AnalysisNFL Draft 2015

2015 NFL Draft: The Consensus Board Grades Your Team’s Draft

Who won the draft?

In the grand scheme of football things, that generally doesn’t matter—winning the Super Bowl does. But to simplify it to that ignores the massive amounts of work and effort that goes into a playoff push, where the draft is often key.

We don’t know who “won” the draft in the context of results-based grading, because we don’t know the results. But if we’re just as willing to give prospects “round grades” or evaluate whether or not a team made a good pick, we should be able to summarize our thoughts on those teams, and the easiest way to do that is “grades.”

So in the sense that one can’t “grade” the draft until we’re three years out, I suppose that’s true but not useful information. In the same way that we can’t criticize a coach hire, a free agency move or a trade until we’re three years into the contract, we can’t criticize player acquisitions in the draft until we’re through.

But there’s no point to analysis if we’re going to defer it to an unknowable future—you wouldn’t read this blog if you weren’t willing to engage in some speculation. We predict win-loss records, argue that a team may make the playoffs or not, say that one team is destined to succeed or fail, and no one minds that. But when people “grade drafts” that’s too soon.

Anyway, so long as we have information on how people grade prospects, we have information on what people in the aggregate think about the talent a team has acquired.

To the Consensus Board!

By calculating pick value using the AV formula developed by the Harvard Sports Collective and the average value assigned by each of the 43 boards used to rank prospects, we can determine the return a team gets for their investment in the draft. If we curve the percent return to the top team, we can give letter grades. Let’s do it!

Team Total Pick Value Total Talent Value Score Grade
PIT 4616.3 5370.6 100% A+
MIN 5918.8 6831.8 99% A+
NYJ 5172.8 5761.3 96% A
ATL 5202.8 5656.2 93% A
MIA 4824.3 5237.0 93% A
JAX 6216.5 6638.0 92% A
CLE 9403.4 9789.0 90% A-
CIN 5569.5 5730.3 88% B+
CHI 5262.7 5322.9 87% B
BAL 5371.7 5399.7 86% B
HOU 4688.9 4635.1 85% B
DAL 4248.3 4030.0 82% B-
DEN 4248.2 3997.0 81% B-
DET 4326.0 4052.3 81% B-
BUF 2885.1 2692.0 80% B-
CAR 2649.2 2454.0 80% B-
NYG 4791.7 4427.1 79% C+
SF 5814.1 5289.2 78% C
TEN 8102.3 7244.0 77% C
GB 4425.2 3920.8 76% C
NE 5645.4 4898.1 75% C
SD 4023.5 3477.2 74% C
NO 6864.2 5932.2 74% C
OAK 6538.8 5591.9 74% C
IND 4414.0 3735.8 73% C
PHI 3934.6 3207.9 70% C-
TB 6457.2 5196.4 69% D+
WAS 6712.6 5365.8 69% D+
KC 4037.4 3029.8 65% D
ARI 4434.6 3326.2 64% C-
STL 5650.3 4076.9 62% D
SEA 3629.7 2464.2 58% F

Last year, Minnesota got the top grade. This year, the teacher’s pet ended in second behind Pittsburgh. The rankers really liked the Steelers’ acquisition of Gerod Holliman (ranked 121) in the seventh round and Anthony Chickillo, ranked 120th and picked with selection number 212.

Of course, this isn’t quite my analysis—I don’t particularly like Holliman and I think 121 is generous for him, while I think Chickillo is probably better than 120. This board also doesn’t take into account injury or other revealed risk that the board cannot take into account.

And of course, the value calculations know nothing at all about need.

Seattle, who finished in last place last year, did so again. New England, who had some of the biggest reaches in the draft, made up for it with immense value elsewhere (and arguably more, as the board likely did not properly rate players like Darryl Roberts).

One of the keys is not screwing up the first pick you have (Buffalo wasn’t immune because the board takes into account how much capital you had, not where you were slotted). Tampa Bay was not helped by the fact that Winston was ranked second on the consensus board, but that doesn’t mean they were wrong to take him. One of the things this can’t do is account for positional importance (along with need).

The best pick in the first round was Leonard Williams by the Jets, which is no surprise. Following that was Bud Dupree by the Steelers and Malcom Brown by the Patriots. The formula also loves the Randy Gregory pick by Dallas at pick 60.

The two best acquisitions were by the Cleveland Browns (Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB from Oregon) and the Tennessee Titans, one pick later (Tre McBride, WR William & Mary). A lot of steals happened at the bottom. Take a look at the top ten:

Rank Player School Position Pick # Team Pick Value Talent Value Difference Rank
75 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Oregon CB 241 CLE 171.37 768.87 448.7% 1
96 Tre McBride William & Mary WR 245 TEN 162.88 632.49 388.3% 2
44 Michael Bennett (DT) Ohio St IDL 180 JAX 321.93 988.46 307.0% 3
121 Gerod Holliman Louisville S 239 PIT 175.67 478.31 272.3% 4
154 Corey Robinson South Carolina OL 240 DET 173.52 402.04 231.7% 5
51 Jay Ajayi Boise St RB 149 MIA 419.44 960.22 228.9% 6
98 Derron Smith Fresno State S 197 CIN 275.37 614.77 223.2% 7
27 T.J. Clemmings Pittsburgh OL 111 MIN 571.33 1228.86 215.1% 8
143 Ben Koyack Notre Dame TE 229 JAX 197.72 419.44 212.1% 9
165 Dezmin Lewis Central Arkansas WR 234 BUF 186.58 383.70 205.6% 10

Jacksonville appears in ten top ten twice, and Pittsburgh has the 11th with Chickillo. Both Minnesota and Cincinnati had the most appearances in the top 40.

You want to see the worst, right?

Rank Player School Position Pick # Team Pick Value Talent Value Difference Rank
584 Rodney Gunter Delaware State IDL 116 ARI 548.60 160.72 29.3% 1
2000 Tray Walker Texas State CB 136 BAL 466.54 150.00 32.2% 2
218 Jamon Brown Louisville OL 72 STL 794.65 272.43 34.3% 3
208 Jordan Richards Stanford S 64 NE 855.41 295.46 34.5% 4
246 Chaz Green Florida OL 91 DAL 673.83 240.07 35.6% 5
584 Mykkele Thompson Texas S 144 NYG 437.05 160.72 36.8% 6
250 Angelo Blackson Auburn IDL 100 TEN 625.17 238.73 38.2% 7
2000 CJ Uzomah Auburn TE 157 CIN 392.46 150.00 38.2% 8
2000 Tye Smith Towson CB 170 SEA 351.42 150.00 42.7% 9
138 Mitch Morse Missouri OL 49 KC 993.19 426.48 42.9% 10
167 Frank Clark Michigan EDGE 63 SEA 863.54 375.58 43.5% 11
517 Bradley Pinion Clemson P 165 SF 366.82 162.29 44.2% 12
760 David Mayo Texas State OFB 169 CAR 354.46 159.10 44.9% 13
265 Jon Feliciano Miami (FL) OL 128 OAK 497.82 225.86 45.4% 14
2000 Matthew Wells Mississippi State OFB 178 NE 327.70 150.00 45.8% 15

I included the top 15 in part because I think a lot of these players were misvalued by the Consensus Board. Of course, I included over 1100 players, but I do think Tray Walker and Tye Smith should have been on some boards (although this may be because I pay attention to #SeahawksTwitter so who knows). Mitch Morse was unranked on a lot of boards, but ranked somewhat highly when he was, so that complicates that.

One final thing—we can average the grades out over the past two years to see how teams did.

Team Yr 1 Yr 2 Total Grade
MIN 112.5% 99.2% 105.9% A+
HOU 92.8% 93.4% 93.1% A
PIT 81.8% 100.0% 90.9% A-
ATL 84.5% 93.5% 89.0% B+
OAK 103.9% 73.5% 88.7% B
BAL 83.7% 92.0% 87.9% B
JAX 81.3% 91.8% 86.6% B
CHI 85.6% 87.0% 86.3% B
NYJ 73.9% 95.8% 84.8% B
MIA 76.1% 93.3% 84.7% B
TEN 97.7% 71.6% 84.7% B
CIN 78.4% 88.5% 83.4% B
CLE 75.6% 89.5% 82.5% B
GB 87.1% 76.2% 81.6% B-
DET 82.4% 80.5% 81.5% B-
SF 83.9% 78.2% 81.1% B-
PHI 88.3% 70.1% 79.2% C+
BUF 77.4% 80.2% 78.8% C
CAR 77.5% 79.6% 78.6% C
WAS 85.0% 68.7% 76.9% C
DAL 72.2% 81.6% 76.9% C
IND 79.6% 72.8% 76.2% C
SD 76.0% 74.3% 75.2% C
NE 74.4% 74.6% 74.5% C
STL 84.1% 62.0% 73.1% C
ARI 74.7% 70.0% 72.4% C
DEN 62.3% 80.9% 71.6% C-
TB 73.6% 69.2% 71.4% C-
NYG 60.0% 79.4% 69.7% D+
KC 74.5% 64.5% 69.5% D+
NO 62.6% 74.3% 68.4% D
SEA 41.8% 58.4% 50.1% F

I guess Rick Spielman subscribes to #DraftTwitter.

As for Seattle? You do you, Seattle.

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      1. If by *success* you only mean SB wins, maybe. Otherwise the Vikings are way more thqan half as successful as the Packers, by any other metric. But if the former, then the packers are hardly even close to being as successful as the NYG, Dallas Cowboys, SF 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers or NE Patriots, especially in the era of AFC and NFC conferences.

  1. Feeling pretty good about this draft. I liked the Waynes pick but would have been happier if Scherff had fallen to us. We addressed the OL later but Scherff was a sure thing.
    Nice job grading this draft Arif!

  2. Now it is time to see these Vikings draft classes return some wins. Otherwise, it does not mean diddly.

  3. I think Rick Speilman is the best GM in the NFL and has done a great job since he has become the GM. I know early on he made some mistakes but no one is perfect. Rick has gotten better as most people do in there job the longer they are there.I look for many of last years picks to step up big this year from Exum, Tankee, Critian Paterson and more. SKOL VIKINGS!!! P.S. also excite about a few of the UDFA in the saftie and reciever!!!

  4. Regardless, the Vikings draft passes the eye (or smell) test. Great picks, especially if Danielle Hunter turns into a Zimmer-phenom in 2016. Nice to have the luxury of letting him learn for a year behind B-Rob. It sounds like they will move Clemmings to guard, and if he starts this year, another home run….although that might also be a year out. Interesting to see that the Vikings had 31 players on the team that they drafted, and 6 Pro Bowlers. With Peterson, Fusco, Loadholt and Rudolf coming back on offense and sprinkling in McKinnon, Wright, Pruitt and Diggs – and if Patterson and C.Johnson take the next step — Teddy has more than enough weapons. But, it’s the defense that will be extremely enjoyable to watch develop. Love bringing in Newman and Mays to help the youngster learn the system – and speaking of systems – year 2 and a training camp # 2 of both offensive and defensive systems will also make a huge difference. Lots to look forward to this year and 2016!!!!!! KEEP IT UP VIKES!!!

    1. This is a great sign. I follow Bama football, my alma mater, and you can see how well they have done using a strong run stopping defense with excellent defensive backfields, an offense that needs to just score more than the opponent and not turn the ball over with tandem runnung backs and excellent offensive lines, extremely well coached compared to the competition and a revolving door of top shelf talent coming in every year through the college signing system. With yearly infusion of new talent, tailored to Zimmers and Turners systems, I see the Vikes performing like that soon and the drafts will continue to just make us that much better. Go Vikes!

  5. I’m a little disappointed with the later rounds this year. Ifo, laEl Collins, Jay Ajayi, Holliman would all have been great additions if we grabbed them slightly before they were taken.

    Collins is going through a crazy situation but if he’s proven innocent he’s a top 20 talent in the 7th? Cmon that’s totally worth it. 7th round picks have what a .005% chance of being a star, pretty sure Collins will be if he’s innocent which has to be a higher percentage than any other 7th rounder. If not then cut him.
    Really liked Clemmings tho.

    1. I’m glad to see the teams respected La’el Collins’ wishes to not be drafted out of the second round.

      He needs time to get his legal issues resolved.

      His path to the NFL is… signing a free agent deal with the team of his choice, when he is ready. The Vikings will probably be interested when the time is right. Some red carpet, a starting job, and a nice contract is all it will take.

      1. I didn’t know about that request, and hope he picks us if he’s ever going to play. Unfortunately it’s pretty unlikely hell sign with us (I’m sure he’ll get 32 phone calls) and while we know how nice Minnesota is, those southern kids are afraid were living in igloos up here. Simply from a team standpoint I still believe we would have been better served selecting him in the 7th.

    2. is he worth it when he refuses to sign a contract and holds-out until next year’s draft? considering that it is known he wouldn’t sign if drafted that low (his agent publicly stated as much), then his ability to become a star versus a typical 7th round pick is irrelevant. i guess i’d rather spend my pick on someone who has a chance of making my roster rather than on someone who i already know won’t be joining it.

  6. I see the Zimmer/Turner effect as far as Spielman’s drafting strategy. It’s almost all freakish talent, high character guys. My speculation is that Kendricks will be the green dot on defense week 1, Clemmings will light a fire under Kalil’s ass, we have a solid starting LG somewhere else on the roster, and Waynes will disappoint year 1 but will be the long-term answer. My rube-like take is Hunter ends up an All-Pro after a couple years of Zimmerification. I’ve never felt so confident in this organization. SKOL!!!!

    1. I agree that TJ Clemming should get a shot to work behind Kalil and push him for the job. Tyrus Thompson is a very good run blocker that could push for the starting guard spot. And, I still believe the Vikings might be in the mix for La’el Collins if he is cleared.

      NFL teams will be limited to what they can offer Collins in terms of the signing bonus and contract size.

      Nothing has eliminated the Vikings as a potential landing spot for Collins. As a matter fact, it could play out well for the Vikings if Collins is quickly cleared.

  7. Great analysis. Using the value of picks each team had going into the draft rather than the actual value of the picks they ended up with would also factor in shrewdness of trading which would be interesting

  8. How far can this be tracked-back? I’d be really interested to see how this compares to actual draft success (i.e., which picks actually turned into good NFL players 3+ years into their respective careers).