Yesterday I unveiled the Positional Draft Multiplier (“PVM”), an attempt to adjust prospect rankings by relative positional importance. If you haven’t yet read that post, I encourage you to do that before continuing here.
While I won’t re-explain the entire process here, I will say that, in essence, the PVM uses the consensus prospect rankings and adds an “impact bonus”, the size of which varies by position. For example, QBs have a much bigger impact on games than Centers do, so the bonus for QBs is bigger.
Today, I’ll apply the system to last year’s draft. Please note that this will not be a direct comparison to this year’s rankings, due to the fact that I can’t find NFP’s ratings for last year. For today’s post, I’ve only used ESPN and NFL.com’s ratings to arrive at the “consensus rating”. Also, it’s obviously too early to judge any of these players, so while I think the below tables will be interesting, their full value won’t be apparent until at least next year. I hope to go back a few more years with the same analysis next week.
First, here are last year’s prospect rankings re-ordered according to PVM Rating (only players drafted in the top 2 rounds were included). The right-most column is the difference between the player’s PVM ranking and actual draft spot. I’ve calculated it so that a positive number means the player was UNDERDRAFTED according to the system (so positive means a “steal”). A negative number means the player was a reach.
To reiterate, this isn’t meant to be a ranking according to which players are best or most likely to pan out, just a better measure of potential Risk vs. Reward.
Take some time to look through those tables, there’s plenty of info there. Actually very little change in the top ten, with the only big shifts resulting from Mark Barron and Stephen Gilmore falling. Fletcher Cox appears to have been a good value pick by the Eagles, taken 3 spots later than his PVM Rank suggested.
To make things a bit clearer, below are two tables illustrating which players were most under/over drafted.
No surprise to see a QB at the top of the list. Due to the structure of the system, QBs receive, by far, the most benefit. However, note that on an absolute basis, the scout’s ratings still count for much more.
– Lavonte David jumps out immediately. According to PVM, he should have been the 38th overall prospect, but fell to the 58th pick and ended up having a superb rookie year.
– Vinny Curry makes an appearance high on the list, falling 19 spots from his PVM Ranking. Let’s hope Chip Kelly finds a way to realize the potential most scouts think he has.
– Cordy Glenn, though not widely known, had a good rookie year as well, ranking as the #31 overall OT for 2012 by Pro Football Focus. #31 might not sound great, but remember there are 64 starting OTs in the league. To be better than half of them in your first year is a good sign.
– Kelechi Osemele was ranked #36 overall by PFF, ahead of more famous players like Jake Long, Michael Oher, and Jermon Bushrod.
Now for the bad:
Bruce Irvin leads the pack by a longshot, drafted 39 spots ahead of his PVM Ranking. While he did record 8 sacks (ESPN), impressive for a rookie, he was weak against the run and received a negative grade overall by PFF.
– Derek Wolfe had a similar rookie year, though he was strong against the run and weak against the pass (according to PFF). Overall, PFF has him as the 54th overall 4-3 DE.
– A.J. Jenkins might be the most anonymous first rounder in last year’s class. Be honest, did you know anything about him prior to seeing him in the table? Yes, he played for a great team, but he couldn’t even get on the field and registered ZERO catches. Obviously, he’s got plenty of time to turn his career around, but it’s safe to say if the 49ers had a do-over, they wouldn’t repeat that pick.
– Mychal Kendricks shows up here, though a 10 pick difference that late in the draft isn’t that surprising. However, if you look closely you’ll see Dont’a Hightower, while also over drafted, was ranked significantly higher than Kendricks by PVM. For what it’s worth, PFF had Hightower as the 8th overall 4-3 OLB….Kendricks ranked 42nd. (Lavonte David was #5)
As I said in the beginning, it’s way to early to judge last year’s draft class. I hope to do this same post with several other draft classes (provided I can find pre-draft ratings to use). While the PVM Ranking is interesting, and I believe is has a lot of value, the overarching theory I want to advance is:
When teams go against the prevailing wisdom in the draft (consensus ratings), they are wrong much more often than they are right.
So the big question is, can we, without any particular scouting insight, use only consensus ratings and logical adjustments (like positional value) to come up with a rankings system that is as good or better than average team’s proprietary board? I think we can (though it obviously won’t be easy).