Saturday, April 27, 2013

Draft Ranker 2013: Teams of Interest

Before we get into some interesting details about the 2013 draft, let's look at some individual teams' performances. Starting with the most important team ever...

The Lions!  The Ansah pick was basically a wash as the score (a reach of 3.7 spots) was within the variation of grades assigned to that player by the different pundits included in the consensus top 100.  Darius Slay, however, appears to be a substantial reach.  Fans complained that this corner could have been obtained in the 3rd round; this analysis agrees.  It's always hard to apply such reasoning to reality, however, because "it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy" and take him much earlier than what the grades predict.  The Lions made up for the reach by getting big value with Larry Warford, a player graded 20+ picks higher than where Detroit selected him.

Want an example of a team that has been pulling back muscles reaching for players?  Stay in the NFC North with the Chicago Bears.

Kyle Long, their first rounder, was a 46.1 spot reach.  Jon Bostic was a 44.7 spot reach.  Both players address a position of need for the Bears, but were valued much, much lower than their selection position.

"But they filled needs!" is what I am hearing from those beleaguered fans from the Windy City.  If only there was a way to get good value AND fill needs...

The Vikes needed a nose tackle.  Sharrif Floyed, graded as high as 3 in some top-100 boards, fell to them at 23.  They needed a corner.  The watched Xavier Rhodes fall right into their lap.  The also needed a competent WR.  With Cordarrelle Patterson sliding, they traded back into the first round and got their man.  They found significant value at each spot (more thoughts on what constitutes "significant" in a later post) while filling needs.  The contrast between the Vikes and the Bears highlights the debate between drafting for value vs. need (being lucky notwithstanding.)  I would argue, however, that given the huge discrepancy between the Bear's slots and the ranking of the players that they took at each of those picks, adjusting their strategy towards a "best player available" approach would have given them a valuable player early and some of the same players they took a round later.  This would address need while maximizing value.

Some teams found value by just letting some players fall into their laps.  The Eagles, for example, took Matt Barkley for a 50+ spot value.  The Chargers did the same with Manti Te'o.  I didn't include any other team plots here, but will do so on request.

Draft Top 100 Summary

It's draft time again!  I plan on doing several posts about this year's draft, but let's start with the basics: which team maximized their value?
Remember, this plot is generated by first compiling a consensus top 100 player board.  The consensus top player was Luke Joeckel, who had an average rank of 2.6 (some pundits had him #1 overall, others had him lower.)  Next, each time a player is selected, the value is calculated by subtracting consensus rank from the position selected.  The Jaguars took Joeckel 2nd overall, value = 2 - 2.6 = -0.6.  This means that Joeckel was considered a slight reach at #2 overall (basically, a wash).  When the value/reach for each pick is compiled for each team, we see what teams obtain the best value overall.

This year's draft has been considered unique in that there are few standout, unique players for the first round but a lot of safe, talented players for later rounds.  This pattern is somewhat reflected in the rankings, with the highest rated considered a reach at #2, and with many "reach" grades being assigned to teams.  The Bears stand out with the most reaches and the Chargers bucking the trend, even with three picks in the top 100.

This pattern becomes more pronounced if we reduce our analysis to the first round only:
Only 1/3 of the teams were able to obtain positive value; four teams had reached for players by more than 40 spots!  This is twice as many as last year, four times more than the 2011 draft.

Is this pattern evidence of a draft that is weak on top-notch talent, but deep overall?  We'll explore this over the next few posts.

Per the usual, I would like to thank The NetRat for his excellent Lions/draft coverage.  He always does me a huge favor by pushing out his top 100 big board in time for me to do my own work.