While many crave all the NFL Draft Team Grades that publications put out the day after the draft, including us on both accounts, there are many others who can’t stand it. Of course, we all have our own NFL Draft prospect rankings heading into that weekend, but those players have yet to play a single snap in the NFL. So, how can we really grade a team’s draft class if those players haven’t yet stepped onto the field?
It usually takes at least three years to see how well a draft class turned out. While said publications, including us, don’t want to wait three years before putting out their grades on a draft class, we decided to now do both.
Three years ago, prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, Sports Info Solutions created its first ever draft guide: The SIS Football Rookie Handbook. This book marked a first for SIS, as it was the first football publication since the company added the sport on the data collection front in 2015. After the 2019 NFL Draft, we, just as many others, posted our NFL Draft Team Grades, which can be seen here.
I’ve developed a system to evaluate the draft classes using Total Points relative to position as the foundation. Now that three seasons have gone by, let’s use that to truly see how each team did with getting value from their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
How much value did teams get?
Before we get into the process, let’s take a look at how we ranked teams after the 2019 NFL Draft and then who got the most and least value. See the Appendix below to see how all 32 teams ranked in our 2019 rankings and in TP Score.
Here are the teams we ranked at the top immediately following the draft back in 2019. To see our scouting grading scale, check out our new NFL Draft site.
|Top 5 Teams in 2019 Post-Draft Rankings|
TP Score will be defined below, but here are the top 5 teams based on how much value they received from their draft class.
|Top 5 Teams in TP Score|
|Team||TP Rank||TP Score|
The No. 1 team in 2019 (the time of our initial evaluation) and in this ranking both worked out to be the Tennessee Titans. Five of their six draft picks have been above average, all playing in at least 38 games over the past three seasons. The only pick who didn’t hit was D’Andre Walker, who appeared in only one game.
The top 3 teams, the Titans, Broncos, and Raiders, are at the top for a reason. They drafted good players throughout their entire draft class. They were the only teams to draft above-average players on 75% or more of their draft class.
Conversely, here are the bottom 5 teams from our 2019 rankings.
|Bottom 5 Teams in 2019 Post-Draft Rankings|
Based on TP Score, here are the worst teams in terms of getting value from their 2019 draft picks.
|Bottom 5 Teams in TP Score|
|Team||TP Rank||TP Score|
Determining Total Points Score
Now that you’ve seen the rankings, let’s explain the process. When looking back to see how good or bad a specific draft class was, there are two main points to detect:
- How productive were the draft picks on the field?
- How much talent did the team draft relative to the amount of picks they made?
As in: Did they hit on one player or did they hit on multiple players?
To determine the value of the draft classes, I used Total Points, our flagship player value stat, from across the last three seasons. However, for those of you who are familiar with Total Points, it gives a lot of extra weight to quarterbacks. With that said, Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick, alone would have had the 5th best draft class with his 286 Total Points if we just used raw Total Points.
While there is a reason we weigh quarterbacks so much more compared to other positions (they are pretty important), using that raw number in this sense isn’t going to make for a perfect match. Yes, the Cardinals got a lot of value in Murray, but when looking at their draft class as a whole, I think many would agree they didn’t have the best draft class. A fate they would have had if just using raw Total Points.
Now, answering the second question takes into account how well a team drafted throughout the entirety of the draft class. I found the average Total Points per player from the 2019 class at each position, including UDFAs who have taken at least one offensive or defensive snap, since they were also available to be selected.
The positional averages are shown in the table below.
|Pos||TP per Player|
The TP Score, as referenced earlier, is what’s used to rank the teams. It is calculated as follows:
- Add up the Total Points from the entire team’s draft class
2. Divide that number by the number of selections the team had
3. Multiply that number by the percentage of draft picks that were above the average Total Points for their given position
4.Add that to the original Total Points per draft pick
In these 4 steps, we are essentially answering how productive the draft class was and how many picks were “hits”.
Let’s run through an example using the Chicago Bears.
Here is their Draft class:
|RB||Kerrith Whyte Jr.||2|
So, to summarize, we took the team’s Total Points gained from these players, dispersed it throughout the entire class and then gave a bump based on how many above-average players they drafted.
Now that we know how the teams ranked and how the TP Score is calculated, let’s dive into some of the details.
Other Key Takeaways
– The Raiders “hit” on 7 of their 9 picks. It is interesting to note that all three of their 1st-Round picks, Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, and Johnathan Abram, had their 5th-Year Options declined. However, they still played well enough to be above-average players. Plus, that doesn’t include gems they found later in the draft in Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow.
– Every team drafted at least one player who has played above the positional average compared to the rest of the draft class. However, Dallas (Trysten Hill), New England (N’Keal Harry), Philadelphia (Andre Dillard), Seattle (L.J. Collier), and Washington (Dwayne Haskins) were the only teams whose first draft selection wasn’t an above-average player.
– The Cardinals draft class accumulated the most Total Points with 446, though as mentioned before, Kyler Murray accounted for 286 of them. They hit on 3 of 11 draft picks on their way to a No. 7 ranking. It’s worth noting that their Supplemental Draft selection of Jalen Thompson and his 73 Total Points isn’t included, as he isn’t part of their original draft class.
– The fewest Total Points came from the Eagles. They garnered only 51 Total Points across their five draft picks, with 43 coming from Miles Sanders.
– Hitting on quarterbacks is pivotal to winning in the NFL, as seen by Kyler Murray in 2019. Conversely, missing on quarterbacks can set teams back. Carolina and Cincinnati both took quarterbacks who severely hurt their Total Points number and pushed them down the rankings, even in minimal games played.
Will Grier accounted for -26 Total Points out of Carolina’s 89 total. Funny enough, Brian Burns had 91 himself. Ryan Finley was even worse for Cincinnati with -39. In nine games in which Grier and Finley played and threw at least one pass, they combined for a 1-8 record.
It’s possible the teams had a better chance of winning if neither played. If both had never played and accumulated 0 Total Points, Carolina would have improved four spots in the rankings and Cincinnati would have improved three spots.
How do our Initial Grades Compare?
56% (18/32) of our initial ranks were in the correct half. Meaning a team we ranked between 1 and 16 or 17 and 32 was ultimately in that tier. And before I get too much further, I want to make sure it’s understood that 2019 was our first year of the Handbook which meant there were plenty of growing pains. Major changes took place beginning in 2020 after studying our initial process.
The biggest differences in our initial grades and these final rankings were the Bengals (25 spots), Eagles (23 spots), and the Ravens (23 spots). We rated these teams near the top immediately following the draft, but they finished near the bottom based on these rankings.
For Cincinnati, we’ve already talked about Ryan Finley (who was our No. 4 QB), but they also drafted two running backs. Rodney Anderson (SIS No. 4 RB) has battled injuries his entire career and Trayveon Williams (SIS No. 5 RB) has been buried on the depth chart and has seen minimal playing time.
The Eagles took four of five players who were featured in the Handbook, with Miles Sanders and Andre Dillard both grading out as a 6.7. As mentioned earlier, Dillard was one of the top picks who has failed to be an above-average player. For Baltimore, all eight selections were in the Handbook, and we graded six of them at 6.4 or higher. They clearly have underperformed based on our initial grading.
What were some of our biggest misses elsewhere? Not including Mecole Hardman or Sean Murphy-Bunting proved to be a big miss. As mentioned before, immediate action was taken to improve upon our process to make sure we weren’t missing good players and early draft picks.
Additionally, we ranked Wisconsin OG Beau Benzschawel as our No. 4 guard and New Mexico State LB Terrill Hanks as our No. 5 linebacker. Neither have played a snap in the NFL.
Nik Needham is first and foremost when we talk about our NFL Draft wins. He’s been a big talking point around the company for the past three years. We ranked him as our No. 4 corner going into the draft, and he currently ranks third in Total Points among 2019 CBs (we were higher on him than any other mainstream draft analyst). His 85 Total Points tops all UDFAs from the 2019 class and ranks 12th overall.
The table below shows the top Total Points earners across the past three seasons and how we graded and ranked them in the Handbook.
|Rank||Position||Player||Total Points||SIS Grade||SIS Pos Rank|
While we were a little low on Dean and Crosby, all eight of these guys were tabbed as starters in some form by our scouts.
Nobody really knows how a draft class is going to turn out immediately after the draft, as stated before, yet it still makes sense to grade and rank the teams based on player grades for an initial reaction. Post-draft grades are great in a sense, but they should be taken with a grain of salt. Once three years go by and we’ve seen what these players have done in the NFL, we can get a better sense of how good the team drafted.
These rankings are all about finding which teams drafted the best draft class as a whole, not just who got the best player. While there are some players who didn’t play for the team that drafted them for the entirety of the past three seasons, that wasn’t taken into account since those decisions came after the initial drafting of these players, which is what this is based off of. It’s not a perfect science, but it does a good job at pulling player value and seeing how well teams drafted as a whole class.
Three years later, the comparison between our initial rankings and these rankings aren’t terrible for Year 1 (in both our grading and our scouting process). Though, we hope this article next year takes a large positive swing given the process changes we made heading into the 2020 cycle.
As with everything we do here, we hope this improves year over year and can look back and say we kept getting better every day.
2019 SIS Post-Draft Rankings based on the SIS Football Rookie Handbook
TP Rank based on TP Score and how much value each team got from their draft picks over the last three seasons
|Team||TP Rank||TP Score|