Disliking this man might make you a racist
They say you can’t judge a draft until after three years. I would generally agree with that statement. It’s unfair to judge a draft until at least three seasons have gone by. But I really think you have to wait five years before it’s really an accurate judgment.
By that point, most if not all of a team’s original picks have finished their rookie contracts and hit free agency. And you can really determine the strength of a draft based on how many players lasted long enough to hit free agency, and how many of them managed to earn second contracts.
For grading drafts, I have come up with a fairly simple grading system that after five seasons assigns a grade of A, B, C, D, or F to every player drafted. I’ve added examples from the 2008 class.
A – An elite or near elite player. Mike Lombardi would call these “blue chip” players. For quarterbacks, it’s modified to players that are good franchise quarterbacks. Example: Matt Ryan, Ray Rice.
B – Mike Lombardi would call these “red chip” players. They are universally considered among the better players at their position and definite impact players. They are typically among the best players on their respective teams, and would be considered so on any team. Examples: Chris Long, Jamaal Charles.
C – Solid starters. Guys that are fairly entrenched as starters and could start on a significant percentage of NFL teams. Examples: Sam Baker, Cliff Avril.
D – Backups or low-level starters. They are role players or may be starters, but are widely considered to be very underwhelming starters: Examples: Felix Jones, Early Doucet.
F – These are players that are out of the league. Examples: Kentwan Balmer, Chevis Jackson
I try not to overemphasize their most recent performances, trying to look at a player’s five-year career as a hole.
So far I’ve looked at the 2007 and 2008 draft classes, looking at where they were at the end of 2011 and 2012 seasons, respectively. After this upcoming season we should be able to judge the 2009 class. Here’s how they stack up with number of players with each grade.
It’ll be interesting to look at what the 2009 draft looks like after this season when we reach the five-year deadline. But it’s interesting that the 2007 and 2008 have very similar numbers. That simply could be a coincidence, but if we see the 2009 draft shift towards similar numbers, it would be hard to argue that is still merely a coincidence. And we could start to assume that in general drafts produce roughly the same amount of talent. What differs is not the overall talent brought into the league, but which teams do the best jobs finding that talent.
You could use this rating system to assign a Grade Point Average per team to judge how well they drafted by assigning four points for an A, three for a B, etc. For 2008, the Saints wound up with the highest GPA, averaging 1.50 points per pick. Carl Nicks was their A-level player, and Sedrick Ellis and Tracy Porter were C-level players. DeMario Pressley gave them credit for a D-level player as he was on injured reserve with the Bears this past year. Taylor Mehlhaff and Adrian Arrington were Fs. What’s interesting is that none of those players (assuming Ellis is not re-signed) are currently with the Saints.
If you’re curious to how the Falcons 2008 draft graded out, it placed 7th with a GPA of 1.18 points. Jacksonville had the worst draft with a GPA of 0.20. The only player that did not receive a F grade among the Jaguars five picks that year was Quentin Groves, who was a backup with the Cardinals last year before signing with the Browns last month. Read more…