When it comes to analyzing the NFL draft, most of the bad analysis stems from a simple, obvious mistake. Draft position matters.
Tony Villiotti of the National Football Post ranked teams by draft quality and found that one team in the AFC South has consistently out-performed reasonable draft expectations over the past 10 and five years.
The Indianapolis Colts.
Despite ranking toward the bottom of league in expected draft production, Villiotti's metrics say the Colts have done better in the selection of players than could have been expected.
While many fans groused about the apparent lack of high-impact players from the draft during the latter half of the tenure of Bill Polian, the Colts actually have done fairly well considering what they had to work with.
On the 10-year track, the Colts ranked 13th in draft production. That sounds mediocre, but they should have finished 20th.
On the five-year track, the Colts ranked 19th, but should have finished 23rd.
The other teams in the AFC South mostly underperformed their rankings.
Smart fans and analysts will be realistic about the draft. Indianapolis took home a huge haul last year, but had favorable draft position to work with.
In 2013, they'll be back to drafting at the back half of the first round and have already traded away several picks.
Two years from now, the foolish fan will likely complain about the relative lack of talent to come to the team from this draft.
The educated will simply realize that the talent pool in the NFL draft falls off sharply after 15 or so picks, and it's very difficult to land a Pro Bowl player if you don't draft in the top half of the draft.
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