Which NFC North Team Added the Most Value in the 2014 Draft?

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Ted Thompson build the 2010 winner through the draft. How will the 2014 draft grade out?
The Green Bay Packers have been the team to beat in the NFC North. Have their rivals closed the gap?

The NFC North has largely been the Packers’ division as of late, and the remaining three teams have been playing catch up. Many draft experts have claimed that the 2014 drafts by the Bears, Lions, and Vikings have closed the gap between them and the Packers.

Even our own Cory Jennerjohn wrote a nice piece saying our rivals are ganging up to stop the Packers.

Let’s take a quasi-objective look at how well the NFC North rivals did during the 2014 draft.

Who acquired the best draft value? Did they in fact close the gap below the reigning Packers?

Once again, I’ll use the Draft Trade Value Chart and CBS Sports draft prospect rankings to compare each team. I’ll assign a value of each prospect by taking their CBS Sports ranking and giving them corresponding points from the Draft Trade Value Chart. For example, the #1 ranked prospect will always be 3000 points and the #10 ranked prospect will always be 1300 points regardless of when they were picked. If Jadeveon Clowney (#1 prospect) fell to the Packers at 21, he’d still be worth 3000 points.

Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com.
Draft Trade Value Chart. Image from SBNation.com. Click to enlarge.

Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings

Conclusions

On paper, the Minnesota Vikings had a monster draft. They acquired the most total points and the highest average value per pick. In 2013, the Vikings finished last in the NFC North with a 5-10-1 record, so they had the most ground to make up against the Packers. It appears that they closed the gap some, but I doubt they will win the division crown this year.

The Detroit Lions had a very nice haul themselves during the draft. They didn’t acquire the same overall value as the Packers, but they had more value per pick than the Packers did. The Lions finished 7-9 in 2013, which wasn’t too much behind the 8-7-1 Packers. The Lions appear stacked on offense this year, and they certainly made some solid picks on defense. Of all the teams in the NFC North, the Lions are the closest to challenging the Packers in 2014. They will certainly contend for the division title.

The Chicago Bears had a nice draft, too, but their numbers lag behind their fellow division rivals. They acquired the lowest total value and the lowest value per draft pick. The 2013 Bears finished second in the division behind the Packers, and it wasn’t because of their offense. Their defense was the weak link, and their 2014 draft is an attempt to fix that. If the Bears can maintain their offense and greatly improve their defense, they could also make a run at the division.

The Packers had another typical Ted Thompson draft. They acquired a large total value and good value per pick. They were decent in 2013 despite being decimated by injury. The NFC North is still the Packers division, and the 2014 draft did improve their roster. Let’s not forget they also filled in roster gaps through the draft, making them harder to catch this season. They are the defending division champs and will be until someone knocks them off.

It’s a good thing games are played on the field and not in the computer. On paper, the Vikings and Lions did close the gap between themselves and the Packers. I guess we’ll see just how much in reality when the regular season starts.

Addendum: I realize that my metric is not perfect and probably has several flaws. However, I’m not looking for a perfect analysis. I’m merely trying to find an objective way to “think out loud” and analyze the draft without my personal bias. I am always optimistic that all of the Packers’ draft picks will turn out to be valuable contributors and will become amazing players; I tend to focus on what they can bring to the table vs. what they leave off of it. I cannot objectively rectify those biases while comparing the Packers’ draft to another team’s.

So, by taking Jimmie Johnson’s draft pick value chart and CBS Sports’ prospect rankings, I’m at least using independent third-party opinions that can be applied evenly across all teams for a fair and impersonal comparison. Is it perfect? No. Is it consistent and fair? Yes.

——————

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

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.

——————

  • http://allgbp.com duhawks

    everything looks good on paper. we must wait untill the season starts and what happens as the season plays on with injuries and otherthings that can not predicted. so throw the dice and see where they land!

  • James David

    The old points chart is no longer valid since the rookie cap came in. Time for a new chart which reflects this.

    • Jay Hodgson

      Maybe I’m naive or misinformed, but I don’t see an obvious connection to a draft pick’s value and the sliding scale of rooking contracts between new and old CBAs. They all maintain similar descending value in pick worth and payment slot.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Without decimating injury taken into consideration GB is still a good 20% better than all the rest of the teams in the division because they have the best player in the world at the most important position in sports.

    Yeah, the NFCN finally has 4 good GMs (for the first time I can ever remember – and I’ve been a fan since the Majik Man days).

    But it doesn’t matter. No matter how much they hate it, the Lions Vikings and Bears (oh my) are fighting for 2nd place.

  • Since ’61

    While our division rivals may have improved their overall talent, the Packers still have the best QB not only in their division but arguably in the entire league. Plus, the fact that when healthy, the Packers’ roster is very talented and now with our 2014 draft picks we can expect some additional talent to join the team. For me, the change of Head Coach for the Lions is of concern. Caldwell, is a good coach and I don’t expect that he will allow the Lions to continue with their stupid, self-destructive ways. They are the biggest threat to the Packers maintaining their dominance in the division. The new Vikings coach is an unknown quantity to me and both he and his team will be going through an adjustment period during 2014. As for the Bears, well, they are the Bears and with a healthy Rodgers and overall good health for the Packers, we’ll find a way to beat them as we did in the last game of 2013. 3 1/2 months to the season! Stay healthy and Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  • Big T

    Bears – Long as Jay Cutler stays healthy they are not a threat to anyone.

    Vikings – Will always find a way to lose in the end. New coach – same room just rearranged furniture.

    Lions – Have a good coach now. Doesn’t matter with players like Donkey Kong Suh and their bad karma. Also have the Matt Millen curse to deal with.

    Packers – If TT and MM can set their massive egos aside it will be our division once again…

  • Dobber

    This is an interesting metric, but it seems to me to be naturally skewed toward teams that pick very early or have managed to amass early picks. Those teams still need to do something with those picks, but I’d be curious to see how the Packers fall with regard to the rest of the league, or vs. teams that picked right around them at #21.

    • Jay Hodgson

      I’m sort of experimenting with metrics to evaluate the draft as objectively as I can. I’m sure there may be better ways. The values are skewed, but I think that’s ok because the “better” players get taken first, which is why the worst teams are allowed to pick first. For example, Clowney has been called a “once in 30 year talent”, so I have no problem saying he’s worth 3000 points.

  • Ted’s Smarter Brother

    So, which team won this in the 2013 draft? With 3 first round picks it was probably the Vikings. The same team that lost the NFC North that season. Maybe their point value is so high because they don’t scout and just use the CBS draft rankings as well.

    • Jay Hodgson

      I’m not claiming the CBS values are the end-all. My point is that I’m using values that aren’t my own biased views. A third party without any specific team in mind ranked all the prospects. While imperfect, it at least removes my personal opinion from ranking prospects.

    • Sven

      That is what I see as well. Teams that do do independent research, get independent results. So they take players in different spots than CBS predicts. I find all media evaluators and any other evaluators of talent suspect, as everyone has their own goals and agendas, and way to evaluate. Only time will tell.

      I enjoy articles like this as the help us see the assigned values and, during he seasons to come we can see how and whether these values hold true.

  • Tmoneey

    it did seem like there was way more parity in the league wide draft board rankings. I follow the draft hardcore and there were only a few picks in the first few rounds where a team took a guy off the page of my lists. In past drafts I seemed to remember many more of those “Huh?” picks. I miss Al Davis and Matt Millen so much…

  • john galt iii

    HaHa Clinton Dix – 800 points

    Corey Linsley – 2 points

    Yeah, Vikings look like they had a great draft on paper.

    Dix is 400 times more “valuable” than Linsley? Well, maybe he is. But if these were Vegas odds, I’d take Linsley. Why? Because if Corey starts at center and Ha Ha starts at safety, the 800 to 2 spread narrows. How much? I don’t know but it narrows. If Ha Ha gets injured and Corey plays each game the spread disappears totally. My point is that 800 to 2 seems disproportionate.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      The draft value chart is logarithmic, meaning there is an exponential decay as the draft progresses. I’ve made my own arguments about the validity of using a log based value chart but that’s what Jimmy Johnson used.

  • Thomas Hobbes

    I think you need to normalize the draft values if you want to compare team’s draft value, as someone mentioned before the Vikings and Lions almost have to have more value since they are drafting so much earlier (interesting to see the Packers beat out the Bear though).

    To put this in another perspective, your analysis doesn’t factor in the player, which is realistically the most important factor as well. By that I mean drafting Clinton-Dix with the 21st pick is 800 points and considered a good selection, but picking Janis with the 21st pick will still net the Packers 800 points but would be considered a poor selection. Obviously it’s debatable whether or not you can find an accurate metric for a player who has yet to play a down in the NFL, but one option might be use a college players last two years before declaring for the draft.

    • Dobber

      So then, a normalization where you take each player’s rating according to the external rating service and divide it by the point value according to the “Jimmy Scale”? So, maybe Clowney rates #1 by the external metric, so he gets 3000 points, but by picking him first (3000 points), the Texans get 3000/3000 = 1.00. So, yes, you’re getting even value for the #1 overall pick.

      Not having any rankings in front of me, suppose Dix was the 14th best player in the draft by some rating service. That would make him 1100 (14th best player)/800 (21st pick) = 1.38, or better than even value for the pick?

      The inherent problem comes when players off-scale are drafted…so a K, perhaps, that doesn’t rank highly enough to crack the top 250 or so becomes what?

      • Dobber

        The last issue is positional value…meaning that some positions are naturally overvalued and overdrafted, while others are undervalued and underdrafted. I don’t know if that’s important or not in this discussion.

      • Dobber

        I think then you need to think about weighting rounds. So, for example, it would be easy for a good player to slide, get to round 7, and have a value of 10/2 = 5 points. Averaging a bunch of 1.5’s (good values in earlier rounds) with a 5 skews the rating by giving equal weight to the 7th round pick.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I agree but you might be fudging so many variables to the point where you might as well not bother trying to make a metric.

          • Dobber

            I’m a scientist by training: there’s never a good reason to NOT make a metric!

      • Thomas Hobbes

        The issue becomes which external rating service you use. The second question is how that correlates to what teams actually ranked players as. For instance if the Packers rated Clinton-Dix as the 14th best player, the Patriots rated him the 20th and CBS rated him as the 10th, I’m not sure how to reconcile all the different rankings into one coherent idea.

    • Jay Hodgson

      I didn’t rank the player based on the draft slot. I took their prospect ranking and assigned a corresponding value from the chart. Clowney was the #1 overall prospect, so he was 3000 points. If he fell to the Packers at 21, he would still be worth 3000 points.

  • GBPDAN

    The Packers have injured players coming back, which is a bonus. The pack ha Arod, which is a huge difference maker. We should win the division again.

    But what worries me is the middle of the D. Raji at nose, I hope he plays way better than last year. Same ILB. Dix is a better cover safety then box. I hope we don’t get run over up the gut again. Other than that, we have a solid team everywhere else

    • Dobber

      I think very few people realize that even though the Packers score at a killer clip, the defense has surrendered one of the highest run pct. over the last couple years…meaning, even though teams know they’ve got to score to beat the Packers, they call a higher percentage of run plays against the Packers than most other teams see.

      The argument can go one of three–or even four–ways: 1. the Packers naturally play a higher number of games against teams that run the ball (Vikes and Bears, for example), 2. teams are trying to play keep away from ARod and the offense by killing clock, 3. teams understand that they can be very efficient against the Packers defense and stay in games, 4. all or some of the above.

      • Jay Hodgson

        Bill Parcells calls that “shortening the game.” He did it to the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl. Against pass-happy offenses, you run the ball to kill clock. You keep the ball out of the opposing quarterback’s hand. Fewer possessions mean fewer points. You figure that pass happy teams average about 3 points per possession. If they have the ball 12 times, that’s 36 points–a tough number to overcome. Lower that to 8, 24 is a much better number. Play some defense, hold them to under 20 points. Then, win the Super Bowl 20-19.

      • Nopainnogain

        I’m sure they are often trying to play keep away. another angle is that if the Packer’s offense develops a big lead, then Capers tilts his defense more towards defending the pass than defending the run, since the clock is his ally. Don’t allow any big plays and try to keep the clock running. And since alot of play-calling comes down to taking what the defense give you, opposing teams will run the ball. goal #1 is to find a way to score period, whether it is fast or slow.

  • jOE

    Jay,
    I didn’t see anyone say what a great article this is. Thanks. Pack rules!!

    Joe, NFL Owner

    • Jay Hodgson

      Thank you! I know it’s not a perfect article. I’m just trying to objectively analyze the draft the best I can. In a perfect world, we’d like all the Packers’ draft picks to be future Hall of Famers, but that won’t be the case. Some players are more valuable than others, and I’m still coming up with metrics to reflect that.

  • Jay Hodgson

    I wrote an addendum to my article. Please feel free to read the last two paragraphs of the article for clarification and justification.

    I do value your opinions and feedback, and I appreciate that this discussion thread has been polite and civil. Keep up the good discussion.

  • Scheny Schen

    This is fascinating stuff. We can twist it around a lot, or we could just watch the games. I think the games make beer taste better. This effort, not so much. :) GoPack!

  • Bag o donuts 52

    Vikings, like the Browns, the Jags and Bucs have talent, but horrible qb’s for years. Have enabled them, especially the Vikings and Browns to draft high and accumulate significant talent….. If Bridgewater, Bortles and Manziel should hit, in a year from now times will change. Remember the Packers from 67-92. A franchise qb changes everything.

  • Tmoneey

    Add another 2nd round pick into GB’s haul with the official signing of Colt Lyerla, found this interesting scouting report on Lyerla from a few months ago.
    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000269364/article/former-oregon-te-colt-lyerla-poses-dilemma-for-nfl-teams

  • packett

    Nice work Jay,
    Metrics are fun, and all are far from perfect. But your metric fits the ‘gut check’. Main problem is with the draft chart, which is designed for trade value, not player value.
    john galt iii: makes the point in his post, you can’t justify one player value of 2 to another at 800 being 400 times more valuable. That is draft value, not player value.
    Even for draft value, Jimmy Johnson’s chart drops value too much from first to later rounds. His chart hasn’t caught up to salary cap era.

  • Jay Hodgson

    The more I think about my attempted metric, the more I think it has some validity.

    The reason why earlier picks are worth more is two-fold:

    1) Presumably, you’re getting a better player, who’s worth more.

    2) You are picking earlier during the selection process, so you have more flexibility to get the exact player you want. So, that pick is worth more because it gives the right to select from a bigger pool.

    Therefore, the same is probably true when ranking the value of each draft prospect.

    If a player is selected earlier, he’s probably a better player and worth more to the franchise.

    Likewise, if he’s selected by a team, then no other team can have him, either.

    You don’t think every team in the NFL would have wanted Jadeveon Clowney?

    He’s the best prospect in the draft. The Texans got him. So, by having the first pick in the draft, the Texans could get the best player in the pool, and they had the most flexibility to get the best player on the board.

    And, since the Texans have Clowney, no one else can have him, making him even more valuable to the Texans.

    Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud. If anyone has a better metric to use, then please share it.