Last year I did a report on how the league was made up, based on opening-week rosters. I analyzed a lot of things about the league, but today, I want to focus on the teams that drafted the most players into the league because I think it’s a good baseline indicator of which teams do the best job of drafting.
As you may recall, last year’s report indicated that the teams that had drafted the most players into the league were the 49ers (59), Packers (54), Steelers (53), Ravens (51) and Texans, Patriots and Seahawks, all tied with 49. Last year, six of the seven had winning records, five of the seven made the playoffs, and two of the seven played in the Super Bowl.
This year, the Pack leads with 56, followed by the Niners (55), Steelers (52), Texans (51) and Bengals (50).
Last year’s bottom five were the Saints and Redskins, tied for last with 32 each, followed by the Bears with 33 draftees, the Bills with 34 and the Browns and Colts with 37 each. This year, the Giants are all alone at the bottom with 30; Tampa Bay next to last (31), Washington (32), and the Colts and the Bears with 36 each.
What does it all mean? Here’s how I see it.
- The Packers are highly regarded for their draft acumen and that’s proven by the numbers. It’s one reason the Packers always challenge for the title, and also perhaps the reason other highly successful teams (like the Chiefs and Seahawks) are there because they brought their GMs in from Green Bay.
- It seems clear that a good QB can mask a lot of deficiencies. It struck me as odd going into last season that two of the worst-drafting teams, the Colts and Saints, were seen as Super Bowl contenders. We know now that the Saints were nowhere near worthy of that hype, and a year later, the Colts are seeing a similar dip. After a mighty fall to the bottom of the ‘total players drafted’ standings this year, it could be curtains for the Giants if something were to happen to Eli.
- Conversely, a bad quarterback can kill a team’s chances despite a generally high talent level. The Niners and Texans were both top-five teams last year when it comes to identifying talent, but you could argue that those two teams have gotten the worst QB play in the league so far this season.
- Last year, of the six teams at the bottom, three either changed GMs (Redskins and Bears), cleaned house in the scouting department (Saints), or had second-year GMs (Bills and Browns). That leaves just one outlier.
- I’m looking at you, Ryan Grigson. As recently as 2012, Grigson was Executive of the Year, but now, the case is being made by the Colts faithful that it’s time for him to move on. Grigson has made a series of questionable trades and seems to lean on the AFL, the CFL and even the NFL Veterans Combine and the Super Regional to sign players ‘off the street’ when the team should maybe look harder at the draft. It’s coming home to roost.