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## The NFL Draft: Shopping for Bargains!

Last week, the NFL player draft took place over 3 days in New York City, and now the annual exercise of “grading” each team based on their draft haul commences.  It’s a fun debate, with grades often based more on feel or perceived value, rather than any real analysis.

There are many ways to evaluate draft results, but from a purely mathematical standpoint, I like to look at value.  Which teams  got the best “bargains”, and which teams went out on a limb?  If you had the 20th pick in the draft, did you get the 20th best player?  Or did you draft a lower-ranked player.

I took all of this year’s 254 players drafted in the NFL draft, and compared them to their draft ranking, according to CBS Sports.  The only real reason I have for using CBS as opposed to the many other draft rankings out there, is that it was easy to pull their data out into a spreadsheet.  From there, I computed the “value” of each pick.  If a team drafted a player above his rank, this is negative value.  If a team drafted a player after his rank, this is a positive value.  Some examples:

Geno Smith was drafted with the 39th pick, but was ranked 21st by CBS Sports, so his value was +18

Meanwhile, E.J. Manuel was drafted with the 16th pick, but was ranked 40th, for a value of -24.

Some players represented great values for the teams which picked them:

Cornelius Washington, Chicago Bears (pick 188, ranked 82, +106)

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (187, 88, +99)

Jordan Poyer, Philadelphia Eagles (218, 119, +99)

While other players could be considered “reaches”:

B.J. Daniels, SF 49ers (pick 237, ranked 818, -581)

Jon Meeks, Buffalo Bills (143, 834, -691)

Ryan Seymour, Seattle Seahawks (220, “1000”, -780).  Ryan is the only drafted player who did not appear in CBS’s top 1000, so I just assigned him #1000.

There is a bit of un-fairness here, as many teams will use later picks on “projects”, players who have little expectation of making the team, but who seem to have a particular upside, so there was much volatility in the later round values.

From there, I simply added up the value scores for the players drafted by each team, and found an overall value score.  So, which teams earn the best grades?  Only 3 teams earned overall positive scores.  This is understandable, as it is much easier to earn negative scores than positives, especially in the later rounds.

THE TOP 3:

Minnesota Vikings (+187)

Chicago Bears (+51)