Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Apr 2010

ESPN: Ranking Draft War Rooms

This reprinted feature from ESPN The Magazine ranks the league's war rooms using a mixture of GSAA from 2000-07 and common sense.

I should point out for the record:

1) The ranking of war rooms here is highly subjective. First of all, GSAA has its flaws, and we wouldn't want to just rank teams 1-32 in that stat and declare that to be inviolate truth. Second, we can't rate the current decision-makers for each franchise based on a rating that measures picks that some of them had nothing to do with. That's why you'll find that Miami, for example, has a very low GSAA for 2000-07 but ranks fourth in our ratings. Bill Parcells had nothing to do with those picks.

2) This article was written by Doug Farrar and myself together. Bill Barnwell computed GSAA and provided his thoughts on how to rank the war rooms, and the resulting ranking represents the consensus of all three of us.

In addition, because of some of the responses we've been getting in discussion threads, we're now going to post the following disclaimer on ESPN features:

(Note: Many of our ESPN.com articles are small snapshots of statistical trends meant to stimulate discussion. They are not written as comprehensive, conclusive studies and we acknowledge that there are generally issues with sample size.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 20 Apr 2010

10 comments, Last at 20 May 2010, 7:29am by Theo


by Key19 :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 4:05pm

Sigh, yet another unfounded "Parcells built this team" argument. Its been well-documented that Parcells was on the Merriman bandwagon while Jerry was on the Ware bandwagon. Ware was the pick and yet who gets the credit? Oh, that football guru Parcells of course! Jerry admittedly was pretty horrible in the Pre-Parcells era, and Parcells certainly taught him a thing or two about how to draft, but let's be real: Without Post-Parcells draftees like Doug Free, Mike Jenkins, Anthony Spencer, Orlando Scandrick, Tashard Choice, Felix Jones, and others, where would this team really be? They'd still have their streak of having not won a playoff game is where they'd be. Also, you cite them not having a pick until 69th overall in 2009, but your supposedly only analyzing 2000-2007.

Jerry does tend to SIGNIFICANTLY overpay in trades for guys he wants (Joey Galloway, Roy Williams). But when it comes to drafting, he's pretty darn good as of late.

I'm not trying to say that the Cowboys are a top-5 team when it comes to drafting, but they certainly appear to be above average. Although I can say that the early 2000s are probably pulling the Cowboys' value in your system down a lot. Maybe without those included, they'd be ranked somewhere more along the lines of where I'd expect them to be.

by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 4:47pm

I don't believe that's what we wrote. I believe this is what we wrote:

Owner, president and GM Jerry Jones casts a long shadow over every move made by the club. The Boys are still reaping the benefits of choices made by Bill Parcells' staff, like LB DeMarcus Ware ('05, RD1), but they've recently traded away a lot of picks and didn't land a player until 69th overall in 2009.

Now, you may have missed the acknowledgement of Jones' involvement in that paragraph, and you may not know that I've probably been the most pro-Tashard Choice football writer outside the D/FW area. But to say that we're blowing credit away from everyone else? I don't think that's accurate.

by Key19 :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 5:46pm

Saying that Jerry casts a long shadow over every move is not exactly the most effective way to try and say "Jerry is involved in everything and does a pretty good job." Also, to then follow it right up with "the Boys are still reaping the benefits of choices made by Bill Parcells' staff" gives a large implication that you're claiming Jerry to not be very good at drafting/managing/what-have-you. If you wanted to give credit to Jerry, you would've said something along the lines of "The Boys are still reaping the benefits of choices Jones made in conjunction with Bill Parcells and staff."

I'm not saying that you didn't say Jones was involved, I'm simply saying that the picture you paint is seems noticeably anti-Jones and pro-Parcells, which is exactly the kind of thing that most media outlets would write.

Hey, maybe I just misunderstood it. If so, my bad. I just found that it painted Jones to be more of a "meddling owner who hurts his team" than "fairly successful head of a franchise," the latter being what I believe he is. But if that's not what you intended it to imply, then I apologize for the unnecessary criticism.

by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 5:56pm

I suspect that you're coming to this with more assumptions in reading it than we did in writing it.

by Key19 :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 6:11pm

This is certainly possible. I will admit that I am somewhat defensive when it comes to Jerry as a personnel guy because he is generally painted to be the "meddling owner who hurts his team," which is GENERALLY both unfair and inaccurate. So yes, I tend to assume that the media will generally portray Jerry in a negative sense. And as a result, I would say that I misinterpreted your comments. My apologies.

by JDL4 :: Tue, 04/20/2010 - 7:04pm

Pointing out that the Patriots made nine selections in 2007 and still have only Merriweather on the roster is a little bit misleading without some context. 2007 2nd and 4th round picks produced Moss and Welker. The first of those eight 'bust' picks was #127 and five of them came between #200 and #250. And the 2007 Patriots were a stacked team heading into the draft. It has to be harder to hit on a late round pick when you don't have many wholes on your roster.

Is the formula for GSAA posted anywhere? Does the system give any credit to draft picks traded for players (or future draft picks)? Or are you just measuring the number of starts logged by players drafted compared to the average for their draft position?

by chrisjm15 :: Wed, 04/21/2010 - 8:09am

Regrdless of where they were picked - they still didn't pan out.
New England have had some absolutely shocking drafts in the last 2-3 years.
Mayo and Merriweather are about it!

by raider2120 (not verified) :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 12:10am

Lions 22nd you have got to be kidding me! here is some facts about how well the lions have drafted over the past ten years
Keep in mind According to this statistical analysis the past two years do not count.

Mayhew started 2 years ago
On offense, Lions have five players acquired by Millen and six by Mayhew.
On defense, Lions have one Millen player (Avril) and ten Mayhew players.
65% (17 of 26 players) of the Lions starting roster has been acquired by Mayhew, in the last two years.
91% of the Lions starting defense has been acquired by Mayhew.
One starting player (Hanson) was acquired by Chuck Schmidt back in 1992.
35% (9 of 26 players) of the lions starting roster was acquired in 2010.
31% (8 of 26 players) of the Lions starting roster was acquired in 2009.
58% (15 of 26 players) Only 58% the starting roster were actually drafted by the Lions.
Only five players drafted by Millen are starting for the Lions, compared to ten drafted by Mayhew.
23% (6 of 26 players) of the starting roster were acquired by trade, all by Mayhew, and all in 2010 except two (Peterson, Simpson) in 2009.
The Lions have eight former 1st round picks starting (31% of the starting roster).
Only three of the eight starting former 1st round picks were made by Millen (Calvin, Cherilus, Backus).
No player on the offense was drafted later than the 4th round (Sims).
50% (13 of 26 players) have been in the league three years or less going into the 2010 season.

Lions 22nd what a joke

by raider2120 (not verified) :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 12:40am

Raiders Ranked war room ranking 31st Detroit loins 22nd bullshit
2007 Draft Lions vs Raiders
Lions 1st Wr Calvin Johnson great pick
raiders 1st russel Baad pick
Lions 2nd round qb back up Stanton, Drew
Raiders 2nd Zach Miller Top 5 TE in NFL
Lions 2nd Alama-Francis, Not on roster
raiders 3rd DE Moses beat by 5th DE richardson
Lions 4th S,Alexander Gerald not on roster
raiders 4th Higgins Starter KR?Wrstill on roster
Lions 5th AJ davis Not on roster
raiders 4th Michael Bush raiders starter
Lions 5th LB Not on roster
Raiders 5th back up De richardson beat out 3rd round Moses
Raiders vs. lions
2007 Loins 6 Picks top 5 rounds
2007 raiders 6 picks in top 5 rounds
Lions drafted 1 starter in 5 rounds in 2007 and 1 back up
raiders drafted 3 starters 5 rounds in 2007 and 1 back up
I can keep going with this every year from 2000-2007 raiders have had better production from there draft. Yet Lions are 22nd and the raiders 32nd and have Drafted a pro bowler and quality picks still around and the lions have nothing to show for the past decade from the draft
Only 58% the starting roster were actually drafted by the Lions.
Look at raiders roster and they have built there team from the draft every year

Raiders war room much better than lions who are 22nd so either the raiders are the raiders are 21st or the you were so far off with the lions that they should be 32nd and the raiders should be 31st either way the Headline is wrong! Should be "Sorry Lions"

by Theo :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 7:29am

Raiders Fans on Football Outsiders:
The only place on the internet where bad grammar correlates with good analysis for 31 NFL teams.