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2012 NFL Draft Process Points

Here’s how Process Points work, quoting from a prior article:

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.

Process points is as much a measure of opportunity of aptitude.

So hold onto those picks!  Or get downgraded by a system I created many years ago and still hasn’t gained much traction.  Whatever.  Lets get to the point totals.

1. St. Louis Rams (15) The Rams collected four process points before they had even made their first pick.  They top the process ratings this year, but with four picks in the top 50, you’d almost hope to do better than this.  The Rams got plenty of parts for a bright future, but no part in this draft (except maybe Janoris Jenkins) will look good if Robert Griffin goes on to have a far better career than Sam Bradford.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14) The Bucs went into the first day with a full complement of picks and they were able to work the trade market so that  they picked three times in the first two rounds.  Then they landed three guys I had first round grades on.

T3. Cincinnati Bengals (13) The Bengals probably had the best draft day of any team, although plenty of that action occured further down the board (we’re not counting anything past round two in this process).

T3. Philadelphia Eagles (13) The Eagles draft had a little bit of everything, including a key trade up to nab Fletcher Cox, who was much higher on the Eagles’ board then the 12th pick they took him with.

5. Green Bay Packers (12) The Packers didn’t need to trade up in the first round to get the draft’s best pure pass rusher, but they traded up twice in the second round to ensure they landed critical pieces on every level of a leaky defense.  In terms of what they had to work with going into the draft against what they came out with, the Packers were right up there with the Bengals in terms of the best draft.

6. Minnesota Vikings (11) The Vikings would have ranked far closer to average without two trades: the one pick trade down with Cleveland, and then the trade up back into the first round to get Harrison Smith and save face at at very scarce position of need.

7. Seattle Seahawks (10) What really assists the Seahawks’ draft is that they moved down a couple of picks in both the first and second rounds, which certainly lowers the burden of expectation in the early-round return.  The Seahawks’ draft as a whole was a bit of a questionable endeavor, but when you limit it to the top two rounds, it really comes down to what you think of the Bruce Irvin pick and if you respect their ability to get return in those trades (even if those extra picks didn’t become great value on the back end).

T8. Baltimore Ravens (8) The Ravens didn’t pick in the first round, yet still managed to outproduce half the league in process points.  Courtney Upshaw was a fringe first round value, but became a position of need shortly after the draft when Terrell Suggs tore his achillies.  They also picked again in the second round, addressing the loss of Ben Grubbs by choosing Iowa States Kelechi Osemele.  A rare needs-based draft for Ozzie Newsome that happened to provide decent value as well.

T8. Carolina Panthers (8) The Panthers didn’t do anything fancy to move up to get their guys or to attempt to slide down and get more picks.  They just sat tight and took two players that will start right near where the ball is snapped, and in time, make them a lot better in the trenches.

T8. Indianapolis Colts (8) The Colts probably couldn’t have done a lot of trading even if they wanted to — though I’m sure teams would answer the phone about Andrew Luck — but they did systematically address the offense.  The Colts are going to need a heck of a contribution from Chuck Pagano’s coaching to compete for the AFC South title this season, but it’s not a tough division, and this draft might make them the favorite, in my opinion.

T8. Jacksonville Jaguars (8) The Jags slid up one spot to get Justin Blackmon who wouldn’t have been there when they selected at seventh overall (originally).  Though I’m not sure that this is the year that you’d want to take the top receiver in the draft, and certainly not they year you want to trade up to do it, at least they KNEW that he wasn’t going to be there when they selected (looking at you, Cleveland).  Their second round pick Andre Branch out of Clemson completely fell under the radar to the point where Houston took a very similar player in Whitney Mercilus in the first round because they didn’t believe they could get into position for an able bodied pass rusher in the second.  The Jaguars got a potential cornerstone of their defense after managing a questionable trade up for a guy who wasn’t going to be there later.

T8. Miami Dolphins (8) I really have no issues with the Dolphins draft.  Ryan Tannehill was certainly no more of an overdraft than the 8th pick in the draft last season, Jake Locker.  It’s tough for any team to get a complete quarterback prospect in the first round, and really, the prospects best prepared for success by my measures after Luck and Griffin were guys like Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, and Kellen Moore, who all went a lot later.  While it’s possible that I’ll eventually be proven right on those prospects, it’s tough to look at the guys who did go in the second and third round (Brock Osweiler in the second, Russell Wilson and Foles in the third) and think that compared to those guys, that Tannehill wasn’t worth the 8th overall pick.  It’s all about player development from this point, and process points do not care about the final result.

T8. New England Patriots (8) While the Pats have the same grade as a lot of teams on this list, they got there very differently.  There’s a couple different ways to look on the Patriots draft.  First of all, this was a team that needed a ton of defensive help, and they were able to work the draft as to pick two targeted players, trading up to get both of them.  In the case of the first guy, Chandler Jones, pass rusher was a need, and the tier at which the Patriots needed to look for the quality of pass rusher they need to make their multiple defense work.  That’s a useful trade up.  But the other trade up for Dont’a Hightower seems more questionable to me.  I don’t want to dock a team points for acting opportunistically, and it’s more than possible that Hightower will be a glue player for the Patriots, but I wasn’t under the impression that they were lacking at the LB level.  Their next pick was S Tavon Wilson, so they addressed three levels of the defense, but unlike the Jones trade up, I’m not as confident they found the right guys to fix their defense.  Their score reflects that mix of positive and negative.

T8. New York Jets (8) It’s fascinating that the Jets and Patriots — after all these years, and as differently as their rosters are constructed — were both in the market for defensive front seven players.  And so by passing on Chandler Jones for Quenton Coples, the Jets ended up not only deciding who to take, but who would ultimately be on the board for the Patriots.  It’s somewhat poetic that they come out with the same process points score in this draft, because we just don’t know who did better.  We just know if Chandler Jones is a good player for the Patriots, well, the Jets could have had him and were considering him.

T15. Dallas Cowboys (7) The Cowboys took advantage of an opportunity to get up into the top six via trade for the only guy they thought they could afford to do that for.  Credit goes to their organization for seizing an opportunity that you only get so many of, but because the process points system is designed to not overrate such aggressiveness, the Cowboys max out at seven points with their trade up for Morris Claiborne, their only transaction in the first two rounds.  Subjectively, Dallas did well on day two of the draft.

T15. Detroit Lions (7) A lot of Detroit’s recent drafts have gotten too much credit from this points system.  But I didn’t think second round receiver Ryan Broyles would last until the third round, and he’s just as good of a value as Titus Young was last year, and young has been as good of a second round pick as the Lions have made in the last two seasons.  The Lions get the full complement of points very tepidly, as they didn’t really cash in on the best value available, and they’ll try to work their magic coaching up a defense that didn’t end up very productive at the end of the year.

T15. New York Giants (7) The Giants ended up with two players of first round quality in David Wilson and Rueben Randle, but I’m not entirely convinced the Giants didn’t get the better of the two players (Randle) in the second round.  With the quality of drafts by the rest of the NFC East, the Giants did a good job just to keep pace while picking last in rounds one and two.

T15. Pittsburgh Steelers (7) The Steelers are typically not a team that moves a bunch in the draft, and they clearly got good value in the first two rounds on the offensive line.  Good value is not great value though, and while David DeCastro is about as safe a pick as their can be in that system, there’s a fairly decent chance that Mike Adams will not solve the teams problem as a no. 2 offensive tackle.  On draft day though, everything about these two selections is rosy.

T15. San Diego Chargers (7) The Chargers got perhaps the best value pick of the draft getting Melvin Ingram without having to trade up, but I’m not exactly sure where he will play in their defense.  Ingram looked good working out at OLB at his pro day, but he’s got more the skill set of a 5 technique like Quentin Coples.  Though the athleticism to transition to outside backer is there, if he’s an average player there, the Chargers might not get the value out of this pick that some other team would have.  It’s hard to criticize Kendall Reyes in the second round, except that if he pans out, and the Chargers find that Ingram just isn’t a 4-3 OLB, then they drafted two guys who play the same position in the 30 defense.  That possibility is rare, but will happen at times when you draft for value on defense.

T15. Washington Redskins (7) The Redskins got their seven points the exact same way the Cowboys got theirs: trading up for a guy who could be the cornerstone on that side of the ball.  Also worth note here: the Redskins led the NFL in our Process Points article last year, with 15.

21. Buffalo Bills (6) There hasn’t been anything to love about the Bills offseason, besides their unbelievable job getting Mario Williams to sign with them.  Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that that’s not a signing that will be worth it.  There’s virtually no chance Mark Anderson will be worth what the Bills payed him for the other side.  This draft, they passed multiple value opportunities to address the quarterback position, instead opting to take another corner and a tackle who most had projected at guard.  The Bills really need to capitalize on their advantageous draft position this year, and I didn’t feel like they did that.

T22. Arizona Cardinals (5) The Cards maxed out what they could do without a pick in the second round.  They had the same value issue and team needs the Bills did, and picking three picks later (with Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox coming off the board), I feel they took a better player.  Gilmore to the Bills is safer, because that’s the nature of highly drafted corners.  But Floyd to the Arizona Cardinals has real upside potential, and might make the Kevin Kolb pickup look good after all.

T22. Chicago Bears (5) The Bears draft was like that one child who is just hard to love, but you’re stuck with him for the next decade or so, and you might as well enjoy him.  Shea McClellin was an odd fit in the Bears’ preferred 40 front, but used correctly he will bring an element to their sub packages that makes the Bears more multiple.  And Alshon Jeffery clearly can make it in this league.  Plenty of receivers struggle to separate, and you can lump Jeffery into that group, but the concern is overstated.  It’s a common issue and many have gone on to enjoy long successful NFL careers without being able to run away from corners.

T22. Cleveland Browns (5) The Browns blew it.  They got Trent Richardson, the one guy in this draft they actually needed to get, and then Colt McCoy’s offensive potential was looking up.  But then the Browns had already given up on McCoy, so they selected Brandon Weeden in the first round.  I think the real loser here is Seneca Wallace, who has a superior skill set to Weeden and a lot of pro experiecnce and isn’t really all that much older.  If the Browns had concluded that Colt McCoy wasn’t their guy, the best choice would have been to name Wallace their starter.  Weeden is a wasted pick.  Mitchell Schwartz is tough to swallow in the second round because as Mike Mayock always says: he’s a right tackle, and if he can’t play that, where do you put him?  The Browns waited until later to address receiver, and even with Trent Richardson on the team, this group isn’t building intelligently enough to compete in the AFC North.  As easy as it might be to criticize the Rams for having all those picks and perhaps not addressing adequately their need at WR, the Browns spent a first round pick on a quarterback, and are likely going to have to address the position again next year.

T22. Denver Broncos (5) The Broncos draft was also kind of a disaster.  They traded out of the first round (twice trading down), but also took themselves out of position to land an impact player.  They ended up getting a quality round two DT in Derek Wolfe, but he’s not the same quality of player they could have gotten in the first round with a bit of aggression.  The Brock Osweiler pick was problematic for a bunch of reasons.  It’s not that he won’t work in Denver, which I think is a good landing spot for him.  But Peyton Manning is signed for longer than Osweiler will be under contract, and the Broncos could have easily waited and got instead help for Peyton Manning.  While I’ll criticize a lot of teams for not addressing quarterback when they had the chance, the Broncos only need at the position was a guy on the roster who can get meaningful development time if Manning should get hurt again, and then to have an incumbent option if Manning abruptly retires after 2011.  Osweiler will fill that role, but the way the QB market was shaping, Denver should have waited.

T22. San Francisco 49ers (5) I like when a team sticks to their convictions and sticks to their board and drafts good players.  With the A.J. Jenkins pick, the Niners definitely got a talented receiver who wouldn’t have been there when they picked in the second round.  I don’t like being told that you had him graded much higher than the guys who went ahead of him.  That’s not going to reflect well on the team that claims it if you wait five years and bring it back to them.  Plus, Jenkins is going to struggle to get meaningful opportunities on an Alex Smith led offense with vets like Mike Crabtree and Randy Moss ahead of him.  He’s a decent Josh Morgan replacement with explosive upside, but not a great use of the 30th overall pick with a guy like Courtney Upshaw out there.  Saying you had him rated higher than Michael Floyd doesn’t adequately defend this move, even if it’s true.  On the other hand, LaMichael James (late second round selection) gives this team a lot more immediate help for Alex Smith, even if Kendall Hunter is a little bit of the same player.

T27. Kansas City Chiefs (4) With that Dontari Poe selection, I didn’t give the full complement of picks because of value: Poe was a bottom half of round one value at best.  I can sort of see where he fits in KC’s scheme, but he’s not a true nose tackle, and hopefully will not be used as such.  He can be a three down player on this team.  Hardly a bad pick though.  I’m not crazy about Jeff Allen in the second round.  Maybe he’s being brought in as a RT instead of a LG, which is fair, but the predominant guards in this draft all lasted to late second or third round.  Allen is a college team captain and a good prospect, but unless the Chiefs have a specific role for him as a rookie, this seems like a frivolous pick for a team that can make its move in the AFC West right now.   The Bears traded up right after this pick, so it is reasonable to conclude that the Chiefs had at least one decent trade offer on the table when they instead picked Allen.

T27. Tennessee Titans (4) The Kendall Wright pick didn’t thrill a lot of league insiders.  He’s clearly a good prospect, but for every crazy scout out there that will go on the record and say that he had A.J. Jenkins rated higher than player ‘x’ (Blackmon or Floyd, usually), you can’t find anyone to go to bat for Wright.  There are Stephen Hill supporters, Rueben Randle supporters, even Brian Quick supporters.  Kendall Wright does have vertical explosiveness, but this feels like a reach in the way that few other first round picks did.  I’m fairly surprised Wright ended up going in the first round.  And the Zach Brown pick in the second…well, a lot of people who displayed ire at the Bruce Irvin pick by the Seahawks forgot to save some of it for when the Titans did the same exact thing with a different space player a round later.

T29. Atlanta Falcons (3) Peter Konz was a great grab by a Falcons team in desperate need of an offensive lineman.  If you’re a Falcons fan, you just have to hope they solved all their team issues in the draft last year, and though that Asante Samuel trade.

T29. Houston Texans (3) I didn’t really understand the Whitney Mercilus pick in the first round.  The value wasn’t really there to make that selection, and I thought the Texans had shown a year ago that they didn’t really miss Mario Williams a lot when he was out.  The Texans badly needed depth on offense, and a best player available strategy, even one that brought a defensive player, would have worked.  Mercilus was likely the top pass rusher on the board for the Texans, but he doesn’t have first round pass rushing ability in my opinion and while the Texans have proved able in draft development, I just think they left way too much on the board in round one.

I thought the Jaguars got just as good of a prospect — if not a better prospect — with Andre Branch at pick no. 38, 12 picks after the Texans nabbed Mercilus.

T31. New Orleans Saints (o)
T31. Oakland Raiders (0)

Both teams selected for the first time in round 3, missing out on the process points…process?

2009-2012 Aggregate Process Ratings

These ratings have a small predictive value, and reflected favorably on the 49ers, Bengals, and Broncos last year, while suggesting that the Eagles, Jets, and Vikings hadn’t been getting it done in the draft.

This year’s aggregate ratings think the Seahawks, Browns, Bucs, and Rams might all have something going in the near term future, and think that Mike Shanahan’s work in making the Redskins younger might also have made them a playoff darkhorse.  Meanwhile, it success that the Bucs could take advantage of the rest of the NFC South, which hasn’t drafted all that well since 2009 (though the impact of Cam Newton is clearly underrated by these numbers, even if you add another five points to Carolina’s total).

Rank Team 09-11 Point Total 2012 Total 09-2012 total
1) Patriots 41 8 49
2) Broncos 41 5 46
3) Lions 35 7 42
4) Seahawks 29 10 39
5) Browns 32 5 37
6) Bengals 23 13 36
7) Buccaneers 22 14 36
8 Rams 20 15 35
9) 49ers 29 5 34
10) Packers 22 12 34
11) Dolphins 25 8 33
12) Redskins 24 7 31
13) Ravens 23 8 31
14) Eagles 17 13 30
15) Bills 22 6 28
16) Cardinals 22 5 27
17) Texans 22 3 25
18) Chiefs 21 4 25
19) Colts 17 8 25
20) Giants 18 7 25
21) Vikings 14 11 25
22) Jaguars 16 8 24
23) Steelers 17 7 24
24) Jets 15 8 23
25) Cowboys 16 7 23
26) Panthers 13 8 21
27) Titans 16 4 20
28) Falcons 16 3 19
29) Saints 19 0 19
30) Chargers 11 7 18
31) Raiders 16 0 16
32) Bears 7 5 12
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