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 a lot of unknowns at that point. 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 an NFL 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 do both.
Three years ago, Sports Info Solutions published the 2nd edition of The SIS Football Rookie Handbook. After the 2020 NFL Draft, we, just as many others, posted our NFL Draft Team Grades, which can be seen here.
Just as I did here last year, I’ve developed a system to evaluate the draft classes using Total Points relative to position as the foundation. Three seasons have now gone by since the 2020 NFL Draft. So, let’s use that to truly see how each team did with getting value from its selections.
How much value did teams get?
Let’s take a look at how we ranked teams after the 2020 NFL Draft and then who got the most and least value. See the Appendix below to see how all 32 teams ranked in our 2020 rankings and in TP Score.
Here are the teams we ranked at the top immediately following the draft back in 2020. To see our scouting grading scale, check out our NFL Draft site.
|Top 5 Teams in 2020 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|
In our post-draft rankings in 2020, we tabbed the Browns as the No. 1 draft class. While they did end up having a strong group, they just missed the top 5, landing at No. 6.
The No. 1 team in TP Score was the Chargers. When looking at them and the Bengals, it’s easy to see they both grabbed top-tier quarterbacks who have put up huge numbers over the last three seasons, which is extremely valuable.
Justin Herbert put up 432 Total Points himself, which ranked 3rd in the NFL, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Joe Burrow added 292 Total Points, helping to give the Bengals a No. 2 ranking, a ranking we gave them back in 2020.
The Chiefs, Bears, and Panthers also got major contributions from their draft classes. Kansas City got 132 Total Points from fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed, Chicago got a combined 150 from their first two picks, Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson, and Carolina got 160 combined from Derrick Brown and Jeremy Chinn.
Conversely, here are the bottom 5 teams from our 2020 rankings.
|Bottom 5 Teams in 2020 Post-Draft Rankings|
Based on TP Score, here are the worst teams in terms of getting value from their 2020 draft picks.
|Bottom 5 Teams in TP Score|
|Team||TP Rank||TP Score|
Clearly, we missed on the Bears. Not including Trevis Gipson or Darnell Mooney in the Handbook was a big miss on our part. However, the Texans got very minimal value from their draft, as we expected back in 2020.
Determining Total Points Score
In case you missed last year’s article, let’s explain the process of creating each team’s TP Score. When looking back to see how good or bad a specific draft class was, there are two main points to consider:
- How productive were the draft picks on the field?
2. 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, Justin Herbert alone would have had the 4th-best draft class with his 432 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. It just so happens that Herbert has accumulated so much value, along with a few of his fellow draftees, that it did give the Chargers our No. 1 spot.
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 2020 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
- Divide that number by the number of selections the team had
- Multiply that number by the percentage of draft picks that were above the average Total Points for their given position
- 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 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here is their draft class:
|RB||Anthony McFarland Jr.||-7|
- Add up the Total Points from the entire team’s draft class — 212
2. Divide that number by the number of selections the team had
212 Total Points divided by 6 selections equals 35.33
3. Multiply that number by the percentage of draft picks that were above the average Total Points for their given position.
Claypool, Highsmith, and Dotson all accumulated a Total Points number that was above average compared to their position groups
35.33 times 50% (3 out of 6) equals 17.67
4. Add that to the original Total Points per draft pick
35.33 plus 17.67 equals 53.00, which is their TP Score
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
– Two teams drafted “hits” on at least 75% of their players: the Seahawks and 49ers. Seattle hit on their first 6 picks (6 of 8 total), including Jordyn Brooks, Damien Lewis, and Alton Robinson.
Interestingly enough, Brooks’ 80 Total Points ranked 2nd-most among all LBs in the class, but Seattle did not pick up his 5th-year option. The 49ers hit on 4 of their 5 picks, including getting 78 Total Points from Brandon Aiyuk.
– The Ravens had the most hits with 7, and they actually just missed out on hitting with two of their other picks as well. While they did hit on the majority of their draft class, they only ranked 13th in TP Score, meaning they should’ve accumulated more Total Points given they made 10 selections.
– Every team drafted at least one player who had played above the positional average compared to the rest of the draft class. However, the Jets (Mekhi Becton), Raiders (Henry Ruggs III), Eagles (Jalen Reagor), Packers (Jordan Love), Titans (Isaiah Wilson), Texans (Ross Blacklock), and Rams (Cam Akers) were the only teams whose first draft selection wasn’t an above-average player. We’ll find out a lot more about Jordan Love in 2023 now that Aaron Rodgers has moved on to New York.
– The four teams with the most raw Total Points are the Chargers (475), Bengals (467), Vikings (441), and Dolphins (422). Those teams being at the top makes sense, given that three of them got a high-quality quarterback and the other, Minnesota, got Justin Jefferson as one of its 15 selections.
– The Texans (76) and Raiders (94) accumulated the fewest Total Points from their draft classes over the past three seasons. The Texans make some sense, considering they only had five selections, but Ross Blacklock, their first pick of the draft, proved to be a big miss.
Additionally, the Raiders made seven selections and only had one hit (John Simpson in the 4th round with 51 Total Points). Their other six selections, including two first-round picks, combined for only 43 Total Points.
– Out of the 11 eligible defensive players who could get their 5th-year option picked up, only two did: Derrick Brown and A.J. Terrell. Conversely, 10 of 15 offensive players got theirs exercised. Of the 14 players who didn’t get their option picked up, 11 of them still performed at an above-average level. The only three who haven’t are Mekhi Becton (Jets), Jalen Reagor (Eagles/Vikings), and Noah Igbinoghene (Dolphins).
How do our Initial Grades Compare?
56% (18/32) of our initial ranks were in the correct half, just like last year. Meaning a team we ranked between 1 and 16 or 17 and 32 was ultimately in that tier.
The biggest differences in our initial grades and these final rankings were the Seahawks (25 spots), Chiefs (24 spots), and the Bears (24 spots). The three teams with the biggest differences last year were initially rated near the top before ultimately ending up near the bottom. This year, it was the opposite. These three teams performed much better than our initial rankings.
We mentioned Seattle before. Hitting on 6 of 8 picks is a great draft, especially considering one of them ranked second among their position in Total Points (Jordyn Brooks).
Let’s be blunt about it: we missed big on not including L’Jarius Sneed in the Handbook. I don’t think many people expected him to play the way he has (132 Total Points, No. 1 CB), but that turned out to be a big omission. Also leaving out Mike Danna and being a little lower on Willie Gay helped to prove why we missed so badly with Kansas City’s draft class.
Jaylon Johnson and Cole Kmet lived up to our expectations in Chicago, but excluding Darnell Mooney and Trevis Gipson, and their 79 combined Total Points from the book, assisted in us missing on their post-draft ranking.
What were some of our biggest misses elsewhere? Not including Alex Highsmith, Kamren Curl, and Michael Onwenu, who all topped their position groups in Total Points, ended up being big misses along with Sneed. We missed on the tight end class, as three of our top five went undrafted and ended up with only 2 Total Points to date. Unfortunately, there was no Top-Five-to-Undrafted darling (i.e. Nik Needham) this year.
Let’s take a look at some of our biggest wins. The first player drafted in 2020 who wasn’t in the Handbook was Matt Peart (Round 3, No. 99) by the Giants. He has gained only 13 Total Points across 37 games so far. The first player drafted who we didn’t get a formal look at was Cameron Clark (Round 4, No. 129) by the Jets. He wasn’t on our board and never saw a single snap in the NFL, though some of that had to do with severe injuries that forced him to retire.
We tabbed Isaiah Wilson, who ended up going in the 1st round and playing in only one game, as one of the lowest graded players of the class. We didn’t include Joshua Kelley, fourth-round pick by the Chargers, and he’s managed to lose 19 Total Points during his time in the NFL. Additionally, Dalton Keene was our last-rated TE (No. 21), but was taken in the 3rd round by New England. His -5 Total Points is the worst among TEs in the class.
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|
|8||S||Antoine Winfield Jr.||105||6.8||2|
We hit on our top 3 QBs, but were a little lower on Hurts. As mentioned before, omitting Sneed from the Handbook was a big miss for us. However, Jefferson, Wirfs, and Winfield have all played extremely well, as we tabbed each of them as high-end three-down starters.
Nobody really knows how a draft class is going to turn out immediately after the draft, 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 on.
A big example of that from this class is Casey Toohill, who was drafted by Philadelphia and has 20 Total Points, but played only one game for them before playing 40 across the last three seasons in Washington.
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 relative to the amount of selections they were afforded.
Three years later, the comparison between our initial rankings and these rankings aren’t terrible for Year 2 (in both our grading and our scouting process). We made some improvements from Year 1 to Year 2, like adding 30 more players to the Handbook and featuring 25 (9%) more who were drafted. Though, we hope this article next year takes a large positive swing as we went into Year 3 in the 2021 draft 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.
2020 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|