Analyzing the Patriots Draft
As you know about a month or so ago I developed a scoring matrix for the draft based on games played, seasons started, and pro bowl nods to serve as a guide of sorts for draft expectations and positional values. A score of 300 would indicate an average player, playing exactly the average amount of games, starting seasons, and pro bowl nods. A score of 0 would indicate the player never played in the NFL. The scores are based on the 1997-2007 draft classes. I went more in depth on the Jets draft selections but also wanted to apply a more brief overview for the other teams in the East, starting with New England.
New England came away with two first round picks- the 21st and 25th selections. The average score for a player picked between 11 and 32 is a 747, meaning the player is about 2.5 times as productive as the average player. I consider the talent range of the picks to be about 7 slots, meaning that Chandler Jones would be compared to players historically drafted between 18 and 24 while Don’t’a Hightower to those between 22 and 28. For Jones that reduces the average score to a 647 and for Hightower a 612, with medians of 448 and 383 respectively.
From a positional standpoint Defensive ends average a 625, which is lower than the round average, and in the Patriots draft range falls all the way to a 474, with Will Smith of the Saint being the standout player. For Linebacker the scores average a 1078 so these are usually stud players. The sample in the Patriots range is too small to really take into consideration. In both cases the median is around a 500 so odds are this will be a good player.
New Englands first rounders have averaged a score of 794 and median of 470, so I would consider them slightly above average at scouting talent, especially when you consider that most draft picks have come in the 20s. Logan Mankins with a 2340 would be the best player they drafted while Andy Katzenmoyer was the worst, posting a score of an 80. 33.3% of their selections would have been pure busts.
Based on the history it would be hard to project Jones as anything more than an average selection, meaning he should have about a 15% or so chance of being excellent and a 30% chance of busting. Odds are he will be somewhere in between and have a solid productive career like Ty Warren. Hightower should be the much better player. Only 11% of the picks have proven to be totally worthless, which is very low. About 36% go on to be very productive players that are considered at least twice as good as an average drafted player. Based on the Patriots history you can probably lower the odds of a bust slightly and increase the odds of a success. The downside for Hightower would be a Chad Greenway or a Napolean Harris with the upside of a Jon Beason. If he hits the average expect someone regarded similar to Keith Bullock.
Where New England picks in round 2 we are looking at an average score of 468 and a median of 386. Their history has been terrible in the round posting an average of 280 on 11 players drafted, about 40% worse than the league. Matt Light is the lone standout and 73% have been considering below average players. Eugene Wilson and Kevin Faulk are the only two others to post above average draft grades. Defensive backs average a 512 and the Pats draft range has actually averaged a 600 when drafting DB’s, so it’s a strong position to be drafting secondary help. Roman Harper, with a 1680, would be the highlight safety of the Patriots draft range. Still it is hard to discount the teams history in the round. 26% of the position is a total flop so if we factor in the history of the Patriots Wilson probably has a 35% chance of totally busting and only a 13.5% chance of finding a 600+ score player. Still that leaves a strong possibility for a solid enough contributor such as a Eugene Wilson or Brodney Pool to fill in for a few seasons in the secondary.
Round 3 is where the draft begins to take the turn into the “cross the fingers” stage. The average score drops to a 293 and the median a 158. If we take Pro Bowls out of the equation and simply consider a 200 to be an average player, which is probably a fair measure from here onward, our bust potential is about 56%. Somewhere around 8% of the selections would make a team pretty happy which is not too bad. 11.8% of the top 10 draftees have come from this round so the high end production is not too much worse than the second round. For the Patriots range I took the values from pick 83 thru 97, in which the average drops to a 232, but with a median of 170.
The selection of a DE is a great value pick, with tons of well above average gems found in the round. The average score is a 413 with a median of 239, so they perform much better than the rest of the round. Some huge names have been found here including Jason Taylor and Justin Tuck, so it’s a very smart positional pick. Those players did come in the earlier part of the round so it may be more difficult late in the round to uncover a gem, but its still a solid decision.
That said the history again has been terrible for the Patriots. Average score of 184 and median value of only 76. Nothing recently would change that thought either with picks like Kevin O’Connell and Shawn Crable. New England should really consider re-evaluating their scouting process based on terrible 2nd and 3rd round picks.
So what does this mean for Jake Bequette? He will have about 45% odds of being a total non-factor and a 15% chance of being a 600+type player. If he doesn’t bust his average projection would be around 240, which would indicate a competent player for the round.
Round 6 and 7
Every year every fan gets excited about the gems their team found in the round, but the reality is most are total busts. There is only a 2.7% chance of finding one of the top players in the draft in the 6th and a 1.8% change in the 7th round. The average scores are only a 127 and a 98 respectively with a median of a 38 and 19. The chances of finding a contributor, one who scores 200 points or more, is less than 20% in each round.
In round 6 DB’s average a 124 with a median of 58, so Nate Ebner is your average player. Josh Bush is an average pick for the round. Round 7 DB’s also hit the round average with a 98 so Alfonzo Dennard would look to be an average pick as well. Finally WR’s in the 7th average an 85.
Clearly the Patriots round 6 average is inflated because they found Tom Brady who is one of the greatest players of all time. Their average is a 280 but the median is only a 46. Without Brady the average falls to a 49. In round 7 they average a 125, which is very good. About 38% of their picks never play a down, so that is probably the worst case for their late rounders. Based on their history I would give more of a chance to the 7th rounders to contribute than the 6th rounder.