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2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Sterling Xie

This site won't pass firm judgments on this year's draft until 2021, but as we do every year, we have accrued snap reaction grades from the top media draftniks for our report on the teams that garnered the best, worst and most divisive draft classes. (Previous NFL Draft Report Card Reports can be found here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.). The list of draft analysts underwent another shakeup this year. Yahoo! Sports has chosen to rerun the grades from Rotoworld's Evan Silva rather than compile their own list, so we won't have data from Eric Edholm. In his place goes Dan Kadar, the primary NFL Draft analyst at SB Nation. Everyone else from the 2014 survey returns this spring (at Sports Illustrated, Chris Burke again graded the AFC teams while Doug Farrar handled the NFC side):

Per usual, we'll look at the five teams with the highest, lowest and greatest deviation in their average GPA, while also examining the year-over-year averages for each grader.

Highest Draft Grades

There was a surprisingly substantial divide between the top four teams and the rest of the field, so it'll be interesting to see if this projected Rushmore holds up over time:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

GPA: 3.86 Highest Grade: A+ (Silva, Kadar) Lowest Grade: B+ (Kiper) Comments: Dave Caldwell's Jags received the only two A+ grades in the entire survey. Silva and Kadar both praised the abundance of draft picks likely to end up starting, with the Rotoworld writer suggesting that the 2015 squad will "be a tough out with a nasty defense, playmakers in the passing game, and a formidable rushing attack." Kiper was the only grader not to give Jacksonville an A-level mark, dinging them marginally for T.J. Yeldon, whom he saw as a reach at 36th overall. It's also notable that Caldwell selected just one player from a non-Power Five conference: Monmouth wide receiver Neal Sterling in Round 6. Gene Smith's bizarre fixation with small-school prospects played a role in decimating the Jacksonville roster, but in three drafts, Caldwell has spent just two picks on players from non-FBS schools.

2. Baltimore Ravens

GPA: 3.71 Highest Grade: A (Three tied) Lowest Grade: B+ (Burke and Kadar) Comments: Ozzie Newsome's draft process has become so mechanically efficient that we can hardly envision him failing anymore. The draftniks universally hailed the mid-round values Baltimore unearthed -- Carl Davis' hot-and-cold motor questions look a lot better when they come with a third-round investment instead of a first, while Kentucky edge defender Za'Darius Smith has become known as Bud Dupree's more polished teammate. Burke placed the biggest hedge on top picks Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams, the "talented but unpolished products" who will need to play outsized roles in an offense that lost Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels to free agency. Kadar also docked the Ravens for not better addressing their cornerback need.

3. Atlanta Falcons

GPA: 3.61 Highest Grade: A (Three tied) Lowest Grade: B (Kiper) Comments: SackSEER saw Clemson's Vic Beasley as the best pass-rusher in this class, and the Falcons reaped the rewards for addressing their biggest need. Rang was one of the analysts who gave Atlanta a solid A for the selections of collegiate teammates Beasley and Grady Jarrett, both of whom should play vital roles as Dan Quinn rebuilds Atlanta's dilapidated defense. Most analysts also liked the skill position values the Falcons nabbed in the middle rounds with Tevin Coleman and Justin Hardy. On the other hand, Kiper perceived the Beasley selection as a bit of a reach based on his big board, though he admitted that off-field concerns for Randy Gregory and Shane Ray limited Atlanta's choices. He also pointed out the unaddressed concern at guard, where the Falcons appear primed to start either Harland Gunn or Mike Person opposite Jon Asamoah.

4. Minnesota Vikings

GPA: 3.57 Highest Grade: A (Iyer and Farrar) Lowest Grade: B (Kiper) Comments: The last of the Big Four, Minnesota is the fourth of five teams to have received multiple solid A grades. Iyer and Farrar praised the Vikings for scooping up three first-round caliber talents in Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, and T.J. Clemmings, all of whom also happen to address need positions. Both writers were also fascinated by LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter, whom Farrar called "freakishly athletic and raw like sushi." Kiper was once again the harshest grader because of Waynes, whom he saw as a reach based on the fact that the Michigan State corner was ranked 22nd on his big board. But Kiper was largely complementary, especially of Day 3 picks Stefon Diggs, MyCole Pruitt, and Tyrus Thompson. On a side note, this is the third straight year Rick Spielman's Vikings have finished in the top five of these rankings. The NFC North still runs through Lambeau, but if Spielman continues to draft premium talent, the trendy Vikes could become Green Bay's top challenger as Aaron Rodgers enters his 30s.

5. Miami Dolphins

GPA: 3.13 Highest Grade: A (Prisco) Lowest Grade: C+ (Iyer and Silva) Comments: The Dolphins were the best of the rest according to these graders, though you can plainly see the big drop-off from Minnesota to Miami. As the lone analyst to hand Dennis Hickey an A, Prisco probably skewed this enough to push Miami into the top five. The CBS writer labeled Jordan Phillips, one of the draft's most divisive prospects, Miami's best pick. Silva actually didn't mind the Phillips pick but was down on DeVante Parker, whom he envisions "more as a rich man's Brandon LaFell than A.J. Green." Overall, the analysts didn't seem to know what to do with Miami's draft, as the Fins also had the sixth-highest standard deviation, just below the top-five cut we'll discuss below. The Dolphins finished a smidgen ahead of the division rival Jets, who compiled a 3.06 average GPA.

Lowest Draft Grades

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32. Buffalo Bills

GPA: 1.63 Highest Grade: C+ (Kadar) Lowest Grade: D (Prisco and Iyer) Comments: On the other end of the AFC East spectrum, the Bills received universal derision as the worst draft class by a fairly substantial margin. Having mortgaged their short-term future for Sammy Watkins last May, the Bills were left reaching for scraps as the bill came due. There was a palpable lack of buzz surrounding this six-man class, half of which came from Florida State (Ronald Darby, Karlos Williams, and Nick O'Leary). Prisco even cheated and labeled Watkins the best pick of this class. Kadar gave them slightly higher marks for the selection of guard John Miller, who could displace one of the uninspiring Richie Incognito-Chris Williams duo. Buffalo didn't enter the draft with many holes -- this team did finish ninth in DVOA last year, after all -- but the Bills earned the ignominy of being the only team not to earn a B-level grade from any analyst.

31. San Francisco 49ers

GPA: 1.99 Highest Grade: B- (Farrar) Lowest Grade: D (Iyer) Comments: Somewhere, Jim Harbuagh cackles. Trent Baalke's questionable offseason continued through the draft, as the Niners were the other team with a sub-2.0 GPA. Even though Farrar gave San Francisco its highest grade, he questioned how much playing time the class' top two picks, Arik Armstead and Jaquiski Tartt, would see in 2015. Iyer criticized the class for holding "more potential than polish" and suggested that it could handcuff new coach Jim Tomsula in his first season. Overall, analysts were befuddled by the redundancy with last year's draft class, with Tartt and Mike Davis ostensibly blocked by Jimmie Ward and Carlos Hyde, respectively.

30. Indianapolis Colts

GPA: 2.33 Highest Grade: B- (Kiper and Prisco) Lowest Grade: C (Iyer) Comments: Phillip Dorsett felt like one of the more questionable first-round selections when it happened, and that sentiment didn't change by the end of the weekend. Even though Kiper and Prisco both accepted the pick due to Dorsett's speed, they also labeled the Miami burner as Indy's most questionable selection. Day 2 picks D'Joun Smith and Henry Anderson received generally positive reviews. But the big downgrade came due to the total lack of investment in O-line help, with Kiper criticizing Ryan Grigson's approach to "take for granted that Andrew Luck won't get hurt despite all the hits." Indy didn't draft a single offensive lineman until Division II tackle Denzel Goode from Mars Hill, the 255th overall pick who should slot in next to Mars Blackmon along the line.

29. New York Giants

GPA: 2.40 Highest Grade: B (Rang) Lowest Grade: C- (Iyer and Silva) Comments: The G-Men generally received a B- type of vibe from the analysts, but a pair of especially poor marks from Iyer and Silva pushed Jerry Reese's class down into the bottom five. Silva disliked every pick outside of Owa Odighizuwa, calling first-round tackle Ereck Flowers "a virtual lock to struggle in pass protection in the pros." He and Silva both questioned the trade up for Landon Collins, as Reese sacrificed New York's fourth- and seventh-round selections for a seven-spot swap. Rang was one of the few to stump for the Flowers pick and argued that "no club improved more than Big Blue with its first three picks" of Flowers, Collins, and Odighizuwa.

28. Carolina Panthers

GPA: 2.43 Highest Grade: B- (Three tied) Lowest Grade: C (Prisco) Comments: There was a strong consensus concerning Dave Gettleman's work, as the Panthers finished with the fourth-lowest standard deviation. Unfortunately, few had very nice things to say about a class that was curiously lacking in tackles. Prisco saw Shaq Thompson as a major reach, a sentiment Kiper and Kadar also echoed in their analysis. Silva also questioned the Devin Funchess selection, suggesting that the offense could have used "a smaller, speedier complement" to Kelvin Benjamin. With just five players, the Panthers tied the Chargers for the year's smallest draft class. Most liked Oklahoma tackle Daryl Williams in Round 3, but given that Williams is a better guard prospect, Cam Newton may soon join Andrew Luck's support group.

Most Polarizing Grades

1. Arizona Cardinals

GPA: 2.90 Standard Deviation: 1.05 Highest Grade: A (Iyer and Prisco) Lowest Grade: D (Silva) Comments: The fifth team to receive multiple A grades (and the only to finish outside the top five) also produced the most divisive draft. Steve Keim received a B or better from four of the seven graders, but Silva's grade was an anchor on the Cards' average. The Rotoworld writer hated Arizona's Day 3 trade, in which the team sacrificed fourth-, sixth-, and seventh-rounders to move up from No. 123 to No. 116 for Delaware State defensive end Rodney Gunter. Conversely, Iyer liked that Gunter, along with Markus Golden and Shaquille Riddick, replenished Arizona's edge depth in the front seven. Prisco also labeled third-round running back David Johnson the best pick of the class, opining that the bruising Northern Iowa back should serve as a nice complement to Andre Ellington.

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2. Pittsburgh Steelers

GPA: 3.00 Standard Deviation: 0.98 Highest Grade: A- (Kiper) Lowest Grade: D (Silva) Comments: Pittsburgh finished out with a nice even B grade, good for eighth overall, but things could have been even better if not for Silva. Again handing out the lowest grade, Silva criticized Kevin Colbert's top three picks: Bud Dupree, Senquez Golson, and Sammie Coates. He saw Dupree and Coates as projects whose immediate contributions would be limited, while noting that the diminutive Golson "gave up way too many touchdown passes last season and will be limited to slot corner in the NFL." Conversely, Kiper didn't give any team a higher grade than Pittsburgh. The ESPN luminary labeled Golson one of his favorite players in the draft, while also praising Pittsburgh's Day 3 secondary additions, safeties Doran Grant and Gerod Holliman.

T-3. St. Louis Rams

GPA: 2.47 Standard Deviation: 0.79 Highest Grade: A (Farrar) Lowest Grade: C- (Iyer) Comments: The Rams received the lowest grade of the five most polarizing teams, as Farrar was the only analyst to give them anything better than a straight B. The FO writer emeritus was high on Les Snead's O-line quartet of Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown, Andrew Donnal, and Cody Wichmann, while also calling Todd Gurley "the best overall offensive player in this draft class if his ACL injury isn't a lingering issue." Iyer actually thought the Rams went too heavy on the offensive line and called Gurley a "luxury pick," while also shrugging his shoulders at third-round quarterback Sean Mannion. Farrar and Rang were the only analysts to give the Rams anything better than a C level grade, as Jeff Fisher's run-oriented draft class feels a bit anachronistic.

T-3. Houston Texans

GPA: 2.91 Standard Deviation: 0.79 Highest Grade: A- (Iyer and Burke) Lowest Grade: C- (Rang) Comments: There was a nice symmetry to Houston's draft class grades, as Rick Smith received two A level grades, three on the B level and two more C marks. Iyer and Burke immediately led with the Texans' top three picks of Kevin Johnson, Benardrick McKinney, and Jaelen Strong as the rationale for their grades, as all three had first-round projections from various mocks. Rang also liked the Wake Forest cornerback, but bemoaned the lack of immediate help for a potential playoff push. Silva didn't like that Smith sacrificed fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-round picks in moving up for McKinney and Strong, and dismissed Houston's Day 3 haul as mostly a morass of prospects unlikely to develop into useful contributors. However, he and other analysts did like Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington, a seventh-round selection whom NFL Draft Scout projected as a Round 3 or 4 pick.

5. New York Jets

GPA: 3.06 Standard Deviation: 0.75 Highest Grade: A (Iyer) Lowest Grade: C- (Silva) Comments: Silva was the lowest grader for three of the five most polarizing teams, and his grade dragged Gang Green out of the top five. Although he had no criticism for the universally hailed Leonard Williams pick, Silva thought that Ohio State burner Devin Smith was "a suspect fit as a vertical stretcher" in Chan Gailey's scheme. Moreover, he lamented that New York didn't do more to address its needs at running back and edge rusher. On the other hand, Iyer thought that third-round outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin could address that need on the edge, a sentiment Burke also held. The Smith selection received generally positive reviews elsewhere, and Kadar actually thought Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was the team's best pick. Silva was ultimately a significant outlier here, as every other grader gave the Jets a B level mark or better.

Year-Over-Year Comparison

Not much movement from this year's group -- the overall GPA dropped a tick from 2.87 to 2.86, though the standard deviation decreased from 0.71 to 0.63. The SI graders were once again the friendliest professors by a substantial margin, as Burke and Farrar were the only graders whose average GPA was higher than a B. The newcomer Kadar gave out an average GPA of 2.83, up slightly from Eric Edholm's 2.77 mark from last year. The largest change belonged to Iyer, whose 2.85 GPA from last spring dropped to 2.73 this year. The Sporting News writer also held the highest standard deviation once again at 0.92, while Farrar was the most consistent grader.

2014 NFL Draft Grades
Team
High
Low
Avg
Avg Rk
SD
SD Rk
Arizona A (Prisco, Iyer) D (Silva) 2.90 12 1.05 1
Atlanta A (Three tied) B (Kiper) 3.61 3 0.41 23
Baltimore A (Three tied) B+ (Burke, Kadar) 3.71 2 0.31 28
Buffalo C+ (Kadar) D (Prisco, Iyer) 1.63 32 0.48 17
Carolina B- (Three tied) C (Kiper) 2.43 28 0.28 29
Chicago B+ (Three tied) C+ (Rang) 3.03 7 0.35 26
Cincinnati B+ (Three tied) C- (Iyer) 2.90 13 0.57 10
Cleveland B+ (Rang) C+ (Iyer, Silva) 2.76 21 0.37 25
Team
High
Low
Avg
Avg Rk
SD
SD Rk
Dallas B (Burke) C- (Iyer) 2.54 24 0.42 21
Denver B (Four tied) C+ (Kadar) 2.81 19 0.27 31
Detroit A- (Farrar) C+ (Silva) 2.96 9 0.45 19
Green Bay B+ (Farrar, Rang) C+ (Prisco,Silva) 2.84 16 0.42 20
Houston A- (Iyer, Burke) C (Silva) 2.91 11 0.79 4
Indianapolis B (Rang) D+ (Kadar) 2.33 30 0.56 12
Jacksonville A+ (Iyer, Kadar) B+ (Kiper) 3.86 1 0.27 30
Kansas City B (Rang, Burke) C (Prisco, Iyer) 2.59 23 0.42 22
Team
High
Low
Avg
Avg Rk
SD
SD Rk
Miami A (Prisco) C+ (Iyer, Silva) 3.13 5 0.65 6
Minnesota A (Iyer, Farrar) B (Kiper) 3.57 4 0.38 24
New England B+ (Iyer) C- (Silva) 2.73 22 0.51 16
New Orleans B+ (Silva) C- (Rang) 2.49 26 0.59 9
NY Giants B (Rang) C- (Iyer, Silva) 2.40 29 0.52 14
NY Jets A (Iyer) C- (Silva) 3.06 6 0.75 5
Oakland B+ (Burke) C- (Prisco) 2.53 25 0.56 11
Philadelphia B+ (Kiper, Prisco) C+ (Iyer) 2.94 10 0.35 27
Team
High
Low
Avg
Avg Rk
SD
SD Rk
Pittsburgh A (Iyer) D (Silva) 3.00 8 0.98 2
San Diego B+ (Rang) B- (Four tied) 2.83 18 0.24 32
San Francisco B- (Farrar) D (Iyer) 1.99 31 0.61 8
Seattle A- (Kiper) C+ (Kadar) 2.87 14 0.47 18
St. Louis A (Farrar) C (Silva, Kiper) 2.47 27 0.79 3
Tampa Bay B+ (Rang, Kadar) C- (Iyer) 2.86 15 0.55 13
Tennessee A (Silva) C (Prisco) 2.81 20 0.64 7
Washington A- (Kiper) C (Iyer) 2.83 17 0.51 15

Grading the Graders
Grader
High
Low
Avg
SD
Kiper A- (Five tied) C- (Buffalo) 2.86 0.55
Rang A (Baltimore, Atlanta) C- (Three tied) 2.94 0.57
Prisco A (Four tied) D (Buffalo) 2.76 0.70
Iyer A+ (Jacksonville) D (Buffalo, San Francisco) 2.73 0.92
Silva A (Three tied) D (Arizona, Pittsburgh) 2.50 0.80
Bur-rar A (Four tied) D (Buffalo) 3.13 0.50
Burke A (Jacksonville) D (Buffalo) 3.10 0.51
Farrar A (Three tied) B- (Five tied) 3.16 0.49
Kadar A+ (Jacksonville) D+ (Indianapolis) 2.83 0.52

Sterling Xie is an FO intern and has completed his junior year at Hamilton College. He has also written for Advanced Football Analytics the past two seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @SterlingXie.

Comments

71 comments, Last at 11 May 2015, 12:22pm

1 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Tartt and Karlos Williams ostensibly blocked by Jimmie Ward and Carlos Hyde, respectively.

The 49ers drafted Mike Davis, not Karlos Williams.

The whole "Bills get the worst grade" thing exposes why draft grades are so dumb. If your grade basically tells us "The team didn't have a first-round pick," how is that useful in any way?

Biases toward previous team success are evident as well; because Seattle is a winning team, they don't get penalized for not having a first-rounder, even though they used their second-rounder on a woman-beater the year after Ray Rice and Greg Hardy AND they traded four picks to move up in the third!

44 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I think some of the draftniks gave the Seahawks some credit for acquiring Jimmy Graham with their first rounder. Kiper is definitely gun shy after he killed them for the 2012 draft.

The trade to move up in the third was dead even by the Jimmy Johnson value chart. As usual we won't really know how good the draft was until we see the players on the field.

2 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Small nit: "Iyer was ultimately a significant outlier here, as every other grader gave the Jets a B level mark or better." Should be Silva not Iyer, I think.

3 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

gerat draft bt Raiders

good drafts by flaocns, Jets, Jaguars it losok ,like. verty tough to say now though rerally. relaly need to wait till 2018 before can properly assess goodness of drafts.

4 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

What you need to do now is go back, say, five years, and grade the graders. What were their comments after the 2010 draft and how did they play out? One reason to have such a wide window is Aaron Rodgers. He was drafted in 2005 but sat until 2008 and didn't get his team to the playoffs until 2009.

10 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

You'd also have to figure out what the graders are really trying to grade... are they :

1) trying to say which NFL team did the best to fill needs given what we know about the players as of right now?

OR

2) trying to guess which team got the players who will be best 5 years from now?

11 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Yes. 8^)

Seriously, I would lean towards #2. If someone is really good, they won't be riding the bench for four straight years. Of course, there are plenty of mediocre folks who start for four years or play many downs because they are on a bad team or because the team has greater concerns (think A.J. Hawk or Nick Perry).

I follow the Packers. When they drafted for need in 2012, they ended up with a crummy draft. When Thompson has taken the best players available, he has done better.

14 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

The problem with graders who are trying to do #2 is that the scouts and managers whose primary job it is to analyze talent and decide on picks can't even say with anything remotely approaching certainty which players will be good 3-5 years from now. I don't know how any journalist could possibly do so with even that level of accuracy (or he'd probably be making bigger money working for an NFL team).

That leaves the default option of #1, which I think produces more interesting debate when the assumption is that none of us can predict how a player will turn out so we may as well just debate which picks sound right and which ones don't.

5 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Since the Ponder debacle, which was the last year in which Spielman was not General Manager, the Vikings have had very good drafts, and if Bridgewater turns out to be an above average starter for a decade, then they'll have drafted great from 2012 through 2014. If Kalil returns to his from from his rookie season, due to his 2013 and 2014 problems being injury related, and whomever replaces Charlie Johnson at left guard does a better job (not exactly a stretch), the Vikings will very likely be pretty good, and if the 2015 draft ends up as well as the 2012-14 drafts, they'll make the Packers work hard for the division, even given the Pack having a perennial MVP candidate at QB.

29 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Agreed Will.

Aside from the Patterson pick, Spielman has navigated the draft board beautifully over the last three years (and I'm a Bears fan). Trading back and picking up Floyd and Shariff was incredible, as well as trading back up to get Bridgewater, a top ranked talent at the most important position and a huge area of need.

In general, I think the NFCN has probably one of the best foursomes of GMs in the league at this point. Even the Lions have righted the ship and make logical, methodical moves (Suh, Ngata, drafting OG in 1st rd this year, etc.)

54 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Like others have said, I think a really significant part of good drafts is how the front office and coaching staffs fit together, and that's a huge reason IMO why the future looks as bright as it does for Minnesota in particular. It's not just that they've appeared to add some good players, but they have coaching staffs led by guys with a serious track record of developing talent. (Zimmer on defense, Norv specifically with QB.) Likewise, Vic Fangio and John Fox could be huge for Chicago's defense, although I suspect they still don't have enough young pieces in place. And though I think he's established himself well as a coordinator, we'll see how well Teryl Austin can help develop Detroit's defense—his background in Baltimore is obviously a good sign.

6 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Carolina's draft was pretty groovy. I don't really have a gripe with them not drafting an OT with their first rounder. The most common OT's that were projected for them to take were either drafted earlier round 1, drafted late round 2, or drafted in round 4 (lol).

Sometimes I even trip myself out.

7 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Carolina - "a class that was curiously lacking in tackles." Once the Cardinals got the last good OT, the whole draft became a matter of 'grab what you can!'

Also, the Panthers brought in a bunch of FA's earlier in an attempt to shore up their abysmal Special Teams, so it would appear that they had no interest in looking for developmental players to fill spots 47-53 or so.

Based on the post-draft presser, it seemed like Dave would have liked to have moved down and/or waited, but was afraid of "out-cute-ing" himself, and missing out on some good players. He MIGHT have been able to move down and still get players that fit their scheme, but there was no point in stockpiling late round picks who would never see the field.

I'm reminded of being at a "Casino night" party where you only want the big prizes. You make your big bets early on the roulette wheel and take your winnings and then sit in the corner sipping your drink while everyone else finishes playing... Sure you could have maybe played some Blackjack and maybe come out a little ahead, but was it really worth it? Whether they might have done a little better with a certain pick is obviously up for discussion, but overall it makes sense that they knew they weren't getting a Home Run picking at 25 and just wanted to get out with a few serviceable picks and just moving on.

19 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

It's weird that the Eagles got ok marks. Usually, when a team takes a ton of players at the same position (in this case DB) it's not a good idea at all. It's even more troubling with the Eagles where in 2013 & 2014 they already took several players (4 total) at DB and not one seems to have stuck. So, in three drafts, they'll have taken 7 DB's and have yet to produce a starter despite it being their weakest position and one a player should theoretically be most easily able to crack. I just don't think in some marco kind of way it's good in the past 3 years they've drafted 21 players and a full third of them have been DB's and the secondary is still their major weakness.

They also have focused on DE's and WR's and have gotten very little from those picks - I mean, their d-line is good, but half of the players are from the Reid era or undrafted.

Anyway, I look at this draft and simply can't believe they failed to address the o-line. This is a team without a legit starting guard and the other guard desperate to get out of town and they don't bring in a rookie to compete/develop for either of those spots? I guess they didn't reach, so the analysts love that, but it's hard not to look at this draft and not feel like "oh shit, more picks wasted on the same few positions they clearly don't know to develop."

13 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

While it may take 3 or 4 years to tell if a player is going to be good, bad, or average, I think you can say a draft was good (as opposed to bad) earlier than that. Yes, it was an easy test to pass, but getting Andrew Luck automatically made a draft good, after 16 games of confirmation. By February 2002, it was clear that the 2000 Patriots draft was no worse than average, even though only one guy was better than very mediocre or worse. The Vikings, from 2012 through 2014, drafted 8 or 9 players who have had good rookie or 2nd seasons. Two of those guys have regressed, one, Patterson because he is just has been so one-dimensional, and the other, Kalil, has had the quality of his play go over the cliff for mysterious reasons.

Averaging 3 draft picks a year who have productive rookie or 2nd years means you are drafting well, it seems to me, but if you don't get the qb issue solved, whether by skill or dumb luck, you will likely look average at the very best. That's before we get to coaching. A great teaching staff will make a drafter look very smart, and a bad teaching staff will likely mean the drafter looks bad, no matter what. I don't think Leslie Frazier was a good teacher, nor did he know how to hire good teachers, and guys like Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd caught a break when Zimmer took the job last spring, as did Bridgewater when he ended up with Norv as his OC, instead of Bill Musgrave, and no, it isn't fair to hang The Ponderous One around Musgrave's neck.

16 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Eh, not sure I agree. Just to discuss the team I know well, the Eagles 2012 draft didn't look so hot after the 2012 or even 2013 season. It took Cox making a leap to the next level this year and Kendricks showing he could consistently be above average to make it look good. Vinny Curry getting 9 sacks as a role player makes it look even better. After their rookie year, you look at a line-up that includes Cox, Kendricks, Boykin, Curry and Foles and you reasonably could have thought 7th round pick Bryce Brown had the most promise for a long, productive NFL career. I think you need at least 4 or 5 years to judge not the stars per se, but the back-ups like Dennis Kelly. If a guy can be a serviceable back-up G for a half a decade, that's a useful 5th round pick. But you just can't know stuff like that after one or two seasons. The Eagles had an absolutely great draft in 2012, but I'm not sure how confident I would have been about that until this year.

(And of course Kelly is looking to get rid of all of them BUT Dennis Kelly, which is another issue altogether that you touch on - what if your coach has zero ability to maximize the talent of his roster?)

17 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I didn't write that clearly. The point I was trying to make was that while it might take 4 or 5 years to declare a draft bad, you can often tell within a year or two if it was good, even without any obvious superstars. If you get 3 guys out of a draft who are productive starters within a year or two, that's a good draft, and if you are lucky enough to have the qb position solved, drafting 3 guys a year who are productive will give you a chance for the ugly yellow blazer. I think Ted Thompson, for instance, is terrific. I also think that having the good fortune of the 2nd qb taken in the 2005 draft falling to the 24 spot has made him look a lot more terrific. I think Bill Polian had a terrific career. I also think that if the Colts don't have the top pick the year Peyton is draftable, Polian doesn't get inducted into the HOF.

It is just so hard in the NFL, compared to other sports, to separate the evaluation of a career, of a player, coach, or GM, from the context in which the career took place.

18 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

All absolutely true - and I think more of what I'm saying is, you can't immediately tell if a draft was merely "ok" or more "excellent." I think finding out about useful role players takes a while and the kind of production you get out of some random 5th and 6th rounders is going to make or break a team most of the time. If you nail your first rounders, who start right away and look promising, that's obviously good, but it doesn't mean you're building a good team - stars and scrubs just doesn't work in the NFL. That's why you need the time to see if Vinny Curry can get you 9 sacks or if he's just some rotation player who will never produce more than two or three sacks a season. Or a guy who clings to the roster but never plays at all. I think it takes significant time to rate your back-ups and borderline starters and that those guys really matter in the NFL.

But I totally agree with what you're saying about the complex matrix of draft evaluation - and I never know how to rate guys like Bryce Brown who get flipped for assists greater than it cost to acquire them. Do you want him to flop on his new team and look like a genius for fleecing your trade partner or do you give the drafter credit for finding a gem if he blossoms on the new team? I'm not sure what you do about a player like that - certainly, I feel like Brown was a much better pick than most 7th rounders in terms of being a viable NFL running back, but I also don't think giving him up was some mistake.

But I don't know - again, just keeping with the Eagles, if I look at the 2013 draft, I'm not sure how I feel about it. But certainly by the time all of those players like Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Bennie Logan and Earl Wolff have their rookie contracts up, it will be clear what kind of players they are. Wolff seems to be a bust in terms of not becoming a starter when the Eagles really need one at safety... but he also easily still could be the starter in 2015 and showed flashes of promise. I'm literally not sure what is more certain about his fate: bust or highly productive. Ertz and Johnson are two players who have both looked like total failures at times and totally viable starters at other times - if both are struggling to keep their jobs after 2015, it wouldn't shock me nor would both making the Pro Bowl this year. Logan looks like the stud of the group, but he also plays on d-line where the Eagles are stacked - would I trust him to be a standout starter on a team with a bad d-line like the Browns? Absolutely not. (For comparison, I think Cox and Curry would be productive anywhere - again, I have another year of watching them to make that judgment.)

My only point is, the Eagles 2013 draft could be looked back upon as great OR a real failure and after two seasons, the jury is still totally out. I'm just not sure I can agree with the premise that if two or three guys look ok in the first two, the draft turned out ok...

21 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

If two or three guys were productive, then I'd say the drafter did his job of identifying guys who can play at the level. Now, in a case like Kalil, it's really hard to say why the production went over the cliff, if it never comes back, but I can't say the drafter failed if the draftee was an upper echelon left tackle in his rookie year. A guy like Patterson is an easier call if he doesn't ever become consistent, ecause he has never done more that show occasiinal flashes.

Eh, there is so much randomness, and hardly anybody ever makes enough draft picks for us to know who is really way out there on the right side of the curve. I think we can say that Matt Millen was way out there on the left side, but who knows? Maybe if he gets luckier on the year he drafts a qb, he doesn't mess up a bunch of other stuff.

22 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Yeah, the "could've/did actually" question also makes it tough - there are players who seem like they can play but end up in a bad situation and never get a shot (I'm thinking go Brandon Boykin here) or they're taken so late in the draft that fans/owners/GM's/coaches are ok with them getting a quick hook (imagine for example how Foles would have been treated if he were drafted in the Top half of the first round.) There are plenty of players who very much look like they are NFL caliber but get their shot botched. I'm not sure that getting Foles means jack shit for the Eagles, despite an amazing stretch of games - in some ways it makes sense to only judge drafts on what a player DEFINITELY provides for a team and how they helped build a better squad. Again, that 2012 draft for the Eagles looks amazing through a certain lens, but if they are all cleared out shortly and were on the bench for bigs stretches of their time in Philly, I'm not sure you can call it good despite netting them an All-Pro, 2 additional Pro Bowlers, a guy tied for 2nd in interceptions in 2013 and a viable starting RB. I get what you're saying about "yes, that was obviously a good draft" but if it doesn't do anything for the Eagles, was it?

24 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Totally agree with Will and the Burn but also wondered if a draft needs to also be considered versus everyones view of value.
Considering the roulette like nature of the draft is it fair to argue that if you draft people well ahead of where everyone else has them ranked then you are making it even harder for yourself?
So assume you have a need at Centre and you take one in the second round when that player, according to everyone else, thought they were on UDFA quality could be considered a bad pick. They player may work out but you paid too much for the pick.

Thoughts?

25 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Yeah, that's always tough - I personally think any player that works out relative to the standards of their draft position was a fine pick. That is, I don't care so much about "reaching" in the first round if the player you get performs at an average level for the expectations as a first rounder. You don't want to be a lunatic about it (e.g. late-period Al Davis) but taking a guy who many thought would go in the 4th round late in the 2nd round seems negligible to me if the guy performs like a 2nd rounder...

30 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

One problem is that "everyone else" is draftnicks, not NFL teams. We don't know how they rank the players they don't take. The other problem is what happens if the reach actually justifies his draft position? Was it luck or was the rest of the NFL mistaken? Now, say you could have gotten the same player later, the thing is you just don't know that at the time.

So I agree from a fan perspective, because you have to feel like you know something, or what's the point? But with most of the draftees not making it, the bottom line is whether the player works out and justifies being drafted at all, never mind where he was taken.

43 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

The Seahawks 2012 draft caught a lot of crap for "overdrafting" talents. Three years later they've got a starting OLB, starting MLB, and starting QB out of their first few picks. Plus a ton of value farther down the draft.

I do not care that they "overdrafted" with those three picks. They got value out of the picks, and that's what matters.

31 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Packer fans would take the Vikings far more seriously if the Vikings had not had 13 or 14 starting qbs in the last 10 years, and/or if somebody else had decided to draft a qb in the first 23 spots of the 2005 draft.

(edit) I became curious, and had 10 minutes to kill, so I looked up the qb history of the NFC North since 1992, leaving out Tampa. In 368 games, the Packers have had 6 starting qbs, and 4 of those guys started all of 12 games. One of the main starters is a first ballot HOFer, and the other main starter has a good chance to be. The other three teams in the division have had 68 starters in that time frame. That gives the best sense of why the Packers have made the playoffs 17 times in those 23 seasons. I'll note again that if Rodgers plays 5-7 more quality seasons with the Packers, giving them 28-30 straight years of starting quaterbacking from a first ballot HOFer, and they end up with 2 Super Bowl wins, out of 3 Super Bowl performances, their management will have underperformed in that time frame. Heck, that might even be said if they end up with 3 wins in 4 appearances, given the increasing importance of the qb position over the past quarter century, and how the other teams in the division have never had consistently good qb play over a span of 5 straight seasons.

Ron Wolf deserves a mountain of credit for recognizing the value of another team's 2nd round pick, who then went on to have a nothing season as back up/rookie, with Wolf then trading for the guy, then, with Holmgren, assembling one of the greatest coaching staffs ever. That coaching staff, I'm convinced, is in good measure why Stubbleface makes commercials to this day. If he had partied himself out of Atlanta, and ended up with some random NFL staff, my bet is we would have long forgotten, or never heard of his name. Thompson has made some nice moves after Rodgers fell to them. The franchise overall, however, has really not come close to making the most of the large qb advantage they have enjoyed for 23 straight seasons. The parallel with the Colts may prove interesting as Luck gets deeper into his career; Irsay sometimes seems to think that his last qb was lacking in some way, when the real issues, such as they were, lay elsewhere.

34 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I'm not sure this is true - if the Packers don't take Rodgers, then the Vikings never get Favre and have their one good season, thus making them even more of a joke to Packers fans.

(Also, it's always interesting to me how fans of teams that have never won the Superbowl and indeed failed to win in spectacular ways - like the Favre season - try to downplay the meaning & value of the accomplishment!)

37 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

If they don't get Favre, then Childress is gone sooner, Frazier never gets the job, and they likely are better off today. The Vikings were more than competitive against the Packers when Favre was there. It wasn't until 2010 that the Packers could reliably win in Minnesota. in the 33 meetings (includes 1 playoff game) between the teams from 1992 through 2008, the Vikings won 17 games. The Vikings won both games with Favre in 2009, then with Fvare over the cliff in 2010, and then the beginning of The Ponderous Era, to (hopefully) The Bridge to the Future, the Packers are 9-1-1.

The only regret I have about the Vikings Favre era was that Favre didn't go full A-hole in the summer of 2008, not agreeing to show up to a team he was traded to, while holding a presser every day to critique his successor's performance, while wearing a Packers jersey. I think he could have made it so untenable for Rodgers that they might have been forced to release him, and if Favre had started for 2008 version of the Vikings, which was perhaps the best team in the league on the line of scrimmage, that would have been something to see. In 2009 they were still quite good, but Pat Williams had slipped a little, Mckinnie a lot, and Matt Birk was in Baltimore.

50 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I think you underestimate Ted Thompson. Thompson made it very clear to Favre and his representatives that the team was willing to go to the mattresses.

All this dates back to when Thompson let half the offensive line go and drafted Rodgers in the same year. Thompson was planning for post-Favre from the moment he arrived in Green Bay and Favre hated him for it. But Favre also knew that Thompson wasn't posturing.

51 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Yeah, to me Thompson's willingness to draft Rodgers and move on from Favre when the HOFer still had several good years left in the tank is the biggest proof of Thompson's greatness as a GM (and not primarily luck as Will has suggested frequently.) It was a move that took guts and brains like I've rarely seen in an NFL front office.

55 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

When I write the words "I think Ted Thompson is terrific", the meaning of the phrase is (wait for it) that I think Ted Thompson is....... (waiting, waiting)..........

terrific

, and, no, I do not think all, or, most GMs are......terrific, thus it is false to claim that I ever attributed Ted Thompson's performance as GM primarily to luck. Having said that, it is simply to deny observable reality to deny the centrality of qb performance to NFL team performance, or the role that random chance plays in a team obtaining a HOF qb. Bill Polian was just as smart in Carolina as he was in Buffalo and Indianapolis.

52 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

It will be interesting to see how Thompson handles the end of Rodgers's career. As you say, he was planning for post-Favre the moment he took the job, but his basic philosophy remains the same. He essentially never makes win-now moves, refusing to sacrifice cap flexibility/draft picks to try to ensure he can field a competitive roster in the long-term. Will he finally push his chips in when Rodgers starts to get old and go for broke for that last title? (Thompson probably won't last as long as Rodgers, but I feel like he'll still be there when it kind of gets to that point in the process.)

65 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Thompson declared this season that Green Bay would begin drafting a qb at every opportunity as long he remained GM and then did so in drafting Hundley out of UCLA.

And the GM job is his as long as he wants it. The belief is that as soon as GB wins another Super Bowl he will step down.

56 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Oh, I don't underestimate Thompson. I just think Favre could have really actively sabotaged Rodgers' early career to the point where it would not have made sense to maintain the standoff with Favre. It's to Favre's credit that he didn't, and like I said, I just thought it would have been interesting to pair a great qb with a team with two great lines of scrimmage, a HOF rb, but very little at receiver. I think it would have given credence to the notion that qbs make the receivers a lot more than receivers make qbs.

64 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

It is also true that due to Favre giving him the cold shoulder Rodgers was driven to shove things up Favre's backside at any opportunity.

Allegedly when Favre threw that fateful interception in the game against the Saints Rodgers jumped up on a table to celebrate at the restaurant where he was watching the game with friends.

Favre, frankly, had gotten 'soft' under Sherman because Sherman was easily swayed by Favre. So first you have McCarthy and Thompson telling, not asking, Favre what was expected and then through his own childish behavior Favre created a third strong personality around him in Rodgers.

I have no way of knowing but I think it's pretty clear that these three were pretty prepared for Favre going full dipsh8t.

Just my two cents

66 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I've never seen a first ballot HOFer who was as heavily influenced by the style of coaching, as much as Stubbleface. Hell, even The Chiller was ok with him, because The Chiller was willing to get confrontational with his highest paid player. If you weren't willing to get in his face, however, he'd just get sloppy, and get by on his arm, which, given the arm, was still pretty damned good.

49 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Guess I am not very bright as I have no idea how this is tied to my post.

If you are suggesting I am an 'arrogant Packers fan' I think my history of posts here indicate otherwise. Also, my statement is correct. The Vikings have been picking up Packer castoffs regularly the last three seasons. And Packer fans do regard it as odd.

69 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Your comment suggested that the Vikings should be concerned about what Packer fans think. In any case, I recall one Packer cast-off who came within a game of taking the Vikings to the Super Bowl not so many years ago. It wouldn't be such a curiosity if the Packers didn't have a habit of dumping players that can still play at a quality level.

27 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

"Pittsburgh Steelers[: ...] Silva criticized [...] projects whose immediate contributions would be limited"

That's the Steelers. That's how they draft. They're surely in the Top 5 for Most Gradual Integration of Rookies.

28 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Jacksonville is the top draft? I don't get it. I'm surprised it's not at the very least one of the more polarizing with those two top picks. Not only does SackSeer hate Fowler, Waldman, Bloom etal really bashed his selection.

------
Who, me?

33 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Because the pundits loved their draft. Kiper and reality are often at odds. I'll never forget the show he was going nuts because some QB he had slotted as a 1st round pick almost didn't get drafted. I believe it was John Walsh of BYU, but the part I remember is Kiper going more nuts with each passing pick.

35 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

From the 2011/2012 draft card report:

"Cole was much less optimistic about Irvin and Wilson(...). As for Wilson, he essentially said he’ll be lucky to be Seneca Wallace."

Does that make Wilson unlucky?

"Cole, meanwhile, wasn't as bullish on Hilton and feels Robert Griffin, although the riskier pick, will have a better career than Luck when all is said and done."

" Cole gave general manager Marty Hurney a “D” for the disaster potential of the Newton pick."

"Cole applauded the aggressive approach the Jaguars took to add quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who he anticipates will win the starting job over David Garrard"

Not to bash on Jason Cole, but it shows that draft "experts" should always be a bit nuanced when making predictions in such an uncertain field (the first one especially standing out).

61 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I just remember Kiper's outburst about the Jets having no idea what they're doing on draft day. He was commenting on their pick of linebacker Jeff Lageman in the first round. Lageman made the all-rookie team at linebacker, moved to defensive end the next year under Pete Carroll, and then made the Pro Bowl in his third year after tormenting the Bears in a Monday Night Game. The outburst Tobin got mad about, was Kiper's gripe that the Colts drafted Trev Alberts over Trent Dilfer in the first round.

60 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

I bet the salary is not much higher for big time TV personalities. Directors of college scouting are not making millions per year, and "draftniks" are not qualified to become general managers.

On top of that you're talking about much less job security and much more stress.

42 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Haven't read the articles yet, but I'm surprised at the relative acceptance of San Diego's draft. Would have figured the trade up for Gordon would get jeers.

45 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

The Rotoworld writer hated Arizona's Day 3 trade, in which the team sacrificed fourth-, sixth-, and seventh-rounders to move up from No. 123 to No. 116...

This is becoming a pet peeve of mine (and it's definitely not just Xie committing the sin; I've seen it in draft pieces by several writers). When a team trades their fourth-round pick and two other picks for another team's (better) fourth-round pick, they are sacrificing TWO draft picks (a sixth and a seventh) to move up in the fourth round, not three picks. This construction makes it sound like the Cardinals gave up four picks to get one.

70 Re: 2015 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Comparing the Cardinals and Panthers - if you are a play-off team, why NOT trade those late round picks away? You are getting SOME value, while actually picking players in those rounds is likely to get someone who is only there as camp fodder... Sure, there is a chance you get a D-II gem, but making sure you get that 4th-rounder you want means a likely back-up/rotational player.