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2020 NFL Draft Report Card Report

Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDeeLamb
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

I can't believe how good it feels to be talking sports again. In the uncertain times we currently live in, we've all needed a distraction at some point during this long stretch. The NFL did its best to be that distraction for a lot of people. They refused to push back dates for free agency and the draft, instead choosing to take center stage in the sports world. For me, the NFL draft acted as a guiding beacon that helped me navigate these sports-free stormy seas. The fully digitized draft went off without a hitch, despite what we all envisioned (or hoped) would happen. Instead of hackers and Dave Gettleman technical difficulties, we were treated to little peeks into homes of NFL coaches. Audiences across the nation were treated to an oddly casual Roger Goodell, Kliff Kingsbury's Arizona abode, and even the first draft pick made by a dog! I figure Nike has picked up a pointer or two from Bill Belichick's film sessions.

Now that we are a few days removed from the process, the experts have weighed in. We've done the heavy lifting for you: we've consolidated draft grades from the most prominent sports sources and football minds all in one place. Today, we'll break down the consensus best, worst, and most polarizing draft classes of 2020. This is … the 2020 Draft Report Card Report.

Previous NFL draft Report Cards can be found here: (2019), (2018), (2017), (2016), (2015), (2014), (2013), (2012), (2011), (2010), (2009), (2008), (2007), (2006), (2005), (2004).

As always, let's go through our panel of football minds. We always try to make this as all-encompassing as we can, which is why we've added a handful of new graders. This year's list now includes Luke Easterling from DraftWire (a subsidiary of USA Today), Darryl Slater from NJ.com, Ryan Dunleavy from the New York Post, Mike Tagliere from Fantasy Pros, and the staff from Pro Football Focus.

On top of the new additions, we've also had some minor change-ups. Evan Silva's draft grades this year were published on Establish the Run, which means that our new Rotoworld grader is Hayden Winks. Bleacher Report has once again changed their grader, with this year's being Jake Rill. Those new graders (or old graders in new places) join our usual cast of characters:


Highest Draft Grades

1. Dallas Cowboys
GPA: 3.86
Highest Grade: A+ (8 total)
Lowest Grade: B- (Kadar)

Considering this is being released in the days following the draft, you already know that people loved the Cowboys draft class. Let me just put into perspective just how much they love this class: through the entirety of the 2019 Report Card Report, a total of five A+ grades were given out. The 2020 Cowboys got EIGHT on their own. Even dropping A+ grades from those who are new to the Report Card Report this year, Dallas still received as many A+'s as were handed out all of last year. This is the highest consensus grade any team has gotten since 2015, when the Jacksonville Jaguars got a 3.86 GPA for drafting edge rusher Dante Fowler, running back T.J. Yeldon, and guard A.J. Cann.

The conversation surrounding this massive success begins with Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, touted by some graders as the best receiver in a historically great receiver draft. The lone critic of the Lamb pick amongst our evaluators, Dan Kadar, at least gave good reason: "It just doesn't make sense to draft a No. 2 wide receiver with the 17th pick when the team had so many glaring needs on defense." The Cowboys would address defense in Day 2; according to PFF, both Alabama corner Trevon Diggs and Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore were just as big of steals as Lamb was. If you believe the NFL draft is just about holding as many lottery tickets as possibly waiting for a prospect to hit, then there's a reasonable chance that Dallas hit the lottery thrice over this past weekend.

2. Minnesota Vikings
GPA: 3.77
Highest Grade: A+ (Iyer)
Lowest Grade: B+ (5 total)

While they didn't have the highest GPA, Minnesota's dirt-low standard deviation of 0.332 tells us that this is at least the most agreed-upon draft class this year. The Vikings smoothly maneuvered their way around this draft, eventually landing a total of 15 players after an offseason that saw so many iconic faces depart, including Xavier Rhodes, Stefon Diggs, and Trae Waynes. Vinnie Iyer, who ranked Minnesota as his best overall draft, touted LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Mississippi State cornerback Cam Dantzler: the replacements for Diggs and Rhodes, respectively. It's kind of hard not to address positions of need when you draft 15 players, but the Vikings really made the most of all their picks. Minnesota was able to draft for both offense and defense, picking up immediate impact guys while also generating depth, and even managed to make a few steals along the way. That's how you build a team long-term. This was a masterclass in draft-onomics and resource management.

3. Arizona Cardinals
GPA: 3.72
Highest Grade: A+ (PFF, Farrar)
Lowest Grade: B (Kiper, Maske)

Despite slipping down a spot from No. 2 in our 2019 Report Card Report's grades, Arizona's overall GPA is higher than last year's. While last year's draft saw the Cardinals kick things off with a high-flying quarterback in Kyler Murray, I'm not sure what position you could even consider Clemson's Isaiah Simmons to be. Mocked as a top-five pick throughout most of the pre-draft process, Simmons played 100-plus snaps in 2019 at linebacker, strong safety, free safety, slot cornerback, and edge defender according to PFF. You can drop this guy back into coverage with Patrick Peterson or rush him on the opposite end of Chandler Jones. That kind of true versatility is insanely rare, and it fell into the Cardinals' laps at No. 8 overall.

Houston tackle Josh Jones will fill the team's need on their offensive line. Part of Kiper's B grade has to do with the fact that the Cardinals didn't address the offensive line enough, taking Simmons over Jedrick Wills Jr. or Mekhi Becton. However, others saw Jones as someone who slid way, way deeper than his skill would otherwise suggest. He should be plenty capable of providing Murray with the protection he needs to throw to DeAndre Hopkins. Including the receiver in this draft class, Kyler and Kliff are going to have a lot more fun in Year 2 together.

4. Baltimore Ravens
GPA: 3.67
Highest Grade: A+ (Iyer, Rill)
Lowest Grade: B- (Silva, Tagliere)

So the Ravens defense is just going to be great forever, huh?

A lot of graders have praised the selections of linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, addressing one of the biggest weaknesses in last year's defense. Queen is an athletic specimen who can make plays in coverage, while Malik Harrison is a downhill blitzer. The addition of run-stuffing interior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike out of Texas A&M makes this front seven a potentially formidable one.

For a team that lit up NFL defenses last year, the Baltimore offense is actually where you start to run into disagreements among graders. Some consider Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins to be a steal falling into the second round, but some see it as a redundancy when both he and Mark Ingram command the ball so heavily. Others look to the wide receiver group, where they debate whether the two pass-catchers selected in the third and sixth rounds were enough in such a talent-heavy draft.

5. Cincinnati Bengals
GPA: 3.64
Highest Grade: A+ (Iyer)
Lowest Grade: C+ (Silva)

It's usually understood that the team that gets "their guy" at quarterback usually "wins" the draft. For a lot of people evaluating the Bengals, their praise goes beyond the simple drafting of Joe Burrow. Kicking off Day 2 of the draft by taking Tee Higgins turns the Cincinnati wide receiver corps into potentially one of the best in the league, putting the Clemson star alongside A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross. The selection of two linebackers in Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis, in the eyes of Iyer, "[turns] their linebacker weakness into a rangy, playmaking strength."

Evan Silva stamped a C+ on their draft class because of everything outside of Burrow. Silva believed the Bengals had way more concerns to address, namely offensive line, before they needed to draft another wide receiver, especially one with disappointing measurables.


Lowest Draft Grades

1. Green Bay Packers
GPA: 1.22
Highest Grade: B- (Benoit)
Lowest Grade: F (Silva, Winks, Tagliere)

In all my years of following the draft and reading grades, I've never seen a draft class universally panned quite like the Packers' this year. Their GPA is two-thirds of a grade lower than the next-lowest team. Whether or not you believe last year's 13-3 season was an anomaly, this is still a good football team. This is still a team that finished a game shy of a Super Bowl berth. You still have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback without much of a receiving corps outside of Davante Adams. The Packers went into this draft with a handful of positions of concern, and it just so happens that this draft was flush with elite talent at each of those positions. So how do you address those needs? You…

  • Trade up in the first round to draft a quarterback who may not see the field until 2022.
  • Draft a running back with over 900 carries already under his belt.
  • Don't address defense until Day 3.
  • Replenish your offensive line full of injury concerns with offensive linemen ... with injury concerns.
  • Never address the receiver or offensive tackle positions, your two strongest positions of need.

If Jordan Love is meant to be the spark that lights a fire under Rodgers, sending the team on a run à la Tom Brady and the post-Garoppolo Patriots, so be it. But that's not a tangible thing people can factor into their draft grades. This team, from a roster standpoint, did next to nothing to get better on draft night.

2. Houston Texans
GPA: 1.97
Highest Grade: B+ (Reuter, Slater)
Lowest Grade: F (Davis)

Nate Davis put it best: "Hard to recall a draft so extensively leveraged to obtain veterans." This is the beginning of Bill O'Brien paying up for his manic, Madden-esque trades. If you can consider the likes of Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks, Gareon Conley, and Duke Johnson a part of this draft class, then maybe it's easier to swallow. However, you then also have to consider that O'Brien essentially traded DeAndre Hopkins for TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.

Looking at the players alone, this a pretty middling draft for the Texans. They addressed their areas of need on the defensive side of the ball and added a 6-foot-8 lineman. That doesn't absolve O'Brien of any of his trade sins. Oh, but congratulations are in order: the Texans finished with a GPA one one-hundredth of a point lower than last year's draft!

3. Seattle Seahawks
GPA: 2.06
Highest Grade: B (Kiper, Reuter, Benoit)
Lowest Grade: F (Winks)

Seattle seems to scout players very differently from the rest of the NFL, and yet no one seems to ever remember that. They finished dead last in our Report Card Report in 2011, when they selected Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter, and Malcolm Smith. Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and the Seahawks scouting department just evaluate talent differently than most other teams in the league. It's why I can't feel 100% comfortable referring to any of their picks as true "reaches."

Yet, that's where we seem to get the vast majority of our vitriol in these draft reports. Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor and LSU guard Damien Lewis seem to be the two most referenced as reaches, with some graders arguing that the picks used to trade up in Round 2 could have easily been used to net both these players. Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks is also a point of contention for people. Some, like Mel Kiper, argue that Brooks is a sideline-to-sideline "tackle machine" meant to provide some youth in a linebacker corps led by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Others, like Hayden Winks, believe that Seattle's run-first mindset is outdated in this NFL, suggesting that someone like LSU's Patrick Queen would have been a much better selection.

4. Las Vegas Raiders
GPA: 2.26
Highest Grade: A- (Farrar)
Lowest Grade: D (Rill, Dunleavy)

While the Raiders just barely miss the cut for our Most Polarizing list, people clearly have an opinion on the Raiders' selections. Alabama's Henry Ruggs III, the first wide receiver off the board in a draft stuffed top to bottom with talent at the position, gives quarterback Derek Carr his first wideout with the ability to really stretch the field. On a board full of receivers, however, some graders saw Ruggs as a reach just because they didn't see him as the best receiver in this class. What everyone can seemingly agree on is that their second first-rounder, Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette, was undeniably a reach; some observers had the 19t -overall pick with a grade as low as the third round. Several teams allegedly had Arnette off their board altogether due to off-the-field concerns.

Doug Farrar, on the other hand, sees this as a return to the Raiders of old. Farrar likens Arnette, along with fourth-round cornerback Amik Robertson, to the bullying alpha dogs of old Al Davis teams. Ruggs is also seen as a throwback to the "Warren Wells and Cliff Branch days." If this is about bringing the old Raiders culture with them to a new city, then maybe it was a successful draft after all.

5. Atlanta Falcons
GPA: 2.27
Highest Grade: B+ (Benoit, Reuter)
Lowest Grade: D- (Silva)

Joining the Texans with back-to-back bottom-five grades, the Falcons can at least take pride in addressing needs. The gripe comes from the players they chose to address those needs with. Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell was the first real surprise pick of the draft, just because few people expected him to be the third corner taken off the board. In fact, Sports Info Solutions had Terrell listed as their 15th-best cornerback in the draft. Silva referred to it as a "needs-based reach," with the Falcons bypassing real talent on the board just to fill a hole in their defense. Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson was drafted to address a need for an edge rusher, hopefully enabling Takk McKinley to move inside. The only problem with that logic, for some, is that Davidson is north of 300 pounds, sitting just in between defensive end and defensive tackle.

While the rest of their draft picks seem to be depth additions at their respective positions, Temple center Matt Hennessy is being touted by some as the heir apparent to Alex Mack's starting job. The 34-year-old will finish his contract at the end of this season, already showing signs of decline. Those who are truly down on the Falcons draft class see Hennessy as the only pick with actual upside.


Most Polarizing Grades

1. Houston Texans
SD: 0.880
Highest Grade: B+ (Reuter, Slater)
Lowest Grade: F (Davis)

The biggest thing that can explain this standard deviation is the discrepancy as to whether or not trades and the players acquired with them should be considered a part of a draft class. The Texans used draft capital to acquire veteran players and also used veterans to acquire draft picks. Should Tunsil and Cooks both be considered a part of this class? If they should be, how do you judge the Tunsil-for-two-firsts trade while Trent Williams was acquired for a fifth-rounder? There's such a wide variance for this Texans draft class because no one really knows what to judge.

2. Los Angeles Rams
SD: 0.853
Highest Grade: A (Reuter, Benoit)
Lowest Grade: D (Winks)

Like the Texans, the Rams were left without a first-round pick after trading for Jalen Ramsay. While this throws a wrench into the subjective grading of Los Angeles' draft, their high standard deviation can be derived from who the Rams got and what their needs were. Chad Reuter believes that, essentially, the Rams' first five picks in the draft can all be legitimate contributors. Running back Cam Akers can fill the Todd Gurley-shaped hole in the team's run game while wide receiver Van Jefferson and tight end Brycen Hopkins can provide a spark for the passing game. Reuter also considers Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis and Utah safety Terrell Burgess to be great value selections to add to an already solid defense. Winks, on the other hand, believes that the Rams' biggest concern by far was their offensive line. In his eyes, it doesn't matter how good Akers or Van Jefferson are. If Banks can't find a hole or if Jared Goff is running for his life unable to throw downfield, what value are those guys?

3. Los Angeles Chargers
SD: 0.847
Highest Grade: A (Reuter, Easterling)
Lowest Grade: D (Winks)

Considering the Chargers' draft revolves solely around two first-round selections and a handful of Day 3 picks, I'd say the variance in grade is because of the former. The Chargers were in the bottom half of our Report Card Report when ranking by GPA, and I'm almost positive they would have graced our bottom-five if the smokescreens around Miami and Justin Herbert turned out to be anything substantial. Since the Chargers stayed pat and selected their guy, it is mostly up to whether you believe Herbert can be a solid starting quarterback.

Their other first-round pick, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, has drawn some ire because of the trade-up and the string of linebackers that went after him. Trading some sizeable draft capital in order to take Murray, only to have Brooks and Queen taken shortly after, just seems as though Murray is destined to be compared to the other two. A lot of these graders openly prefer Queen to Murray, but some believe that he can certainly still be a good linebacker.

4. Atlanta Falcons
SD: 0.842
Highest Grade: B+ (Reuter, Benoit)
Lowest Grade: D- (Silva)

Again, we've touched on Atlanta already. It seems as though the wide variance in grade for this Falcons team seems to mostly just be different degrees of sucking. It comes down to how low are you really on A.J. Terrell. If you think he can be a serviceable corner, as some graders do, that along with the addressing of needs is enough to earn you a B or B+. If you're low enough on Terrell that you think he should barely be drafted on Day 2, let alone 13th overall, the grade tanks.

5. Philadelphia Eagles
SD:0.838
Highest Grade: A- (Reuter, PFF)
Lowest Grade: D (Davis, Farrar)

Jalen Hurts. That's it, that's the comment.

The most contrasting grades for the Eagles in this Report Card cycle either praise or lambast the selection of Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick. Because it was so out of the blue, many people began theorizing the rationale behind it. Immediately Taysom Hill comparisons arise, but you can't have the value of Taysom Hill by drafting him in the second round. The whole allure of Taysom Hill is the fact that he was an undrafted free agent. His value was his versatility and output relative to the resources used to acquire him. You can't get that same value with a guy taken in the second round.

The next bullet point becomes Carson Wentz's injury history and the immaculate Super Bowl run of Nick Foles. At the very least, the Eagles have locked in a high-floor backup quarterback to slide onto the field in the event Wentz goes down long-term again. Detractors will argue that the value is too high for a backup quarterback. For a team within striking distance of an NFC playoff berth, that selection doesn't immediately help Philadelphia. Even in the case of Green Bay's dismal draft, Jordan Love is at least being groomed for some larger role. Becoming a "quarterback factory" might be a good way to accrue future draft picks, but it could cost them in the short term.

2020 NFL Draft Grades
Team High Low GPA Rk SD Rk
DAL A+ (8 tied) B- (Kadar) 3.85 1 0.501 24
MIN A+ (Iyer) B+ (4 tied) 3.77 2 0.332 32
ARI A+ (PFF, Farrar) B (Kiper, Maske) 3.72 3 0.399 31
BAL A+ (Iyer, Rill) C- (Silva, Tagliere) 3.66 4 0.527 20
CIN A (6 tied) B (Farrar) 3.64 5 0.487 26
DEN A+ (PFF) C+ (Kiper) 3.55 6 0.518 22
CLE A+ (PFF) B- (Prisco) 3.49 7 0.418 29
TB A (3 tied) B- (Prisco) 3.41 8 0.423 28
NYJ A+ (Farrar) B- (Edholm) 3.38 9 0.430 27
JAX A (3 tied) C+ (Davis) 3.27 10 0.617 13
MIA A (3 tied) C (Davis) 3.26 11 0.530 19
CAR A (Prisco, Iyer) C+ (Edholm) 3.16 12 0.417 30
IND A (Davis) C (Easterling) 3.10 13 0.609 14
BUF A (3 tied) C- (Tagliere) 3.07 14 0.609 15
DET A (4 tied) D (Winks) 3.05 15 0.807 6
SF A (Maske) B- (Easterling) 2.98 16 0.523 21
NYG A (Iyer, PFF) C+ (3 tied) 2.97 17 0.509 23
WAS A- (3 tied) D- (Silva) 2.96 18 0.733 9
TEN A (Iyer) D+ (Davis) 2.91 19 0.712 11
NO A- (Reuter, Winks) C- (Silva) 2.76 20 0.536 18
KC A (Farrar) C (Silva, Tagliere) 2.74 21 0.491 25
PIT A- (Davis, Reuter) D (Tagliere) 2.66 22 0.671 12
LAC A (Edholm, Easterling) D (Winks) 2.61 23 0.847 3
LAR A (Reuter, Benoit) D (Winks) 2.53 24 0.853 2
NE B+ (Iyer) D- (Tagliere) 2.43 25 0.590 16
CHI B+ (PFF, Reuter) D+ (Tagliere) 2.28 26 0.573 17
PHI A- (PFF, Reuter) D (Davis, Farrar) 2.28 27 0.838 5
ATL B+ (Reuter, Benoit) D- (Silva) 2.27 28 0.843 4
LV A- (Farrar) D (Rill, Dunleavy) 2.26 29 0.719 10
SEA B (Reuter) F (Winks) 2.05 30 0.762 8
HOU B+ (Reuter, Slater) F (Davis) 1.97 31 0.880 1
GB B- (Benoit) F (4 tied) 1.22 32 0.800 7

Year-Over-Year Comparisons

First, the sheer amount of extreme grades that were given out in this year's batch of Report Cards must be noted. Last year's Report Card Report contained five A+ grades and zero F grades, This year saw a whopping 13 A+'s and five F's. The average GPA saw a small bump up to 2.91, compared to 2.88 from last year and 2.87 the year prior.

Graders were slightly more widely varied than last year's assessments. This year's average standard deviation rose to 0.80, rising by nearly a full tenth from last year's mark of 0.72. The ever-generous Chris Reuter, the most-generous grader two years running, continues his reign, but has dropped off slightly. Reuter decreased his average GPA by one one-hundredth, down to 3.54. He also matched his balmy total of 11 A grades assigned. Reuters' average GPA was nearly a full half-point higher than the next most generous grader, Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer. Iyer's generosity has forced him to give up his reigning "stingiest grader" crown, now held by Fantasy Pros' Mike Tagliere. USA Today's Nate Davis once again boasts the largest standard deviation at 1.1. I'm not sure if it was the skill in the draft, the lack of sports, or the simple need for sportswriters to fire off some takes, but this was one of the more erratically graded drafts. Extreme highs and lows on both sides.

2020 NFL Draft Graders
Grader High Low GPA SD
Reuter A (11 total) C+ (GB) 3.54 0.50
Iyer A+ (BAL) D (GB) 3.18 0.62
PFF A+ (4 total) F (GB) 3.18 1.01
Benoit A+ (DAL) C (PHI) 3.13 0.89
Easterling A+ (DAL) D (GB) 3.12 0.67
Farrar A+ (DAL NYJ) D- (GB) 3.05 0.42
Slater A- (7 total) D+ (GB, PHI) 3.04 0.97
Kadar A (3 tied) D (GB) 2.97 0.99
Maske A (MIA, SF) D (GB) 2.88 0.65
Prisco A (4 total) D (GB) 2.88 0.62
Dunleavy A+ (DAL) D (HOU, LV) 2.86 0.67
Kiper A (BAL) C (ATL, GB) 2.84 0.82
Rill A+ (BAL, DAL) D (ATL, LV) 2.79 0.69
Edholm A (3 total) C- (HOU) 2.75 0.92
Davis A (3 total) F (HOU) 2.73 1.10
Winks A (CIN, CLE) F (GB, SEA) 2.58 0.87
Silva A+ (DAL) F (GB) 2.45 0.96
Tagliere A (4 total) F (GB) 2.45 1.08

Comments

70 comments, Last at 11 May 2020, 7:22pm

1 This is the highest…

This is the highest consensus grade any team has gotten since 2015, when the Jacksonville Jaguars got a 3.86 GPA for drafting edge rusher Dante Fowler, running back T.J. Yeldon, and guard A.J. Cann.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the graders.

36 To be Fair...

Well, to be fair, the point of these quick-snap draft grades is to see how teams filled their needs based on the scouting info available at the time. In 2015, Jacksonville did a good job finding players that looked like they could fill their needs, but since they're Jacksonville, they failed to develop those players and their plans never came to fruition.

2 Funny about Seattle - they…

Funny about Seattle - they also got ripped in 2012 for taking bums like Wilson and Wagner.  In 2013 they got lots of praise (probably because the graders were afraid of being made to look like idiots again) and had a terrible draft.

38 If you add up the AVs of each years draft class

the three years from 2010-2012 for Seattle is the best three years of drafting in NFL history - and they're not done yet.  Beating out the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Pittsburgh has the single greatest draft class in history, however, and if you go for a five year span, they have the greatest back in the early 70's, 

I don't really listen to these self-called "experts".

60 'Professional???' drafters

This x 1,000. Could we see historical 'got it right' ratings for these draft experts? My guess is these guys are horrible, terrible, horrendous, hideous. Just something about the draft that brings out the absolute idiot in we football fans. So we look to utterly unverified nonexperts. Whose historical calls, by the way, could be graded/verified so very, very easily.

3 Packers Grades Edit

Text suggests that Packers' best grade was a B- (Benoit), but the chart says it was a C+ (Reuter). 

I'm a Packers fan who is willing to grant the professional drafters the benefit of the doubt -- they review the film, I don't -- but I'm also pretty sure that the C+ is indeed the accurate highest grade. Sad!

5 Packers

In reply to by Jason_PackerBacker

Looks like Andy Benoit did give them a B-, so I've fixed the table.

6 I haven't hated a Packers…

I haven't hated a Packers draft this much ever. That includes the 2004 draft where Mike Sherman traded into the third round to take a punter. (When I saw the trade, I figured it was to get Matt Schaub because Favre had been talking retirement.) It's a worse GM disaster than the Hadl trade, because you could at least see the logic to it at the time. I guess I can take solace in that the Packers have had a nice run of almost 30 years. You don't get three HoF QBs in a row. 

18 The more experts pile on GB,…

The more experts pile on GB, the more I think they did the right things.

1. They have an aging QB who is far from his prime, has had serious injuries two of the last 7 years, and nagging injuries which affected his performance in two others. So they took a chance at a replacement ahead of a season that may very well NEVER BE PLAYED-- thus compressing the time period that Love has to sit. In two years do they really want to keep paying top dollar to a 38 year old mired in mediocrity-- a distinct possibility for a guy who hasn't been anywhere near elite since 2014 and one 7/8 game stretch in 2016.

2. They correctly assessed their personnel and what it might take to get to a Super Bowl and realized they are hardly "on the doorstep" or just a player or two away-- given that 13-3 could easily have been 9-7 or 10-6 but for some schedule good fortune and close game heroics. They were clobbered by SF twice in the two games that mattered most. They might improve next season and sneak into the playoffs at 10-6... 

3. They observed that it was the running game that destroyed them, not a bunch of highlight receivers. It is s copycat league, and Dillon, a TE and several interior linemen bring them closer to being able to compete the best way for this team. Rodgers is not longer close to the type of mobile QB which is thriving in the league now-- in a couple of years, Love might very well be...

21 I'm with you. I'm actually…

I'm with you. I'm actually about at the point where their draft strategy is so obviously correct to me that I can't really fathom why so many people are against it. Despite their record, they were pretty obviously a "pretty good" team at best - like you say, they could easily be a better team next season but end up with a worse record - and they're built on a creaky foundation, starting with the cornerstone in Rodgers. Shoring up that foundation is the best thing for both the short- and long-term health of the franchise, much moreso than trying to make Allen Lazard their third-best receiver instead of their second or whatever.

And I'm glad you brought up Rodgers' health. There were so many people saying things like, "Why spend a 1st on a guy who won't even play for 2 years???" Er, you know the guy he's backing up, right? Hint, it ain't Favre.

That's an interesting point about shifting to a running strategy. I thought after the Patriots demolished the Chargers and kept the Rams' theoretically-explosive offense off the field for long stretches of the Super Bowl that someone - the Pats being the most logical candidates - might switch to a power running offense and try to just run over everyone's tiny linebackers and base nickel defenses. I guess the Titans kind of did. These moves potentially let the Packers do so, and running is another way to ease the burden on Rodgers' shoulders (and collarbone...), one that's maybe more likely to pay off in year 1 than drafting more receivers would.

26 Totally agree with the…

Totally agree with the sentiment of this comment and the one before it. And the GM has said “I never believe you’re one player away. I don’t believe in that. You can make mistakes believing you’re one player away.”

The reaction to Love is all because people were surprised, not because it’s an irrational pick. I felt the same way at first. I was stunned. But the logic is absolutely there, and the people piling on aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. The comments about the WR draft class full of elite talent neglect to mention that all of the elite talent receivers were gone by 25 (Lamb, Jeudy, Ruggs, Reagor, Jefferson, Aiyuk) and what was left was a bunch of questionable guys for a first round pick.

Dillon was the #2 RB by BACKCAST, yet somehow everyone on FO is trashing him bc what, the carries he had in college? That’s exactly what BACKCAST says is *a good thing*. I don’t get the disconnect. He also averaged fewer carries over the last two seasons than Zeke Elliott did in his final two seasons; the stats can be twisted to fit a narrative. Isn’t drafting a good RB helping the QB right now? Anyone who has watched Jamaal Williams run knows he isn’t very effective, and anyone who follows the Packers knows the #2 RB behind Aaron Jones plays a significant role. 

Degaura might have been a bit of a reach but he’s also a perfect scheme fit and will help the Packers more quickly than anyone else given his blocking skills and versatility; he will play a role immediately and open it up for Sternberger to play the move TE role more often. Don’t see how that’s not “helping the QB right now”.

The narrative is enticing and makes for a clickable headline but to me just seems misleading.

29 I would agree that criticism…

I would agree that criticism of the Dillon and Degaura picks as "these guys are terrible prospects!" are overblown - there's so much subjectivity and uncertainity in evaluating and projecting prospects that there's no reason to go over the top on that.

More valid are criticisms that the Packers reached to pick guys they really liked (including trading up for Jordan Love) well above their consensus draft positions. There is obviously still a lot uncertainty around draft position too, so this is hardly "automatic F grade" type stuff, but we know from long-term study of the draft that this is bad process. Hopefully they get lucky with the outcomes.

But the biggest problem is that they're highly unlikely to realize any significant value from their 2nd and 3rd round picks. Even if Dillon turns out to be a very good player, it's extremely unlikely that he can fulfill the average value, let alone upside, of a second round pick if his future role is simply Aaron Jones' backup or even co-starter. (And by all accounts, the Packers want to re-sign Jones.) Exact same value problem with picking a fullback in the 3rd round. I would have liked to see them draft a receiver, but they could use good young players in most other places on the roster too where, if they hit on a guy, his contributions could be much more helpful to the team.

Basically, this is a draft with a massive gamble in the first round and a hard, low ceiling on what they're likely to get out of their Day 2 picks, even if they're both good players. I agree with what someone else mentioned - it probably won't be the worst draft when we look back in 5 years because several teams are probably going to find out all of their picks are busts. But the Packers used some of their most valuable picks on guys who, even if they're good players, probably can't help them much more than your average late-round pick or UDFA.

31 I don't see how the Packers…

I don't see how the Packers reached for Love or Dillon, Kiper had 21 and Dillon at 57 and as I said before Dillon is very highly rated by BACKCAST. I'm fine with saying RB don't have the positional value for a 1st rounder but saying you shouldn't take a RB at 62 is going a bit overboard.

Deguara admittedly isn't as good of a value but can we please stop calling him a fullback. They said he might line up as a fullback on some plays, but this is the full quote: "I think he'll be able to line up in-line with his hand down, I think he'll line up in the slot, back as a fullback, an H-back," Gutekunst said. "But I think he can be a matchup piece that can move into all those different spots. He's a very smart kid. Obviously, he's been very productive as a pass catcher."

Also, responding to your other comment in this thread, I think the chances of the Packers going 3 yards and a cloud of dust are nil. They didn't do that last year and there's no indication they plan to do that this year. Yes, they spent picks on what appear to be "running the ball" players. Any time a coach or GM says the word "run" everyone in analytics world gets all up in arms, but they're also singing the praises of their existing receivers and of Rodgers. But I think they're trying to get, as you suggest, more multiple.

33 I understand they'd like to…

I understand they'd like to use Deguara to play multiple roles. I honestly have a bit of a soft spot for fullbacks anyway having grown up with the Holmgren-era teams, so I'm not even trying to use FB as a pejorative here. But wherever he lines up and whatever flexibility he provides, how many snaps is he going to play? What marginal value is he going to provide? Same with Dillon - I guess he provides insurance against Jones leaving, but if Jones is still the long-term plan at RB, why not wait and fill the backup/situational RB role with a later pick? You can find players to fill these types of roles at a much reduced cost, and even the best ones almost never provide the type of value that justifies picking them high.

I will say I'm not this down on the team or the coaching staff in general - even if they weren't a true 13-3 team, they did a lot of things well and they still have other promising players on the roster. It just sucks that this draft looks like a bunch of botched calculations and missed opportunities.

32 More valid are criticisms…

More valid are criticisms that the Packers reached to pick guys they really liked (including trading up for Jordan Love) well above their consensus draft positions. There is obviously still a lot uncertainty around draft position too, so this is hardly "automatic F grade" type stuff, but we know from long-term study of the draft that this is bad process.

The draft is just as subject to the One Asshole Rule as free-agency -- probably more so. Consensus doesn't matter; you need to choose your player before the next-most-eager team does so, not before the median team does.

A second counter-example: You would have gotten murdered for drafting Tom Brady anywhere in the first-round of the 2000 draft. You would have been harshly graded in the second round. His best projections were 3rd round, but that was before he bombed out of the combine (F grade).

He was also unquestionably the best pick in the draft, at any draft slot.

You could criticize NWE for over-drafting him had they chosen him at 46. You could criticize Chicago for passing up a HOF LB at 9. But those teams would have happily settled for a player over a process. Marginal value isn't everything, because that marginal value is itself a widely varying projection.

35 You're right that it only…

You're right that it only takes one other team - I'm sure the Packers suspected someone else would grab Dillon before the 3rd. That's the trap teams fall into though when they covet players. Sometimes you nail the evaluation, but there's really no reason they would have any better idea about that than anyone else. I bet the same thing happened with Deguara, and in fact I saw someone point out somewhere that they probably felt like they *had* to get Degaura in the 3rd in part because they traded their 4th to go get Love.

I dislike these decisions very much both because they seem to be overconfident in their evaluations on these players, and they went and got the 2nd and 3rd rounders at slots that offer virtually zero upside in terms of value. At least Love has a ton of upside.

28 It's so unlikely that the…

It's so unlikely that the Packers are going to get better on offense by focusing more on the running game. They're already a good running team - they've finished top 5 in rushing DVOA each of the past four seasons! They're not at a Ravens-level efficiency, but that's not really possible without a QB who you're willing to call plays for in the run game.

The most generous interpretation of what LaFleur wants to do on offense is diversify his personnel groups and formations more, feeling like he was limited last year in what they could call in the play action game and that it will help scheme their receivers open, since they aren't very good at getting open on their own. He probably also wants Rodgers to be more decisive with his reads as opposed to what he typically does in their spread-out game. But if this is about "pounding the rock" with telegraphed runs out of heavy formations I'm just going to vomit.

53 I have no opinion with…

I have no opinion with regard to Love as a player. I do think the cap and CBA economics of the league are such that drafting someone in the 1st round, who has a good chance of very limited playing time for 2-3 years, is problematic.

23 GB

This could all be correct. Except the largest financial advantage you can have at the moment is a franchise/good QB on a rookie deal. This situation could use up two years of that.

25 My main issue with the…

In reply to by Willsy

My main issue with the Packers' draft is Jordan Love.  I don't think he's going to work out, and they drafted a quarterback prospect at least a year too early.  Even if next season doesn't happen, they are still wasting several years of a rookie contract.  Take the guy who falls, like Rodgers did; it didn't happen this year, the way it did with Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson.  They could have drafted a receiver and improved the team in that way.  Trading down and still getting Mims would have been a good idea.  Taking Dillon was a great idea though.

All that said, I am absolutely sure the Packers' draft will end up not being the worst this year.  Someone else's picks will end up being a trainwreck.

39 My draft feelings almost…

My draft feelings almost exactly mirror yours. I wanted the Packers to take a QB, but only on Day 3 with whichever QB they thought best. I was hoping through some miracle Jonathan Taylor would fall, so I was still good with Dillon. There was no guarantee Jones wouldn't price himself out of GB or if the Packers would be willing to franchise him. I disliked the Deguara pick almost as much as Love. A budget vet could fill his floor easily and he doesn't look to have a high ceiling. Not having a fourth round pick only amplified all the above. 

It will likely not be the worst. I just can't imagine it being better than average. I can only hope that it's an exception to the rule like that Seattle draft mentioned. 

67 Copycat teams never end up…

Copycat teams never end up doing well in the league though. Think of recent superbowl winners, the seahawks, pats, chiefs, even the eagles didn't really base their team off following someone else. They found their own edge. 

As for being destroyed by running backs, in the two losses they had to the 49ers, the first was largely due to Rodgers being inaccurate and pressured all day. Only in the second game did they run all over them, but do you really base a strategy off one game? If you're going to do that then why not draft some run-stopping defenders?

My fear about the packers trying to beat the 49ers using their own game is a) Shanahan is probably finding a way to add wrinkles to that, meaning the packers will be always a step behind and b) we don't know if the 49er gameplan is the gameplan to beat whenever the league starts up again. It didn't even win them the superbowl last year. The packers are better served building their own game as opposed to trying to be an ersatz mid-west 49ers. 

The packers don't think they're one player away and need to replenish, fine. So why did they trade up to find players? The only way that makes sense is if they beleived that Love is miles better than any of the other QBs left, which is a risky assumption given every QB at that tier has massive holes and you're really trusting your assessment over focusing on the economics of as many picks as possible.

My theory is that the packers desperately want a Mahomes type which the modern NFL needs. But Love is a poor man's Mahomes.

7 Vikings drafted 15 players,…

Vikings drafted 15 players, not 16. It just seems like 16.  

Their GPA is listed as 3.72 in the text and 3.77 in the table. 

9 Seattle seems to scout…

Seattle seems to scout players very differently from the rest of the NFL, and yet no one seems to ever remember that. They finished dead last in our Report Card Report in 2011, when they selected Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter, and Malcolm Smith.

Yeah, and it's been nearly as long since they've had a draft that good. The picks that have worked out the best for them in recent years-- D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed-- were drafted much more in accordance with how the rest of the league viewed them as prospects. It's pretty easy to make a case that Seattle hasn't hit on a first-round pick since 2012, and even their second-rounders since then are littered with busts and washouts like Malik McDowell, Paul Richardson, and Christine Michael.

10 Valuing players differently…

Valuing players differently than other teams do can be great for your roster, since it means that you can get players that you value for relatively cheap. This has been one of the engines behind the development of new schemes, since if you can develop a scheme which makes good use of players who aren't highly valued by other teams then you can afford to put together a team with a lot of talent for your scheme.

But if you're reaching for those players, giving up the salary or draft resources that they're worth in your scheme, then that defeats the point. When you bid against yourself to be the first to draft Jordyn Brooks then you don't get the advantage that you get when you add premium players for non-premium resources. You win big when you find guys like Sherman & Chancellor in the 5th round, not when you trade up to take Darrell Taylor in the 2nd or Dalton Keene in the 3rd.

13 That's right.   And as I…

That's right.

 

And as I said in my comment, I don't think Seattle has had a "good" draft since 2012, so the "They do things their own way but you gotta trust 'em!" line seems particularly odd after eight years of baffling picks that largely haven't worked out.

12 Buffalo's draft seems…

Buffalo's draft seems underrated here. Maybe some people gave them middling grades for not having a 1st? They made a lot of really solid picks at good value, similar to the Cowboys but less flashy.

48 Well, its not underrated HERE, exactly

but perhaps by those being reported on here.   Whether or not it is good, that is what the draft experts listed thought of it, and this accurately reports what they said.   

That being said, the article does not that some draft grades take into account players acquired with draft picks and others do not.  If you include Stephon Diggs as part of Buffalo's draft haul it looks quite a bit better.   But FO has no influence on the methodology used by various drafters...

(and I know you probably know this, just using that to comment on the methodology...)

14 In my opinion, Green Bay's…

In my opinion, Green Bay's draft seems like it was based on the assumption that there won't be a 2020 NFL season and maybe also that there won't be a 2021 season.  I'm not sure they had a good draft even in either of those scenarios (it's not clear what the NFL would even look like if it had to take two years off), but it's worth contemplating.

19 See Above

Bingo on the first-- and I'm sure they're not the only ones. If the Governor of California-- which still possesses 3 NFL franchises-- says no sporting events until 2021, well someone tell me how they are going to play a "normal" NFL season when 3 teams can't play home games. And if it's not normal, can you really quarantine 32 different teams with 60+ players, dozens of coaches/medical/physio staff, not to mention stadium personnel, referees, camera operators, etc, etc... and play in some city/stadium with no fans where all of the above are not allowed to be with their families for months on end. I don't think there will be a NFL season this year.

20 *ding*ding*ding*Heading…

*ding*ding*ding*

Heading into the next season that might actually be played, 2021, the Packers' top 2 RBs and 3/5 of their offensive line are free agents, and their QB is 37 and can potentially be cut after the season, and if not then he almost certainly will be after the subsequent one. With that in mind, drafting a QB, a RB, and 3 linemen makes all the sense in the world, doesn't it? And given the import of QB and linemen, at least, it's smart to get replacement guys at those positions when you actually have recent tape on them, since there probably won't be a college season before the next draft, either - at least not anything resembling a "normal" one.

It's surprising how no one in the mainstream press seems to have discussed it this way. I wonder if they just can't bring themselves to think of it that way, or if the ginger hammer is leaning on them to keep everyone's chins up as long as possible.

34 Does it still make sense…

Does it still make sense though, given Rodgers contract? If there is no football in 2020, or in 2021, what happens to those contracts? Do they get extended? Do they not get paid, but still count? There will be a battle with that between the players and the owners, and depending on whether the owners think they have a good set of contracts or not, they will be far from united.

15 Photo!!!!!

Hey!!!!

 

How about hats off to whoever picked the photo for this article. Give a brother some love.

16 Vikings draft

"This was a masterclass in draft-onomics and resource management."

Having spent years trying to make sense of mock drafts and then draft grades I think the reaction to the Vikings (who I support) has really brought three things into focus. Firstly what positions contribute the most to winning, what does value mean, and lastly how do you determine if you have achieved this.

Rick Spielman also mentioned after the draft that the issues generated by the virus meant that signing UDFS's would be really hard. Hence he planned and got 13 picks on the last day. 

Similarly they knew about the depth at WR, CB and O line, but knew they probably wouldn't land one of the top Tackles. So they were keen to draft down or at the least stay put. As the Thaler paper argues, teams overestimate their skill at a particular player selection. However the Vikes knew they had to throw some darts at CB and WR with the rationale one will hit. Likewise they had seen through Brian O'Neal at RT that having a player that fits a scheme well can be slightly more valuable than a better graded player. So they didn't trade up for an OT but ended up with a nice player who fits the scheme, and is considered very good value. 

Then when you go through the balance of picks post the top rounds and review the players selected they didn't seem to "miss" on a player i.e. another player they could have drafted, at least in a major way, and the balance of probabilities suggests they will get a few hits. Remember this is a team that has had a lot of draft success with UDFA's.

Lastly last years pick of Irv Smith also reflects the same process. There were some quality TE's last year, Smith was considered second tier, he has great blood lines, TE is key position for the offensive style, and he matched the character profile they emphasise.

When selected consensus was that he was a fit, was taken at the right time, and was a relatively lower risk bust potential player. That is exactly how he played last season. 

Most people who write and read this site would agree that the entire drafting process is an optimisation problem. My sense is the better mocks and reviews deliver analysis that focuses on the overall efficiency of a draft.

 

17 I did find it odd that the…

In reply to by Willsy

I did find it odd that the Vikings writeup mentioned Cameron Dantzler, but not Jeff Gladney, whom they drafted higher (and whom I think is a better cornerback prospect as well).

27 Great comments, Willsy.  I,…

In reply to by Willsy

Great comments, Willsy.  I, too, prefer articles that analyze the draft as an "optimization problem".  

I look at the Seahawks and NE drafts this year, and for me it's not so much about "are these the best players available for their positions of need?"  For me, it's a question of "how much draft capital did they use to get those players versus how much draft capital did they need to use?"

Maybe that's an unsolvable question, because we don't know what other teams would have done, and therefore we don't know for sure that they would have gotten "their guy" had they waited later to pick them.  But it sure looks to me like both SEA and NE spent a lot more draft capital to get "their guys" than consensus suggests they needed to, and if they hadn't gotten their exact guys they might have had a reasonable facsimile plus another prospect or two to assess.

That, however, is just my vaguely formed opinion, and what's far more interesting is data analysis.  Even with the uncertainty about what other teams would have done, an assessment of how far teams were off consensus seems like the most interesting approach, especially combined with some allowance for what's already happened at that position (if there are three draft-worthy candidates at a position of need and one's already gone, grabbing one of the two remaining players is likely a better call than drafting a higher-ranked candidate from a position with a pool of twenty remaining draft-worthy candidates).

41 their guys

Lost Ti-Cats,

Do you think that NE and SEA were pushing against the Thaler argument? That they had too much faith in their ability? Before the draft when you looked at all the WR's the thing that struck me was what were the negatives of each player in the non football and athletic factors? At a previous employer we used to call this "what isn't in the model?" This emphasis meant that we knew our models were only very simple approximations of reality. Then for the things that are hard to model, sentiment, fear/greed, we found there were ways to at least try to monitor these intangible factors.

The Raven's seemed to have stood pat and let players come to them. Did they say "on the balance of probabilities" this is a good pick, as opposed to "I know.?" So many humans and occupations are cursed by the Illusion of Skill. I forgot who said it but Dave Gettlemen may have true skill, but he is optimising properly by taking his guy at the wrong time?

The fact is that there are great stock pickers, and market timers, and assessors of physical talent, and estimators of cost, and lawyers who can gauge legal risk better than others. But all of them do much better if they can identify what they can't know. That I think is a major issue.

How lucky are we all to have had the draft? With no footy in Australia life is touch dull.

 

 

44 It's worth mentioning that…

It's worth mentioning that the Patriots and Seahawks are two of the few teams that don't subscibe to a scouting service.  They do their prospect evaluation from scratch.  As a result, the Draft Evaluators of the world don't know what to make of it.  All they know is that those draft picks don't match up with what they have on their sheets in front of them...which invariably started out from a scouting service.  Which makes it easy to say that they drafted poorly.

I say this every year at this time, but a draft grade is simply an "I agree" or "I disagree" statement.  Or to elaborate slightly, "This is what I would have done" or "This is not what I would have done".  The Cowboys went chalk with the consensus.  They did what the "experts" would have done, because they're reading from the same sheet of music.  So they crushed the draft.  The Patriots and Seahawks generally do not do what those same "experts" would've done, so they fail the draft.  Oh well.  The entire thing is a cottage industry of preposterousness (not that I don't read some...after the draft I'm generally desperate to consume ANY football content). 

Ryan Leaf

Blair Thomas

Darren McFadden

Brian Bosworth

Koren Robinson

Heath Shuler

Robert Gallery

The consensus is very, very, wrong concerning "Can't-miss" prospects.  But the teams that drafted them get top marks in the draft grades.  Meanwhile, the Patriots get universally blasted for drafting Richard Seymour and Matt Light with their first two picks.

46 I did not know that about…

I did not know that about the Seahawks and Patriots not subscribing to a scouting service, but that makes a lot of sense. If I were a team owner, I have to think I would insist on approaching it like the Seahawks and Patriots do. I would be spending millions and millions of dollars on internal scouting and would only use an external source to determine what other teams are likely to do (in order to make better tactical decisions during the actual draft).

30 GB offensive line

It's a bit of a stretch to say Green Bay has "an offensive line full of injury concerns." Lane Taylor, who is no longer a starter, missed 14 games. The rest of the line didn't miss a game in 2019 until I think Bulaga in the first playoff game. They had 15.3 Adjusted Games Lost on OL (counting Taylor). I guess they have Rick Wagner now, who missed 4 games in Detroit last year? That was the most he's ever missed in a season.

37 This chart by occasional FO…

This chart by occasional FO guest columnist Benjamin Robinson shows which teams got the best or worst value relative to where players were expected to go according to his Grinding the Mocks project.

Top 5 best value: ARI, DAL, NO, BUF, MIN

Top 5 worst value: LV, SEA, ATL, NE, HOU

Among the other teams that had particularly high or low draft grades in this article, CIN was in the top 3rd of value, BAL was in the middle 3rd, and GB was in the bottom 3rd.

40 Judging Drafts Objectively

So, lots of people have pointed out how subjective grading drafts can be, with even the basic premise of what a good draft is being different for different people (independent of differing judgments on individual players). I don't have a solution for that for a draft that just happened, but for any draft a year or more older, how about the following.

First, determine how much draft capital the team had going into the draft (using the Jimmy Johnson chart or your favorite variant of it). We'll use this as the basis to compare teams with different amounts of draft capital on an equal basis. If a team traded away a first-round pick for a current player, that might have been a wise or foolish use of the pick, but it doesn't indicate anything about how well the team drafts.

Next, rank all players of the same draft year in order by their current career approximate value (I think weighted AV is the way to go, but unweighted could be fine as well). Then, give each team's draft class points based on the total "draft value" (using the same chart you did initially, of course) of each player's position in the AV rank chart. This is based on the premise that if you have the number one pick, they should have the highest AV of their draft class, right? And the 50th pick is a good pick if they are 50th or higher and a poor pick if they are lower.

Finally, divide the total of the AV rank-based "draft value" by the actual draft value total to determine how good a draft it was compared to the amount of draft capital you were working with.

For example, the Seahawks had 534 points of draft capital in 2019. Their picks have performed at the level of 506 points of draft capital (336 of that being DK Metcalf). That a 95% rating for that draft (with 100% being dead average), so slightly disappointing, but really just slightly below average.

For the Seahawks, recent years look like:

2019: 506 result; 534 capital (95%)

2018: 393 result; 350 capital (112%)

2017: 554 result; 448 capital (124%) 

2016: 555 result; 457 capital (121%) 

2015: 653 result; 201 capital (325%)

2014: 355 result; 295 capital (120%)

2013: 151 result; 202 capital (75%)

2012: 2240 result; 584 capital (384%)

2011: 1152 result; 394 capital (292%)

2010: 1250 result; 929 capital (135%)

Draft quality of all years combined: 178%

Median quality of years: 123%

This would explain a lot about how the Seahawks are viewed when drafting. They haven't gotten a ton of results in recent years ("they're terrible at drafting!"), but they've actually done very well in getting value out of the draft capital they have ("they're great at drafting!"). Of course, they don't ever have much draft capital because the excellent 2010 draft, the incredible 2011 draft, and the once-in-a-lifetime 2012 draft (#1 AV that year: Wilson; #2 AV that year: Wagner) have set them up for years and years of high-end results.

The main lesson I draw from this: the GMs of teams that are consistently good know how to draft much, much better than you, me, or any draft analyst, which makes sense given that they earn millions of dollars a year to do that job. Sure, I'm a Seahawks partisan, but if this year's draft is actually a bad draft like lots of analyst are saying, that will be very surprising based on historical data. (I love how the one "bad" year in 2013 was when the Seahawks had a comically low amount of draft capital, roughly the equivalent of having the 32nd pick and nothing else.)

42 Value system

While your overall idea is GREAT, at the margins I would worry about some details: (value in my post is referring to AV scores that SeaRhino is referencing)

1--No matter how great a rookie is, he can only be higher than #1--whether he is #1 by a mile or by a hair.

2--Lots of draft picks accumulate 0 value. If say 75 picks accumulate 0 value, whether they were cut, on the practice squad, or blew out their ACL in training camp--they all look the same. But that injured high pick really kills the team's value in the first year, and makes it look like the GM had a bad draft, but may turn out to be a great pick when he plays at a high level the next year.

3--Some picks who accumulate 0 value actually may have participated, just so few stats as to not accumulate 1 point of value. Others may have just accumulated enough to score 1 point (rounded up, even?) but because there are numerous players who would score 0 or 1 point, they may look "better" than their draft #.

Now, with 3 or more year hindsight, your methodology is really good--by then, there will be more separation in overall values. Another thing you could do is score them by draft round--their round # + their AV should equal 7. If they score more, then it's a plus; less, it's a minus; same, it's even. Smaller numbers, gives teams a little more leeway if , for example, they picked 10th overall, and b/c it's a great draft class overall, their guy, who has been solid, ranks #20 overall--but really is just a shade lower than #13, say.

 

45 It's a not a perfect method…

In reply to by Joseph

It's a not a perfect method of course, and in particular it will have a lot of variance one year out. But once you get to three to four years out, it ought to be pretty solid (I still have high hopes for Will Dissly in this regard). You could even use it to determine which teams are more biased towards drafting for "the future" vs. drafting to get players that can start right away (by seeing if the draft score tended to go up or down over time).

There is the issue of it being entirely relative to the draft class you are selected in, so being #1 in a weak draft counts just as much as being #1 in a strong draft. But I would argue that when evaluating how good a team is at drafting, this is the correct thing to do. A strong overall draft class doesn't mean you did better at drafting that year; you have to do better than the other teams did, regardless of the strength of the class. Of course, you could also do this by distributing draft value points that were weighted by the AV of the player relative to the average AV of their draft class, but then you would have to come up with a system for doing that. Just using the AV rank to draft position value conversion is more elegant and doesn't require a new weighting system, which is a big point in its favor.

Interestingly, this method does include players who did not actually play. It's done by draft position, so even players with 0 AV still have AV ranks in the 200 range, which gets you a point or two of "draft value". But the overall numbers are dominated by players who play a lot. In any particular draft, you could look at it and say "sure the draft score was just 60%, but their top three picks were can't-miss players who all had career-ending injuries due to a freak banana-boat accident in training camp, so that's not the GM's fault". But the draft still got poor results, and that randomness of injuries and such should even out over time. So I would say this method is pretty good at determining what real, on-field results you got out of a draft (relative to the draft capital you had), and that over a long enough period of time, it may be the best objective measure of drafting ability we can get. Since the evaluation of drafts pick performance will always be confounded by issues like injuries and coaching effectiveness, there will never be a perfect way to do this, but I think this method (or something roughly similar) works better than anything else I've seen.

What I did not do was include UDFAs. I don't think it would change things much (although Doug Baldwin would make the Seahawks look better), but if UDFAs were included in the AV ranking, that would then give a picture of the whole "acquiring rookies" process, even if they are technically not drafted.

Another interesting point is that I used the player's AV regardless of where that AV was accumulated. I think this is correct. If Frank Clark puts up hall of fame numbers for Kansas City, the Seahawks should get credit for that from a drafting perspective. You can argue that they then made a mistake by not resigning him, but that's not a drafting mistake.

Thanks for your feedback. If I get the time, I might look into seeing how this method ranks different teams in drafting (or even specific GMs), see how that correlates with overall team success, etc.

47 Methodology

Oh, I agree. For a quick evaluation, it's pretty good. For example, the Skins looked great after 1 year of RG3, but Cousins ended up better overall.

My thought on how you score a player to his team would be in part who drafted him, but also where he accumulated the value. For example, the Falcons drafted Favre, but they wouldn't have traded him if they though he would be half as good as how he ended up. But if a draft pick decides he wants to follow the $$ on that second contract and his current team can't afford him, then sure--give them the credit. So I guess I would score a team on their picks through as long as they are there, or till the end of their first contract, whichever is later. I mean, SEA ought to get to reap the benefits of Sherman and Wilson--they saw the value there, and are still getting great play from Wilson. But IMO, ATL shouldn't get much credit for choosing Favre.

How do you resolve ties (all those 0 and 1 AV guys esp.)? Do they all get rank #~200 (for the 0's) or ~150 (for the 1's)--at least for that first year? I mean, obviously after 3-4 years, the spread will be much greater--as a stud may have 30-40 AV, and anybody who has stayed on a team for a couple of years will have 4-5 points, not just 0 or 1. Anybody still having that little bit of AV probably isn't even playing anymore.

49 Yeah, it can make sense in…

In reply to by Joseph

Yeah, it can make sense in any one case to see if a traded player should be credited to their original team or not, and the method you suggest is very reasonable. But, there are so many variables there (is the GM who did the trade even the same one who drafted him?). You could do things like give the drafting team credit for the AV as long as they had the player, but then also give them the points for the draft value they got for him in a trade. Lots of ways you could refine it, but that requires more (and harder to get) data and potentially judgment calls. I view this method as something like raw EPA for the value of a play as opposed to something like QBR that brings in a lot of additional factors.

I actually didn't resolve ties at all (or, to be more accurate, ties were broken by alphabetical order of last name since that was what Pro Football Reference did in their charts). All the ties generally happen where the difference is just a point of draft value, so it wouldn't change anything at the level I was looking at. But if I were going to break ties, I would break them first by full AV (instead of weighted AV), then by games started, then by games played. That would still leave a few with just a single game played or started that were tied, but that would cut it down a lot. I do like the idea of saying, just in general, if you made the team but have 0 AV, you get 1 point of draft value, if you get 1 AV you get 2 points of draft value, and anything better is based on AV rank.

50 I like this method.  I was…

I like this method.  I was wondering if I should do something like it for SEA and NE to see if their good drafts were flukes or part of sustained good drafting (my perception is that NE hasn't drafted that well lately).  And then you did (half) the work for me.

Two comments.  One, it might not always make sense to draft the best player even if you knew his actual CarAV.  Take the Chiefs right now and assume by some fluke they had owned the #1 pick.  The obvious thing would be to trade down but let's say they kept it.  There is no point in drafting Burrow.  Chase Young makes sense instead even with Frank Clark and Chris Jones on the roster (although Young would make trading Jones a decent option).  But for their current roster, drafting Okudah, Simmons, or a LT might be better choices, even if they end up as "just" top 10 guys when their 5-year AVs are calculated.

2nd, about years when the talent is slim.  In 2013 the Chiefs took Eric Fisher as #1 overall.  Generally, he or Joeckel were seen as the top choices.  While no one thinks Fisher is a stud (he's not even the best OT on the team), did you know he his 8th in AV of all picks that year (far better than Joeckel)?  It wasn't a stellar class.  Bakhtiari is #1 with 72 CarAV (4th rd pick so great ROI), so the Chiefs could have gotten a better tackle, but in the context of that year, Fisher was actually a pretty good pick.  And not even the Chiefs' best one, as Travis Kelce's 59 CarAV (3rd rd) ties Hopkins and Bell as the 2nd highest.

51 You certainly can't build a…

You certainly can't build a team just by taking the top AV players (half would be QBs), even if you knew in advance. But since teams already take need and fit into account when drafting, I think this method still works. If KC had the #1 pick for some reason, they would be foolish not to trade down from it. If they did not, and picked a player who was very good, but not the top AV player that year, then they did not draft as well as they could have. I would generally argue that if you do not want to take a QB with the #1 pick, you should trade down from it instead because QBs are so valuable.

There is a potential flaw with this method in that you can never do better than break-even with the #1 pick. At best, you will get the amount of value the pick was worth. This could potentially be accounted for with a more complicated method, such as totaling all of the AV accumulated by all players in a single draft class, determining the percentage of that AV that belongs to the player in question, and then assign a number of points to that player equal to the same percentage of the total draft value of the entire draft chart you are using. That way, a player picked #1 who performs much better than a #1 pick normally would could be credited for that. A system like this would almost certainly be more accurate, in some ways, although it is making some big assumptions about the accuracy of AV.

The method I used can be done fairly simply in a spreadsheet using only the draft finder page from Pro Football Reference, which is a big point in its favor. It also clearly shows that the Seahawks draft much better than most people think, so clearly it is a good method. :-)

61 this method

The logic is flawless, and so many useful ways to approach it; e.g., compare where a team ought to finish in terms of draft capital with where they do finish in derived WAR. Not gonna hold my breath, tho', waiting for anyone to do such. Including Football Outsiders. Never mind how obvious the merit is.

52 This method is generally…

This method is generally going to punish teams for having an early pick and overrate the teams that don't. It's essentially saying that any randomness/unpredictability counts as a mistake by the teams with the earliest draft picks. When the entire league passed on Tom Brady for 5+ rounds, that counts against the Cleveland Browns who had the 1st pick.

Chase Stuart made a draft value chart based on AV (updated from this earlier effort). I think it would work better to use that for the value of each pick, rescaled for each draft class so that the total draft capital equals the actual total AV of the players drafted.

55 Well, it was raining all of…

Well, it was raining all of today, so instead of yard work, I completely redid the system I talked about above.

So now, I use Chase Stuart's draft value chart (which I like a lot better than the traditional ones) and covert each draft position into a percentage value of the whole draft. (1st pick is 2.4%, 2nd is 2.1%, 3rd is 1.9%, etc.) I then use these values to calculate what percentage of the draft capital for each of the last 10 years each team has (3.125% is average). CLE in 2018 had 7.2% of the draft capital, which is the most of anyone, but only eight times did anyone have over 5% (and four of those were CLE). The lowest is 0.8% for CHI in 2019, due to trading away all their high picks. On average, CLE had 4.5%, which is first by a mile (SFO is second at 3.7%, TAM is third at 3.5%). NOR, ATL, and CHI are at the bottom with 2.6% each.

I then use the CarAV (weighted) of each player drafted to calculate what percentage of the total value in their draft that they accounted for (using Pro Football Reference's draft finder). Russell Wilson is the best here (2.6%), followed by Cam Newton (2.5%), Lamar Jackson (2.4%), and Kyler Murray (2.4%). Rounding out the top ten are Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Bobby Wagner, Julio Jones, and Luke Kuechly. Patrick Mahomes will likely dominate this list in the long run, but he has to make up for sitting a year first (and is "only" 24th right now).

Then, I calculate the total CarAV percentage for each team for each year. The average here is also 3.125%, but the best single year is SEA in 2012 (8.2%). Note that SEA draft capital was about 10th best for this draft. Other top draft returns are IND in 2018 (7.6%), BAL in 2018 (7.2%), NOR in 2017 (6.7%), and DAL in 2016 (6.4%). SEA is the only team with more than one year above 5% (with 2010 being 5.8% and 2011 being 6.1%; and, of course, they won a Superbowl shortly thereafter). The lowest return is NWE in 2017 (0.7%), which is quite surprising to me. The highest average return is SEA at 4.0%, followed by BAL at 3.6% and CLE at 3.5%. The bottom three are CHI (2.7%), SDG (2.6%), and NYJ (2.2%).

This total CarAV percentage is then divided by that the team's draft capital percentage for that same year. The resulting value is a "draft ROI" value, where 100% means you got the expected return on your draft capital. The best single draft ROI is 2012 for SEA at 236%. The second best is 2011 for SEA at 224%. The only other 200%+ draft is GNB in 2013 at 206%. The worst year was DET in 2011 with an appalling 33%. SFO in 2012 wasn't far behind with 35%, and SDG in 2013 at 40% rounds out the bottom three. The highest average is SEA at 135%, followed by GNB and DAL at 120% each. PIT, NOR, BAL, KAN, NWE, WAS (!), and ATL round out the top ten. At the bottom of the barrel is NYJ at 74% and CLE at 78% (they have not invested all that draft capital very well). TAM is next at 86%, followed closely by TEN and JAX at 87% each.

If you only look at the last three years (which will still change a bunch in the future, of course), then you can see some interesting trends. KAN is at the top with 131%, but closely followed by LAR, MIN, and BUF all at 130%, then BAL and NOR at 128%. HOU, IND, PIT, CHI, SFO, and JAX are next (122% down to 111%) as teams who are doing above average recently. SEA is doing okay at 98%, but isn't crushing the draft like they used to. At the bottom, by a mile: NWE at 55%. Even the NYJ managed to get to 69%, with DEN (75%), ARI (76%), and CIN (78%) following.

I also created a "draft score" for each player to determine how well they have performed relative to their draft position. This can't just be a ratio, of course, because then any later rounder who became an average starter would look incredible. So I calculated it by taking their CarAV percentage of their draft, subtracted their draft position expected CarAV percentage (from the Chase Stuart draft value chart), added 1.0 (so you had to do REALLY badly compared to your draft position to get a negative draft score), then multiplied by 100 (so 100 means you did exactly as expected). Russell Wilson is the top in this metric as well (306) and is clearly the greatest draft pick of the last ten years. Second is Richard Sherman at 295 (due to being picked 154th). Rounding out the top ten are Antonio Brown, Dak Prescott, David Bakhtiari, Geno Atkins, Tyreek Hill (how was he picked at 165???), Gardner Minshew (!!!), Lamar Jackson, and Bobby Wagner. Andy Dalton makes an appearance at #23 (score of 209) because even average QBs are quite valuable. Other SEA notables: KJ Wright at #28 (score of 206), Chris Carson at #30 (also 206), JR Sweezy at #32 (he was the 225th pick, so he's done well), DK Metcalf is #84 (score 180), Kam Chancellor is #86 (score of 179), and Tyler Lockett is #91 (score of 178).

The most fun part of the draft score is the negative scores, though. To get a negative score, you had to be a top ten pick and not live up to it (or be Jonah Williams, a 2019 #11 pick who was injured in training camp and missed the entire season). At the bottom is Dion Jordon at -72 (lots of drug suspensions), then Trent Richardson (just not a good running back) at -52. Justin Blackmon (DUIs and drugs) at -48, Kevin White (injuries) at -47, and Luke Joeckel (injuries) at -47 are next. Then we get Sam Bradford at -39. Great rookie season, but then destroyed by a combination of injuries and Jeff Fisher. He got to 44 AV, but he was the #1 pick... Another interesting negative scorer is Myles Garrett (score of -30), where he had some injuries his first year, then things were looking good until "the incident". He's already got 22 AV though, which isn't bad, unless you are the #1 pick. There's also Robert Griffin III with a -25 score. He has 36 AV, but that's over eight years and half of it was in his first year. The other #1 pick in the negatives is Jadeveon Clowney. He's got a respectable 42 AV (second only to Sam Bradford among the negative scorers), but he was supposed to be a JJ Watt or Aaron Donald. Then there is the only player with a score of zero: Blaine Gabbert, which seems quite appropriate.

As a final note to this ridiculously long post, I have to mention Doug Baldwin. He got to 62 AV as an UDFA in a run-heavy offense. That would be roughly a draft score of 248. It's roughly as if AJ Green had gone undrafted. He is #5 on the SEA CarAV list from the last ten years and is proof that even the best GMs are just rolling dice.

Thanks for the feedback on this as it is much improved in this second version. A fun way to spend a Saturday. :-)

56 Nice. I found myself wanting…

Nice. I found myself wanting to click the Upvote button as I was reading this. Seems like it could be its own guest article.

135% for Seattle seems high enough so that it's not just due to a couple guys who turned out well - I bet they'd still be at least top 3 even without Wilson & Wagner.

If you have a spreadsheet that would be easy to share I'd be interested in taking a look and maybe tinkering with some things.

57 Drops the average to 119% if…

Drops the average to 119% if you zero-out Wilson and Wagner, as 2012 drops to just 98%. That just barely puts them in 3rd place behind DAL and GNB (who are both at 120%). I'll see about putting the spreadsheet up on my personal website this week and putting up a link.

I would love to do a guest article, but I'm not quite at the level of football knowledge as the FO guys (and a lot of what I do know is from them). I am an experienced software engineer and game designer, though, so I'm pretty decent at mathematical analysis of systems. This topic is the only thing I've ever come up with that could even possibly warrant an article (unless you count opinions about how to fix overtime and eliminate the extra point).

59 This is the kind of thing we…

This is the kind of thing we would be very interested in. In particular, your measurement of % of each draft class' AV is a great way to compare recent draft classes to those of years past. Please contact us at this page (I won't get this email directly, but you can mention I asked you to contact us):

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/form/contact

58 Great work. I’m sure your…

Great work. I’m sure your system isn’t perfect, but it is very methodically laid out, and not overly complex (unlike some of the NFL analytics content I come across these days). The results certainly pass the basic smell test. Thanks for sharing. 

43 Inconsistent to efficient?

What college QBs had Jordan Love-type issues …

 

Inconsistency, poor decisions with the ball …

 

And overcame those problems as pros?

66 Mahomes’ interception rate,…

In reply to by Aaron Brooks G…

Mahomes’ interception rate, sophomore year (2015): 2.6 percent.

Completion percentage, 2015: 63.5.

Interception rate, 2016: 1.7 percent.

Completion percentage, 2016: 65.7.

68 Yes, Mahomes stats looked…

Yes, Mahomes stats looked like Fungible Texas Tech QB -- Harrell had the same stats, and Webb, Mayfield, and even Doege were in that range.

But Mahomes had a reputation as an inconsistent gunslinger -- a raw talent who could turn out special if he listened to a good coach. He might have been a disaster if a Miami or Chicago got its hands on him instead of Andy Reid.

70 Greg Cosell was asked about…

Greg Cosell was asked about Mahomes and his own evaluation. Its worth remembering, Cosell is in a lot of ways a very old school type evaluator of qbs - ie he has a preference for big armed, big stature pocket passers. I also give him credit for being totally honest.

 

TLDR, he didn't think much of Mahomes beyond his obvious physical skill set. He said the guy played very recklessly and he had coaches tell him he would struggle to draft a guy like that because after spending hours upon hours developing a gameplan, he might not run any of it. 

 

Its also telling that predraft, Mahomes was considered a fringe first rounder, probably not unlike Jordan Love. 

54 Thank you!

With the links to the past draft report cards, this article will give hours of fun reading.