The PFT [insert year] draft grades

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Everyone has a mock draft.  And everyone has draft grades.  Both are meaningless.  Draft grades are even more meaningless.  (If it’s even possible to have less meaning than meaningless.)

It’s the annual last shot of the Roman candle from the draft-expert industry.  Those who think they know where players will be drafted then tell us all who did a good job and a bad job in the draft, without acknowledging the reality that we don’t know, and we won’t know, how any of these players adjust to the next level.

That’s why the 2014 PFT draft grades are the same as the 2013 PFT draft grades.  Which were the same as the 2012 PFT draft grades.  And they’ll be the same as the 2015 PFT draft grades.


More and more members of the media seem to be catching on to the idea that it’s ludicrous to try to grade draft classes before the players have ever even participated in an NFL practice.  The idiocy was exemplified two years ago, when many of the draft experts killed the Seahawks for a draft that yielded Bruce Irvin in round one, Bobby Wagner in round two, and franchise-quarterback Russell Wilson in round three.

To his credit, ESPN’s Mel Kiper later upgraded Seattle from a C-minus to an A, after it became obvious that John Schneider and company knew what they were doing.  But that development should have been a message to Kiper and McShay and everyone else who tries to dish out draft grades that it’s as much of a crapshoot as the draft itself.

Many of you will say, “They’re just doing their job.”  But it’s their job because there’s still a demand for it.  Which happens because the audience still wants draft grades, no matter how much less meaningful than meaningless they are.

So maybe the audience needs to ask itself why the audience still cares about draft grades.  While the offseason is the time for manufacturing semi-plausible hope among every NFL fan base, it’s now obvious that nothing of any value flows from draft grades issued immediately after a draft ends.

70 responses to “The PFT [insert year] draft grades

  1. I never understand why there’s an immediate demand for draft grades. They SHOULD be grading 3-5 year old drafts. Those grades I would read.

  2. Then practice what you are preaching…give us a draft grade from 2011 or something.

  3. There’s a demand for Mel Kiper/Todd McShay mock drafts and subsequent grades? I was always under the impression that stuff was being force-fed into my eye holes.

  4. Kiper’s CYA post-draft grade for the Seahawks was an A not because of Bruce Irwin. We’re still waiting for this #1 to live up to what they wanted when they drafted him. Wilson was the great get of that draft that took the Hawks over the top.

  5. I never understand why people get so worked up over people giving draft grades. We have all this build up to the draft and then it’s over. No football for another several months. I read draft grades because it’s fun to see other people’s opinions of what my team has done and it gives me reason to think about football a little more while nothing of value is going on. You don’t have to take everything so seriously.

  6. Isn’t it curious how the pittsburgh steelers decline from relevance and their draft grades mirror a similar slide downward.

  7. The audience still cares because the most natural instinct when you’re watching a draft is to respond to it – did I like or not like that pick. The next natural reaction is to wonder what other peoples opinions are.

    The analysis of a teams picks isn’t a pointless activity. Yes, it is annoying when analysts speak with certainty on a player, but other than that, should fans just shrug their shoulders after each selection?

  8. Never mind ‘experts’ justifying their own gradings three years down the line.

    I’d like to see the players grading those same ‘experts’

    That would make for good tv, don’t you think?

  9. You’re all over thinking it and being overly critical. If there wasn’t a market for it, they wouldn’t do it. Typically they are grading on addressing needs and did the team get “value” picks based on projections. Not if said player will be a star in 3-5 years.

    If you aren’t strong minded enough to review some draft grades and keep in mind that no one really knows anything at this point, then that’s on you. Don’t be influenced so easily.

  10. Grading is very different from one person to the next, everybody has a different criteria for how they grade. If your an NFL team you probably don’t want to know what grade that I have assigned to your team, because across the board I found a lot of teams that I felt really blew this draft and didn’t know how to maneuver strategically within it and make the smart choices. I have never ever seen anybody come close to matching the level of my grades, I’m always way lower than everybody else because I’m very picky and I take points off for everything that makes sense to take points off for.

  11. Why is there demand, easy. B\c there is nothing else NFL related going on. Its entertainment and one more thing we can do until mini-camps get under way. No matter what grade your team gets, you can boast that they did well, complain that they suck, or rant (in either case) how little the experts know.

  12. Isn’t the answer somewhat obvious? The average “fan” is too lazy to think for themeselves. They prefer to be “told” what to think and given bite-sized info blurbs, so they don’t have to tax themselves by reading too many successive words.

    As for grading 5-year old Drafts, WHO CARES? Seriously. If I were to read some self-proclaimed expert’s determination (for example), five seasons after the fact, that the Patriots deserve an “A+” for unearthing Tom Brady in Round 6…. gee, that insight really has enriched my life! NOT.

    The fact remains that many “fans” are really only marginally-informed or interested in the deeper details. They just want their favorite team to be applauded and win on the field. They root for the unis, and really don’t know a lot of facts beyond that. (Talking about the majority, which are the folks who demand things like Draft Grades.) To us more in-depth students of the game and the Draft, things like Grades are useless.

  13. I dont mind draft grades that much because like most sports debate, its about speculation. Sports outlets like this one routinely make predictions on games and superbowl winners before they even take the field. Are we not allowed to do that?

    With that said, what does annoy me is when you read draft grade articles and see every team graded between A and C+. Ok? Really? Everyone did between great or average? If you are going to write an article then actually take an opinion and lets see if it turns out to be correct. Do t just ride the fence so you cant be called out later.

  14. All of the grades seem to be dependent on:

    1. How many draft picks you got.
    2. How high in round one you were.

    Ahem. Many bad teams get lots of draft picks. And it’s usually the bad teams that pick early in round one.

  15. How about draft grades based on the team drafting it’s needs rather than the players it drafted. Cleveland clearly had a need at WR yet did nothing about it. Then in a few years you can grade out the players that were drafted.

  16. Florio, we’d love to see a review of the draft pundits mock drafts versus the real draft to see how many got it relatively right and those claimed to have “inside info” but were clearly used by teams/agents.

  17. tell me this how do i go about looking at the draft grades from previous to judge whether to trust the guys doing the grading!! who called the surprises to the upside and the down side the best who called the biggest draft busts and who picked the most diamonds in the rough

  18. Just as there are clicks on websites (and driving revenue) covering the draft grades because there is interest in it.

    I would much prefer to hear what other GMs/Player Personnel Directors think of any given team’s draft but that isn’t readily available.

  19. very few people used to watch the draft, buying a magazine a month later telling you who your team drafted vs who their competition drafted and how some guy you have never seen play might work for your team is not a bad idea.
    And it has carried on to a time when each pick gets commented by internet babblers for ever, like thats a good idea. lol

    Its not rocket science. No one gets fired for a bad mark.

  20. The draft grades that should be handed out should be for the so called draft experts. How did they do? Who came even close to their predictions? Those are the grades I’d like to see.

  21. We all sit here and complain about the uselessness of post-draft grades, yet when Kiper or McShay post their draft grades, they get about 3 million hits within the hour.

    At this point, I take draft grades for what it is, entertainment. And it is highly entertaining, which is why I love it, you love it, and everyone else loves it.

  22. I read draft grades because I don’t have much knowledge on most of the players, and I lose track of all the teams needs after all the off-season stuff happens. The “grade” doesn’t matter as much as the explanation.

    Although, I must admit that there were some rather moronic opinions of Seattle’s 2012 class. Gruden seemed to be the only person who knew Wilson was one of the better QBs that year.

  23. All I know is that the Jags have been getting Ds and Fs up until this year and those grades have been on point.

    Hoping the positive feedback from this year holds true.

  24. What cowardice.

    It’s 100% okay to do draft grades … however don’t grade for the FUTURE.

    We have a saturation of draft analysts and that leads us to have more information on players than ever before.

    When this is the case should we not have expectations?

    We should because it’s better to have an idea of what you are getting than screaming and yelling during and after the season(s) after being warned.

    We save ourselves energy, time, and money.

    When that is so teams can get a sense of urgency to rethink their team development processes because when you don’t draft well you don’t win. When you don’t win people don’t care about you and you need to stabilize yourselves when victory and profits are on the line.

  25. The thirst for immediate recognition is what drives some fans need for draft grades immediately following the draft. You only need to read the delusion a particular Vikings fan writes here to understand this.

  26. People don’t take these draft grades as any kind of gospel. It’s just interesting to get an idea of how different members of the media think teams did. That’s also why people have started doing draft re-grades three or five years down the road, and it’s fun to see how the perception changes.

    I’m not sure why PFT puts out mock drafts and not draft grades when they hate on both of them so much. Of course these exercises are complete crapshoots, but they are in high demand. In such a tough time for journalism, why hate on these people for putting out something people are clamoring for?

  27. As a Seahawks fan it was so satisfying this year to hear the ‘experts’ say they thought seattle reached for guys, but couldn’t even say anything negative about the selections because of the track record.

    It just goes to show you that strangely enough, smart football guys know what they are doing more than smart media guys when it comes to assessing talent.

  28. Draft grades are meaningless because they are written from the perspective that the pre-draft mocks are the true assessment of a players worth. Teams did better or worse at how much of the perceived value they accumulated.

    Success in the NFL is based on effort, coaching, avoiding injuries, and most importantly playing time.

    The only thing that has changed after the draft is now players are on actual teams. A more interesting and accurate grade would be, “What are the chances that individual players drafted will find success with the organization that drafted them.” And it would look at their organizational success and leadership, coaching, team strength in terms of talent around them, and how soon they’ll get any real playing time.

  29. How about no more Super Bowl and NFL Season predictions either.

    Florio knew that Lions were choke artists and so he shouldn’t have been surprised when they went 7-9.

    Since we know what we’re getting (apparently we’re not in the internet age when there’s more info than ever before) let’s grade them!

    You don’t know about years 2 and later, but you can grade for the upcoming season.

    After all you need 11 men on offense and 11 men of defense and you’re better when that number is reached.

    If you neglect to know what you’re getting you are wasting your time and money on your team’s season. That’s why it’s okay to grade.

  30. Sometimes you get lucky and draft a hero. Sometimes you get unlucky and draft a bum.
    The history of the NFL is full of guys who came out of nowhere to become national icons of the game. Of course the other side of the penny is the history of guys who flamed out for whatever reason. As a Seahawks fan I can still feel the pain of Brian Bosworth…ugh!

    But to grade a team in the current year is disingenouos. I agree with the posters who say we need grades of the drafts over the years, even like an ongoing GPA formula!!!

  31. I enjoy hearing these guys opinions on the draft. Nowadays everyone is so scared to be wrong. It is good to see guys like Kiper, McShay and Mayock just throwing their opinions out there. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Is it really any different than any other form of NFL prognostication?

  32. Draft grades are not meaningless. Years later they help you judge who got lucky and who got unlucky. Of course it’s easier to judge the success of a draft 4 years down the line, but that doesn’t help you judge whether management did a good/bad job or just got lucky/unlucky. Comparing the success of the draft 4 years down the line to what people thought of it at the time helps you do that.

    It’s actually completely unfair to judge a draft years down the line. The only fair way to judge a decision is based on the information that was at hand when the decision was made. GMs do not have a crystal ball to see how the next 3 years will play out or who will get injured etc., so it’s not fair to judge their decisions based on the unforeseen things that will happen to these draft picks in the next few years. For example, would it be fair to criticize the Raiders management if Khalil Mack is a bust in 4 years’ time? Of course not … nobody’s predicting he’ll be a bust right now, and right now’s the only information the Raiders had on the young man when they picked him.

  33. Yeah, we don’t need another story about someone’s draft grades. Let’s have another Michael Sam story, or as SI coined it “the biggest moment in NFL draft history”. We can’t have more overhype of the draft through grading. We have to have more over hype of a marginally talented 7th round draft choice.

  34. As long as Minnesota has their semi-professional excuse for an NFL team, their subhuman fans will be clamoring for draft grades.

    They have to “win” the offseason, because they know they can’t win during the season.

    Since the inception of the current division, they’ve won it only twice. In twelve years. The Packers have 7 division crowns. They own the division, draft grades or not.

  35. Mock drafts and draft grades are entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.

    To assign any value other than that to the prognostications or attribute skills to those who make them is seriously over thinking. It’s all fodder for NFL junkies to get their offseason fix.

  36. That 2012 Seahawks draft also yielded Robert Turbin, who were it not for Lynch at RB would be seeing a lot more playing time, J.R. Sweezy, starting RG, and Jeremy Lane, who will see a lot of playing time this year as the likely starting nickel back. (Not to mention Greg Scruggs who is highly thought of by the staff still). Ultimately, they may go 7 for 7 with starters from that draft plus they picked up several picks in the 2013 draft due to trade downs.

    Irvin was the starting WLB on a Super Bowl winning team. Regardless of the criticism at the time, he has proven worthy of a late 1st round pick.

  37. Someone should grade all these mock drafts…I can’t believe I wasted the last 5 months reading all of them!

  38. I’ve always enjoyed Mock Drafts, since it’s fun and I like to make my own, but draft grades are moronic. It’s why there had to be a rookie salary cap. How can one justify paying a guy whose never set foot on a professional field, based on his college abilities, more than an established veteran? Answer: You can’t. How many first round “sure things” turn out to be busts? Look at Rolando McClain and Jamarcus Russell to name just two. Then look at how many late round draft picks (Tom Brady to name one) end up in the hall of fame? Drafts shouldn’t be graded for at least three years.

  39. Draft grades are entertaining — I have no problem with that. Bring’em on.

    Here is the part that I find really interesting: Joe Montana was a third-round pick. Dan Marino was the sixth QB taken in his draft. Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick. And then, Tim Couch, JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith, and Ryan Leaf were all top-three picks in their drafts.

    So, for the most important position in the game, and with all the attention and resources that can be brought to bear in a multi-billion dollar industry, we (collectively as human evaluators of talent) apparently have no freaking idea what we are doing.

    That’s awesome. That’s why the NFL is so entertaining.

  40. Draft grades are kind of ridiculous in the same way that it’s ridiculous when you argue with your buddy about who would win in a fight between Batman and Spiderman.

    Of course, it’s ridiculous. Of course it’s not realistic. Of course there is no way to know the “right answer.”

    You just debate it for fun.

    Get it?

  41. I Love the Draft Grades, Love the Analysis. Keep it coming Kiper and McShay! Don’t understand the hate unless it’s just jealousy because they get paid to do what we do for free at the bars with friends.

  42. I gave the Browns Fs after every draft except during the Butch Davis era. I have been right after every draft. Its never too early to grade a draft

    Gee when the Browns drafted decent under Butch Davis they made the playoffs. Imagine that.

    6 straight double digit loss seasons, soon to be 7, and 10 out of last 11 seasons, soon to be 11 out of last 12. Yep the Browns have a clue.

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