2006 NFL Draft Grades: Value and Efficiency Ratings for Rounds 1 & 2

Today, in Part 3 of this series, I'm going to focus on how well NFL teams did in the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL draft. At this point, I've explained the Value Above Expectation (VAE) and Return on Investment (ROI) stats that form the basis of my objective draft evaluations. If this is the first installment you've read, or if you want to refresh your memory, see Part 1 and Part 2. The only things I'm adding to the mix today are my definitions of a "full-on" draft bust and a "mild" draft bust, which I originally developed last year:

  1. A "full-on" draft bust is a player who was selected in the 1st or 2nd round and played 67% or more below the expected performance of his specific pick number.
  2. A "mild" draft bust is a player who was selected in the 1st or 2nd round and played 50% or more below the expected performance of his specific pick number.

In other words, a full-on draft bust is a high pick whose ROI stat is less than or equal to -67.0%, and a mild draft bust has an ROI stat from -50.0% to -66.9%. I'm going to use these definitions at the end of the post to present how many draft busts each team drafted, as well as to list the 2006 draft picks who can objectively be considered busts to this point. Other than that, things will proceed very similarly to yesterday.

THE 2006 NFL DRAFT - TEAM VAEs FOR ROUNDS 1 & 2

So, without further ado, below is a chart of Team VAEs for the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft (click to enlarge):

2006_nfl_draft_vaes__rds_1-2__medium

After the jump, I'll discuss the chart, present and discuss Team ROIs, and list the busts...

According to VAE, the Packers added the most value above and beyond expectation in the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft. They had 3 picks (#s 5, 47, and 52) worth a total Exp AV/YR of 11.32, and turned those picks into LB A.J. Hawk (VAE =  1.26 AV/Yr), T Daryn Colledge (VAE = 4.35 AV/Yr), and WR Greg Jennings (VAE = 6.28 AV/Yr), all of whom have been 5-year starters for the team. What I find interesting about GB's draft performance in the first 2 rounds is that their VAE for the entire draft was 11.96 AV/Yr, meaning that they basically got all of their 2006 draft value from their first 3 picks. Close behind GB was the Jaguars, thanks predominately to having stolen Pro-Bowl RB Maurice Jones-Drew at the 60th pick (VAE = 8.66 AV/Yr).

On the other end of the spectrum, we once again have the Rams. Oh, those poor Rams! Just above the Rams, though, are the Bills, who are an interesting case to consider. Although I didn't really discuss them yesterday, the Bills actually had a pretty good draft overall, ranking in the Top 10 at both VAE and ROI. Focusing only on the first 2 rounds, however, they were only hundredths of VAE better than STL. Why? Well, in 2006, BUF had the good fortune of holding two 1st-round picks (#s 8 and 26). The first of those picks was DB Donte Whitner, who has basically played up to expectation for a #8 pick. The second pick, however, was the disaster known as DT John McCargo (VAE = -2.82 AV/Yr), a player whose best season to date was as a backup to Larry Tripplett in 2007. What makes things worse is that they traded the 42nd and 73rd picks to get him. You could say BUF got "Stokesed."

Speaking of the 49ers, once again their ranking is right around average despite actually adding positive value early in the draft. Like BUF, they had two 1st-round picks (#s 6 and 22). Unlike BUF, they avoided a catastrophe. Both their first pick, Vernon Davis (VAE = 0.69 AV/Yr), and their second pick, Manny Lawson (VAE = 1.77 AV/Yr), have slightly beaten objective expectations. The problem for the Niners in the 2006 draft was that, even though they got good value at the top of the draft, 19 teams did a better job of it.

Based on the above graph, here are my objective team grades for the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft:

As - GB, JAX, CHI, SD, BAL, DEN

Bs - IND, CAR, KC, CLE, CIN, NYJ

Cs - TB, PIT, MIN, HOU, NO, WAS, SEA, SF

Ds - OAK, PHI, TEN, ARI, DET, ATL

Fs - DAL, NYG, NE, MIA, BUF, STL

THE 2006 NFL DRAFT - TEAM ROIs FOR ROUNDS 1 & 2

Below is a chart of Team ROIs for the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft (click to enlarge):

2006_nfl_draft_rois__rds_1-2__medium

Thanks to MJD, JAX moves to the head of class when we look at value added on a percentage basis. Because they were able to spend such a low pick on a player of MJD's caliber, the Jags have gotten a 341.2% return on their investment. Meanwhile, their 1st-round pick, TE Marcedes Lewis, has also been a hit in retrospect (ROI = 76.1%), although not a home run like Lewis's diminutive UCLA teammate.

One team that creeps up towards the top despite only being in the middle of the pack according to VAE is the Steelers. Not surprisingly, the reason for this has to do with the fact that they only had 1 pick in the first 2 rounds; and a low 1st-rounder at that. With that long pick, however, they took WR Santonio Holmes, who's been 107.2% better than what you would expect from a #25 pick.

There was also a change at the bottom of the rankings as well. Specifically, STL finally made its way out of the cellar, having been replaced by the Dolphins, who took the disadvantage of having only 1 pick in the first 2 rounds, and made things worse by drafting DB Jason Allen, a player whom they released in the middle of last season after 4 years-worth of backup duty.

With respect to the Niners, their ROI ranking for the first 2 rounds (21st) was very similar to their VAE ranking (20th). However, according to ROI, they ended up much farther below the NFL average, which was mostly because - as I mentioned earlier - their picks were good, just not good enough in the context of a solid draft leaguewide. In addition, whereas they were essentially tied with the Seahawks for best Team VAE in the first 2 rounds among NFC West teams, SEA's picks yielded a much better ROI; placing them well in front of the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams.

Finally, converting Team ROIs for the first 2 rounds into draft grades, we arrive at the following:

As - JAX, CHI, SD, IND, PIT, GB

Bs - BAL, DEN, CAR, WAS, KC, CIN

Cs - TB, CLE, SEA, NYJ, NO, MIN, HOU, OAK

Ds - SF, PHI, TEN, ARI, DET, DAL

Fs - NYG, NE, ATL, BUF, STL, MIA

If we compare these grades for Rounds 1-2 to the Team VAE grades, we see several differences. First and foremost, the Niners went from a C in value added to a D in efficiency. The Broncos, whom I talked at length about yesterday, and the Ravens, who I have yet to even mention this week, both dropped from As in value added to Bs in efficiency. In contrast, the Colts went from a B to an A, and the Steelers skyrocketed from a C in VAE to an A in ROI. Finally, the archrival Cowboys flunked the ROI test after having barely passed the VAE test.

THE 2006 NFL DRAFT - THE BUSTS (SO FAR)

To remind everyone of what I said in the opening, full-on draft busts are picks in the first 2 rounds who have an ROI of -67.0% or worse;  mild draft busts have an ROI of -50.0% to -66.9%. According to these definitions, it turns out that, as of this evaluation, there were only 3 full-on busts and 3 mild busts selected in the first 64 picks of the 2006 NFL draft. That works out to a league-wide bust percentage of about 10%.

Because there were so few, I'll show you the worst 10 picks of the first 2 rounds, the worst 6 of which were the busts:

Pick

Tm

Player

Pos

AV/Yr

Exp AV/Yr

VAE

ROI

36

NE

Chad Jackson

WR

0.67

3.20

-2.53

-79.15%

49

NYJ

Kellen Clemens

QB

0.60

2.80

-2.20

-78.57%

26

BUF

John McCargo

DT

0.80

3.62

-2.82

-77.88%

44

NYG

Sinorice Moss

WR

1.00

2.94

-1.94

-65.97%

18

DAL

Bobby Carpenter

LB

1.80

4.09

-2.29

-56.01%

15

STL

Tye Hill

DB

2.00

4.33

-2.33

-53.78%

16

MIA

Jason Allen

DB

2.40

4.24

-1.84

-43.45%

10

ARI

Matt Leinart

QB

3.00

4.85

-1.85

-38.14%

40

DET

Daniel Bullocks

DB

2.33

3.06

-0.73

-23.79%

46

STL

Joe Klopfenstein

TE

2.25

2.88

-0.63

-21.91%

Three of these names should be familiar, as I've already mentioned them either yesterday or today. The Bills' disastrous #26 pick ended up being 1 of the only 3 full-on busts in the draft, along with the Patriots' #36 pick, WR Chad Jackson, and the Jets' #49 pick, QB Kellen Clemens. I also already mentioned Dolphin ROI-killer, Jason Allen, who just missed mild-bust status.

Finally, yesterday I brought up the fact that the Rams' draft was so bad that Joe "H.R" Klopfnstof was their most valuable pick. Well, it turns out that their best pick was very nearly a bust, and their other pick in the first 2 rounds ended up being 1 of the 3 mild busts, along with the Giants' #44 pick, WR Sinorice Moss, and the Cowboys' #18 pick, LB Bobby Carpenter. Seriously, there was enough epic fail in the Rams' war room that fateful Spring weekend to fill an entire stadium for the next 4 seasons. Oh wait, it actually did.

One thing I kind of brushed over yesterday that seems more relevant to talk about now is the lousy drafting of the Patriots in 2006. According to yesterday's overall draft grades, NE got an F in terms of both VAE and ROI. Today, we see that they were the not-so-proud recipients of the biggest bust in that draft. And yet, despite all this failure in the 2006 draft, they were only a monumental choke-job away from going to the Super Bowl that year, they famously went 16-0 and lost the Super Bowl just one year later, and have won 63 (!!!) games over the last 5 seasons. How?

Well, free agency and player trades of course, at least from 2007 on, anyway. You may recall that the offseason between 2006 and 2007 was when the Patriots landed Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth to help their offense, and Adalius Thomas to help their defense. Who needs a draft when you can add perennial Pro-Bowlers through free agency and trades?

As far as their heroics during the 2006 season go, the only things I can point to in lieu of their abysmal 2006 draft class are that (a) they still had Tom Brady on offense, (b) their offensive line was largely unaffected by injury, (c) they still had Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison on defense, (d) Vince Wilfork and Asante Samuel were just entering their prime, and (d) they signed 5-day retiree Junior Seau. Essentially, they had built such a good roster prior to 2006 that their strikeout-out-swinging in the draft had little effect. Or, to put it another way, they were the Dave Kingman of the 2006 calendar year.

BOTTOM LINE

So, from today's post, here's what we can say about the first 2 rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft:

  • The Jaguars and Packers hit home runs.
  • The Rams struck out.
  • The Bills grounded into a double play on a 3-1 count.
  • The Steelers got a triple on an 0-2 count.
  • The Dolphins got ejected for arguing a called 3rd strike.
  • The Patriots had already homered in their first 3 ABs, so striking out in their 4th didn't matter.
  • The 49ers went 2-4 with 2 RBIs (RBI? RsBI? Ugh!), but it wasn't enough to win.

Tomorrow, I'll look at the winners and losers of Rounds 3-7, and identify the diamonds in the rough.

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