In this post I derived the expected value of the contribution of each draft slot based on Pro-Football-Reference.com’s Approximate Value system. You can see the full draft chart here. Once you know what the expected value is for a draft pick, the next step to grading a draft pick is to measure how much actual value was provided. As before, I used the marginal Approximate Value generated by each player in each of his first five years, with the caveat that a player is only credited for his AV after his first two points of AV. Using that formula, Patrick Willis, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Maurice Jones-Drew come in as the three most valuable picks over that time period.
Since 2000, the team with the most amount of draft value in terms of picks was the 2002 Texans. Houston not only received the first pick in each round that year, but the expansion Texans were given several supplemental draft picks as well. The 2007 Raiders and 2000 Browns tied for the second mount amount of value in terms of raw draft picks, but both of those teams wound up with many more whiffs than hits.
The table below lists the best drafting teams from 2000 to 2007. I’ve also broken out each team’s AV above expectation for each year. If you click on any of the values in the columns from 2000 to 2007, you can see the players drafted by the team that year (one side effect of including this information: the columns do not sort correctly).
[table id=451 /]
The best year — both in overall value and in value above expectation — came from the 2005 Dallas Cowboys, when they drafted DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Kevin Burnett, Marion Barber, Chris Canty, and Jay Ratliff — giving them an incredible haul of starters, Pro Bowlers, and All-Pros.
It’s not hard to see why the Chargers fare so well here — they drafted LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees (who had two big years in SD) in 2001, and then were outstanding in 2004 (Philip Rivers1, Igor Olshansky, Nick Hardwick, Shaun Phillips, Michael Turner – and that doesn’t even include Nate Kaeding), 2005 (Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles) and 2006 (Antonio Cromartie, Marcus McNeill, Jeromey Clary). And that doesn’t include picking up Antonio Gates as an undrafted free agent. Had they been able to keep all that talent (and had better coaching), they probably would have won a Super Bowl, but they did post the 5th most wins from 2002 to 2010.
The Lions have had years of bad drafts, but the 2005 one stands out as their worst. They grabbed Mike Williams with the 10th overall pick, and he had 449 yards and 2 touchdowns in two years. With the 37th pick they went back to USC and selected Shaun Cody, who started just 12 games in four years for Detroit. With a top-ten pick in the third, they drafted CB Stanley Wilson from Stanford two spots ahead of where the Giants grabbed Justin Tuck. To cap things off, they selected the star of the 0-16 season, quarterback Dan Orlovsky, in the fifth round.
Finally, one final note on this. You might notice that most of the teams seem to be doing pretty well in this study. That’s because the data used to derive these numbers go back to 1980; as it turns out, the years from 2000 to 2007 happen to be a very efficient period in NFL drafting history. I also confirmed this with friend of the site Danny Tuccitto, who has his own excellent draft article out today.
***Update: Pursuant to Topher’s request in the comments…