2011 NFL Draft Report Card Report

2011 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2011 NFL Draft Report Card Report
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Brian McIntyre

Here at Football Outsiders, we believe it’s appropriate to wait six years before one can accurately grade a team’s draft class. That approach is even more prudent for a bizarro 2011 offseason that held an entry draft prior to free agency.

That said, fans want an instant sense of how their team fared during the draft, so it’s understandable why draft analysts are compelled, often obligated, to hand out grades so soon after the picks were made.

For an eighth consecutive year, Football Outsiders has compiled the draft grades assigned by a select group of NFL writers and draft analysts to determine which drafts their red pens agreed upon, and which drafts caused the most disagreement among analysts.

(Previous NFL Draft Report Card Reports may be viewed by clicking
here: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.)

This year, articles from 11 NFL writers and draft analysts were used to compile these rankings:

Highest Draft Grades

1. Detroit Lions

GPA: 3.61
Highest Grade: A+ (Brown, Bunting)
Lowest Grade: C (Nawrocki)
Comments: After selecting Nick Fairley and adding two young playmakers in Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure, Bunting channeled the teacher in “A Christmas Story” and gave the Lions an “A++” grade. PFW’s Nawrocki was less impressed, writing that “all three enter the league with character and maturity concerns, possess boom-or-bust potential and will have to be managed closely."

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GPA: 3.55
Highest Grade: A (Prisco, Brown, Bell, Cole, Byrne)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Caplan)
Comments: Prisco thought Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik hit it big for a third consecutive draft, addressing an ineffective pass-rush with the additions of Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. Caplan noted that both defensive ends have medical issues and a lot to prove.

3. Cleveland Browns

GPA: 3.49
Highest Grade: A (Rang, Bell, Nawrocki, Cole)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Prisco)
Comments: In his first year at the helm of the draft, Browns general manager Tom Heckert scored high marks for pulling the trigger on a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. “The Browns got an extra first-round pick for next year, which they will need, and did a good job of building the defensive line for the conversion to a 4-3 scheme with Taylor and Sheard,” wrote Cole. CBS’ Prisco felt the “quantity over quality” was a risky approach and gave the Browns a “C+”.

4. Green Bay Packers

GPA: 3.46
Highest Grade: A (Rang, Silva, Byrne)
Lowest Grade: B- (Nawrocki, Cole)
Comments: With an already deep and talented roster, Rang praised Packers general manager Ted Thompson’s decision to add a versatile offensive lineman (Derek Sherrod) and skill-position weapons for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If there was a knock on the Packers’ draft, it’s that it wasn’t particularly exciting.

5. Houston Texans

GPA: 3.39
Highest Grade: A (Prisco, Caplan, Byrne)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Rosenthal)
Comments: Using their first five picks to fix a “woeful” defense drew applause from Caplan, and Prisco thinks second-round linebacker Brooks Reed “can be a lot like Clay Matthews” of the Packers. Byrne gave the Texans an “A” for addressing their needs, but based on previous investments in defenders in the draft, he doesn’t think they’ll pan out. Rosenthal has issues with an uneven draft approach and justifiably wonders why the Texans didn’t address their needs in the secondary.

Lowest Draft Grades

32. Seattle Seahawks

GPA: 2.03
Highest Grade: B+ (Silva)
Lowest Grade: D (Brown, Caplan)
Comments: Caplan felt the Seahawks reached for their early picks, while Brown thinks the Seahawks will be “haunted” for passing on TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, who went 35th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Silva disagrees that first-round offensive tackle James Carpenter was a reach, and likes that the front office succeeded in its efforts to get more physical in the trenches.

t-30. Jacksonville Jaguars

GPA: 2.17
Highest Grade: B+ (Cole)
Lowest Grade: F (Byrne)
Comments: Cole applauded the aggressive approach the Jaguars took to add quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who he anticipates will win the starting job over David Garrard. Even though he thinks Gabbert has the potential to be a franchise quarterback, Byrne gave the Jaguars an “F-“, or “epic fail”, for confusing Gabbert with a shutdown cornerback. The Jaguars were one of five clubs—each of whom used an early round pick on a quarterback—to receive an “Incomplete” grade from Jarrett Bell of the USA Today.

t-30. Carolina Panthers

GPA: 2.17
Highest Grade: B (Brown)
Lowest Grade: D (Cole)
Comments: Brown liked the Panthers’ selection of quarterback Cam Newton, and thought the third-round additions of Terrell McClain and Sione Fua will improve the defensive tackle situation. Cole gave general manager Marty Hurney a “D” for the disaster potential of the Newton pick.

29. Dallas Cowboys

GPA: 2.18
Highest Grade: B- (Kiper, Prisco, Silva, Nawrocki)
Lowest Grade: D- (Byrne)
Comments: Analysts appear to like the selections of first-round offensive tackle Tyron Smith, second-round linebacker Bruce Carter, and third-round running back DeMarco Murray, but durability concerns regarding all three, and whether linebacker and running back were pressing needs, muted the enthusiasm for the Cowboys’ 2011 draft class.

28. Oakland Raiders

GPA: 2.33
Highest Grade: B+ (Cole, Byrne)
Lowest Grade: D (Brown)
Comments: Cole folds Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour into this year’s draft class and likes the selection of Stefen Wisniewski, who has Raiders’ bloodlines and will be in immediate starter at center. Cole also praised the consistency of the Silver & Black, who added a “4 x 100 relay team” of DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa, Taiwan Jones, and Denarius Moore. Brown felt the Raiders reached in the early rounds.

Greatest Variation in Draft Grades

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

GPA: 2.17
Standard Deviation: 1.069
Highest Grade: B+ (Cole)
Lowest Grade: F (Byrne)
Comments: Five of the ten grades (Bell gave the Jaguars an “Incomplete”) were in the “B” range, so if it weren’t for the “F” from Byrne, the Jaguars might have graded out at a “B-/C+” level.

2. Chicago Bears

GPA: 2.64 (20th overall)
Standard Deviation: 0.983
Highest Grade: A- (Byrne)
Lowest Grade: F (Cole)
Comments: The Bears received mostly “B” grades, but Cole flunked the Bears for failing to follow through on their trade with the Baltimore Ravens. “No GM in the league should ever trust (Jerry) Angelo again”, writes Cole.

3. New England Patriots

GPA: 2.76 (17th overall)
Standard Deviation: 0.955
Highest Grade: A+ (Brown)
Lowest Grade: D (Caplan)
Comments: Acquiring first- and second-round picks in 2012 was enough for Brown to overlook New England passing on its most pressing need in this year’s draft. Caplan (D) and Byrne (C-) were less forgiving.

4. Tennessee Titans

GPA: 2.53 (24th overall)
Standard Deviation: 0.878
Highest Grade: A (Rang)
Lowest Grade: D (Cole)
Comments: Rang loved the fit of Jake Locker in Chris Palmer’s offense in Tennessee, and thinks general manager Mike Reinfeldt found good value throughout the draft. Cole thought Locker was a reach “of stunning proportions” in giving the Titans a “D,” while Rosenthal thinks Locker could get Reinfeldt and first-year head coach Mike Munchak fired in a few years.

5. Seattle Seahawks

GPA: 2.03
Standard Deviation: 0.836
Highest Grade: B+ (Silva)
Lowest Grade: D (Brown, Caplan)
Comments: “D” grades from Brown and Kiper may stand for Andy Dalton, the Trent Dilfer-certified quarterback Seattle passed on with the 25th overall pick. Seattle’s commitment to the offensive line earned four “B” level grades, including a straight “B” from Rang, who noted that the Seahawks line ranked 32nd in the NFL last season with a 26 percent “Stuffed Rate”.

Overall Grades

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

2011 NFL Draft Grades
Team High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev. Grade Rank Std. Dev. Rank
Arizona A (Cole) C+ (Byrne) 3.03 0.458 12 31
Atlanta A- (Caplan) D- (Byrne) 2.55 0.749 22 7
Baltimore A (Bunting) C (Bell) 3.24 0.598 7 17
Buffalo B+ (Caplan, Byrne) C- (Bunting) 2.85 0.480 16 30
Carolina B (Brown) D (Cole) 2.17 0.593 30 18
Chicago A- (Byrne) F (Cole) 2.64 0.983 20 2
Cincinnati A (Brown, Cole) C (Byrne) 3.18 0.639 10 14
Cleveland A (Four tied) C+ (Prisco) 3.49 0.545 3 23
Dallas B- (4 tied) D- (Byrne) 2.18 0.584 29 19
Denver A (Byrne) C (Rosenthal) 2.85 0.524 15 24
Detroit A+ (Brown, Bunting) C (Nawrocki) 3.61 0.629 1 16
Green Bay A (3 tied) B- (Cole, Nawrocki) 3.40 0.492 4 27
Houston A (Three tied) C+ (Rosenthal) 3.39 0.513 5 25
Indianapolis A (Rang, Bunting) C (Byrne) 3.21 0.563 9 21
Jacksonville B+ (Cole) F (Byrne) 2.17 1.069 t-30 1
Kansas City A- (Rosenthal, Nawrocki) C- (Rang, Prisco) 2.73 0.743 18 8
2011 NFL Draft Grades
Team High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev. Grade Rank Std. Dev. Rank
Miami B+ (Byrne) D (Bunting) 2.39 0.727 27 9
Minnesota A- (Bunting) D (Cole) 2.47 0.819 26 6
New England A+ (Brown) D (Caplan) 2.76 0.955 17 3
New Orleans A+ (Bunting) C (Silva) 3.24 0.634 7 15
New York Giants A (3 tied) B- (3 tied) 3.27 0.554 6 22
New York Jets B+ (Bunting, Byrne) D (Brown) 2.52 0.720 25 10
Oakland B+ (Cole, Byrne) D (Brown) 2.33 0.683 28 12
Philadelphia B+ (Bunting) C- (Rang) 2.61 0.490 21 29
Pittsburgh B+ (Three tied) C (Cole) 2.91 0.424 14 32
San Diego B+ (Kiper, Prisco) D (Bunting) 2.55 0.688 22 11
San Francisco B+ (3 tied) C (Rang) 2.67 0.497 19 28
Seattle B+ (Silva) D (Brown, Caplan) 2.03 0.836 32 5
St. Louis A (Nawrocki, Cole) C- (Silva) 3.00 0.650 13 13
Tampa Bay A (5 tied) C+ (Caplan) 3.55 0.563 2 20
Tennessee A (Rang) D (Cole) 2.53 0.878 24 4
Washington A (Rang) C+ (Kiper, Brown) 3.06 0.513 11 26
Total -- -- 2.84 0.757

Grading the Graders

2011 NFL Draft Grades
Grader High Grade Low Grade Average GPA Std. Dev.
Mel Kiper, ESPN A- (Cincinnati, Detroit) D+ (Seattle) 2.75 0.574
Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com A (5 teams) C- (Kansas City) 3.09 0.624
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports A (3 Teams) C- (Kansas City, Seattle) 2.77 0.607
Clifton Brown, Sporting News A+ (Detroit, New England) D (4 teams) 2.71 0.934
Adam Caplan, FOXSports.com A (Houston) D (New England, Seattle) 2.87 0.655
Rosenthal/Silva, NBC Sports A (Green Bay) C- (3 teams) 2.85 0.703
Jarrett Bell, USA Today A (4 teams) C (6 teams) 2.91 0.651
Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly A+ (3 teams) C- (Jacksonville) 2.97 0.768
Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports A (5 teams) F (Chicago) 2.73 1.000
Wes Bunting, National Football Post A+ (Detroit, New Orleans) D (Miami, San Diego) 2.87 0.883
Kerry Byrne, Sports Illustrated A (5 teams) F (Jacksonville) 2.73 1.038


55 comments, Last at 08 May 2011, 2:41pm

#1 by Thalwitzer (not verified) // May 03, 2011 - 6:54pm

Why no Rick Gosselin?

Points: 0

#4 by Jerry // May 03, 2011 - 8:23pm

Looks like they're all from national publications/websites. Gosselin would be on the short list of local guys who'd be useful, but his grades are behind a subscripiton wall.

Points: 0

#2 by Thomas_beardown // May 03, 2011 - 6:57pm

Cole flunked the Bears for failing to follow through on their trade with the Baltimore Ravens. “No GM in the league should ever trust (Jerry) Angelo again”, writes Cole.

Well thanks for answering a question that wasn't asked Mr Cole. While this incident might be damaging, we want to know how the players will help the team.

Points: 0

#9 by Chip // May 03, 2011 - 11:22pm

Not to mention that the Bears subsequently traded up in the second round with the Colts and actually came out the winner in terms of the draft value chart.

Points: 0

#3 by SunDevil (not verified) // May 03, 2011 - 8:01pm

Seconded on including Rick Gosselin.

Points: 0

#5 by BaronFoobarstein // May 03, 2011 - 9:40pm

I give the graders a D for not producing a normal curve centered on C.

Points: 0

#18 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 10:07am

Curves are for soft subjects where it's more important to measure how closely your opinion aligns with that of your professor than to objective reality.

Points: 0

#26 by siecles (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 1:49pm

The only subjects graded on a curve at my university were the science and math classes.

Points: 0

#27 by Staubach12 // May 04, 2011 - 2:26pm

Ditto. I've never heard of a humanities class grading on a curve, and I'm a humanities professor.

Also, while some bad profs do grade with an ideological bias, they are not the norm. Please don't paint us all with the same brush, Good Twin.

Points: 0

#33 by Tom Gower // May 04, 2011 - 6:30pm

I don't know if you count them as humanities classes, but law school classes, especially in the first year, are absolutely, positively graded on a curve.

And I know of at least one undergraduate history course in which I was awarded a lower grade because of a grading curve.

Points: 0

#35 by Shattenjager // May 04, 2011 - 6:47pm

My law school forces a curve on all required courses (My contracts professor was quite angry that they insisted he could not fail literally 2/3 of the class. He sent us an e-mail rant about it, which was the first I had heard of the curve.) and "suggests" it for all classes.

In undergrad, I never had a class graded on a real curve. We used z-scores in one course (research methods and statistics--obviously part of the point was so that we would learn how to calculate z-scores), but otherwise there was nothing even similar.

Points: 0

#38 by Flounder // May 04, 2011 - 9:37pm

All law school classes have a curve. There is one for first-year classes (the harshest), another for upper level classes, and a third (the easiest) for seminar courses. It's required for accreditation by the ABA.

Points: 0

#40 by Shattenjager // May 04, 2011 - 11:59pm

Hmm. Our student handbook only mentions one for all required courses (3 of which are not first year courses) and a general suggested curve that is not required anywhere (and which is actually slightly harsher than the required course curve).

Oh well. "Always do business as if the person you're doing business with is trying to screw you, because he probably is. And if he's not, you can be pleasantly surprised."

Points: 0

#47 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // May 05, 2011 - 6:32pm

Much to my prof's annoyance, my college stats course had a bimodal distribution. =)

(Two bell curves, centered at B for people who studied and at D for people who didn't)

Points: 0

#48 by BigCheese // May 06, 2011 - 3:17am

"The only subjects graded on a curve at my university were the science and math classes."

Really? That seems to me to be the absolute worst way to do it. Math and science can be graded (close to) 100% objectively. If there are 10 math problems and I can do 5 of them I am demonstrating that I don't know how to do half of them (and should probably failt he course). This is equally true wether there is someone who can do all 10 (thus making my grade an F, I would assume, not being familiar with letter grades first-hand), or there's no one in my group who can do more than 6, making the exact same ammount of completely quantifiable knowledge an A.

In the humanities at least I can see the argument of using a curve to grade what often has a more subjective component. Although I still find it fundamentally wrong that the same exact output from you can have a very different grade depending on if that chikd prodigy was put in your group or not.

Also, as someone who once got a 106% on a math test with no bonus questions I'm EXTREMELY glad I have never been graded on a curve. Which brings us to reason #2 of why grading on a curve is moronic: making your classmates look bad is enough for them to actively dislike you. Actually making their grades objectively worse is a sure-fire way to discourage excelling in young people.

PS: Gradgin on a curve is why Cam Newton went #1 overall...

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

Points: 0

#55 by Cyrus2 (not verified) // May 08, 2011 - 2:41pm

I'm not sure if you have much experience in science and math classes in college. Of course, introductory classes can be completely objective, and the material is straight forward enough that you can expect students to get the majority of the answers correct.

However, I took Electrical Engineering and some of the upper level classes had to curve-- we had one where a 42 was curved as a B. You can argue that the professor should have failed everyone (high score was a 68 I believe) but I think everyone else would disagree with you.

And I am in law school now, and only the 1L classes require a curve. The professors in all of my electives have stated that they can give everyone an A if they deserve it.

Points: 0

#6 by wr (not verified) // May 03, 2011 - 9:40pm

A couple of corrections : The Seahawks' high and low grades are backwards,
and I think the tables should be headed "2011 NFL Draft".

Points: 0

#29 by Ed Schoenfeld (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 4:46pm

These still aren't all right (look at the middle table).

Points: 0

#7 by MilkmanDanimal // May 03, 2011 - 10:16pm

I watched a video of winners/losers from the draft on Foxsports.com, and they raved about Tampa first. On the same page, they linked to Caplan, who gave them a C+. While draft grading is obviously pointless, it's even more so for Tampa; if Clayborn and Bowers turn out, it's an absolutely spectacular draft. If not, it's a waste. Yeah, always a risk, but this seems a particularly risk-reward sort of draft for Tampa.

Points: 0

#16 by BucNasty // May 04, 2011 - 6:20am

Assuming that your fears are entirely related to their health and not on a conviction that they're simply not talented enough, I think you can relax about Clayborn. While Bowers certainly has the potential to be a completely wasted pick, I honestly don't think Clayborn is a medical risk. Erb's Palsy limits the range of motion in your arm, and as a consequence the muscles associated with those movements atrophy from lack of use. However, go look at any independent scouting report on him and I guarantee you they will rave about his hands (plural). They're always described as being strong (Rang says they're the strongest in this class), active, and violent. Also, considering that he played basketball in high school, how bad could the paralysis be? In any case, he's clearly found a way to deal.

On the other hand, do you notice how in all of the pictures of him holding up his new jersey, he's only using his left hand?

Points: 0

#21 by MilkmanDanimal // May 04, 2011 - 10:49am

My worries with Clayborn are more along the lines of effort than anything else; I watched a number of Iowa games last year, and he frankly didn't seem to be trying. In the Insight Bowl against Missouri (where I began to utter the words "I'm really glad my team's not drafting Gabbert, he's godawful when forced to move"), it seemed like Clayborn spent about half the plays halfheartedly pushing against the LT, rather than making a concerted effort.

I do love these lookbacks on draft grades, though. Tampa's 2009 class got a D from a couple people because they traded up two spots for Freeman; I'd say that one worked out pretty well. Then again, I hated the Freeman pick at the time, so I'm clearly a world-class idiot anyways.

Points: 0

#31 by sundown (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 6:02pm

It's such a crap shoot. Fun to debate, but ultimately pointless. Your Freeman example is perfect--of course it'd be seen as being dumb if you didn't think anything of his chances in the NFL. But by the time it becomes clear he can play the people skewering TB for that pick have already done a couple more drafts.

I think that's why some of these guys refuse to give grades below a C because they're basically admitting they have no idea whether it was good draft or not. But that takes away most of the fun. The guy from USA Today didn't have anybody below a C. (So, even the teams he thought didn't do so well still did fairly well?) Welcome to grade inflation on draft grades.

Points: 0

#10 by Kibbles // May 04, 2011 - 1:58am

I love the fact that the draft preceded Free Agency this year. I'm a big believer in drafting for value and then using Free Agency to fill needs, which is pretty difficult to do in most years. Criticizing a team like Denver for not addressing its needs at DT is pretty silly, since it's not like they'll be competing this year, anyway. They're much better off going BPA and then getting some free agent DTs to fill that void for a year or two instead of reaching on a DT that they don't think is as good as several other players on their board. Drafting for "need" is how you get Christian Ponder going #12 overall.

Points: 0

#11 by Key19 // May 04, 2011 - 2:35am

2010 link broken, at least for me anyways.

Points: 0

#14 by Podge (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 4:37am

The link has a speech mark after it for some reason. You can work around it by picking copy link location, pasting it into a new window and then just deleting the speech mark before pressing enter.

Points: 0

#12 by Trolika (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 3:48am

As usual, draft for need to have high "grades". If you don't or if you draft players experts didn't expect (see the Jags last year)...you'll end up with a C/D (except if you're the Pats or the Pack... the Pats could trade their whole draft for seventh round picks and get a mulligan).
Atlanta commits the common mistake to think they're one player away, trade a king's ransom for a WR (a WR!!!!) and escape without being immolate in public place ! I don't understand this business.

Points: 0

#32 by sundown (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 6:09pm

Teams that go for best available player leget lots of bad scores when their opinions differ from those of the analysts. (And after the first couple rounds, many of these analysts really don't have firm opinions on guys--they start looking at positions and whether they think teams are filling needs.)

Points: 0

#46 by AlanSP // May 05, 2011 - 3:50pm

To be fair, having a different opinion about a player's ability and where he should be drafted is pretty much the only way you can criticize draft picks (leaving aside the issue of trades).

For example, I think Jake Locker is a bad pick because I don't think he's going to be a good NFL QB. Obviously, the Titans disagree. If I give them a bad grade, it's explicitly because their opinion differs from mine; that is, I think their opinion is wrong. You could say about virtually any pick that the team really liked that player, or that they had him high on their board, but that doesn't make every pick a good one.

Points: 0

#13 by Podge (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 4:34am

So the grades for the Rams basically mirror my thoughts: solidly probably just about above average.

I think I'm now going to entertain myself by seeing how spectacularly off base the draft grades were for previous years.

Points: 0

#15 by johnny walker (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 5:59am

Brooks Reed and Clay Matthews are both large, strong, long-haired white dudes who play* outside Linebacker. That is quite alike. Nothing in that statement about their game being similar, so 3 cheers for technical accuracy.

*or will play

Points: 0

#41 by Bobman // May 05, 2011 - 12:50am

You can also add that they are both mammals of the species H sapiens, in their early 20s, and have the same number of bones in their hands. In 10 million years, scientists would have a hard time telling them apart based on their fossilized remains. And those scientists are smart!

Points: 0

#17 by t.d. // May 04, 2011 - 10:05am

last year the experts hated gene smith's draft, and the experts were idiots. the jags need a safety more than a cornerback, along with ten other teams, and there weren't any good ones in the draft

Points: 0

#19 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 10:10am

Your 2005 recap link is dead.

Points: 0

#20 by drobviousso // May 04, 2011 - 10:39am

'PFW’s Nawrocki was less impressed, writing that “all three enter the league with character and maturity concerns, possess boom-or-bust potential and will have to be managed closely."'

Golly, I wonder of Jim Schwartz has any history with players with character and maturity concerns that posses boom-or-bust potential and will have to be managed closely.

Anyway, while fun, this is a summary that is pretty devoid of value. I don't put much stock in national reporters who claim to know the needs and interests of all 32, and GIGO.

Points: 0

#25 by Jimmy // May 04, 2011 - 12:48pm

The thing about the Lions is that I have no idea who makes the decisions in that organisation on draft day. Mayhew is the GM, Shack Harris is the director of college scouting and Schwartz is the head coach. The guy with the most experience in a draft room is Harris (by quite a distance) but I have no idea who runs the show.

Points: 0

#43 by Trolika (not verified) // May 05, 2011 - 3:46am

As a Jags fan I know the ravage Harris can do on draft day. Indeed, except for Big Urkel, this could be a Harris draft : give your drafted QB weapons to justify his drafting...

Points: 0

#22 by Bobby Wommack (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 10:59am

Byrne is by far one of the worst football writers in America. CHFF is a joke. His whole premise on grading the draft is, "Team X is bad at X." Did they draft for "X?" No, I give them an F. He sees everything black and white, doesn't understand drafting for value. He must love the Jaguars every year because they've been trying to draft a pass rusher for over four years and every year they miss and make terrible selections. But hey, they're drafting according to their weakness, so who cares if they could have gotten better players at different positions.

Points: 0

#23 by jklps // May 04, 2011 - 12:33pm

I agree. Just because Team X has need Y, doesn't mean there is a player in this draft available to Team X that actually would successfully fill that need.

Example(although I hate being happy with my team's draft, because I don't trust them):

Washington Redskins did not take a QB. Yes, QB is a need for the Redskins, and 2 were taken before the Redskins had the opportunity to draft one at 10. Knowing that there were many QBs available this year, and somewhat trusting Shannahan's drafting of QBs, I don't have a problem not drafting one this year if he didn't think any would suit what he wants. For all any of us know, NONE of the QBs in the draft this year are any good.

Points: 0

#28 by Jovins // May 04, 2011 - 2:49pm

From what I heard, Shanahan really liked Ponder. I forget where I heard that, but he traded down with the intention to draft him at 16 supposedly. I might be misremembering though.

Points: 0

#51 by bravehoptoad // May 06, 2011 - 6:25pm

Ouch, man, that's got to suck.

I guess this can happen when you try to "win the draft." If he'd drafted Ponder at 10 he'd be excoriated...but now he's lost out on his QB by getting cute.

Points: 0

#24 by huston720 // May 04, 2011 - 12:40pm

Correction on the Cleveland section, this was Tom Heckert's second draft with Cleveland. Hopefully it will be just as good as a draft last year that produced three solid contributers in Joe Haden, TJ Ward, and Colt McCoy.

Also it was interesting reading some of the past draft results and seeing just how poorly some of the draft experts fared, though some of the links are broken. I enjoyed that Kiper had Mike Williams from USC as his top player on his draft board.

Edited to add: Was there no article in 2007, or is the link missing?

Points: 0

#34 by Kibbles // May 04, 2011 - 6:43pm

Lots of the links are faulty. Your best bet is to go to the top of the page and type "Report card report" into the search (you don't need the quotation marks). That'll return you an ordered list of every Report card report from 2005 to 2011.

Points: 0

#30 by morganja // May 04, 2011 - 5:04pm

The Panthers were only tied for 30th? If they counted Richardson scaring Andrew Luck back into college as part of the draft that should place the Panthers firmly in last place.

Points: 0

#36 by Reader Martin (not verified) // May 04, 2011 - 6:50pm

The "failed to fill a need" criticism is especially bogus this year because of the unprecedented lack of ability to sign free agents. If the Broncos end up signing two free-agent starting DLs, does that improve their draft? I'd be a lot more interested in their silly team grades if they would also grade their own predictions and prior year player evaluations.

Points: 0

#37 by bubqr // May 04, 2011 - 7:32pm

"CBS’ Prisco felt the “quantity over quality” was a risky approach and gave the Browns a “C+”."

By definition it's the opposite of risky. Gambling on 3 picks is more risky than gambling on 8, the downside being that you're less likely to hit on stars.

"Prisco thinks second-round linebacker Brooks Reed “can be a lot like Clay Matthews” of the Packers"

Brooks Reed looks a lot closer to Lamarr Woodley in terms of type of players coming out of college than to the incredible athlete Clay Matthews was/is. The fact that they are both white and blond with long hair has probably nothing to do with it.

Points: 0

#42 by Kibbles // May 05, 2011 - 2:17am

I would agree that quantity over quality is generally the opposite of risky, but I do not agree that it is definitionally the opposite of risky, because you're overlooking a major limiting factor; NFL rosters are capped at 53 players. If a team has phenomenal depth, then there are a very limited number of roster spots open for new players, so if you wind up drafting more than that number of players, there's a lot more risk involved. In the most extreme possible scenario, imagine a team that traded the #1 overall pick for all 32 7th rounders. I would say that's an incredibly risky trade, because even if you assume you might get one player in those 32 who winds up being as good as the average #1 overall draft pick (and, realistically speaking, that's a poor assumption), you don't have the roster space to stash those 32 players and develop them to find out. You're as likely to wind up cutting that one good 7th rounder as you are to wind up keeping him. With quality-over-quantity, your player speculation has a much smaller profile on your roster, which frees up a lot more roster spaces for proven veterans.

Edit to add: I'm mostly just discussing the concept of whether quantity over quality is less risky BY DEFINITION, not whether it's less risky in this particular scenario. I think we can all agree that the Cleveland Browns are not one of those teams that are so deep that most of their roster spaces are already spoken for and there's limited room for incoming rookies.

Points: 0

#44 by Thomas_beardown // May 05, 2011 - 4:10am

I would not describe a team trading the 1st over all for 32 7th round picks risky. I would call it foolhardy.

Points: 0

#39 by Whatev // May 04, 2011 - 10:20pm

There sure are a lot of sportswriters whose explanations for why they gave the grades they did do not inspire my confidence.

Points: 0

#45 by Joseph // May 05, 2011 - 12:53pm

I have only read Kiper's grades (before they were linked here), but one thing I like that he did was AVERAGING drafting for NEED & VALUE into one final grade. For example, DET picking Fairley wasn't a "need" pick, but it was great "value". For some (IND, NO 1st pick, BAL, DAL) need and value converged wonderfully. For others (TEN, MIN, CAR), it's obvious they picked for need. I've always felt that in INSTANTLY grading a draft, you must account for both. I hope some of these other writers linked here did the same.

Points: 0

#49 by Kibbles // May 06, 2011 - 6:21am

It's a great idea in theory, but in practice, it's sort of irrelevant. Six years from now, the teams that we think had the best drafts are going to be the teams that drafted the best players, regardless of what position they played or how big of a perceived need they filled. You think QB was a huge "need" position for New England right after Drew Bledsoe signed the first $100m contract in NFL history? And yet we all look back and talk about how well New England made out in the Tom Brady draft. Detroit had bigger needs than receiver when they spent their 4th top-10 pick on one, but Calvin Johnson was still an awesome pick. So was Larry Fitzgerald for Arizona, even though they already had Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson on the roster.

At the end of the day, the team that drafts the best players is the team that has the best draft. Judging how well a team filled its needs might be useful analysis when projecting how they're going to do next year, but it has very little value beyond that.

Points: 0

#50 by Jimmy // May 06, 2011 - 8:02am

Whilst it is true that a good player in the draft is a good player for years whether it was a team need at the time or not. This is probably more true of the first two rounds than for later on. There is little point adding players who aren't going to find a spot on your roster, especially with later round picks. If you have five good receivers (or four good ones and a special teams demon) there is little point drafting three recievers; even if one of them is really good you might end up cutting him anyway if he can't force a veteran off the roster.

There is no point going BPA if the BPA won't crack your roster. Better to go with a guy who is worse value but will provide depth and possibly develop into a starter.

Points: 0

#52 by Sifter // May 07, 2011 - 2:12am

Yeah the late round picks should have a reasonable chance to make the 53 you'd think - unless you are specifically taking a gamble on a guy you just want to have a look at.

Anyway, the Lions seem to be the team in this draft where need/value are intersecting. The Lions got quite good value with Fairley and Leshoure at spots they probably shouldn't have been, but how valuable are they really when their first 2 picks last year were DT and RB? That's where the old, 'yeah it's good value, but it's not what I would have done' argument comes in. I'd have taken Prince Akumakara at #13 - still good value and at a spot where he's not coming up against some good players. Whereas Fairley is up against Suh - a star, while the other 2 DTs were pretty good last year too (Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill).

Points: 0

#53 by Kibbles // May 07, 2011 - 5:12am

I disagree with this. Again, I'll offer up New England drafting Tom Brady when they already had a guy on the roster they liked so much that they gave him a $100 million contract. Drafts aren't judged on whether your 7th rounder turned into a 3rd stringer/special teamer who managed to last 3 seasons. They're judged by which players become solid starters or better.

Either way, I think it's pretty much a moot point in the 7th round, since the difference in player values at that point is essentially negligible. Using the pick value chart, the difference between the #1 and #5 player is 1300 points. The difference between the #251 and #255 player is 0.2 points. I acknowledge that this isn't a perfect stand-in, but it really neatly demonstrates the idea that gaps in player quality shrink dramatically as you enter the later rounds. Maybe when you're deciding between a person with a draft value of 0.65 and another person with a draft value of 0.45, need is a valuable consideration... but all that's saying is that need is worth at least 0.2 points of draft value when making decisions.

Points: 0

#54 by Thomas_beardown // May 07, 2011 - 9:42am

I don't think you can expect all of your drafted players to become HOF caliber, and there is a reason the Patriots didn't take a QB until the 6th round. Imagine if Tom Brady had "only" become Brian Griese. Still excellent value in the 6th round, but would he really have helped the team?

Bill Bilichick, one of the most forward looking coaches/GMs in the league has consistently drafted for need in the top rounds.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Brian
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Brian McIntyre. Use promo code WRITERS to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Brian.