2010 NFL Draft: Grading by Process Points
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Process points are returning for the 2010 draft grades! For those of you who are unfamiliar with process points, they function as a way to grade a draft instantly and objectively without worrying about what players will eventually become or whether my pre-draft grades were accurate. Process points give points for the first two rounds of the NFL draft, and reward teams for playing the market well through trades and draft picks. The draft is an event where each team can only better themselves, and while each team has to be able to actually better themselves just to keep up with other teams, points are not subtracted away from teams for making reaches.
The worst thing you can do with a draft pick is waste it, so if a pick is totally wasted in the first round, a team gets a zero. If it’s not optimally used, it will get some compensation between 0 and the max. For the first 16 picks, a team can receive up to five points for a draft choice, in the next 16 picks of the round, 4 points is the maximum. For the second round, teams are either awarded three points for a sound pick, or get zero points for missing the market entirely (25 of 32 picks in the round received the points, this year). All trades are either given two points if they were perceived to be overall beneficial, or zero points if they were not perceived to be beneficial.
The average number of process points given out in this draft was 7.47 points/team, with 7 points representing the median value. Not coincidentally for a well-designed measure of draft-day aptitude, a team that picked in the lower half of the first round and the second round, and made no trades but hit on both picks would get precisely 7 points.
Process points is as much a measure of opportunity of aptitude, so the one team that scored 0 points in process points was the Chicago Bears, who did not pick in the first two rounds. The Bears did just fine with what they had, but process points is unconcerned with a teams ability to capitalize on the later player-development based rounds. Teams that draft well will do better because they draft well, but they won’t outproduce the teams that can develop their own talent.
Without further delay, lets get to the two teams that played the draft the best — before the other 30. Oh look, wouldn’t you know that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Format is <Rank. Team Name (score)>.
1. New England Patriots (17): The Patriots really aren’t a good drafting team, but process points likes the way that they control the NFL draft year after year. They do it by having more 2nd round picks than any other team consistently. Then, they manipulate the draft with trades to try to get a lot of first round quality talent. It’s a strategy the Pats can afford to use because they fill holes effectively with free agency, but it has not worked to net them many superstars. If you look down their roster, the Patriots have hit home runs on Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, and Sebastian Vollmer, but outside of that, there…just…isn’t…much draft related success. The process the Patriots use is excellent, but the results need to start matching the process, or they will need to get desperate soon.
2. Denver Broncos (15): Denver, more than any other team in the league, was a prime candidate to trade back, and they executed an excellent two part trade back, first getting off the clock with the 11th pick, and then being able to move back with Philadelphia from 13 all the way to the end of the first round, and then moved back up to get Demaryius Thomas. Thomas filled the teams biggest need, but really remains the one questionable pick for the Broncos in this draft. They then traded up again to land Tim Tebow, who fills their next biggest offensive need: projectability at the QB position. In the third round, Eric Decker has all the makings of a go-to number one player in the NFL, the ideal complement for Thomas, who might just be a deep threat. He’s stacked his offense for a run in 2011-2015, but the Broncos will have to rely on the development of young defensive players like Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith, and Darcel McBath to be a contender in 2010.
T3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13): A focused draft at two areas. They added highly touted prospects such as Gerald McCoy and Brian Price to their defensive interior, and gave QB Josh Freeman two outside targets in Arrelious Benn and the flaky Mike Williams. Vandy S Myron Lewis is the other highly touted piece of this class. It pretty much all rides on the outcome of this draft in Tampa, but process points suggests that it’s going to have every chance to work. PP particularly reflects trading up with the Raiders to select Benn. If Benn is a number one guy, Freeman is a much better QB for it.
T3. Seattle Seahawks (13): Russell Okung was the best player available at no. 6, and an instant top tier tackle. Golden Tate was the best overall player at no. 60, and his being on the board pretty much makes the Whitehurst trade a freebie, as he would have been my pick early in the second round as well. The key to all of this is whether Earl Thomas is an elite free safety in the NFL. Process points awarded a full 5 point complement to the Seahawks for his selection, but if he’s the next Ed Reed, this goes from an excellent draft into an all time historically great draft that could produce up to three hall of famers. Hyperbole aside, the Seahawks have dominated process points since I created the system in 2008, so if they don’t make some unexpected noise this year, they might have a talent development issue.
5. San Francisco 49ers (12): I did not award the 49ers a trade bonus for moving from 13th to 11th to nab the last elite tackle on their board, Anthony Davis, but they didn’t pay too steep of a price if they wanted to be sure they got him. That selection got the whole 5 points: he fills a major need, and doesn’t need to be stretched out into being a LT because the team already has Joe Staley. Then they grabbed Mike Iupati 6 picks later, and he turns the teams biggest weakness, guard, into a strength. Taylor Mays wasn’t deserving of a first round pick, but the 49ers were targeting him very early, and didn’t have to move up to get him before the run on safeties claimed him. Subjectively, I’ll say the 49ers had the best draft of anyone, and clearly capitalized on trading their 2009 2nd rounder to Carolina (became Iupati) who selected DE Everette Brown. They would have been third in process points if the trade up had been more defensible.
T6. Detroit Lions (11): In the last two years, the DETROIT LIONS are one of the five highest scoring teams in process points. Ndamukong Suh gave them the full complement of five, and then they moved up out of the second round, before teams could reset their boards (+2 points), and took RB Jahvid Best who is about as fluid a runner as anyone in the draft. The overall quality of this class for the Lions will be determined by CB Amari Spievey, taken at the top of the third round. He’s out of the grading range in process points, but if he turns into a no. 1 type CB, this draft is a rock solid A. If not, it’s probably still a B unless Spievey really struggles.
T6. Oakland Raiders (11): The Oakland Raiders scored in double digits? I might have to check to see if the system is broken. The Raiders did not get a full complement of points for the Rolando McClain pick (is he really a top ten type LB?), but combine what they did get for that pick with two points awarded for the trade down with the Bucs, another two to nab a pick from the Pats when they wanted to jump the Ravens, and a full 3 for the pickup of Texas DT Lamarr Houston, and the Raiders posted a 7 point second round. Process points doesn’t care that the Raiders picked up a top 20 NFL QB in Jason Campbell for next to nothing, but win shares analysis suggests that the Raiders are now somewhere between 2-3 wins better, whatever that’s worth.
T8. Cleveland Browns (9): Last year, Eric Mangini’s Browns won process points, with a single season high of 18. This year, results were mixed. They drafted defensive backs with their first two picks receiving 4 of 5 points for Joe Haden (probably needed to trade down to get a 5 point player), and then getting a bit redundant with TJ Ward of Oregon, a safety with a third round projection in the eyes of many. The Browns big score was a well executed trade up into the end of the second round to land franchise runner Monterio Hardesty, the Browns best move in the first two rounds. Process points doesn’t care that the Browns got the best QB in the draft at the end of the third round, but you know, when Jake Delhomme is your QB, I think Browns fans can appreciate the pick.
T8. Miami Dolphins (9): The Dolphins executed the first major trade of the draft by moving down all the way to no. 28 in the first round for a pair of points, and still landing their guy, DL Jared Odrick, and then using that pick they acquired on edge-rusher Koa Misi, accounting for all of their 9 process points with just one move. Being at the right place at the right time is everything, and the Dolphins managed to compete with all other teams in the draft and STILL trade for Brandon Marshall. The team is missing it’s second round pick from next year still, so Marshall still has to make the Dolphins look smart.
T8. Dallas Cowboys (9): The Cowboys traded up twice in this draft: one to get up ahead of the Ravens for WR Dez Bryant, a great move, and once to get up five or six spots and select LB Sean Lee, which was probably not necessary. Bryant and Lee are both great value picks who fill the need of pass game playmaker and run defense playmaker, giving the Cowboys seven points for players and two more for the trade that netted them Bryant for a top ten draft.
T8. Philadelphia Eagles (9): The Eagles went hard after defensive ends, and while pass rush had been an issue last year — an issue that DEs Brandon Graham and Daniel Te’o Neisham should solve — they also acquired Darryl Tapp from the Seahawks for a mid round pick, and I’m pretty sure they can’t play all those guys with all-everything DE Trent Cole. That’s a lot of draft value just to suggest that Victor Abiamiri is a disappointing player, and incumbent Juqua Parker always struck me as one of the better players on that defense. Seems like this is a case of turning a strength into a very different strength. S Nate Allen solidifies a position that isn’t nearly as crowded. I relented and gave the Eagles points for the trade up to get Graham because the Eagles needed to add an impact player, which Graham is, but 4 of 5 points is all I could do with the log-jam of value players they have now at DE.
T12. Kansas City Chiefs (8): The Chiefs draft was a little bit confusing overall, but I think they approached it the right way. I’m not as high on Eric Berry as others are, but process points doesn’t care what I think of individual players, and the relative success of the last S to go in the top five picks, Sean Taylor, supports the Chiefs actions. Dexter McCluster solves a major need for the Chiefs of offensive player who-is-electric-with-ball-in-hand, but the pick of Javier Arenas seems like a bit of overkill. It’d be one thing if he were to return punts AND play corner, but with 3rd year corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr both developing into lockdown CBs, Arenas’ ceiling is as a nickel defender and punt returner. I think there’s room for a team to have two players like McCluster and Arenas, but I don’t like drafting them in the same year because they will age similarly, limiting overall returns. OL Jon Asamoah is great for scheme and value in the 3rd round, unfortuately, he’s drafted too late to force the Chiefs into double digit process points.
T12. Buffalo Bills (8): I really think the Bills quietly had a big time draft…they just need to find some offensive tackles eventually. C.J. Spiller as a top ten pick does not fill a need, unless that need is awesome, exciting player who can captivate a dying fanbase in a way that Fred Jackson cannot. 2nd round NT Torrell Troup does fill a big need, and he’s a better athlete for the position than either Terrence Cody or Cam Thomas. That’s it for process points for the Bills, but I thought they had a good second day, and they should get a starting caliber RT out of either Ed Wang or Kyle Calloway. The only problem the Bills have before they can be a playoff contender is that they can’t grab a QB and a LT in the first round of next year’s draft. If they can find one of those or the other this year, they could be a playoff team in 2011.
T12. Houston Texans (8): The Texans are traditionally workmanlike in the draft, so the roster is highly talented, and I think a lot of people are aware of this, just waiting for “the breakout” to happen. Well, it’s tough to give them full credit for CB Kareem Jackson in the top 20, as there is considerable system risk in that pick that they could have avoided by taking Kyle Wilson or Nate Allen. The Texans traded down in the second round, then back up for RB Ben Tate, who seems like the ideal complement to Steve Slaton. I gave two points total for the trades (instead of 4), as Tate or someone comparable likely would have been there at no. 62, considering that their initial trade (Vikings took Toby Gerhart) started to pull the RBs off the board.
T12. Baltimore Ravens (8): Gave up a third rounder to get Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals, which they were able to get back once they missed out on Dez Bryant and the Broncos made them an offer they couldn’t refuse to get Tim Tebow. I might just have Ravens draft blinders for giving them the points for both Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, but they really do love Kindle. Still, this could very easily be a 5 point draft instead of the 8, I just sided with history and gave the Ravens the benefit of very legitimate doubt. The mid round TE drafting gives Joe Flacco plenty of interior options, but Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason can’t hide the fact that the Ravens can only run their downfield offense through Donte Stallworth, who didn’t play football in 2009, and wasn’t good in 2008. Better him than Mark Clayton, I guess.
T16. Arizona Cardinals (7): Dan Williams falling to them at no. 26 was a stroke of luck, but the Cards aren’t complaining. In the second round, they really love Daryl Washington of TCU given that they traded up to get him (I wouldn’t have gone that far up to get him, but that’s just me). Overall, this was a below average draft, because the work they did after the first two rounds was highly uninspired. It’s a two player defensive oriented draft, and process points gives full credit to the Cards for those two players.
T16. New York Jets (7): Kyle Wilson is the million dollar insurance policy that will make Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum look really smart when teams start to pick on Antonio Cromartie. Deep in the playoffs against the best quarterbacks in the AFC, the Jets will need all the speed in the secondary they can get, as this is pretty much the reason they weren’t in the super bowl last year. Vlad Ducasse is a need-oriented pickup who will replace Alan Faneca as the lines weak link from day one. Good haul there for the Jets, but the rest of their draft was tied up in young runners, so while they’ve now set their offensive backfield for next year, I still think that Sanchez + Tomlinson-Greene-Joe McKnight might be the achilles heel of this team if they fail to win the division and make the postseason. Because of consecutive drafts with very few picks, this team is going to age very, very fast. The Jets must win this year.
T16. Indianapolis Colts (7): Ho-hum. Jerry Hughes is a top fifteen talent in this draft who is a perfect scheme fit for the Colts, and Pat Angerer is the same perfect scheme fit at linebacker for a defense that needed to get some youthful pieces to go with it’s undrafted superstars. The Colts needed a fix at LT, but for right now, that fix will remain: Peyton Manning being superhuman.
T19. St. Louis Rams (6): They really screwed the pooch on the Bradford pick in hindsight when the 33rd pick would have netted them their choice of Clausen or McCoy (plus they could have had Suh), but Bradford is the strongest first overall QB prospect since Eli Manning/Philip Rivers in 2004, so that has to count for something (in this case: 3 points). In the second round, the Rams landed OT Rodger Saffold to be the bookend tackle to Jason Smith. This does two things: it hedges against a poor rookie season by Smith, and it makes Alex Barron expendable while Sam Bradford should be well protected in St. Louis. With that said, Saffold is as much of a value pick as a need pick, and even with a nice pickup in Mardy Gilyard in the fourth, Bradford will be throwing to Donnie Avery, Gilyard, Danny Amendola, and TE Michael Hoomanawauai as a rookie. That’s not going to win a whole lot of games, but at least his AC joint should hold up in the NFC West.
T19. Cincinnati Bengals (6): TE Jermaine Gresham missed 2009 with an injury, which kind of takes the luster off him as a TE prospect. That didn’t scare away the Bengals, but perhaps it should have? If they’re not getting great value on the pick (and they aren’t), this draft was too deep at TE make the Bengals ignore their other needs. I charitably gave the Bengals 3 out of 4 points for Gresham, and then gave them everything for getting Carlos Dunlap in the second round. The Bengals draft will be made if WR Desmond Briscoe can develop into a suitable replacement in the offense for Antonio Bryant by 2012. For right now, the Bengals prospects as a team ride on their defense, and on Bryant, and that’s a tough situation.
T19. New Orleans Saints (6): Patrick Robinson was a half-decent pick at corner, but I think it’s most notable for outing Malcolm Jenkins as the long-term solution at free safety, regardless of where Darren Sharper plays this year. I gave the Saints three points for selecting Robinson, and a full three points for a major steal on Charles Brown at the end of the second round, which makes Jamaal Brown expendable to the Saints. They could have a trading partner in the Redskins, who need a RT (J. Brown always had a better projection as a RT), and still have a few nice defensive pieces from Gregg Williams’ days as DC of the Redskins.
T22. New York Giants (5): Jason Pierre-Paul was not a good value at no. 15, nor does he fill a need for the Giants, but on the flip side, the Giants are actually a great place for Pierre-Paul to begin his career because of the DL structure they have there. I gave them two points for that much, though the team gets very little out of this outside of perhaps a capable run defender on the strong side. Linval Joseph from ECU got the three points for being a second round pickup, but Joseph’s name was a late appearance this high on boards, and once again, the Giants needed less to improve their talent on the DL, and more to organize the talent they are paying out the nostrils for. They needed a running back, and didn’t pick one. They needed more OL depth (right now, their OL in two years is: Chris Snee and Will Beatty) and drafted just a guard (Mitch Petrus) on the third day. With the Cowboys and Eagles making big leaps, and the Redskins at least filling their biggest need (at OT), the Giants are the NFC East draft loser.
T22. Carolina Panthers (5): I broke rank on this one and gave the Panthers two points for NOT trading up to get Jimmy Clausen earlier in the second round because the Panthers ended up getting him anyway. The Panthers scored an 8 in process points last year, and did so without a first round pick, because they traded for a pick with which to take Everette Brown, so playing the market perfectly in this draft was especially crucial. Clausen was the most perfect pick in the draft for need and value. I’ll be the first one to say it: Tony Pike is such a good value in the 6th round that there could be another Matt Flynn-Brian Brohm situation if Clausen struggles to adjust to the pro game.
T22. Minnesota Vikings (5): They traded out of the first round because they weren’t going to pick anyone with a first round market value, so that’s two points right there. Then after mulling it over for an entire night, the Vikings…just took Chris Cook with the 34th overall pick, which is hardly defensible given the time they had to prepare for it. Toby Gerhart should be a great no. 2 running back for the Vikings for the duration of his career in Minnesota, but they traded up considerably to get him, costing themselves their third round pick, which didn’t make a lick of sense, knowing full well that Gerhart can only be a starter if something terrible happens to Peterson. So you get, optimistically, a no. 2 CB and a no. 2 RB, then are done for the first three rounds. I don’t get it.
T25. Washington Redskins (4): If Russell Okung is such a great blend of need and value for the tackle starved Redskins that he’s worth five points, what’s the discount rate for taking Trent Williams because Okung is off the board just because? I’ll be generous to the Skins and give four points for picking Trent Williams, who should project to be the starting LT in Mike Shanahan’s offense for at least the three seasons he holds the title of Head Coach. After that, Shanahan figures to either be fired or named Emperor of Washington. The Redskins don’t have a second round pick because they acquired Donovan McNabb in an attempt to have a slightly more different quarterback with a losing record against NFC East competition in the last 5 seasons. Hail!
T25. Tennessee Titans (4): The Titans picked a solid player without moving around. Technically, they were picking on the front end of the first round, which means that Derrick Morgan could have netted them up to 5 process points. I’m giving the selection 4 out of the 5. Morgan is probably a coin flip to be an NFL quality pass rusher, which means that while their were better options available to the average team, if the Titans really, really liked Morgan, they were best off just taking him and not trading down. I like USC receiver Damian Williams in the third round, but the Titans did not pick in the second round.
T25. Pittsburgh Steelers (4): The Steelers were selecting at no. 18, and with Mike Iupati off the board, I think they made the right decision to select Maurkice Pouncey to start at Guard immediately, and be their Center of the future. Grabbing Jason Worilds out of Virginia Tech in the second round doesn’t really follow from their organizational strategy of grabbing pass rushers well behind their true value in the draft, if anything Worilds was a reach. The Steelers spent the middle rounds valuing quantity over quality, which raises the question regarding their OLBs: where are they going to get all this roster space?
T25. Atlanta Falcons (4): Gave them the full points for addressing both need and value in the top 20 picks with LB Sean Weatherspoon from Missouri, one of the rangiest pass defending LBs in years, a skill that is truly necessary to be a valuable 4-3 LB these days. The Falcons did not pick in the second round because of the Tony Gonzalez trade. As this demonstrates by the Falcons, Titans, and Redskins being at this level, having the positioning to land an impact player at a position of need in the first round does not win you a whole lot of process points: teams who are working with few picks need to be able to work the draft order to get more picks to grade out well by process points.
T25. Green Bay Packers (4): Same deal with the Packers, except that they did have their second round pick, and ended up drafting Purdue’s Mike Neal to play DE in their 3-4, a need pick with little value attached. Their first round pick was Iowa’s Brian Bulaga, who is all of 20 years old and about as polished as a tackle can be in the draft. Bulaga will probably start at RT for the Packers this year instead of the aging Mark Tauscher, and he can also kick across to LT if 34 year old Chad Clifton gets hurt. Ultimately, the Packers might be stuck starting Clifton through 2011, but the Bulaga choice goes a long way to decreasing their dependency on tackles they have had since the beginning of the decade.
30. San Diego Chargers (3): The Chargers are already a made team based on an outright domination in the draft from about 2003-2008, but over the last two years, process points have absolutely hated what the Chargers have done. This year’s trade up for Ryan Mathews cost the team it’s second round draft choice. Mathews is a great player who is worth all three of the teams’ process points, but at worst, Jahvid Best would have been available at no. 28 and the Chargers could have kept their second round pick. As it goes, plenty of responsibility to fill holes will be put on rookie mid round selections LB Donald Butler, and NT Cam Thomas.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2): The Jaguars get two out of five potential process points for addressing a position of need with whatever the opposite of value is in Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick. The Jaguars held the key to the entire draft with the 10th overall spot, as the next three picks were all traded. Deals were on the table for this pick, and they could have traded down while remaining in the first round. Jared Odrick, the other player the Jags were considering with this pick, lasted until no. 28, and he probably was the guy who was going to go just before Alualu did. To make matters worse, Jacksonville did not have a second round pick, which they traded for the 2009 third rounder that became Derrick Cox, and could have really used the second round pick that, say, Miami got for allowing SD to get in position to take Ryan Mathews. Two points will be given for the player, but noted here is a major missed opportunity by the Jaguars.
32. Chicago Bears (0): RIP Gaines Adams.
Here are the cumulative leaders for process points through the 2009 and 2010 NFL Drafts first and second rounds: