Green Bay Packers Quasi-Objective 2014 Draft Analysis: By the Points

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Ted Thompson build the 2010 winner through the draft. How will the 2014 draft grade out?
Ted Thompson built the 2010 winner through the draft. How will the 2014 draft grade out?

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson just completed his 2014 draft class. While the opinions of his selections are mixed, the general consensus is his performance is mostly positive.

Thompson has claimed that he never drafts for need and sticks to his board to select the best available player. I personally believe that this statement is only partially true. He most likely drafts for need by selecting the best available player at that position.

Rather than assigning arbitrary letter grades to the draft picks, I am going to take a quasi-objective approach to grading the draft.

I will use the Draft Trade Value Chart to assign a numerical value to each of the Packers 2014 draft picks. Then, I will use the overall ranking of each draft pick (as assigned by CBS Sports) and assign them a point value based on the Draft Trade Value Chart to compare the value of each pick. For example, #1 overall prospect JaDeveon Clowney is worth 3000 points.

No one knows each general manager’s draft board, nor how they truly rank prospects. I am taking some liberties here in my analyses, but it’s the best anyone can hope for without actually sitting in the war room.

If the Packers are truly selecting the best player on the board, I am assuming the value of each player should be equal or exceed the value of the trade value of the pick. If the Packers are drafting for need, I am assuming the player’s value to be lower than the pick’s worth.

At the end, I will compare the total trade value of the draft picks to the value of each player taken and make a conclusion on how savvy Ted Thompson was during the 2014 draft.

Of course assigning a prospect ranking is still subjective, hence making this a quasi-objective analysis.

The Draft Chart:

Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com.
Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com and HamboTalk.wordpress.com.

According to this chart, the Packers draft picks (21, 53, 85, 98, 121, 161, 176, 197, and 236) have a total value of 1557 points.

Pick 1: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS (21)

  • Pick value = 800 points
  • Prospect ranking = 18
  • Prospect value = 900 points
  • Difference = +100 points
  • Conclusion: best player available and good value

Pick 2: Davante Adams, WR (53)

  • Pick value = 370 points
  • Prospect ranking = 59
  • Prospect value = 310 points
  • Difference = -60 points
  • Conclusion: need and undervalue

Pick 3: Khyri Thornton, DL (85)

  • Pick value = 165 points
  • Prospect ranking = 166
  • Prospect value = 25 points
  • Difference = -140 points
  • Conclusion: need and undervalue

Pick 4: Richard Rodgers, TE (98)

  • Pick value = 108 points
  • Prospect ranking = 210
  • Prospect value = 7 points
  • Difference = -101 points
  • Conclusion: need and undervalue

Pick 5: Carl Bradford, LB (121)

  • Pick value = 52 points
  • Prospect ranking = 54
  • Prospect value = 360 points
  • Difference = +308 points
  • Conclusion: best player available and good value

Pick 6: Corey Linsley, C (161)

  • Pick value = 27 points
  • Prospect ranking = 227
  • Prospect value = 2 points
  • Difference = -25 points
  • Conclusion: need and undervalue

Pick 7: Jared Abbrederis, WR (176)

  • Pick value = 21 points
  • Prospect ranking = 110
  • Prospect value = 74 points
  • Difference = +53 points
  • Conclusion: best player available and good value

Pick 8: Demetri Goodson, CB (197)

  • Pick value = 12 points
  • Prospect ranking = 247
  • Prospect value = 2 points
  • Difference = -10 points
  • Conclusion: need and undervalue

Pick 9: Jeff Janis, WR (236)

  • Pick value = 2 points
  • Prospect ranking = 211
  • Prospect value = 7 points
  • Difference = +5 points
  • Conclusion: best player available and value

Overall Metrics

  • Total value of picks = 1557 points
  • Total value of prospects = 1687 points
  • Difference = +130 points
  • Conclusion: player net value exceeds draft value; good overall draft value

By the numbers, Ted Thompson appears to have maximized his draft picks. Overall, the total value of the players selected exceeded the total value of the draft picks he had available. Some picks greatly exceeded their value, whereas others greatly came up short. It may not have been a conventional mixture, but in the end, Thompson appears to have gotten it right on the whole. He undoubtedly had a combination of selecting the best player available and reaching for need.

Time will tell, but initially this draft class appears to have numerical value. We’ll see if it translates into victories on the field.

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Jay Hodgson is an independent sports blogger writing for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WIsports.com.

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.

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  • James David

    I never did like CBS rankings. Charlie Campbell had 12-FS Clinton-Dix; 41-WR Adams; 61-OLB Bradford; 71-WR Abbrederis; 103- TE Rogers; 106-OLB Hubbard; 153-C Linsley; etc. To bad that we cannot see the Green bay board. The only picks that I did not care for were Thornton and Goodson. DL Mike Pennel was ranked beside Thornton for what it is worth. If this draft greatly improves the safety and outside linebacker play, the defense will be greatly improved. I also think that Green Bay will have a better offense. Win the division and then get on a roll.

  • Archie

    I will say this about the Thornton pick – in the past, TT reached on Collins in R2 and Neal, again in R2. So this is something he is not a stranger to. Did hit on Collins? No question. Did he hit on Neal? Tougher call but I’d say he got close to R2 value out of him. I think TT’s record on defensive reaches is far better than his record taking defensive guys who have dropped (Worthy and Raji) or who went about where they were projected (Hawk, Burnett and Perry). On the other hand, I never like hearing the draft pick say he almost had a heart attack when his name was called because he was shocked. But, you have got to wait and watch the guy play in a few games before you say too much about any draft pick.

  • Archie

    Interesting analysis but all the surplus value came from one pick – Bradford – and he has 30″ arms.

    One thing that I’ve noticed from a lifetime of following the NFL draft (I am 63 years old): the pre-draft ratings mean less and less the deeper you go into a draft. That is to say, the number of players out of LF (supposedly) is fairly limited in the first couple of rounds but grows significantly thereafter. In the first 50-60 picks, there are probably 15 GMs with a similar grade on the player. After that, opinions become more diverse. I remember when Wold drafted William Henderson in R3 – most scouts had him rated as a marginal UDFA. Well, in that case, Wolf knew better. So I guess my conclusion is reaches are interesting picks and have a strong probability of being right.

  • BRinMilwaukee

    I like this draft more and more the more I read about it. I’m most optimistic about the WR and C, and maybe Bradford. I like a few of the UDFA’s. Overall, I went from being in a bad mood about it, to thinking that I don’t know everything.

  • http://jersyal.com tim

    The pick I wonder about is Thornton. With his skill set, I’m wondering about his ceiling, and whether he will ever be better than a guy like Pickett, Guyton, Wilson or jolly. Could they use theThornton pick elsewhere.

    • Anonymous

      I agree the third rounders lrft me scratching my head, but the more I see and hear the more I wonder if they may not turn out to be great picks. Time will tell. Bahk didn’t even seem like the best O Lineman the packers drafted last year, yet he over performed most expectations.

    • Oppy

      Being better than Ryan Pickett would mean he ended up being absolutely great.

      • Dobber

        People seem to have undervalued Big Grease over the years, and maybe that’s because he doesn’t rush the QB…and often isn’t on the field in obvious passing situations, anyway. But he did a lot of the dirty work. Quality guy. Sad to see him go.

  • Rossoneri83

    I just want the rookies to stay healthy. If they get injured like so many other Packers rookies, it’ll only delay their progress. Stay healthy….PLEASE!

  • Archie

    No question TT got solid value with all his picks with the possible exception of his two R3 picks. But like I said above, apparent reaches are often doubles, triples or HRs so I think we all need to watch these two players develop over the next few years before we can render any kind of judgment. As a Packer fan I want nothing more than for Rodgers to turn out as good as or better than Niklas. Same for Thornton vis a vis any number of DL taken in R3/R4. If TT hits on either one of these guys, it will be a good draft. I don’t think any of us his picks in R1 and R2. Bradford, short arms and all, is an interesting prospect. However, he fell in the draft and more times than not, that is not a good thing. We needed a back-up C. Looks we got one. For the 23rd WR taken, Abberdaris could be a great pick. The point guard would be a surprise. Janis has amazing physical talents. Maybe he’ll be a return guy or maybe he will make it as a WR in the NFL. As a betting man, I would never bet against a TT WR pick. So I agree this draft was not sexy and I agree the apparent reaches in R3 raise the risk level a bit but we may look back in 3 years and say it was a really solid draft. Worst case we got two quality players in the first two rounds and that is probably par for the course for most teams not picking in the top 10 and with no extra picks in R1/R2.

    • Dobber

      I like this Archie.

  • Jay Hodgson

    Great discussion going on here. Keep it going.

  • Oppy

    I’ve always agreed with yoop’s sentiment that I could care less when and where a player was drafted or how they were acquired.

    Take the 20 or so young players that have been added to the roster through the draft, as undrafted FAs, or tryout players.

    So long as the Packers end up adding a handful of talented players that can find their way on the roster, and a few more end up on PS to continue development, and two or three end up becoming quality starters who help the Packers make plays and win games, what difference does it make?

    If the first round pick is a bust, but the guy in the fourth round becomes an all-pro, what difference does it make? If the third round stretch pick is out of the league in two years, but the UDFA makes the team and plays for the Packers for 8 years, am I going to complain about a wasted pick?

    Its fun to debate a good pick, a bad pick, how historically a GM doesn’t do well in the 1st round, but really nails it in the 2nd round with WRs, etc and so forth, but ultimately, this time of the year is about adding players who will help your team win. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. And it really doesn’t matter if you get those guys in the draft, off the street, or through free agency.

    • packett

      Oppy…you’re right, yet not quite exactly. The debate is about; did we miss a better player, and/or adequately fill a glaring need.

      Further, even if they all make the team, is it an upgrade? How does that talent measure position by position with other teams? Did GB adequately address last year’s Achilles heel?

      • Dobber

        “The debate is about; did we miss a better player, and/or adequately fill a glaring need.”

        The article is about the value of the players picked rather than missing a better player. My guess is that you could go to virtually all of those draft slots and easily find a guy who was sliding who would arguably represent both–a better player and better value–by this metric.

      • Oppy

        Once the pick is in, there’s no turning back.

        I hope we aren’t still wasting time with the “What-ifs” on Barry Sanders.

        It is literally wasted energy.

      • Oppy

        Packett,

        Glaring need is a philosophical head-butting point.

        As you probably know (Not necessarily agree with), the Packers stance is that chasing need is a sure-fire way to find yourself reaching badly and in time depleting your roster of talent.

        The idea is, if you pass on higher quality players because you NEED a center, you are placing a (potentially) lower caliber football player on your team. Over time, this erodes the general talent level of your football team.

        Also, as recent history has proven to the packers, the other idea is that you never know what position will be a position of need come sunday. We have had situations where going into the draft it looked like we really need position X, but it went unaddressed, and position Y is fully stocked, but we drafted two more anyway. But during preseason, certain players stepped up and Position X performed at a suprising level all year, and position Y got the injury bug and we needed every player on the roster to keep the ship sailing.

        Of course, this projects out over multiple seasons as well.

        • Oppy

          The “perfect pick” of course, is where need and talent (value) intersect

    • Dobber

      “If the first round pick is a bust, but the guy in the fourth round becomes an all-pro, what difference does it make?”

      That argument works only if you say you can only have X many impact players per season. The goal is to have every player upgrade your team in some way, and it most likely happens in round 1. By that measure, every pick that fails to make your roster is a missed opportunity, and if your round 1 or2 is a bust, regardless of the quality of later picks, you’ve missed a high percentage chance to make a difference.

      • Oppy

        I agree with your mathematical projection, history does bear out that first round picks are most -likely- to be HOF’ers (or just good players for the obvious reasons), but that said, my whole stance is based on actual results of a given draft (eg while the first round pick IS a bust, the 4th round pick IS an all pro), not based on the projection (due to availability/talent shelf of draftees, 1st round picks are most likely to be the most successful, so a “miss” here means you’re less likely to “hit” during a given draft).

        More over, my point is that when the dust settles, my concern is did we add quality players to the team, or didn’t we? I fall to Ron Wolf’s gauge of a good draft- did you end up with two quality starters? That’s a good draft. If we did, I’m not going to nit pick and gripe about the first round bust or the third round reach.. It simply doesn’t matter. All that matters is adding players to improve your roster. The details of when, where, how are immaterial.

        • Oppy

          * I am overly simplifying for the sake of cohesion. Obviously, there are salary cap implications of when, where, how talent was added. A first round bust does ‘sting’ more than a late round bust because he was paid more. However, two things:

          1) With the newly entrenched rookie pay scale, that impact is FAR less devestating. In fact, this is the reason WHY it was implemented. Too much risk with draft picks. They are somewhat of a crap shoot.

          2) I’m going to make an assumption that most drafts, (adjusted for salary cap), cost about the same in terms of payrole and bonuses as any other draft. IF that is the case, it still wouldn’t matter which picks bust and which develop, so long as you get the number of players to stick that you’d like. Does that make sense?

  • Oppy

    This doesn’t really belong here, but I just read that Vegas odds makers have the Packers at 12-to-1 to win the Superbowl, they originally were 16-1 BEFORE the draft.

    Currently, Seattle is 4-1, Denver 5-1, San Fran 6-1, Pats 8-1.

    Packers are next with 12-1.

    Doesn’t mean anything, but it shows that at least to the guys in Vegas, the Packers are still one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and they believe that the did improve their roster last weekend.

    • packett

      Yeah, anyone else sick of seeing the Pats always up there somewhere? They’re a great team. Lots of respect for them….but how they benefit from dysfunctional competition in their division. Come-on Buffalo, Miami, please put it together sometime, would you? You keep swallowing up high draft picks….and still can’t put the talent together????? So if we whine about whether we got best picks….here is to show it ain’t all about top picks!!!

      • Dobber

        In the long run, it’s as much about the Belichick mystique as anything else. Yes, they win that lousy division every year with a gaudy record, but that roster is slipping.

  • http://TalkinPackers Yoop

    Another that see’s the light.

  • marpag

    I’m not going to quibble about the metrics used in writing this article. It’s an interesting perspective. But I do think that people sometimes have the wrong idea about the “value vs. need” debate.

    Very few teams in the NFL (if any) actually give an absolute ranking to each and every draftable player. That’s impractical, and realistically impossible. Instead they generally create “plateaus” at which each of the players has essentially the same grade.

    A typical example would be a team that divides each round into thirds. Instead of saying, “This guy is #33, this guy is #34, etc.” they say “This handful of guys are top of the second round, these guys are mid-second rounders, these guys are low second rounders.”

    So let’s say that the Packers are on the clock at #53 in the second round. They look at their board and see that there are five guys with more or less identical mid-second round grades, and no one who is rated higher than that. Four of those five guys who look like solid value at #53 are quarterbacks. One of them is a receiver.

    Hello, Davante Adams.

    So did they draft for value or for need? The answer is, “Yes.”

    • marpag

      One more thing… an absolute ranking of players really isn’t useful anyway. Let’s say someone is ranked #20 in an absolute ranking system. So what? In a very, very shallow draft, he may still be unworthy of a first round pick. There aren’t always 32 guys who are truly worthy of first round consideration. In that case, you try like heck to trade down.

      On the other hand, you may have a guy who is ranked #40, but because the draft is especially deep, he is still a first round kind of guy.

      Supposedly, this was a pretty deep draft. So let’ say the Packers are on the clock at #21 in the first round. They may still have 20 guys that they feel are worthy of a mid to late 1st round pick, which means that some of their “first rounders” are still going to be available in the second.

      So an absolute ranking of each and every player isn’t really even that helpful.

      • Anonymous

        That is exactly how they do it. Good job.

      • Anonymous

        Tony Pauline said there were 21 or 22 players with a 1st round grade. GB was really lucky that a couple of teams took some players for need. TT said we would have been ” crushed ” if Ha Ha was gone at 21. That is probably because he was the last player on GB’s board with a 1st round grade. TT said he drafted Arod because he was the last player with a 1st round grade.

    • NYPACKER

      The Thornton pick to me signifies the change in defense scheme to a more attacking style. “Quick off the snap” is what we hear the staff say about Thornton, to me this says that we are no longer going to covet
      the huge “blocker-eater’s” like Pickett, & value quickness over girth. We will see about the Rodgers pick…..I am underwhelmed with his measurable s, but I read that he made outstanding catches on his pro day.

      • Dobber

        Where I’m encouraged by this year’s draft is that so many of these guys come in with very strong and productive college careers behind them. Even Thornton, though his numbers might be underwhelming, has good credentials from a poor team. The exceptions are Rodgers and Goodson, but otherwise, no one else really carries the label of “project”.

      • Oppy

        Not new at all, though. We’ve been drafting interior pass rushers since.. well, forever.

    • Jay Hodgson

      Of course the metrics I used aren’t perfect. It was merely an attempt to remove my personal opinion from the draft so I could see how it graded out according to independent third party opinions.

    • Anonymous

      That is exactly how they do it. Good job.

    • Anonymous

      That’s exactly how they do it. Good job.

    • Oppy

      Yup, you get it.

      I have tried to explain it before, I don’t think I’ve done it as well as you have. HOpefully people will catch on.

      This is what personnel men mean when they talk about the boards being laid out VERTICALLY and HORIZONTALLY. Vertically is the talent level (plateaus, tier 1 talent, tier 2 talent, etc) and Horizontally are all the players in that tier organized by various criteria- position, speed, need, etc.

  • http://allgbp.com Thegreatreynoldo

    Interesting article. The article’s conclusion is that this was a good overall draft because using your methodology and CBS’ big board the point differential was +130. So I ran the numbers using NFL.com, Drafttek, and Walter Football. NFL.com at -307 is very unkind. Drafttek at +68 is mildly positive. Walter is wildly positive (+677**), but is also schizophrenic as well. [Walter has a big board of only 140 players. Carl Bradford is not listed. Since he was drafted at #121, he should be a minus. But Walter in its positional rankings lists Bradford as a 2nd to 4th round pick, so I assigned him a spot at the midpoint of 2-4, namely 65, the first pick of the 3rd round. Also, Walter in its individual grading gave GB an A+ for picking Bradford at #121, so I did not see how he could be a minus. Walter did not list Linsley, Thornton, or Goodson on its big board or in its positional rankings, even though the positional rankings went down to FAs. The rankings from NFL, Drafttek, and Walter Football, respectively are as follows:

    Ha-Ha: 29/14/12 or -160/+300/+400;
    Adams: 43/58/41 or +100/-50/+120;
    Thornton 239/194/NL or -165/-152/-165;
    Rogers: 206/244/103 or -99/-108/-20;
    Bradford 144/186/65* or -18/-35/+213;
    Linsley 227/153/NL or -27/+3/-27;
    Abbreder 119/89/73 or +35/+124/+204
    Goodson: 352/312/NL or -12/-12/-12;
    Janis: 132/236/129 or +38/-2/+41;

    Hubbard: 86/120/106 or +160/+54/+82 FYI
    Pennel: NL/200/NL or 0/+11/0 FYI

    • Jay Hodgson

      I expected each service to have different rankings for each prospect because they, too, are highly subjective as well. For me, my approach was quasi-objective because I didn’t rank the prospects. I used values established elsewhere to remove my opinion from the draft. That way, I could at least attempt to see how the draft graded out without my personal bias.

      • http://allgbp.com Thegreatreynoldo

        Agreed. Your article made me curious (one sign of a good article). My comment was not meant to be approve or to criticize your conclusion, methodology, or the article as a whole. In fact, I meant to run the numbers using a few more outside services, but Walter Football turned out to be a bit of a nightmare to obtain data. Again, good article!

  • Bedrock

    I wonder about TT’s subconscious perceptions of each round or depth of draft.
    The first pick, even end of the round, is picked thinking pro-bowl level.
    Round three? I’m not sure what the thought might be.
    We get to rounds four and five, and it seems to be solid guys that are very likely back-ups or solid contributors. These guys seemingly have no glaring holes.
    Again…just two-cents of possible subconscious TT thoughts.

    • Oppy

      My guess is that it never enters TT’s mind to project that a first round player should be a pro bowler, or anything of the sort.

      The wise GMs know that there’s just no telling- there’s simply to many variables. Are they physically maxed out, mentally maxed out. Will personal issues in their life affect their play on the field? Will injury end their careers? Luck is always a factor, too.

      All these guys can do is measure what can be measured, watch the tape, make the most informed decision you can, and hope for the best. You never know who will pan out, who will fail, and who will come out of nowhere to have a phenomenal career.

  • Anonymous

    ” He most likely drafts for need by selecting the best available player at that position.” Wow ! This is genius !!!

  • http://butlerrf@msn.com old time packer fan

    I sort of liked the draft because I think we have to be top heavy on offensive guys because of AROd, he’s our money in the bank. The Thornton pick is puzzling because it seems he could have been taken a few rounds later. I’d like to see how he was ratted on other teams board