One of the interesting things about gathering Big Boards across the country and finding the different ways that evaluators grade the players is that it gives us an ability to take a look at the draft from their perspective. There’s a big stigma against “grading the draft,” that I don’t think makes a lot of sense because we’re so willing to share our opinions on the players and teams who drafted them in every other way.

It seems we can give opinions about individual players and their teams without criticism. but as soon as we summarize it in a letter grade, we’re doing something wrong and have to wait. Instead, it may be better to wait three years to judge it.

But that’s no fun, and we want feedback. We just have to acknowledge we have a high band of uncertainty and give our impressions of the draft.

But how about instead of inserting post-hoc opinions about our favorite team, we take a look at a metric we’ve already laid the groundwork for? Let’s compare a team’s draft capital to what the Big Boards accumulated said.

 

It’s not perfect, especially in a deep draft, but by assigning players in their rankings an amount of points equal to the trade charts’ equivalent pick value, we can find out what players are considered to be worth. Using the NFL Trade Value Chart (put together by Jimmy Johnson way back when), we can compare the amount of draft capital a team entered the draft with to the “value” of players selected. This is perhaps the most appropriate way to gauge the number of “steals” and “reaches” a team makes and quantifying.

The question is which board to use? We have a consensus board, an evaluator board and a forecaster board from fifty different sources. After looking at the forecaster boards, I saw that they did end up—as we expected—being the most accurate at creating a Top 100  that matched the draft value of the NFL (not by counting the number of players in both top 100s, but by finding the average error for each player. I’ll write about it in more detail later, but for now just know that “predicting” where players go doesn’t tell us if a player is good).

Instead, we’ll look at the evaluator board. The two point systems I’m using are the Jimmy Johnson chart and the Football Perspective Chart based off of Approximate Value. The system is simple—the percentage difference between the amount of draft capital you have and the amount of player capital you acquired determines how well you did. I have also added and subtracted the traded future picks from their relevant teams using the traditional discount rate (50%), even though there’s good evidence that that’s a bad rate.

The scores are normalized so that 100 is average, and every 15-point difference is one standard deviation away from average. The first chart uses the traditional Jimmy Johnson chart:

Team Score
Minnesota 165.4
Oakland 124.2
Green Bay 122.4
Baltimore 118.8
Houston 116.4
Atlanta 111.5
Tennessee 109.0
San Diego 108.1
Carolina 107.6
Cincinnati 107.1
Detroit 107.0
San Francisco 102.5
Washington 101.9
St. Louis 100.4
New York (J) 97.3
Buffalo 96.5
Chicago 96.2
Philadelphia 93.8
Indianapolis 93.6
Tampa Bay 92.1
Cleveland 91.8
New England 91.6
Pittsburgh 91.1
Jacksonville 90.5
Kansas City 88.1
New Orleans 86.0
Dallas 85.9
Arizona 85.1
Denver 84.9
Miami 81.5
New York (G) 78.8
Seattle 53.3

The second chart uses the Approximate Value calculator from Football Perspective:

Team Score
Minnesota 143.8
Oakland 132.1
Tennessee 123.8
Houston 117.1
Philadelphia 111.0
Green Bay 109.4
Chicago 107.4
Washington 106.6
Atlanta 105.9
St. Louis 105.3
San Francisco 105.1
Baltimore 104.8
Detroit 103.1
Pittsburgh 102.2
Jacksonville 101.6
Indianapolis 99.2
Cincinnati 97.6
Carolina 96.4
Buffalo 96.3
Miami 94.5
San Diego 94.4
Cleveland 93.8
Arizona 92.6
Kansas City 92.3
New England 92.2
New York (J) 91.5
Tampa Bay 91.1
Dallas 89.2
New Orleans 76.2
Denver 75.8
New York (G) 72.7
Seattle 48.1

Either way, the Vikings come out ahead. Oakland’s draft was stellar, but most people didn’t catch that and Seattle may have gotten better players  in UDFA than they did in the draft (this chart doesn’t account for that). If Seattle had drafted zero players with its picks, it’s score would have been 44 and 19, depending on the chart, making their draft shockingly subpar.

This chart doesn’t take into account needs, scheme fit or positional value (both concepts I think are important when evaluating drafts), simply the pre-draft judgment of talent.  That might be why, when I asked on Twitter, I got wildly different responses from people when I asked them who they thought had the best draft for value. Most said San Francisco (12th and 10th) and I also got responses saying St. Louis (14th and 15th), Jacksonville (24th and 13th) and the Steelers (23rd and 14th). I would also argue that some of the responses were not driven by the amount of capital the teams entering the draft had, and both the Rams  and the 49ers entered the draft in the top five of total draft capital (pick value) in the AV calculation. Because the Jimmy Johnson chart is steeper, the Rams ranked 1st in the Jimmy Johnson chart and the 49ers ranked 16th. Basically both teams had a ton of high value picks, so they should have more high-value players.

For what it’s worth, I trust the AV chart more on both accounts—determining who had the most capital and who got the most return, because it is based on historical data. One final thing we can do is look at it division by division. First, by the Jimmy Johnson TVC:

Division Score
NFC North 125.3
AFC West 107.5
AFC South 105.1
NFC South 100.4
AFC North 99.7
NFC West 93.1
AFC East 92.3
NFC East 87.9

 

Then by the AV Chart:

Division Score
NFC North 117.0
AFC South 111.5
AFC West 102.5
AFC North 98.8
NFC West 94.3
NFC South 93.7
AFC East 93.7
NFC East 92.8

 

Which means that the improvement teams saw relative to their draft may differ significantly by the fact that their divisional rivals did well or poorly. The Vikings’ success, for example, is going to be tamped down by the success of the rest of the division, while the New York Giants’ failure may be hidden by the weak drafting of its division.

And yes, again it is impossible to truly judge a draft until we’re three years out. But based on what we know, this is the evaluation as it stands right now—driven not by homerism but by the consensus of 50 experts and some interesting tools. If you want letter grades, they are as follows:

Team Grade
Minnesota A+
Oakland A
Tennessee A-
Houston B
Philadelphia B-
Green Bay B-
Chicago C+
Washington C+
Atlanta C+
St. Louis C+
San Francisco C+
Baltimore C
Detroit C
Pittsburgh C
Jacksonville C
Indianapolis C
Cincinnati C-
Carolina C-
Buffalo C-
Miami D+
San Diego D+
Cleveland D+
Arizona D+
Kansas City D+
New England D+
New York (J) D
Tampa Bay D
Dallas D
New Orleans F
Denver F
New York (G) F
Seattle Please see the teacher after class

 

Enjoy your success Vikings fans! I am sorry, Seahawks fans but you’ve had it pretty good for a bit now, anyway.