WRITER’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo! Voices network on May 9, 2012. The article is no longer available on Yahoo’s network. Reprinted here as the author of original work…for posterity’s sake. 🙂
Team ______. Your selections in this year’s NFL Draft did not meet my standards of mock-draftness. You get a grade of “D”.
NFL experts are paid to study. Study the players. Study the teams. Study the games. For some, it’s almost as if they are paid per word to speak, write and tweet.
Fair? Unfair? It depends on how much stock one puts in the “experts” opinions.
In this year’s draft, take for example the case that is the Seattle Seahawks. The prevailing opinion among a variety of “draft grade” stories is that the Seahawks rate no better than a “C”.
When the Seahawks selected West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall pick in the first round, “reach” was the word. He is a raw athletic talent with great potential; excellent pass-rushing abilities. How many teams, however, draft “potentials” in the first round on defense? Not many.
But does that type of a move justify grades? Sure, “experts” grade an entire team’s draft. But much of the grading stems from how well a team does with their first pick.
In 2011, the Seattle Seahawks received unfavorable draft grades. One network (FOX Sports) gave the Seattle Seahawks a grade of “D”. Their first pick in 2011, offensive lineman James Carpenter, was a surprise even to his Alabama coach Nick Saban. That set the tone for the Seahawks draft grades. As the FOX Sports article states: “While they selected a few good players early on, Seattle picked them before many personnel evaluators felt they should have gone off the board.”
Who else was drafted last year? John Moffitt (3rd), K.J. Wright (4th) and Richard Sherman (5th). All players, including Carpenter, received significant playing time last season, aside from injury.
And yet the grade was a “D”.
For contrast, look at the last two drafts for the Arizona Cardinals (the Seahawks NFC West division rival) and this past season’s Super Bowl champion, the New York Giants.
In that same FOX Sports 2011 article, the Arizona Cardinals were given a B+. 2010 was similar according to this AOL (Huffington Post) story with a “B”. What do two straight years of a “B” draft grade equate too?
Two straight years with no playoff appearances.
The New York Giants, on the other hand received similar grades to the Cardinals. In both the 2011 FOX Sports story and the 2010 AOL/Huffington Post story, the Giants received an average grade of “B”.
What did the two years of a “B” draft grade earn the Giants? A Super Bowl championship this past February.
NFL draft grades don’t win championships. There are too many variables, including the draft, that go into a championship team. Team health plays a huge part. Coaching. Team chemistry. Free agent signings. Front office competency. Any number of factors can contribute to the making of a Super Bowl champ.
Solid drafts help but are not the end all-be all for teams.