Thursday, May 5, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Grades

Post-NFL Draft grading and evaluation is kind of a funny thing to do when you think about it. Maybe half of the drafted prospects gain a career? It's like flipping a coin almost. There is the human element involved. It's like playing the ponies rather than playing the lottery. Horse racing involves both the ability of the horse and the rider's attempt to execute a strategy along with other riders and horses. And then assume it is the horse's first race. Bettors have no idea what to think. It's the future they place their money on. It takes a few races to get to know a horse. Some like grass. Some like sloppy tracks. Some use different riders. The variables are many. Same with NFL Draft prospects. We just don't know which players are going to perform well or become complete flops until around 6 years pass and we see which players for which teams do what. Do Instant Draft Grades Mean Anything? Not Really. But even then, they check their own work somewhat by arguing the more picks a team has the better: In NFL Draft, Numbers Do Matter.

There are two different kinds of draft grades. Draft grades immediately following the NFL Draft (by the way, here is 2011's NFL Draft results) are measuring how teams did acquiring talent relative to where the players were expected to go in the draft. Of course, that runs into unreliable narrator issues and circular arguments, since draft aficionados are the only ones setting the market value publicly and they are the same ones deciding value relative to draft position and they don't all agree. On top of that, not everyone agrees on what sort of expectation and risk is acceptable for each pick or even each player being selected. Should teams draft for high reward yet have a higher risk? Good question (see Drive-By Football's "Drafting: Risk & Variability"). However, NFL Draft grades years from now measure how effective the teams were at acquiring talent, with the hindsight of those draftees NFL performance. They're two totally different ways of looking at the draft. Obviously, one seems more legit and objective than the other. Nonetheless, here are some of the more prominent 2011 NFL Draft grades available. I'm sure there are more:

Mel Kiper, ESPN (Insider)
Rob Rang,
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Clifton Brown, Sporting News
Adam Caplan,
Gregg Rosenthal (AFC) & Evan Silva (NFC),
Jarrett Bell, USA Today
(AFC) and (NFC) grades from Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports
(AFC) and (NFC) grades from Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
AFC) and (NFC) grades from Wes Bunting, National Football Post
Kerry Byrne, Sports Illustrated Fan Balloting
Jordan Schultz, Huffington Post
John Dove, (AFC) and (NFC)
Greg Gaines, GM Jr

While most of these articles used a standard A/B/C/D grading system, Scouts Inc. used a different scoring model. Utilizing ESPN's Stats and Information, they built a formula (explained here, ESPN Insider) calculating NFL team's needs, draft pick value (based on Scouts Inc.’s player ranking), and trade value (a subjective point total ranging from +5 to -5) to rank each NFL team. The lower the score, the better the draft.

While Football Outsiders evaluates NFL Drafts 6 years later (2004 [1998], 2005 [1999], 2006 [2000], 2007 [2001], 2008 [2002], 2009 [2003], 2010 [2004], 2011 [2005]) they took the Wisdom of the Crowds/Conventional Wisdom approach to peer into how this year's NFL Draft is perceived by the draftniks, which is an objective measure. Most NFL Draft grades are assigned to how well individual teams did overall in the draft. Each individual pick is not necessarily analyzed. Most important picks/trades/strategies are understood in the context of an NFL team's work on the Draft. Thankfully, Football Outsiders has calculated the efforts of others for our enjoyment. Here is their objective measure of how the draftniks subjective perception on how NFL teams performed in this year's (and prior years) NFL Drafts:

2011 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2010 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2009 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2008 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2007 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2005 NFL Draft Report Card Report

No comments:

Post a Comment