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Archive for May, 2013

Grading Draft Analysts (2007 Edition)

Mel-Kiper-JrThe Situation

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Football Outsiders summarizing the “draft gurus'” grades of the recently completed draft. Obviously, trying to attribute grades to draft classes just days after the draft commences is folly, and most will admit to such. Of course, since these articles are incredibly popular from a readership standpoint, editors demand their existence. The NFL has become a 24/7/365 league, with every fanboy/girl up to date on their team’s latest moves, thoughts and feelings (If you don’t believe me, read the comments on my ESPN article roasting me for not knowing Denver was leaning towards Nate Irving, not Joe Mays). Michael Wilbon summed it up best, saying it’s “a plague on the world of sports.”

Something that many of the readers of that draft article wanted to see was how well these draft analysts really were at assessing these picks. It goes without saying that trying to answer that question is an inexact science. To do so, we first have to come up with a way to measure a draft pick’s performance. Luckily, Pro-Football-Reference.com features a tool called “Approximate Value” that works much in the way that Wins Above Replacement (WAR) works in the baseball arena.  This provides a single number to all players, based on their performance. For some context, Tom Brady’s record-setting 2007 season had an “AV” of 24 and Aaron Rodgers’ 2011 MVP season had a 23. By comparison, Brandon Weeden’s sub-par rookie year earned an AV of 8. High numbers for non-quarterbacks can also be earned. J.J. Watt’s transcendent 2012 season had an AV of 20. Is there room to scrutinize this number? Of course, but since it’s the best we’ve got to work with, we’re using it. Read more…

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