. Bell said of Tebow: "[His] track record as a winner did little to establish him as a can't-miss prospect." Prisco adds: "They better hope Tebow becomes a star. If not, this draft will be known as a disaster." Kiper’s grade had less to do with Tebow the player and more to do with what Denver did to get him: "The three picks (net two picks) for Tim Tebow was a serious leap of faith for a guy who's not as ready to play in the NFL as several other quarterbacks drafted behind him. I respect Denver's conviction, but its sense of draft board value has to be called into serious question." On the other end of the spectrum, Gosselin liked Denver's third round. According to him, J.D. Walton "can do at center for Josh McDaniels' Broncos what Tom Nalen did for Mike Shanahan's Broncos," while Eric Decker "will remind the Denver faithful of Ed McCaffrey." I’m sure Broncos fans will be thrilled if either player comes close to fulfilling Gosselin’s strong praise.

2. Carolina Panthers

GPA:2.778
Standard Deviation: 0.823
Lowest Grade: C- (Burke, Bell, Rosenthal/Silva)
Comments: The main problem that Bell and the Rosenthal/Silva tag team had with Carolina’s draft centered on the trading of a 2011 second-round pick to New England for its third-round pick, which was used on Armanti Edwards, a quarterback in college who will likely be moved to wide receiver in the NFL. Rosenthal and Silva called the trade "completely ill-advised," adding that Edwards was a projected seventh-rounder on their board. The duo also had harsh words for Eric Norwood, whom they called "an odd fit in Carolina's 4-3 defense"; and sixth-round pick David Gettis, referred to as "practice squad material." Czarnecki, on the other hand, lauded GM Marty Hurney, saying that this draft "has a chance to be his best." He notes that the Panthers tried to trade up with the Rams in order to select Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but got him anyway. He was also higher on Edwards and Norwood, calling Edwards a "potential playmaker" and Norwood a "good value" in the fourth round.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

GPA:1.667
Standard Deviation: 0.891
Comments: We’ve already gone over the negatives of the Jacksonville, so, to paraphrase the Hold Steady, we’ll just try and stay positive here. Bunting was the highest on Jacksonville, noting that the Jaguars "not only added a lot of talent to their defensive front seven but also gave themselves plenty of versatility." He also called sixth-round pick Deji Karim "a perfect fit in the Jacksonville run game." Rosenthal and Silva liked the selection of Kirk Morrison from Oakland for a fifth-round pick, calling it a "smart way to bolster a shaky linebacker group." They also had some kinder things to say about GM Gene Smith than most: "He had a very unique draft board and made some shocking moves and picks last year. He nailed the '09 draft. That he thinks differently than the rest of the league may be an asset."

Here's a breakdown of how each team was graded:

 2010 NFL Draft Grades Team High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev. Arizona A- (Nawrocki) C (3 tied) 2.822 0.533 Atlanta B (4 tied) C- (Kiper, Rosenthal/Silva) 2.400 0.507 Baltimore A (7 tied) B- (Rang) 3.622 0.434 Buffalo B+ (Nawrocki) D+ (Rosenthal/Silva) 2.356 0.584 Carolina A+ (Czarnecki) C- (3 tied) 2.778 0.823 Chicago B (Kiper, Rang) D (McClain) 2.156 0.576 Cincinnati A (Wolf) C (3 tied) 2.822 0.641 Cleveland A (Bunting) C (Kiper, Prisco) 2.844 0.589 Dallas A (Wolf) C (Gosselin, Bell) 2.822 0.547 Denver A (Gosselin) C- (3 tied) 2.578 0.781 Detroit A (3 tied) C (Prisco) 3.400 0.523 Green Bay B (6 tied) C (4 tied) 2.578 0.427 Houston A (Wolf) C- (Bell Bunting) 2.578 0.648 Indianapolis A- (Rosenthal/Silva) C- (Scouts Inc.) 2.378 0.518 Jacksonville B (Bunting) F (Wolf) 1.667 0.891 Kansas City A+ (Gosselin) C- (Prisco) 2.911 0.707 2010 NFL Draft Grades Team High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev. Miami A (Burke, Czarnecki) C- (Kiper) 2.899 0.686 Minnesota A (Wolf) D+ (Rosenthal/Silva) 2.400 0.657 New England A (4 tied) B- (Kiper) 3.422 0.445 New Orleans A (Gosselin) C (4 tied) 2.711 0.589 New York Giants A (Prisco) C- (Scouts Inc.) 2.667 0.577 New York Jets A- (3 tied) C- (Bell) 2.867 0.615 Oakland A+ (Czarnecki) C+ (Kiper, Scouts Inc.) 3.422 0.597 Philadelphia A+ (Prisco) C (Gosselin) 3.067 0.522 Pittsburgh A (Bunting) C (3 tied) 2.756 0.541 San Diego B+ (Burke) C (4 tied) 2.489 0.415 San Francisco A (4 tied) C+ (Bunting) 3.467 0.485 Seattle A+ (4 tied) B+ (3 tied) 3.911 0.367 St. Louis A (Nawrocki) C (Gosselin) 2.933 0.475 Tampa A+ (Prisco) C (Gosselin) 3.355 0.541 Tennessee B+ (Rang, Burke) C- (Bell) 2.467 0.546 Washington A- (Scouts Inc.) D (Gosselin) 2.156 0.665 Total -- -- 2.803 0.739

As I mentioned in the introduction, the average grade for all graders is about a B- (or, in Dr. Z terms, a B-/B). Houston and Minnesota were the only teams to appear on the top of one grader’s list while appearing at the bottom of another’s. Also, among the six graders to give the Green Bay Packers a B is NFL.com’s compilation of fan ballots, which is surprising, considering that grade is, by its nature, an average of all fan ballots submitted. This could be a coincidence, or it could be a sign that Packers fans decided to give Ted Thompson the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the draft (as a Packer fan and Ted Thompson apologist since his tenure as GM began, I’m inclined to believe the latter). For a more detailed breakdown of each team’s grades, click here.

Just for fun, let’s check out a breakdown of each grader:

 2010 NFL Draft Grades Grader High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev. Mel Kiper A (Baltimore, Seattle) D (Jacksonville) 2.583 0.718 NFL Fan Ballot A- (Detroit, Seattle) C (Jacksonville) 2.906 0.381 Daniel Wolf A (8 teams) F (Jacksonville) 2.781 0.941 Pete Prisco A+ (Philadelphia, Tampa) C- (Denver, Kansas City) 2.854 0.757 Rob Rang A (Seattle) C (3 teams) 2.802 0.514 Rick Gosselin A+ (Kansas City) D (Jacksonville, Washington) 2.510 0.863 Chris Burke A (4 teams) D- (Jacksonville) 2.979 0.718 John Czarnecki A+ (3 teams) C- (Jacksonville) 2.969 0.768 Clifton Brown A+ (Seattle) D (Jacksonville) 2.771 0.750 John McClain A (New England, Seattle) D (Chicago) 2.906 0.646 Jarrett Bell A+ (Seattle) D (Jacksonville) 2.365 0.814 Nolan Nawrocki A+ (Seattle) D+ (Chicago) 3.063 0.716 Gregg Rosenthal/Evan Silva A (3 teams) D+ (Buffalo, Minnesota) 2.833 0.771 Wes Bunting A (3 teams) C- (Houston, Washington) 2.958 0.671 Total -- -- 2.803 0.739

University of Minnesota graduate Abe van der Bent has earned the title "Deputy Assistant Emperor of the FO Master Player Database" for his extensive work as a Football Outsiders intern.

146 comments, Last at 09 May 2010, 1:08am

#1 by DeltaWhiskey // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:20am

One of my favorite articles every year

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#2 by Chris UK // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:26am

Great article.

Nitpick "Bunting cautions tells readers to keep an eye on Arthur Jones".

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#3 by bubqr // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:35am

So Belichick is still a "draft master" ? I agree about the trade downs, but looking at some recent drafts, I can't really understand why he has that nickname.

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#6 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:49am

I read that and laughed, too.

The truth of the matter is that the Patriots acquire huge numbers of picks by somehow fooling other GMs into horrible trades, but then they waste their picks on mediocre TEs and safeties. Jerod Mayo is the only pick they've made in five years that has really panned out. 05 was a brilliant draft, but they were sometimes shaky before then, and they've been even shakier since.

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#19 by Jimmy // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:25pm

I have been waiting all week to rant about this and when I get here there is a queue.

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#21 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:26pm

I think this is overstating it a bit - they're league average. They've messed up on some picks the past couple of years (Chad Jackson, etc) and hit on others (Vollmer, Edelman). I don't see how that's much different than many other teams in the NFL. Belichick doesn't like playing rookies, and I think that affects the way we perceive the players he picks. You can say that round 5 pick on team X is a starter his rookie year, thereby making that a good draft pick, but most of the time I don't think that pick even makes it on the Pats roster.

Do I agree with this strategy or give a thumbs up to all of his draft picks? No, but it seems that many folks go overboard when they criticize the Patriots draft picks of recent years.

Points: 0

#30 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:01pm

That is a problem. You can't compare them to the Colts and Steelers, because those teams are way, way, way above average at drafting. You can't compare them to the mediocre teams, because those teams could start players who wouldn't make the Patriots roster. I don't think they're league average at drafting though. I'd place them considerably below average in the period from 2006-2009.

If we use Pro Football Reference's "approximate value" system, it becomes pretty clear. New England has 80 AV from its top five draft picks, and 102 from its top ten. That's pretty atrocious. In contrast, Baltimore has 124 from its top five, 176 from its top ten. Cleveland has 114 from its top five, 149 from its top ten. In fact, pretty much every team in the entire league has better drafts than New England by that metric.

And it's not that Cleveland is starting weak players and adding undue numbers to their AV scores. Lawrence Vickers would be the best fullback on New England's roster. Jerome Harrison would be their best running back. Players like Brandon MacDonald and Mohammed Massaquoi would be able to contribute.

The Patriots are the best in the league at veteran pickups, and they made possibly the best draft pick in league history nine years ago. If they were actually really good at drafting as well, they wouldn't be a 10-6 team.

Points: 0

#51 by Claude Balls (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 3:04pm

Please forgive me if this has already been addressed, but could I please see some support for the oft-stated assertion that the Colts are above-average in drafting? I don't look at that roster and think that it is brimming with talent (with a few notable exceptions). It seems to me that the Colts outperform their talent level every year because of how superior Peyton Manning is (at least during the regular season). Other than Manning, Freeney and maybe Mathis, what great draft selections has Polian made? Does he hit more/miss less than the average GM? Has he found more late round gems than his peers? Is he really any better than average?

Points: 0

#53 by Independent George // Apr 29, 2010 - 3:32pm

I think you're too focused on offense; while some of this is also due to Manning, they've made some pretty solid decisions on defense for many years. Hayden, Bethea, Keiaho, Lacey, Powers, and Brackett have all been solid-to-very good performers for very low salaries. Bob Sanders may not have another healthy season, but they got what they needed from him. Even Cato June was productive in his day (no, he can't tackle, but his role was primarily coverage).

Also, drafting Edgerrin James ahead of Ricky Williams (and then knowing when to cut him) was a pretty good decision, too.

Baltimore might actually be the best drafting team in the NFL over the last decade, but they also seem to get overlooked due to their deficiencies at QB (pre-Flacco).

Points: 0

#79 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:49pm

Claude,

The Colts, Steelers, and Ravens have that "good value" drafting rep and without going into player specifics (maybe they all DO suck? Then how do they win so much?) I will just say that something like 20-22 of all starters for Indy never played a down for another team (either drafted, or UDFA or FAs who never caught on with their first team). And they went to two SBs in the past four years and won more than any other team in the last decade.

That's not exactly cause and effect, but if a team that is ALL draftees is consistently excellent, then they must be getting decent talent/value out of the draft.

Yes, staff stability helps tons, as does having Manning at QB. But Manning didn't make strip sacks and goal line stands to win close games the past two seasons (Freeney, Mathis, Muir, Session, Brackett all did). He didn't chase Ed Reed or Ray Rice down to force fumbles in the Balt playoff game (Garcon and Brock). It's a team sport, and that team--which has a higher draft % than any other, is consistently darn good.

Not exactly iron-clad proof, but pretty solid evidence.

Points: 0

#87 by Jerry // Apr 29, 2010 - 7:05pm

Here is a nice article that uses p-f-r's Approximate Value to rank the last five and ten years' worth of drafts. (It links to another post where the methodology is explained.) Indianapolis, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh are the top three over the past ten years, while the Chargers, Giants, and Colts lead the last five.

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#66 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:53pm

You have to be a bit careful, though, because NE's success has meant that their draft value is simply quite a bit lower than average. I mean, when you haven't had less than double-digit wins since 2002, your draft success is going to be hurt unless you're really good at drafting, which they're not.

For instance, comparing AV between Cleveland and New England is a bit unfair - Cleveland's top 5 draft picks were at 3, 13, 21, 22, and 34. New England's were 10, 21, 24, 34, and 36. Basically, the big difference there is that Cleveland got a #3 pick and New England got a #36 pick - the rest is basically a wash. And guess what? Joe Thomas contributed 32 AV, and Chad Jackson contributed 2. That's virtually the entire difference.

(Baltimore's a great drafting team so it's not that surprising that they're that much better.)

Now, I'm not saying the Patriots are a good drafting team - they're definitely below average. But just looking at the success of their draft picks relative to other teams makes them look worse.

They're almost certainly the worst-drafting successful team in the NFL, though. Which just stresses how good they are at getting value out of players.

Points: 0

#126 by bibifoc (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 4:03pm

The people at Cold Hard Football Facts don't seem to think much of the Patriots' drafting of DBs in the last 7 years either:
http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Article.php?Page=3204

They reviewed every DB drafted by the Patriots since 2005 and were less than impressed.

"...Because, let's face it, Belichick's draft record in recent years has sucked. But it's specifically sucked in the area of DBs. And it's sucked so bad, that Belichick has had to devote nearly two picks a year (13 total) to the position for each of the past seven drafts ... a burdensome number of picks that, obviously, limits a team's ability to harvest talent at other positions."

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#132 by RickD // May 04, 2010 - 12:03pm

From 2000 through 2005, the Pats consistently drafted good talent at the top of the draft. Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, and Vince Wilfork were all successful picks at the top of the draft. And they also picked some guy in the 6th round from Michigan who has turned out OK.

The problem in perceptions is that 2006 was a crappy draft. Maroney has disappointed and Chad Jackson simply failed. (Still, Gostkowski is a top kicker.)

In 2007, the Pats used picks to get Wes Welker and Randy Moss.

2008 yielded Mayo and 2009 gave us Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer.

So it seems like many of you are letting one bad year color your judgment a bit too much.

Points: 0

#46 by Mike Elseroad (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:31pm

I'm a Patriots fan but I agree with Bubqr. Some of New England's recent drafts in recent seasons have been lukewarm at best. They are still looking for a Jason Taylor/Willie McGinest type who can rush the passer. They had a chance at Sergio Kindle, but didn't take him.

The acquisitions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker in the 2007 off season obviously more than covered up for the trading up in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft to take Florida WR Chad Jackson. If Jackson had panned out, the Pats wouldn't have signed Joey Galloway last year or Torry Holt last week.

The recent drafting of LB Shawn Crable looks like a bust as does the selection of CB Terrence Wheatly.

Everytime an analyst such as Jamie Dukes of Tom Waddle praise the Patriots and Belichick for "Getting it right" every draft, I wonder what they are seeing that I'm not. It's that when the Pats do "Get it right", they hit grand slams with players like Tom Brady and OT Sebastian Vollmer, who I sincerely believe will have a run of Pro Bowl seasons. The rest of their picks seem to be more of the solid citizen type who won't hurt you yet don't tilt the playing field.

Points: 0

#133 by RickD // May 04, 2010 - 12:07pm

Crable hasn't even played. I don't think you can fault the Pats for not knowing that a guy would go on the IR his first two seasons.

As for Wheatley, who is ahead of him on the depth charts? Aside from Bodden, who was brought in as a free agent, you have Wilhite and Butler, who were also both draft picks.

So yeah, if you have a position filled with your own picks, one of them will be at the bottom.

Points: 0

#139 by Erik Pats Fan (not verified) // May 05, 2010 - 4:07pm

I will say it at the beginning, I am a Patriots fan. As for their drafting, you have to account for what they do with their picks. As was pointed out, they got Corey Dillon (intrical to two Superbowls) to Wes Welker, Randy Moss for picks, but these were picks acquired from trading down. It is not enough to look at the players drafted to see how they are with the draft, you have to see the veterans they use their picks for in trades too. Bill prefers veterans at a discount over rookies at a premium. Yes Moroney was failure (as far as value for his pick goes). I don't know that Jasckson is failure as far as draft value goes since he was always injured. He didn't have a history of injuries before the draft and you cannot foresee that outcome. Crable is not a failure for the same reasons. You can not blame a team for a guy who is always injured when he did not have a history of injuries. Overall I think the Pats have had a good track record of getting value for their draft picks, mostly through veteran acquisitions. As far as recent successful draft picks: Jerod Mayo, Brandon Meriweather, Wilfork, Warren, Kopen,. Kaczur, Gostowski, Endelman (Welker light), Matt Cassell, Ellis Hobbs, Logan Mankins, Ty Warren, Asante Samuel. Most of this list is starting in the NFL right now and this group has a lot of Pro Bowls. And all were drafted from 2003-2009. That 6 pretty good years of drafts!

Points: 0

#4 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:38am

Now, if only these guys did this for fifty more years, and we bothered to compare their immediate grades to what the results looked like 6 years later, then we would have some sense of whether they were worth paying attention to.

For some strange reason, I stopped reading these immediate draft grade pieces a few years ago. Joel Buschbomb, a real odd duck in many ways, used to have some interesting stuff to read, but since he died, I've paid less and less attention to this stuff, to the point where I just ignore them. If there was good reason to think that any of these guys were really proficient at identifying who was going to be an outstanding NFL player, it is likely there would at least one NFL owner willing to pay a lot of money for their opinions. As it is, there are probably only about 10 guys who are good at it, and they ain't working for media outlets.

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#5 by ammek // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:48am

Several of the writers have started to take them into account, but the default position still seems to be to ignore trades when compiling a draft report. Thus, Denver used the #14 pick on Alphonso Smith — much worse value than the Jags' top choice. And the bad grades for Washington and Chicago don't reflect the fact that both teams traded for young, proven starting QBs.

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#68 by >implying impl… (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:05pm

At least he's not as old as The Lich King of Minnesota.

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#8 by CoachDave // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:55am

I've long said that Polian is a "good to average" drafter, but where he really is unbelivable is his abitity to find good players in the undrafed RFA pool.

And I agree with the "BB is a draft master" comment. Sure he gets a ginormous amouts of picks by pulling off one-sided deals with other teams..he's fantastic at doing that, but his picks in the last few years, IMO, leave something to be desired.

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#40 by Sean McCormick // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:50pm

The important thing about Polian is that he is lights-out with his first round picks. If you can hit on your first-round pick year after year after year, you are going to build a quality team regardless of what else happens later on. It's particularly important that you hit when you are right at the top of the draft, as he hasn't had to deal with any fallout from an unproductive player being paid exorbitantly. Hitting on the low first rounders means that he's getting production at value. I'm not sure there is a GM in the league who has the same batting average in the first round.

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#47 by Greg Lloyd (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:44pm

I think Kevin Colbert of the Steelers falls in that category. He has been getting some flak around the city for missing some second round picks, but he hasn't missed on any first rounders.

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#62 by bravehoptoad // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:29pm

Well, Rob Morris in 2000 was a bust, and Ugoh at the top of the 2nd doesn't technically meet the cutoff, but they traded a #1 for him, and he's been a bust. After that his first-round record looks pretty good -- maybe, Donald Brown, was he worth a #1? Marlin Jackson?

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#63 by chemical burn // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:34pm

Yeah - Donald Brown and Marlon Jackson are "lights-out?" Colts, probably more than any team in the league, have had success without consistently above average draft picks...

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#67 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:01pm

The Colts, more than any other team, have had the lowest draft value each year. Their top five picks since 2006 (to compare via the metric someone else mentioned before) are 27, 29, 30, 32, and 42.

The Colts do really, really well drafting with the poor draft value they have. That's why GSAA has them significantly above the rest of the league, even though at a casual glance, it might not seem like their drafts are all that stellar.

As for "most success without consistently above average draft picks," - that's the Patriots. Easily.

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#74 by DZ (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:16pm

How was Rob Morris a bust?

I think we have different definitions of the word.

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#80 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:56pm

Lost starting job to Gary Brackett, who was obviously a pretty good player. Was able to start at SLB for some of the weaker Colts defenses.

Wouldn't object to characterizing him as a bust, but he certainly isn't in the "falls off the face of the earth" category. He was just a boring everyday starter.

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#81 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:59pm

BHT, without Rob Morris they do not win the Sb in 2006, it's that simple. He never lived up to expectations as a run stuffer, then had a D scheme shift a couple years in, and was benched. From the bench he became their best ST player (lack of big ego) and when the cover-your-eyes awful Gilbert Gardner (who beat him out?!?!) was benched late in that season (remember their horrid D?), the D suddenly stiffened with Morris starting again, and a SB run ensued, based on stingy D.

I do not say it lightly--he was generally the whipping boy for their D for years, but we owe him a suber bowl.

The bust talk will dog Ugoh forever I suspect. He still has time to redeem himself, but not much. I have hope, but it's fading. However, I'll point out that the 2007 season, his rookie year, he started 16 games at LT, replaced a pro bowler who retired at the last minute, and led the team to a 13-3 (or 14-2?) record and a 2nd seed in the playoffs. If not for the Pats crazy year, the Colts would have been hailed as the best in the league, with rookie Ugoh anchoring the line. If Freeney and Mathis had not been injured late, the Colts were as good as the Pats at the end of that season (the Pats faded and the Colts lost a close one to them mid-season). If the Colts had won the SB, don't you think Ugoh would have bene regarded as a hero? A stud LT? The future of the franchise? Even if he was benched subsequently? Not so much on his specific body of work, but the fact that he stepped in ina tight spot, performed well, and the team won it all? That's silly reasoning, of course, but if it all happened that way, well, hard to say "you shouldn't have picked him" if the alternative is giving up the Lombardi.

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#89 by bravehoptoad // Apr 29, 2010 - 7:19pm

I certainly defer to your Colts knowledge. My own assessment came from never reading anything positive about Rob Morris, just how they were always hoping he'd get better, and reading that year after year.

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#119 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2010 - 12:35pm

It's true he was a whipping boy among fans and media. He came out of college with a run stuffing rep and the Colts were weak vs the run, ergo, "it's gotta be all his fault."

If he was a 2nd round pick nobody would have called him a bust. As a first rounder, he was a bit of a disappointment, but not as bad as many. He DID log about six seasons as starter... how many first round picks end up with fewer? I'd guess a third or so....

What is more difficult to report in a genreal article is his leadership, willingness to accept demotions and scheme change, and then stepping back into a ST leader and starting role to help lead them to the Lombardi.

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#9 by DZ (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:56am

Given the fact that the Colts always grade low but have been the best drafting team for a decade, do these guys ever stop themselves and say, "Maybe they know something I don't"?

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#13 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:06pm

To be fair, some report cards seem to be more oriented towards total value, rather than value relative to the picks you had. Some graders will go "yay Detroit, you got Ndamukong Suh! You get a good grade!"

If you think Suh is a bargain, even at 2nd overall, then that's legitimate. But look at how essentially everyone in the top 10 besides Jacksonville has a really good grade.

They just seem to regard everyone in the top 10 of Mel Kiper's draft board as a sure thing, and then they give inordinately good grades to the teams that take those players. Obviously, in real life, about half of those guys are going to be busts.

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#24 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:40pm

They're a team with a few stars and average-to-worse at most positions. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Dwight Freeney can mask a lot of deficiencies.

I think Baltimore has done a better job drafting, they just didn't have Peyton Manning.

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#27 by chemical burn // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:51pm

Yeah, I always think it's impossible to tell how good anyone involved with the Colts organization (Polian, Tony Dungy, etc.) is or was because having Manning makes up for just about any problem. I mean, it's not like the Colts constantly shed free agents who go on to great success on other teams (the opposite is true), but that could just mean they're great at picking the players best for their system. I don't even think you can lump in Reggie Wayne as masking a lot of deficiences because Manning has proven it more or less doesn't matter who he's throwing the ball to, that WR is always going to put up great numbers.

I agree on Baltimore - they're one team that hasn't had success essentially on the back of a handful of players (like say, Indy or NE), they seem to have a shifting identity - one year, it's Ray Lewis leading them, another year it's Steve McNair guiding them, then Joe Flacco comes on, then there's Bart Scott or Adalius Thomas and then one year Ray Rice carries the load. It's interesting - they even have survived coaching changes and had above average success in a consistently tough division (something that also can't really be said of NE or Indy's divisions)

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#140 by JimZipCode // May 06, 2010 - 4:19am

But we *ARE* able to form a judgment on Polian, because he has a track record that includes more than Peyton Mannning. Polian built the Buffalo Bills into a 4-time Super Bowl team, and he took expansion Carolina to the conference championship game in year 2. Then he came to Indy and put together a team that is at or near the top for 10 years now.

Polian has an unbelievable track record, building dominant teams in 3 cities. He's probably one of the very best ever. (Who else makes that list? Beathard? Walsh?) It'll be interesting to see how Polian handles the transition when Manning moves on in a few years. It'll be instructional too: if Polian sticks it out, I'm sure he'll come back in a couple seasons with another dominant squad.

http://www.oblongspheroid.com/

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#145 by Thomas_beardown // May 06, 2010 - 1:22pm

Who else makes that list? Beathard? Walsh?

I would say Jim Finks and Bill Parcells. It is an exclusive no doubt.

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#33 by DZ (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:22pm

When you go through it year by year, you see Baltimore is probably the second best team.

But, you have to remember:

they took Kyle Boller of their own free will.

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#37 by TomKelso // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:39pm

And got snookered by New England in the trade up to grab him. But, heck, even Ozzie is only human...

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#82 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 6:01pm

Their own free will? Not true. I had photographs of Ozzie Newsome fondly petting goats and, well, blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer extortion.

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#124 by Hurt Bones // Apr 30, 2010 - 1:55pm

"'Cause everyone has secrets
But sometimes you get caught
So if it's just between us
My silence can be bought
Blackmail …Blackmail"

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#69 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:10pm

I think Baltimore has done a better job drafting, they just didn't have Peyton Manning.

Baltimore has had a ton more to work with than Indianapolis. I mean, it's not even particularly close. The Colts have had exactly 1 draft pick above 24 since 1999. Baltimore has had seven over that same timeframe. If the Colts had those draft picks, they'd have a handful of Super Bowl rings.

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#77 by chemical burn // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:37pm

Do you really believe that? Weren't you arguing recently that lower first round picks are a better draft opportunity for a variety of reasons over high first round picks?

I think part of this is something none of us can verify (which why I said I have no real idea how to evaluate the Colts FO) - I really think the Colts would not even be a playoff team without Peyton Manning, even if you replaced him with an above average QB like Matt Schaub (or, ahem, Jason Campbell.) To me, Manning seems to cover for a variety of ills - most notably the mediocre defenses they had all but 2 or 3 years Manning been there. I mean, look at their not admirable history of defensive players in the first 3 rounds since 1999 - they've been a successful team because Manning makes their offense a world-beater year-in, year-out. It seems at least highly arguable that the only reason they've sniffed more than one ring is Manning - not their draft prowess.

But, once again, I feel like I'm not even sure what I'm arguing with you - do you mean that the Colts have found good players considering their usual place in the draft? Or that they've found good players throughout every round? Because I'm arguing something completely different: their drafts don't look so impressive if you consider the teams they would've fielded without Manning as a QB (a really unprovable, what if...)

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#84 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 6:16pm

Butting in, there is no doubt that consistently drafting at the bottom of the first round provides fewer opportunuities to get top rank talent. Now, in a league with a hard cap, and prior to a revenue explosion, consistently drafting at the very top of the first round is fraught with danger, but that only has really applied to a few picks. There is a huge edge, however in drafting, say, 10th, over, say, 25th.

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#94 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 9:14pm

consistently drafting at the very top of the first round is fraught with danger

There's a bit of a caveat there - we don't really know if the failure rate of the highest-drafted players is due to the fact that none of the teams could see that player failing, or due to the fact that only some (namely, including the team that drafted him) could see the player failing.

In fact, you'd expect that the failure rate at the top of the draft to be higher than its intrinsic failure rate, because the teams drafting there have proven themselves bad at player evaluation. We know from shots of say, the Cowboys draft board, that team evaluations can vary a lot - the 49ers drafted Anthony Davis in the 1st round, who the Cowboys had a third-round grade on. If he fails, is that because first round tackles fail, or because he was really a third-round talent who was overdrafted?

I mean, as an example, Polian, with the Colts, has had 4 draft picks above #20 in his entire time there. Every single one is a multi-Pro Bowler. Every single top-5 draft pick he's ever had in his entire career (3) is a likely Hall of Fame player.

If Polian had a top pick every year, would we consider top picks dangerous? Quite possibly not.

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#85 by Pat (filler) (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 6:31pm

Do you really believe that? Weren't you arguing recently that lower first round picks are a better draft opportunity for a variety of reasons over high first round picks?

My God no. I hate that paper (the Massey-Thaler paper). It's completely wrong, and actually self-disproves itself (amusingly, the teams with the highest 'surplus value' are the teams who draft highest overall, so there is no 'loser's curse').

Go here. Take a look at that figure. See the green line? See how it's highest at the start, and drops continuously over the whole range?

That's the average performance of a draft pick vs. draft position. The best players are at the top of the draft. Period. You have to pay more for them, but they're better. This is undeniably true. Draft high, you get better players. Regardless of how good a drafting team you are.

Because I'm arguing something completely different: their drafts don't look so impressive if you consider the teams they would've fielded without Manning as a QB

And I'm saying they look impressive no matter what, because their success (due to Manning) forced them to be picking at the bottom of the heap. I don't understand how you evaluate drafts *without* taking into consideration where they were picking. Draft order is intended to lower the talent on good teams, and it *does*.

Without Manning, they would've been picking higher, and the players would've been better. I don't think you can count Manning as luck. If they lose Manning, they'll suck for a few years, draft really high, and they'll pick a QB and a bunch of other stars who will very likely succeed. Certainly not as much as Manning, but based on the Colts track record of high draft picks, he's very unlikely to fail.

And then they'll start doing better, draft lower and lower in the round, and people will start maligning their drafts again.

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#106 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 30, 2010 - 2:02am

I guess I didn't really consider that, still you can't unequivocally state they're the best.

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#134 by RickD // May 04, 2010 - 12:13pm

As a Patriots fan, I would have to disagree. The Colts have average-to-better at most positions. You really think that they win 12-14 games per year with average-to-worse players at most positions?

Do you think their O-line isn't good? I see a line that's as good at pass-blocking as any in the NFL. Is Jeff Saturday average-to-worse? What about Bob Sanders? Dallas Clark????

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#137 by Eddo // May 04, 2010 - 12:18pm

So four out of 22 is "most", now? :P

While the comment you replied to is a bit of an exaggeration, I don't think you're necessarily correct, either. The Colts have elite players at a few positions (QB, WR1, TE, C, LDE, RDE), and slightly-below-to-slightly-above-average players at just about every other position.

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#34 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:30pm

The Redskins are in a similar position. Every year they have a low number of picks, particularly in the first three rounds. Every year instant draft analyses dock the Skins for not having high picks while ignoring the fact that they actually do a decent job with the picks they have and are probably in the upper half of the league when considering performance relative to draft position.

Then after knocking the Skins for having fewer picks, the analysts seem to miss the point of the picks they made. Take this year: "Rosenthal and Silva weren’t exactly excited about their later picks either, calling Dennis Morris 'a product of Louisiana Tech’s spread system' and writing that Terrence Austin 'isn’t going to help on offense.'" Dennis Morris was not drafted to catch passes on a team which already has Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. He was drafted to block, and he will line up at FB/H-back more than TE anyway. Unless the spread system exaggerated his blocking ability, that comment is senseless. Terrence Austin wasn't drafted to help on offense (on paper, he's 5th on the depth chart right now), he was drafted to help on special teams being that the Skins cut both their kick and punt returners in the offseason. And those are 5th and 7th round picks! Obviously they aren't going to be ideal prospects. But hey, it's fashionable to mock the Redskins because they have an obnoxious owner.

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#38 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:43pm

Well, I don't disagree entirely, but the fact that the Redskins have been to the playoffs 3 times in 18 years, with their two playoff wins coming in wild card round, makes them pretty ripe for mocking, even if their owner was considered the nicest guy in the league.

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#10 by Manonanon (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:58am

The story out of Jacksonville is that Miami had Alualu targeted as well, and was set to pick 2 slots later. Click my name for the question and response. Who knows if all of that is true, but there it is.

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#12 by bubqr // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:06pm

While it might be true, you likely won't find a better example of "Let's spread the rumour that team X was set to select player Y a few picks later, to let our fans believe Y was in fact not a reach". Raiders tried this with their 2nd round safety last year (Mitchell ?).

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#146 by JDOE137 (not verified) // May 09, 2010 - 1:08am

Well, it's always possible Miami had intended to pick at 12, but it was pretty obvious they wanted to trade down to recoup the 2nd rounder lost in the Marshall trade. They had talked with the Chargers before the draft and followed through with the trade when the 12th pick was on the clock.

Ireland did mention in a later press conference that if their player was there at 12 they would have felt comfortable drafting their man. He did not say who that man was, but I, as a Dolphins fan, would hope it would not have been Alualu. I think it was more likely Eric Berry since they tried hard pre-draft to sign a couple high-end FA safeties. They even attempted to sign Sharper after the draft, so they are not satisfied with their safety position.

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#11 by andrew // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:06pm

and then only twelve are listed....

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#14 by watyousay (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:08pm

Sometimes I get a little sick of everyone going on and on about value and how you have to trade down so you don't make a reach pick.

Jacksonville scouts Alualu and really likes the guy. They tell no one. They draft him much higher than Mel Kiper would have drafted him. Mel Kiper says "That is so dumb! They should have traded down because no one was going to draft him for another 20 picks!"

What he means to say is, Mel Kiper knows that Mel Kiper would not have drafted Alualu for another 20 picks. Did MK know what Jacksonville was going to do? He had no idea! So if one team was willing to take the guy, how can anyone know that there weren't one or more other teams ready to take him near the same spot?

I'm okay with criticizing the pick based on what you think the player is capable of, but I'm sick of hearing about value. Ideally, come the draft, a GM should be smart and have conviction. At least the guys making so-called "reach" picks have conviction, if nothing else.

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#18 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:22pm

I agree that it's quite possible that the "wisdom of crowds" is entirely wrong about Alualu. The question, though, is whether the wisdom of Jacksonville's front office is any better than the wisdom of crowds re: Alualu. The "they got the guy that they wanted" thing is kind of a lame copout. Of course they did. That's why they took him. It doesn't mean he's good, though.

I don't know whether "reaches" in the first round similar to Alualu tend to be better or worse than average. I'd be inclined to say the latter by a little bit, even if you take the total WTFs like Derrius Heyward-Bey out of the picture. As for Alualu, specifically, I suspect he's going to be modestly below-average for his draft position. He'll play the run well, but struggle to get a good pass rush.

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#26 by Manonanon (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:46pm

The problem here though, is the "wise" crowd isn't us, and it's not the people grading each team's draft, it's the 32 front offices who have done in depth study of nearly every player in the draft, and except for Dallas, we have no idea what any of them think about a given player. Add to this the fact that those 32 offices are basically playing poker with each other, and using the media to do so, and the idea that its possible to objectively determine what constitutes a reach is just absurd.

I suppose FO could make a draft board where every player in the draft was ranked by VOA, and call any picks that deviate greatly from that a reach, but with the way College football is structured, it would be pretty sill too (though kinda fun).

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#83 by Yaguar // Apr 29, 2010 - 6:10pm

I think it's reasonably fair to say that a lot of people considered Alualu a reach.

Let me make a further claim: the idea of the "winner's curse" from auction theory definitely applies here.

Sure, the Jacksonville front office has people who know more about football than me or you or 99% of sports columnists. And sure, they love Alualu. But it's possible, even probable, that 29 or 30 or 31 other front offices, filled similarly-experienced people, think Alualu was NOT worth that pick. So the argument from authority, that Jacksonville's front office knows much more about the guy than I do, doesn't necessarily mean that they were right to pick him where they did.

If we're talking about Alualu specifically, as opposed to the general case of a "reach" to get "your guy," then I would point to his mediocre college sack production as evidence that he will struggle to become a good pass rusher at the pro level.

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#90 by Darth Goofy (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 7:45pm

My problem with this line of thinking is that... well, the Jags got who they wanted. The draft isn't an open market. Teams are slotted where they are and moving to a different pick requires many things to fall into place. I look at this pick my the Jags similarly to the one made by the Colts to draft D Freeney. Freeney was 'slotted' to go many picks later and the Colts were blasted that they had wasted 'value' in drafting him at that spot. What choices did the Colts have? They had a slot in which to manuver and they did. End of story. While it would be nice to add picks through trading... it is not mandatory. Perhaps the Jags FO thought Alualu was worth a 1st and 4th, so why trade the spot and potentially lose that player?

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#107 by Yaguar // Apr 30, 2010 - 2:24am

Everybody got who they wanted. That's how a draft works. That's not necessarily sufficient to pat yourself on the back. Oakland wanted Derrius Heyward-Bey. Miami wanted Ted Ginn. Buffalo wanted John McCargo. And sure, Indianapolis wanted Dwight Freeney.

Each of those teams bet that it was right and the rest of the football-watching world was wrong. I think most teams that make that bet end up losing.

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#111 by iapetus (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 5:38am

Except, of course, that we've heard that Jacksonville had reason to believe Alualu would not be available to them if they were to trade down - that another team was interested in taking him in the next few picks. We also knew in advance of the draft that he was a player moving up the draft boards of several teams - the fact that this wasn't mirrored by Kiper doesn't make it any less true. You accuse people of an appeal to authority, but the standard view that it's a reach because the draftniks say so is every bit as much of an appeal to authority, and the authority isn't even as good.

Hands up everyone who remembers Kiper's views on Gene selecting Derek Cox in 2009 with this year's second round pick. Did Kiper turn out to be pitifully wrong and Gene turn out to be spot on? Absolutely.

Grading the drafts at this point based on which players teams picked is just a bad joke. Kiper and his ilk will make judgements on players based not on how well they picked, but how well they matched the pundits' own mock drafts. And they won't revisit those grades in future years, and we all know why that is - they miss more often than the teams do.

It's interesting to note that had the Jaguars taken Clausen with that pick, the Kipers of this world would have seen it as a good pick, because it matched their perception of need and value. In reality, of course, we know that it would have been a hideous reach, in that he was still available well into the second round. We don't have this knowledge with Alualu. We do know that the Cowboys had a first round value on him as well. We do know that sources close to the team expected him to be gone within a few picks had the Jaguars traded down. We also have a pretty good idea that he really was at the top of the Jaguars' draft board, because this isn't a pick for popularity or for the most obvious and sexy need positions (QB or DE). But because draftniks had a lower value on him than teams, this draft gets an F? Garbage, I say.

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#113 by Manonanon (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 9:30am

That's an excellent point about Clausen. While we have no idea what teams had people they didn't pick high on their boards, we DO know when all teams have someone low on their board.

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#127 by Yaguar // Apr 30, 2010 - 8:47pm

I'd agree for most positions. (Remember how Babatunde Oshinowo was allegedly the "best player available" for about four rounds straight but nobody wanted him, and then he turned out to suck?)

But QBs are a little bit goofy in that respect. Players picked in the first couple of rounds are usually expected to play. At most positions, this is not a big deal; you can put your brand new running back in a committee and leave the rest of the offense the same. With a new QB, though, you have to send your lone starter to the bench and put a new guy in charge of the offense in order to do that. Drafting a new QB in the early rounds usually signals a serious intent to get rid of your starter at some point.

Maybe if the Colts or Saints did it, people would understand that the team just really likes the guy and intends to develop him and then trade him. But I doubt the Colts and Saints spent considerable resources scouting Jimmy Clausen. And they wouldn't pick someone at their position of least need unless they really were incredibly sure he was awesome.

Really, the pool of teams willing to take Clausen early was pretty small. I think we can safely say that nobody's draft-day plans absolutely centered around getting Jimmy Clausen, but it's also not fair to say that the whole NFL thinks he sucks and deserved to be taken that low.

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#131 by iapetus (not verified) // May 04, 2010 - 6:33am

Go back and look at the mocks, though. They almost all had Clausen going high, to a variety of teams.

And could you really deny that the Jaguars are perceived by most people as a team that should have a serious intent to get rid of their starter at QB at some point?

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#48 by Mike Elseroad (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:47pm

Two of the best ever people whenever it comes to drafting were the late Bill Walsh and Jimmy Johnson (The coach, not the race car driver).

For example in the 1985 draft, Walsh believed that Mississippi Valley State WR Jerry Rice was the best receiver in the draft, worthy of a top 10 pick. But Walsh also had a sense that Rice would be undervalued by other teams because of Rice's pedestrian 40 time and the level of competition Rice faced in college. On draft day, instead of making a desperate trade into the top 10, Walsh bided his time and waited until the right time to strike. That time was around the 16th pick, where he pulled the trigger on a trade with New England (ouch!) for New England's spot and got his man.

Johnson did the same thing in either 1991 or 1992 with MLB Robert Jones. Jimmy really liked him, but thought he was a high 2nd round guy at best. As recounted in his book "Under The Helmet", Peter King watched how Johnson wheeled and dealed the extra picks Jimmy had acquired in the Herschel Walker trade and got into the draft spot where he (Jimmy) thought Jones should be selected.

My point is that teams who draft really well like the Walsh-era 49ers and the early-90s Cowboys not only evaluate players and where they should be drafted, they manage to see how other organizations rate players and take guys "Where they belong". They still managed to get their guys, but didn't overreach to get them.

Compare Walsh's maneuvering to get Rice and Jimmy Johnson's manipulations to get Jerry Rice and Robert Jones with what Denver did in order to get Tim Tebow. Most objective analyists believe it will be at least a year or two before Tebow's ready to play qb. They could've gotten Tebow in the 2nd round.

Their's nothing wrong with pulling the trigger on a guy you really want, but it is if it's too early.

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#54 by panthersnbraves // Apr 29, 2010 - 3:37pm

You are evaluating the Tebow pick solely on the Win/Loss value. If you include shirt sales and fan excitement, Denver got value already. (and Jacksonville did not). The Panthers rarely make the front page, but the Clausen pick has gotten national attention focused on them.

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#55 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 3:43pm

Is that Robert Jones the football player, or Robert Jones, the founder of Augusta National Golf Club?

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#56 by dryheat // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:02pm

Good question. I'm still stuck on whether he's talking about Peter King the sports journalist or Peter King the congressman from New York.

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#73 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:14pm

I was wondering if it is Peter King, the fat, coffee trivia ruminating, expense account riding, access worshipping, priveleged foul ball grabbing, vocabulary mangling guy who bitches about his accomodations at four star hotels. Who is this Peter King the sports journalist?

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#98 by young curmudgeon // Apr 29, 2010 - 10:16pm

Now THAT'S what I call "invective!"

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#120 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2010 - 12:39pm

While I'm sitting here in teh Frequent Flyer lounge at O'Hare, Brett Favre just texted me to say: No free lattes for you, bub!

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#129 by Jerry // Apr 30, 2010 - 10:30pm

Is that Robert Jones the football player, or Robert Jones, the founder of Augusta National Golf Club?

Is this the cornerback, safety, or Vikings fan asking?

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#60 by watyousay (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:24pm

I understand the concept: of course it's better to the same guy later rather than sooner. But I hardly think you can criticize a GM for not being willing to roll the dice and potentially lose a guy he really likes.

That Jerry Rice anecdote is interesting, but largely irrelevant. Does anyone consider the Rice pick so good because Walsh got good value by waiting? No -- he was a great pick because he was a great player. Ultimately, a pick is good if he is better than the guys taken after him. Yes, you have the option of trying to trade down and pick up more picks (or trade up at a later pick, as in your Rice story) but it is risky. Teams make unexpected picks all the time. You can't know that your guy isn't going to get snatched up.

People act like the published mock drafts are wholly accurate. They aren't. Teams have wildly varying opinions and rankings. I just think it's silly to bash a GM for not taking who he thinks is the best guy because he hopes the rest of the field is stupid enough not to realize it (in his eyes, of course).

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#95 by Sifter // Apr 29, 2010 - 9:30pm

Couldn't agree with this more. It's the player you pick who makes the main difference. So what if you could have got an extra 4th by moving down a few spots? How many 4th rounders are stars and how would it feel to lose a Rice type player just because you were being stingy or playing up to the draftniks? I LIKE to see my team reach for players because it shows they like him enough that they don't want to lose him by waiting. It's a shame we're all now draft experts who think we're smart enough to say with 100% certainty 'oh Tim Tebow would never be picked before pick #37'. Everyone likes to feel smart, and that's what all this mock draft stuff is all about.

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#130 by Jerry // Apr 30, 2010 - 10:45pm

OTOH, there was the Steelers' 1974 draft. Since they knew they were the only team interested in John Stallworth, they were able to wait until the fourth round to draft him, and that allowed them to pick up another couple of Hall of Famers (Swann and Lambert) in the first two rounds. (And, yes, they took Mike Webster in the 5th.)

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#78 by Marko // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:45pm

"Two of the best ever people whenever it comes to drafting were the late Bill Walsh and Jimmy Johnson (The coach, not the race car driver)."

I think you are seriously underestimating the drafting ability of Jimmy Johnson the race car driver. He is at least as good at drafting as Bill Tobin's postman.

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#99 by Muldrake (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 10:23pm

Jimmy Johnson's worst tracks are the restricted plate tracks where good drafting is at a premium. If anything, Jimmy Johnson is like Billicheck; winning despite mediocre drafting.

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#136 by RickD // May 04, 2010 - 12:18pm

(facepalm)

Just where do you think all of those Super Bowl winning players came from???

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#96 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 10:05pm

Worked for the Colts and Freeney. This pick was reviled as a super reach at #11, but he's worked out pretty well, dontcha think?

But the Colts have a track record that supports them when a pick looks iffy (Dallas Clark with just 29 catches his rookie year? Bust!!!), because they keep on winning and mostly their picks pan out. (Quinn "The 23 Year-Old Retiree" Pitcock???)

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#16 by asg (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:19pm

The intro says Pete Prisco but all the breakdowns say Rob Rang.

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#20 by bravehoptoad // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:26pm

What we could really use is a grade of the draft graders (six years on). Go back and evaluate how well the draft graders did in 2004. Imagine how fun THAT would be to write up. Then we'd also have some way to estimate which of this year's draft graders to take remotely seriously.

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#28 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:54pm

Eh, even then it would be impossible to seperate skill from random noise. Few of these guys are likely to be doing this long enough to really get a handle as to whether their judgement is better or worse than the norm.

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#29 by bravehoptoad // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:59pm

Probably true, but in any case it would be fun to read, and fun to write (mocking the mockers).

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#45 by Jimmy // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:17pm

There might be some value if some of the talking heads were nailing projections on players from one conference or another. Or maybe they are quite good at spotting certain position groups eg. spotting QBs or CBs. You might be correct and it all just looks like random noise but to an extent you will never know unless you try.

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#49 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:48pm

How many qb projections would someone need to make before we were confident that their batting average, so to speak, wasn't mostly luck? Willie Mays started his major league career 0 for 22, and the list of guys who started hot over their first 100 at bats, and then faded into mediocrity or worse, is very long.

Identifying good NFL talent evaluators is somewhat similar, in it's problematic nature, to identifying good mutual fund managers; hardly anybody does it long enough to give us a big enough sample size to have confidence in what we are measuring.

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#141 by JimZipCode // May 06, 2010 - 4:25am

Kiper has. I would love love LOVE to see a breakdown of Kiper's long-term performance. Has he been right more often than not, or wrong?

http://www.oblongspheroid.com/

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#143 by DeltaWhiskey // May 06, 2010 - 5:47am

I too would be interested in this, and I was interested in doing an analysis; however, I've been unable to find archived Kiper draft boards. I'm not terribly interested in his mock drafts b/c I think before evaluating a Kiper mock draft, we need to establish his credibility as a talen evaluator.

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#17 by Monkey Business (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:21pm

From 2000-2009, the Indianapolis Colts:
- Picked once in the top 15
- Posted 9 playoff seasons
- Won 115 games total (League Record)
- Won 23 games straight (League Record)
- Won two AFC titles
- Won one Super Bowl

I guess what I'm trying to say is, in the grand scheme of things, I'm more inclined to trust Bill Polian's judgement than I am anyone who gave out a draft grade.

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#23 by Joe T. // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:34pm

Plus, Polian teams have had 6 conference championship game appearances and 4 Super Bowl appearances prior to his stint with the Colts. The guy obviously knows what the hell he is doing.

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#32 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:16pm

Yeah, he is one of the very few guys on the planet, along with Parcells and maybe a couple more, who have a long enough track record to say that their evaluation skill is out there on the right tail of the curve.

I've been waching the Vikings closely since I was in grade school, and it has been interesting to see their drafting/undrafted free agent outcomes rise and fall and rise again, as various front office executives and coaches gain or lose influence. For about 25 years, they had two really good scouts, Jerry Reichow and Frank Gilliam, do an above average job, in the face of ownership that wasn't committed to a payroll designed to retain talent. This is where the John Randles, Randall McDaniels, and other talented guys came from. As Denny Green acquired more and more power, the drafting and home run undrafted free agent signings declined, and when Randy Moss had his huge rookie year, which Denny did pull the trigger on, Denny decided he was an all time genius, and started to ignore anyone else's input, a group which now included Scott Studwell. The results were dismal.

Green gets fired, the ownership really goes into the toilet, but Studwell hangs around when the new owner comes in, and over the past four years the results have improved, as Studwell's influence has grown. I suspect that Studwell kept credible records as to what his draft board looked like, compared to what the picks were over the past 17 or 18 years, and the current ownership, GM, and coach have taken heed. That is just a guess on my part, however, and the bottom line is that it is really hard for a football fan to identify the people who really are good talent evaluators. Damned if I know.

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#35 by rk (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:33pm

Overall, Polian is a good drafter, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have bad drafts. Anyone that lauded his 2007 draft based on "he knows what he's doing" would look silly now. Trading a 1st for Tony Ugoh, Quinn Pitcock and Dante Hughes in the 3rd. Clint Session in the 4th has redeeming value, but overall a poor showing.

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#44 by DZ (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:03pm

Really?

Anthony Gonzalez has been outstanding (save a freak injury last year).

Ugoh hasn't panned out, but still started for a season a half and is still on the roster and may end up starting again before all is said and done..

Pitcock played very well before he randomly retired after one season.

Session is strong.

Dawson in the 7th round started for a season and has played 40 games in the NFL.

If that's a bad draft, a lot of teams would love to have drafts that bad.

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#97 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 10:13pm

Clearly that draft was a bust because of Gonzalez's injury and Polian totally misread his interview with Pitcock when the 22 year-old kid kept asking about retirement benefits. He shoulda seen both of them coming.

My alternate universe rant about Ugoh is #81 above. If the Colt DEs do not get injured late in 2007, they have a very good chance of making and maybe winning the SB. With a rookie "bust" LT leading the way, starting all season for a 16-17 win team. That's just not a bust. That is a KEY position on a top team, starting as a rookie. And IF they won and Polian was exactly where he is now three years later, with Ugoh looking like a career backup, would he undo that draft and get rid of him? I don't know. They sure needed an LT with Glenn's retirement just before TC.... in fact people were revising their opinions when Glenn retired in July and calling Poian prescient and a genius.

How stupid would that draft have looked if they did NOT have an LT heading into the season and Manning got waxed weekly? You can give it a bad grade, but you also have to consider the outcomes and alternatives, not just the guy's individual performance. Without Ugoh they do not win 13 games that year. Maybe they miss the playoffs, or break one of their win/playoff streaks. Would that make you happy--getting a better draft grade but blowing a whole season because your aging and hefty LT decides to retire and you have no Plan B?

It was a good draft, and Gonzo's and Session's careers might make it a VERY good one. Ugoh's, alas, probably will not contribute much to its luster.

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#22 by dryheat // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:28pm

I'm not sure that either Silva or Rosenthal is old enough to have a beer, and I'm willing to bet they've never seen a game film in their life...so they're grading the draft based on info gleaned by the Kipers, McShays, and Mayocks of the world.

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#41 by Sean McCormick // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:54pm

Billy Beane would be highly unimpressed with your argument.

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#50 by dryheat // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:56pm

OK. Well remove the first 15 words of that post. Would he still be unimpressed?

Dammit, what can I do to impress him?!

It's good to keep in mind that none of these guys, with the exception of Mayock, who recently turned down a job in an NFL's personnel department, is deemed a good enough evaluator to work for an NFL team.

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#64 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:45pm

Valid point, but I'm pretty sure McShay and Kiper make a lot more money in their current positions than they would in a front office, while probably working less hours.

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#72 by Tracy // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:13pm

Yes, but that only means that they're good at their jobs, which is to drive viewers to ESPN. It doesn't mean that they're any good at actual player evaluation.

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#112 by Snack Flag (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 8:21am

Exactly, but the fact that they don't have jobs in front offices isn't a mark against their player evaluation. Their shitty track records are marks against their player evaluation.

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#142 by JimZipCode // May 06, 2010 - 4:30am

Why on earth would Mayock turn down a job like that?

Eh, I guess he already has a job he likes. But man.

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#25 by dbostedo // Apr 29, 2010 - 12:41pm

"Both Kiper and Czarnecki downgraded the team for only receiving a fourth-round pick in 2012 for Jason Campbell."

Isn't that only valid if they know some team was willing to offer more than a fourth-round pick? What if every single other team only wanted to give a sixth round pick, and the Redskins actually did really well to talk someone into a fourth rounder?

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#31 by Joe T. // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:06pm

I would downgrade that trade only because it happened so late in the draft that it did not result in a 2010 fourth round pick. Getting a fourth rounder for Campbell, during a time when few teams admit to a QB deficiency, and could easily address that deficiency via the draft, is just about getting the generally accepted full value for him.

A 2010/2012 3rd rounder would have been a coup.

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#39 by johonny (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:46pm

Bill Belichick is a draft master. Period

If he's the draft master, why does he need to draft a TE every year? You'd think the master would have filled the position by now:)

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#43 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 2:00pm

It's all part of his master strategy to get everyone to overestimate the relative rankings of positional importance. Now that he succeeded with tight ends, he plans to draft 6 long snappers over the next four years.

Your voicing doubt as to his performance is an early indicator of the wisdom of his strategy. By 2014 the doubt will be conventional wisdom, and then the sage Belichick will swoop in and draft one Hall of Fame performer after another.

Truly, the man is a genius.

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#101 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:25pm

Will,

Awesome post. My question is how many of those long-snappers will be first rounders?

You have to consider that the Pats have three first rounders next year, eleven the year after and, I am pretty sure, 36 first rounders in 2013. So you might actually be undercounting the number of long-snappers they... ahem, snap up.

Scary thought, hunh?

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#108 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 2:40am

What will shock the world is the Belichickian maneuver where, well, Belichick, runs a false flag operation, entailing a young former protege publicly bemoaning his lack of success in drafting a future Nobel Peace Prize winner at qb, thereby making it the new conventional wisdom that from here on out, boy, nobody is ever going to risk a 1st round pick again on a guy with impeccable etiquette. Then, in a stunning reversal, Grand Master Bill of Annapolis will use the first pick in the draft on a young man who has a tough time getting it back to the punter on two bounces, but who can recite Scripture in reverse, in tongues, while digging a new well for impoverished villagers in Papua New Guinea. Then, when everybody else throws their sheets out the revolving doors at Radio City Music Hall, and replaces them with the e-mail directory from The Peace Corps, St. William the Drafter, clad only in animal skins, after eating locusts and wild honey for forty days and nights, and having his hair cut at Fast Clips, will proceed to pick 22 consecutive Hall of Famers, all in the 7th round, after he continually trades back to get the lasst 22 slots in the draft.

Kiper and McShay will fall to their knees, beseeching The Sainted One to forgive them for their lack of Faith. The Prince of Picks will reply that he is but a messenger for the One That Will Follow, who he, The Prince, is not worthy to erase His dry board. Somewhere, Ron Borges, clutching thirty copies of Street and Smith's, will mutter angrily and conspiratorially to himself.....

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#116 by Jimmy // Apr 30, 2010 - 10:08am

Very good Mr Will. Especially St Wlliam the Drafter, great name.

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#121 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2010 - 12:42pm

You are on a roll.

Though, to be fair, I suspect the Ron Borges stuff has already happened. Possibly annually.

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#138 by RickD // May 04, 2010 - 12:27pm

Five TEs in ten years for a team that uses a 2-TE set often?

I don't see what you're bitching about. Suggest you consult with Webster about the meaning of "every".

BTW, they also drafted their entire D-line in the first round, as well as somebody named Brady in the 6th round.

The Pats had depth concerns at TE basically because they were not going to retain Ben Watson, who was not as productive as his salary would require. The had previously lost Daniel Graham who deserved more money than the Pats would pay him. As for Dave Thomas, he's played better for the Saints than he did for the Pats.

Do you think either Grontkowski or Hernandez is a bad pick? Seems to me that Grontkowski will slot into the Graham role as an every down blocker, while Hernandez gets the Watson role as the downfield threat. (Hopefully does a better job than Watson.)

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#42 by shake n bake // Apr 29, 2010 - 1:56pm

"McClain bemoans the fact that "they didn’t get the help they needed on the offensive line.""

Kinda missed the 324lb Guard in the 4th round I guess. Plus the TE who blocked so well that he started 5 games on the OL last year.

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#91 by Darth Goofy (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 7:52pm

Not only that... who says that was a position of need? It is easy to complain about not filling a need when you are defining that need for a team.

For example, I think the Patriots need a new kicker. Because they didn't draft one, they failed to address a position of need (in my mind), therefore, I rate them very, very low in my drafting grades. (I am sure BB will quake in his shoes when he reads that.)

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#102 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:35pm

Let's face it, a LOT of people see the OT slot as a weakness for Indy. Personally, I have no interest in wasting Manning's last 4-5 years in the league by turning him into a scrambler or, worse, someone planted so deep into the soil by a 350 lb DT that he starts to grow roots. I'd like to protect him and have him lead the team to the playoffs as loong as humanly possible. (There's a Futurama episode in that.)

But if we go into our way-back machine to last year when we were all sure DT was a major weakness in Indy and hailed the return of Weedy Johnson. Turns out we didn't need him and sent him packing. Turns out the highly touted 2nd round DT from USC caouldn't even crack the active lineup half the time, needless to mention the starting roster. Ergo, we were wrong last year and may well be so this year too.

Speaking of draft grades, how does Moala grade out? I am sure we got high grades because of that pick. Yet, I am also sure some now think he's a bust because he didn't start at all. Or maybe a bust because he wasn't a "true need" after all since the guys ahead of him stepped up their games after their rookie campaigns? Hard to measure him because of so little PT, but he might be just as good as expected, yet the guys ahead of him are outplaying themselves. Can't fault him or Polian for that, but I am sure some will.

The more I think of it, the more I think waiting six years is ideal. Somebody should do a delayed draft grade....

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#110 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 30, 2010 - 4:39am

(There's a Futurama episode in that.)

Now I'm picturing Peyton Manning's head on Benders body, Robo-QB is a reality.

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#122 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2010 - 12:45pm

I was actually visualizing Manning's head in a jar, his arm in another, and a football in another (why in a jar?), then him throwing to someone else's head in a jar (Rice?) but the receiver complaining "Hey, Peyton, man, I'm just a head in a jar. How do you expect me to catch a football?"

Bender of course bet the year's payroll for the entire case on Rice catching it... and there you have your entire plot setup.

Also, I see Ben R's head on Bender as being more of a natural fit. Walk into a bar, pound a few gallons, grab some ass... who could tell them apart.

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#52 by zlionsfan // Apr 29, 2010 - 3:18pm

when we don't really know how the teams rank their players (with the possible exception of Dallas), how they use those rankings during the draft, what they hope to accomplish in the draft, or even how to accurately evaluate individual players once they've played a few seasons.

Just think: Bradford could turn out to be a bust, and if so, no doubt there will be people who will downgrade St. Louis' 2010 draft accordingly. But at draft time, Bradford was a highly-touted prospect. Is it then the fault of the Rams for not predicting this properly? Say Armanti Edwards becomes the best QB of this class (just seeing if you're paying attention) ... it's tempting to go back and redo this draft with the Rams taking Edwards first, but that doesn't make any sense. It would be like redoing the 2002 draft and having the Lions take Dwight Freeney. (I wanted to use another QB for that example, but looking through the 2002 draft, ugh.)

But maybe Bradford would be a bust (like Harrington) in part because he'd be playing behind a weak line and throwing to a weak receiving corps. So maybe St. Louis would deserve some blame for that. It's kind of like the Polian/Belichick grades ... in part, those guys get better results out of their draft picks because their teams use pretty much any players well.

If a team has a terrible position coach at their greatest position of need, drafts a player for that position, and sees the player become a bust, who's at fault? Should it really count as much against the drafting grade for that team?

I suppose you can't blame MSM for grading drafts ... the public's probably come to expect it anyway, and there won't be much else in the NFL to discuss until July. It would be cool, though, if instead of grading the 2010 draft class, a MSM site would grade, say, the class of 2000.

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#57 by panthersnbraves // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:05pm

So what you're saying is that the Panthers will have a renowned QB draft class all of their own?

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#58 by Biebs (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:12pm

The link for the "2006" draft Report Card results actually goes to 2007.

I'm surprised no one has graded the graders based on results 4-6 years later.

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#59 by dedkrikit (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:21pm

You'd think a draft class with a Rhodes Scholar in it would be able to earn an A+.

;)

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#70 by >implying impl… (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:11pm

Apparently the Eagles did the best overall in terms of GPA: http://www.csnphilly.com/04/26/10/New-Eagles-Have-Classroom-Credentials/landing.html?blockID=223675&feedID=704

Given the low correlation between Wonderlick scores and performance, I'm not especially persuaded that GPA or other academic honors ought to affect our assessments of the drafts.

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#71 by >implying impl… (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:13pm

Edit: 'Wonderlic' of course.

The Wonderlick™ is a new device I've been working on that will be on sale shortly at a variety of adult entertainment establishments.

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#75 by Will Allen (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:18pm

Gosh, Tiger, I thought you were playing in a tournament today.

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#61 by capt. Anonymous (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:24pm

Didn't someone on this site do a study of draft success using earnings after first contract????

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#65 by panthersnbraves // Apr 29, 2010 - 4:51pm

There's something apples and oranges to faulting teams for not having draft choices, and then knocking them for borrowing next year's.

Should The Panther's choice of Edwards count this year or next? Just don't count it for both!

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#76 by tunesmith // Apr 29, 2010 - 5:26pm

The "draft six years ago" articles are great, but they're listed by position - I'd love to see a similar list scored by team. So we could compare actual outcome of a team's draft to what the conventional wisdom was at the time.

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#86 by Tom Gower // Apr 29, 2010 - 6:37pm

Doing a good job with this kind of article is a pain. To get the kind of article you want, you'd ideally want to consider team needs entering the draft, how the team actually drafted in response to those needs and how the board shaped out (which is what these guys are trading the team on, to varying degrees), how successfully those players developed, and what other options they could have chosen. I've done this a little bit for the Titans (see 2004 and links therein for the previous 5 years), but that's kind of easy, since it's a team I know well and have followed for years. 2005 will be the first year I'll have to square recap comments with fairly contemporaneous immediate reaction thoughts, which will be another interesting exercise.

Plus, if you do it for every team, you'll end up writing, e.g., every team that took a DE and CB in the 2nd-mid 4th rounds should've drafted Jared Allen and Nathan Vasher, respectively, kind of like the draft recap article from a couple years ago where half the league passed on Babatunde Oshinowo.

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#103 by Sean McCormick // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:38pm

And what a loss for those teams that was! (Ducks head.)

Maybe it's just because I've been re-reading Moneyball, but I think that most of this is probably looking at things the wrong way. NFL war rooms don't necessarily know more than Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock and Mel and Mike don't necessarily know more than NFL war rooms (even Buffalo's), but in any event, they're all doing the same thing--grading players based on what they see on tape. And what you see does not necessarily tell the story.

It's clearly more difficult to find meaningful statistical indicators for what makes a quality NFL prospect at any position than it is for baseball, where there are many fewer moving parts, but that's still the direction everyone should be looking in. Trying to smoke out who is a reliable commenter on the draft is a bit like searching for Fred Edelstein's Lock of the Week over and over.

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#105 by AlanSP // Apr 30, 2010 - 1:55am

To be fair, we don't know exactly how and to what extent various NFL teams use statistical indicators in evaluating players in the draft.

I do think it's worth going back to look at pre-draft evaluations after players have actually been in the league a while. Again, I don't know whether teams do this on their own, but they certainly should.

It's more important to see how people hit and miss rather than just how much they hit or miss. It's not particularly useful to say "everybody should have taken Jared Allen," but it might be useful to look at why they didn't. Do they systematically tend to overvalue some traits (say, quarterbacks' arm strength, or running backs' size) and undervalue others? Are they more accurate in evaluating particular positions or certain skills (e.g. a run blocking vs. pass blocking)? These are all questions that can potentially be illuminated by comparing how people evaluate players coming out of college with how they actually do in the NFL.

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#88 by Big Johnson // Apr 29, 2010 - 7:08pm

An interesting thought is that Kiper gave the chargers 2005 draft a "C". Just some of the players they drafted were merriman, castillo, and vincent jackson along with nate kaeding.

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#104 by Bobman // Apr 29, 2010 - 11:40pm

He was probably having a bad hair day.

or a bad hair life, for that matter.

To paraphrase Obi-wan Kenobi, "That's no C."

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#109 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 30, 2010 - 4:38am

Obi-wan has a lot of useful advice on the draft, "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck." Bill Polian and Ozzie Newsome confirmed for Jedi Masters, meanwhile Belichick is a Sith Master, "quicker, easier, yes. More powerful, no." He clearly fell sometime after his Cleveland days.

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#123 by Bobman // Apr 30, 2010 - 12:51pm

Okay, so which NFL location fits this description: "A more wretched hive of scum and villainy you'll not likely find"?

I'm thinking Minny around the time of the sex boat scandal, or Cincy when they were the jailhouse regulars... Oakland in general... plus any place with Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder.

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#100 by jimm (not verified) // Apr 29, 2010 - 10:36pm

Lest we think that these draft "experts" know anything about how these players will turn out - lets see what they had to say about the Vikings 2005 draft (perhaps their worst ever):

Of the ten graders, Minnesota received seven A's, two B's, and one C-. The reason behind the C- is a critique I am surprised did not come up more often: taking Troy Williamson over Mike Williams. Maske argues against the selection of Williamson, saying "Itâ€™s football not a track meet." Everyone else seemed to have accepted the pick. Kiper had Williams # 1 on his board, but he just says that Williamson "wowed" Minnesota and gives them a pass. Gosselin says that Williamson "might make them forget Randy Moss." Didnâ€™t almost everyone have Williams ahead of Williamson going into the draft? What am I missing? Everyone likes where the Vikings got Erasmus James, with Dr. Z calling him the best outside rusher in the draft.

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#115 by Jimmy // Apr 30, 2010 - 10:06am

Of the ten graders, Minnesota received seven A's, two B's, and one C-. The reason behind the C- is a critique I am surprised did not come up more often: taking Troy Williamson over Mike Williams.

That is hilarious.

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#114 by DeltaWhiskey // Apr 30, 2010 - 9:59am

It seems roughly assessing the utility/validity of these analyses, along with the pre-draft player analyses, would be fairly easy. Mel Kiper gets mocked for not necessarily having his board in the correct order and for the opinions of draft picks he spouts, but has anyone done any sort of analyses of his scouting ability in general?

The problem I'm having doing this is identifying and/or finding data from past years.

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#125 by Mike Elseroad (not verified) // Apr 30, 2010 - 2:55pm

I remember Sports Illustrated and others lauding what the Browns did that year too.

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#128 by Yaguar // Apr 30, 2010 - 8:50pm

With Thomas, Wright, and McDonald, they actually had a very good draft class, even if that isn't what most people were praising them for.

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