I have often said that one cannot truly evaluate a draft until 3-5 years after the draft. Over the coming days I plan to do just that with the 2010 draft. I’ll tell you the real winners and losers, and precisely why, using mathematical models that analyze the draft and it’s precise returns based upon what was used to get those returns. After that, in a second part of the series I’ll redraft the 2010 draft, using what we know now and combining it with what we knew then. I hope it makes for some interesting off-season reading for you die-hard NFL fans out there, and especially you draftniks.
First let me briefly explain my process. I took every single player drafted (regular draft, not supplemental) and looked at their career production. I looked at who was elite (Pro Bowlers and All-Pros), and who were steady contributors (regular starters). I also looked for who steadily contributed, not just one breakout season. I broke players into four separate categories: Over 30 games played, under 20 games played, and under 10 games played. I also weighed in players that flopped completely and never played in one game. I balanced all of this against the amount of chances a team had to make a good pick, and against the “human element” if you will. I won’t lie, some of it is subjective, human judgement. But how else do you compare a team that made four solid picks and a team that made say, 10 picks overall, ended with two pro bowlers, two guys that didn’t make the team, and six guys somewhere in the middle? On one hand you have a team with a perfect solid player average, on the other a team with some impact players. I think one thing you’ll notice that’s fairly consistent however-the teams that did well in this draft, are generally speaking teams that did well in the standings and playoffs last season.
I’ll give you my list, a very brief synopsis of why, and further break down the teams and their places in groups of 5-6 over the next couple days. Here you go:
1) San Francisco-SF set the bar high, hitting on all eight picks which included two All-Pros in first round selection Mike Iupati and late third rounder Navarro Bowman.
2) New England-For right now, the Patriots look like they took the gem of the draft with Gronkowski in the second round. They picked up depth everywhere, adding eight quality players with 12 picks. Very strong draft.
3) Seattle-The Seahawks had one of their strongest drafts in years in 2010, hitting on five of nine players including an All-Pro in Earl Thomas and Pro Bowlers in Russell Okung and Kam Chancellor, basically selecting half of one of the most dominant defensive backfields in the league.
4) Kansas City-The Chiefs are a certain exception to the “if you did well in this draft you did well last year” rule, but that doesn’t mean their draft wasn’t good. They hit on six of seven picks, including a two-time Pro Bowler in Eric Berry (and he probably only missed the 3rd due to injury). Very strong draft that should pay dividends with the right coaching.
5) Cincinatti-The Bengals had a borderline good draft, hitting on just three of nine players. When they hit, they hit big though, grabbing tight end Jermaine Gresham and one of the two best defensive tackles in the league in Atkins, who has sacked the opposing quarterback 22 times since.
6) Pittsburgh-Sometimes you just need a lot of picks. In this draft the Steelers turned ten picks into five regular starters including two Pro-Bowlers in center Maurkice Pouncey and wide receiver Antonio Brown. They also had four busts, which is what puts them here at the six spot.
7) New York Giants -The Giants took a flyer in the first round on an inexperienced athletic freak out of USF Jason Pierre-Paul. But it paid off, and paid off handsomely. They took seven players that day and only hit on two, but they hit pretty big with JPP going to two Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro selection.
8) New Orleans-The Saints had a pretty solid draft, picking up five starters with their six picks, including one Pro Bowler in Jimmy Graham. Altogether, a very respectable draft.
9) Tampa Bay-Now the Bucs had an interesting draft, with the third overall pick they took McCoy and went from there. McCoy didn’t quite pan out as a star, but he is a regular starter along with five other players they grabbed using their nine picks that year. They managed to grab one Pro Bowler in that group, but as mentioned it wasn’t McCoy, it was fourth round pick wide reciever Mike Williams.
10) San Diego-With four out of six solid starters including a Pro Bowl running back in Ryan Mathews, the Chargers did just well enough to round out the first third of the draft rating.
11) Atlanta-The Falcons had one of those drafts where you thought it was a lot better than it was. They did manage to grab five solid starters out of their seven picks, but nobody really spectacular with Sean Weatherspoon being their biggest impact player.
12) Houston-The Texans have had some really good drafts over the past few years in my opinion, but this was just an average one. They filled a few needs picking up some regular starters, and only had one bust but nothing spectacular really sticks out here, with a late first round cornerback being their best pick.
13) Arizona-Another team with a middle of the pack draft, the Cardinals picked up five starters, but no Pro-Bowl caliber players, and no one really of note. Daryl Washington has been solid though, and could remain a starter for many years to come.
14) Denver-Ah, the Tebow draft. I really was tempted to put this draft a little higher, with the pair of talented receivers in Thomas and Decker who I think will be impact players this season, but that’s projecting, and right now their most notable pick in the 2010 draft is still a third string quarterback on the Patriots’ roster.
15) Miami-The Dolphins had a high success rate in this draft with no busts and six starters, but they didn’t manage to grab any impact players, and as such find themselves near the middle of the pack on this ranking.
16) New York Jets-Very similar to their division rival in Miami, the Jets had a strong draft when it came to solid, role players, but were weak when it came to star power. Another middle of the pack performance.
17) Green Bay-The Packers are a team that typically seem to draft very well, but I think they came up a bit short in this draft. Sure, they pulled four regular starters including a tackle out of it and didn’t really have any busts, but otherwise a very average, unimpressive draft for the Pack.
18) Chicago-The Bears had just five picks in this draft and none in the first two rounds, so the chance for impact players seems small anyway. They did manage to pull three starters out of those five picks, and didn’t have any busts, but with no impact players it’s hard to rank them much higher than middle of the pack.
19) Baltimore-Another middle of the pack draft, only getting towards the bottom now as Baltimore had just five solid starters in this draft, and two complete busts. Not enough to overly criticize them, but not enough to get them into the top 15 in this draft either.
20) Carolina-The Panthers were a team who had a lot of picks, but didn’t do anything spectacular with them. They ranked 25th on my success scale, but I bumped them up a little bit because I think they took a reasonable risk drafting Jimmy Clausen in the third round, and they grabbed three solid starters in thesixth and 7th rounds, making good use of their late round picks.
21) Indianapolis-The Colts had a very non-Indy-like draft, making eight picks with five solid starters, but no real impact players. First round pick Jerry Hughes never really turned into the pass rusher we thought he would, picking up just five sacks and 31 tackles in three seasons. Altogether unimpressive.
22) Oakland-I was recently speaking with an Oakland fan who talked about this draft as one of the Raiders’ best in a while. Sadly, I think he’s right, but they still don’t rank higher than 22nd in my opinion. While they didn’t have a typically disappointing draft, McClain never quite became the linebacker fans wanted or analysts foresaw, but Houston and Veldheer have turned into solid players on either side of the line, so that’s something.
23) Detroit-It surprised me to find Detroit this low in my own rankings, it really did. I love Suh, I’m a huge fan, but they did almost nothing else in a draft they had the second overall pick, and traded back into the first round for an oft-injured running back who has had...injury problems. I said it then and I’m saying it now, terrible move that cost them a lot in the draft.
24) St. Louis-Another team at the top of the draft that ended up with kind of a disappointing take. While they did add a starting quarterback and starting tackle-and those things are great-they really just haven’t produced as much as you’d think, and thus they fall to 24th in my rankings of this draft.
25) Tennessee-The Titans had a real hit or miss draft in 2010, but with more misses than hits as they grabbed one Pro-Bowler and three busts with nine picks. They were one of only three teams that drafted two guys that didn’t make the roster at all, and the lone Pro Bowl selection of wide reciever Marc Mariani-while impressive as a seventh rounder-doesn’t make up for all the failure in my eyes.
26) Philadelphia-It’s never good to walk into a draft rich in picks and out poor in players. That’s exactly what the Eagles did in 2010 however, as they made 13 picks, found seven starters, not a single Pro Bowler, and five complete busts. As you can see, their free agency decisions aren’t the only mistakes they’ve made in recent years.
27) Cleveland-The Browns came into the draft with eight picks, and proceeded to pick up three regular starters, one bust, and a few guys in between. I might be able to talk myself into sliding them up a few spots, given Haden’s talent and the chance they took on McCoy. I just might circle back around to this one.
28) Jacksonville-The minute I heard the name Tyson Alualu, I knew the Jaguars were in trouble in this draft. While he is still starting, he’s never been an impact player deserving of a top ten pick. The Jaguars managed two other starters in this draft, but two busts as well. Overall poor use of draft picks.
29) Dallas-The Cowboys made six picks in this draft, and while they made at least two I really like in Lee and Bryant, the other four were unimpressive. One contributor amongst them and that’s a d-tackle that’s started only six games. Not a great draft for “America’s team”.
30) Washington-The Redskins’ one saving grace in this draft was Trent Williams. While Perry Riley also contributes at the linebacker position (40 games played), Trent made a Pro Bowl but even that doesn’t really make up for the three busts and one below average player that made up the other four picks Washington made that year.
31) Buffalo-The Bills had a pretty rough draft in 2010, grabbing only three contributors in nine picks with zero impact players and a bust. They ranked 31st on my success rate scale, so that’s where I left them
32) Minnesota-If it weren’t for the emergence of Chris Cook as a regular starter last season, this would be one of the worst drafts I’d ever seen. The only other player that’s ever really made a difference for them in this draft is Joe Webb, who was drafted as a wide receiver and has only lost games for them as a quarterback. Toby Gerhart has rushed a bit to back up Peterson, but he and Cook are the only two decent players, and they’re not even solid starters, more like solid backups.
There’s my ranking of the 32 teams’ drafting in the 2010 NFL Draft. Tomorrow I’ll put out my first group of more extensive analysis of each team.