2011 NFL Draft Review: What NFL Team Had the Best Draft
Grading an NFL draft after only one year into the careers of the players drafted is a fool’s errand. So you must trust me when I suggest that this little venture of mine must be taken with a big grain of salt.
Nonetheless, grading the 2011 NFL Draft for every team is my task, and so I set upon deciding which criteria to use in the grading.
I figured there must be some subjective element to deciding who drafted well and who did not, but there also has to be some sort of objective framework to work around.
In the modern era, NFL teams draft players with immediate impact high on their list of priorities. It is a fact of life that young players are expected to contribute sooner, as compared with 20 years ago.
So one objective framework that I was curious to use was data for each snap. You can find snap data at Pro Football Focus.
However, pure snap totals would not be enough. Some teams simply had more to work with in the draft, and they would have an unfair advantage in their snap totals because of this.
That is when it occurred to me that I could cross-reference the snap data with pick values on the good old Draft Trade Value Chart and turn the two into a ratio of snaps per point.
Still, the formula needed a little tweaking. Cam Newton was drafted No. 1 overall, which carries a point value of 3,000 points on the Draft Trade Value Chart.
Cam started the whole year and was one of the best true rookie quarterbacks to ever play the game, yet he "only" played 1,061 snaps relative to his 3,000 point value.
Essentially, this would be the same as a No. 24 overall pick only playing about 260 snaps.
Newton played just about every offensive snap for the Carolina Panthers, but the Panthers’ total objective grade would suffer because of the point value.
That is why I decided to make the point value a percentage of the total number of possible snaps played by that player's offensive or defensive unit. For instance, Newton only could have played 1,072 snaps on the year, and so instead of using a 3,000 point value in the denominator of his ratio, I would use 1,072.
I then turned the results into a simple percentile and handed out letter grades of A, B, C, D and F on a simple curve. These constituted the letter grades for the objective portion of a team’s draft grade.
The subjective portion of the team’s grade was a little trickier. I felt there had to be some objective element to the grading even though it opens up the floor for criticism of my subjective grades.
The perfect case study for why there needs to be a subjective element is the San Francisco 49ers.
Strictly speaking, they did not get a whole lot of snaps out of their draft picks, in part because Colin Kaepernick was taken as a backup quarterback (for now).
However, Aldon Smith was a hugely successful pass rusher, and one of the most effective in the NFL. There was also positive signs out of guys like tailback Kendall Hunter, fullback Bruce Miller and defensive back Chris Culliver.
The 49ers chose to sit the rookies that were not ready to play, rather than putting them out there.
The bottom line is, just using snap data, the 49ers’ draft would have ranked in the bottom quartile of the league, and given the success of Aldon Smith and the other guys that did play, I am not sure that’s entirely fair.
So I introduced an element of subjective grading, which I based on how well the players that did grace the field actually played. From there, I was able to issue total grades based on the combination of the objective and subjective grades.
Let's take a look at the the results, from the best team's draft to the worst.
#1. Baltimore Ravens: A
|#1. ||Baltimore Ravens|
|Chart Points Used||1,286.5|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,286.5|
|Best Pick Value||DE Pernell McPhee / CB Jimmy Smith|
#2. Denver Broncos: A
|#2. ||Denver Broncos|
|Chart Points Used||3,892.1|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,566.1|
|Best Pick Value||LB Von Miller|
#3. Tennessee Titans: A
|#3. ||Tennessee Titans|
|Chart Points Used||2,296.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,941.4|
|Best Pick Value||DT Jurrell Casey / DT Karl Klug|
#4. Houston Texans: A
|#4. ||Houston Texans|
|Chart Points Used||2,145.8|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,063.8|
|Best Pick Value||DE J.J. Watt / LB Brooks Reed|
#5. Oakland Raiders: A
|#5. ||Oakland Raiders|
|Chart Points Used||935.7|
|Adjusted Chart Points||935.7|
|Best Pick Value||WR Denarius Moore|
#6. New York Jets: B
|#6. ||New York Jets|
|Chart Points Used||830.1|
|Adjusted Chart Points||830.1|
|Best Pick Value||DT Muhammad Wilkerson / WR Jeremy Kerley|
#7. San Francisco 49ers: B
|#7. ||San Francisco 49ers|
|Chart Points Used||2,362.9|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,075.4|
|Best Pick Value||LB Aldon Smith|
#8. Washington Redskins: B
|#8. ||Washington Redskins|
|Chart Points Used||1,885.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,885.4|
|Best Pick Value||RB Evan Royster / LB Ryan Kerrigan|
#9. Buffalo Bills: B
|#9. ||Buffalo Bills|
|Chart Points Used||3,232.8|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,085.8|
|Best Pick Value||DT Marcell Dareus / LB Kelvin Sheppard|
#10. Miami Dolphins: B
|#10. ||Miami Dolphins|
|Chart Points Used||1,430.1|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,418.1|
|Best Pick Value||FB Charles Clay / C Mike Pouncey|
#11. Dallas Cowboys: B
|#11. ||Dallas Cowboys|
|Chart Points Used||2,218.3|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,950.3|
|Best Pick Value||RB Demarco Murray / OT Tyron Smith|
#12. Pittsburgh Steelers: B
|#12. ||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Chart Points Used||1,080.8|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,080.8|
|Best Pick Value||OT Marcus Gilbert|
#13. Kansas City Chiefs: B
|#13. ||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Chart Points Used||1,596.6|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,596.6|
|Best Pick Value||LB Justin Houston / DE Allen Bailey|
#14. Cincinnati Bengals: C
|#14. ||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Chart Points Used||2,778.7|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,147.7|
|Best Pick Value||QB Andy Dalton|
#15. Cleveland Browns: C
|#15. ||Cleveland Browns|
|Chart Points Used||1,849.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,849.4|
|Best Pick Value||DE Jabaal Sheard|
#16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C
|#16. ||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Chart Points Used||1,547.0|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,547.0|
|Best Pick Value||DE Adrian Clayborn / DE Da’Quan Bowers|
#17. Seattle Seahawks: C
|#17. ||Seattle Seahawks|
|Chart Points Used||1,210.0|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,210.0|
|Best Pick Value||CB Richard Sherman / LB K.J. Wright|
#18. Philadelphia Eagles: C
|#18. ||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Chart Points Used||1,433.8|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,379.9|
|Best Pick Value||LB Brian Rolle|
#19. Atlanta Falcons: C
|#19. ||Atlanta Falcons|
|Chart Points Used||1,792.9|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,390.3|
|Best Pick Value||RB Jacquizz Rodgers|
#20. Carolina Panthers: C
|#20. ||Carolina Panthers|
|Chart Points Used||3,560.7|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,632.7|
|Best Pick Value||QB Cam Newton|
#21. Jacksonville Jaguars: C
|#21. ||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Chart Points Used||1,660.6|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,418.6|
|Best Pick Value||FS Chris Prosinski|
#22. Chicago Bears: C
|#22. ||Chicago Bears|
|Chart Points Used||1,178.8|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,178.8|
|Best Pick Value||FS Chris Conte / DT Stephen Paea|
#23. Arizona Cardinals: C
|#23. ||Arizona Cardinals|
|Chart Points Used||2,332.3|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,116.3|
|Best Pick Value||FB Anthony Sherman / DT David Carter|
#24. New Orleans Saints: C
|#24. ||New Orleans Saints|
|Chart Points Used||1,782.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,782.4|
|Best Pick Value||DE Cameron Jordan / RB Mark Ingram|
#25. Minnesota Vikings: D
|#25. ||Minnesota Vikings|
|Chart Points Used||1,876.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,733.4|
|Best Pick Value||TE Kyle Rudolph / FS Mistral Raymond|
#26. Green Bay Packers: D
|#26. ||Green Bay Packers|
|Chart Points Used||1,107.2|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,107.2|
|Best Pick Value||LB D.J. Smith|
#27. Indianapolis Colts: D
|#27. ||Indianapolis Colts|
|Chart Points Used||1,417.2|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,417.2|
|Best Pick Value||DT Drake Nevis|
#28. New England Patriots: D
|#28. ||New England Patriots|
|Chart Points Used||2,397.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||2,397.4|
|Best Pick Value||OT Nate Solder|
#29. Detroit Lions: D
|#29. ||Detroit Lions|
|Chart Points Used||1,976.4|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,976.4|
|Best Pick Value||DT Nick Fairley|
#30. New York Giants: D
|#30. ||New York Giants|
|Chart Points Used||1,533.2|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,533.2|
|Best Pick Value||LB Jacquian Williams|
#31. St. Louis Rams: D
|#31. ||St. Louis Rams|
|Chart Points Used||1,836.3|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,836.3|
|Best Pick Value||WR Greg Salas|
#32. San Diego Chargers: F
|#32. ||San Diego Chargers|
|Chart Points Used||1,947.2|
|Adjusted Chart Points||1,947.2|
|Best Pick Value||WR Vincent Brown|
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