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.
Green Bay Packers
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS (900 points)
- Davante Adams, WR (310 points)
- Khryi Thorton, DT (25 points)
- Richard Rodgers, TE (7 points)
- Carl Bradford, LB (360 points)
- Corey Linsley, C (2 points)
- Jared Abbrederis, WR (74 points)
- Demetri Goodson, CB (2 points)
- Jeff Janis, WR (7 points)
- Total points = 1687
- Average points per pick = 187.44
- Kyle Fuller, CB (760 points)
- Ego Ferguson, DT (215 points)
- Will Sutton, DT (175 points)
- Ka’Deem Carey, RB (60 points)
- Brock Vereen, SS (96 points)
- David Fales, QB (9 points)
- Pat O’Donnell, P (2 points)
- Charles Leno, OG (30 points)
- Total points = 1347
- Average points per pick = 168.38
- Eric Ebron, TE (950 points)
- Kyle Van Noy, OLB (340 points)
- Travis Swanson, C (70 points)
- Nevin Lawson, CB (49 points)
- Larry Webster, DE/TE (27 points)
- Caraun Reid, DT (132 points)
- T.J. Jones, WR (37 points)
- Nate Freese, K (2 points)
- Total points = 1607
- Average points per pick = 200.88
- Anthony Barr, OLB (1250 points)
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB (1150 points)
- Scott Crichton, DE (470 points)
- Jerick McKinnon, RB (37 points)
- David Yankey, OG (33 points)
- Antone Exum, CB (40 points)
- Kendall James, CB (38 points)
- Shamar Stephen, DT (2 points)
- Brandon Watts, OLB (2 points)
- Jabari Price, CB (2 points)
- Total points = 3024
- Average points per pick = 302.40
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.