A Decade of Drafting

This is a study of how the best teams in the NFL over the past decade drafted.  This study looks at the Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Ravens and Eagles.  It ranks each team based on how they drafted from 2000-2009.  Drafts are graded based on how many players make the team, how many total games played a draft produces, and how many Pro Bowls come out of the draft.

The conclusions are summarized in the chart below.  As you can see, the Colts grade out highest, producing more games played, more starters and a stunning 90% of all Indianapolis draft picks make the team.  This is consistent with Bill Polian’s philosophy of ‘singles’ drafting.  He wants to avoid the big mistake.  The Patriots had the highest number of Pro Bowls per draft, thanks in part to Tom Brady.  The Patriots also had a terrible run, finishing fifth each year from 2006-2008.  The Steelers got a boost by taking Ben Roethlisberger, while the Ravens were punished for taking Kyle Boeller.  Below the chart is a year by year break down of each draft.  The Colts and Eagles had 82 picks each.  The Ravens had 81.  The Steelers 75.  The Patriots had 89 picks in the decade.

Average draft position GPA Ave Rank Games per Draft
% made team Starters/draft Pro Bowls/draft
Colts 25.9 3.34 2.2 266.5 90.2 4.0 1.8
Patriots 22.7 2.90 3.3 239 66.3 2.5 2.3
Steelers 20.9 3.00 2.9 233.8 68.0 2.5 1.6
Ravens 20.7 2.93 3.1 269.1 77.8 3.3 1.9
Eagles 19.4 2.50 3.4 208.9 70.7 2.8 1.3

2000 Draft:

1.  Patriots

Total picks: 10

Made team: 7

Pro Bowls: 5 (Tom Brady 5)

Games Played: 368

Starters: Adrien Klemm (1 season), Gregg Randall (2 seasons), Tom Brady (8 seasons)

Best Pick:  Tom Brady

Summary and grade: A+.  It wasn’t that great a draft, but when you get a Hall of Fame quarterback in the fifth round, you get an A+ and win the year.  The 2000 draft wasn’t great for the Patriots other than Brady, but it did add long time contributor Patrick Pass, which helped the total games stat.

2.  Steelers

Total picks: 9

Made team: 7

Pro Bowls: 1 (Marvel Smith)

Games Played: 392

Starters: Burress (5 seasons), Smith (9 seasons), Hagaans (4 seasons)

Best Pick:  Marvel Smith

Summary and grade: B+.  2000 was a poor draft, but the Steelers hit on two very good players in Burress and Smith.  Three starters and nearly 400 games played in a weak draft is an excellent haul.

3.  Ravens

Total picks: 6

Made team: 4

Pro Bowls: 3 (Adalius Thomas 2, Jamal Lewis 1)

Games Played: 264

Starters: Lewis (6 seasons), Travis Taylor (5 seasons), Thomas (5 seasons)

Best Pick:  Adalius Thomas

Summary and grade: B+.  Not a lot of volume for the Ravens, but two players taken made the Pro Bowl, so that helps offset the swings and misses. 

4. Colts

Total picks: 7

Made team: 5

Pro Bowls: 1 (Marcus Washington-with Redskins)

Games Played: 305

Starters: Rob Morris (5 seasons), Washington (3 seasons), David Macklin (2 seasons), Josh Williams (3 seasons)

Best Pick:  Marcus Washington

Summary and gradeB. There was no huge breakout star for the Colts in this draft, but it’s hard to argue with too many of the players selected.  This simply wasn’t a great draft in general.  Morris never became a star in part because the Colts switched systems, and he was ill suited to play MLB.  In the end, he became a important part of the Super Bowl team.Washington was a very good player with the Colts and went on to play well in Washington.  Macklin was never very good, nor was Josh Williams, but both made the team and played heavily, so that is a form of value.  Even though there no huge stars in this draft, it’s hard to look back in hindsight and second guess most of the picks.  Remember, the 2000 draft saw a kicker taken in the first round, and the best QB in the first round was Chad Pennington.  In another year, this would be a C or a C+ draft, but considering what there was to work with, the Colts did ok.

5.  Eagles

Total picks: 7

Made team: 4

Pro Bowls: 1 (Corey Simon)

Games Played: 192

Starters: Simon (5 seasons), Todd Pinkston (4 seasons), Bobbie Williams (1 season)

Best Pick:  Corey Simon

Summary and grade: C+.  Only four of seven picks made the team.  Only three were starters, and of those, only one was ever any good.  Things ended poorly with Corey Simon, thus depressing the over all quality of this draft.

2001 Draft

2001 was a tough year to call, and how you rank the top three teams depends in part on what you are looking for out of a draft.  The Colts got more total games and more starters out of their draft, but the Steelers and Pats each got a pair of Pro Bowlers.  Ultimately, I think the Colts’ draft was more valuable, but it is certainly open to debate.

1.  Colts

Total picks: 7

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 452

Total Pro Bowls:  4 (Wayne-4)

Best pick:  Reggie Wayne

Starters drafted: Wayne (9 seasons), Bashir (4 seasons), Diem (9 seasons), Demulling (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B+.  This might seem low for a draft that included Reggie Wayne, but the 2001 draft was super deep.  Houshmanzada, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith were all taken after Wayne.  You could argue that as long as the Colts were taking a receiver late in the first round, they had a pretty good chance of landing a good one.  Of course, they knew that too, which is why they traded down before drafting Wayne.  Wayne and Johnson have interesting parallels, but it’s possible to argue that Smith was the best of the three.  The pick of Bashir is especially bad in hindsight simply because of the sheer number of very good players still available.  On the other hand, the Colts ended up keeping all seven players drafted, and the 2001 draft produced more games played for the Colts than any of the other drafts measured to date. Four starters is a good haul for any April.  All in all, it was a good draft in a good year to draft.

2.  Patriots

Total picks: 10

Made team: 6

Pro Bowls: 7 (Richard Seymour 5, Matt Light 2)

Games Played: 265

Starters: Seymour (8 seasons), Light (7 seasons), Kenyatta Jones (1 season)

Best Pick:  Seymour

Summary and grade: B+.  It wasn’t a deep draft for the Pats, but both Light and Seymour were multiple Pro Bowl players who made All Pro teams too.  They got very little value after the second round, but had enough at the top to carry the day.  Again, this draft was extremely deep, so coming up with good players in the first two rounds wasn’t necessarily a great feat.

3.  Steelers

Total picks: 7

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 302

Total Pro Bowls:  6 (Hampton 5, Bell 1)

Best pick:  Casey Hampton

Starters drafted: Hampton (8 seasons), Kendrell Bell (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B This was a solid draft for the Steelers that produced two Pro Bowl players, including one dominant one in Casey Hampton.  Ultimately, Hampton and Bell were the only starters selected by the Steelers in a deep draft, so it’s hard to rate this higher than the Colts and the Patriots.

4.  Ravens

Total picks: 7

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 342

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (Heap-2)

Best pick:  Todd Heap

Starters drafted: Heap (8 seasons), Gary Baxter (3 seasons), Casey Rabach (1 season), Ed Hartwell (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B 2001 was a solid, but unspectacular year for the Ravens.  It wasn’t an outstanding draft in terms of raw talent, but did produce four starters and a lot of games played.  Heap has been a quality tight end for years.  This draft was good, but would you trade it straight up for any of the others?

5.  Eagles

Total picks: 6

Made team: 6

Total Games Played: 197

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (Burgess-2)

Best pick:  Derrick Burgess

Starters drafted: Freddie Mitchell (1 season), Burgess (1 season)

Summary and Grade: C-. Considering this was a deep draft, the Eagles really had a miserable go of it.  The best player they picked, Derrick Burgess, never became a significant factor until leaving Philadelphia.  Immediately after joining the Raiders, he made two Pro Bowls.  Basically, the 2001 draft was a weak collection of backups.  Only two players taken ever became starters for the Eagles, and they each only started for a season a piece.  Again, the Eagles are the weak link among the five teams. I give them credit for drafting Burgess. If I was ranking this based on how much value they got for him, I’d give them a D.

2002

All the top teams had great drafts in 2002.  The Ravens had a lot of quality and quantity.  The Eagles hit on three Pro Bowlers.  The Colts nabbed one of the great pass rushers in history, the Steelers landed 5 starters, and the Pats…well, they got Deion Branch.

1. Ravens

Total picks: 10

Made team: 9

Total Games: 470

Total Pro Bowls:  6 (Ed Reed-5)

Best pick:  Ed Reed

Starters drafted: Ed Reed (8 seasons), Anthony Weaver (4 seasons), Dave Zastudil (4 seasons), Terry Jones (2 seasons)

Summary and grade: A+ This was the draft of the year.  Not only did the Ravens score a perennial All-Pro in Ed Reed, but they landed three other starters as well, had nine players make the team, and produced a healthy game total.  This was a great draft for the Ravens.  They got an impact player (like Indy did), but also landed more starters and more total games played than Indy did.

2. Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 417

Total Pro Bowls:  5 (Sheppard-2, Michael Lewis-1, Westbrook-2)

Best pick:  Michael Westbrook

Starters drafted: Lito Sheppard (5 seasons), Michael Lewis (3 seasons), Sheldon Brown (6 seasons), Brian Westbrook (6 seasons)

Summary and grade: A. Finally a great draft from the Eagles.  Not only did they produce three Pro Bowl players, but landed four starters.  Their draft was so deep that seventh round pick Raheem Brock got cut, and was picked up by the Colts for whom he started for several seasons.  This was neck and neck with the Colts for the second spot.

3.  Colts

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 286

Total Pro Bowls:  5 (Freeney-5)

Best pick:  Dwight Freeney

Starters drafted: Freeney (8 seasons), Tripplett (2 seasons), David Thornton (3 seasons)

Summary and grade:  A.  Considering how controversial the Freeney pick was, there’s no other way to grade this draft.  Any time a team gets one of the three best players in its history at the 12th pick AND gets ripped for it, it’s a good day.  Again, 7 of 8 players taken made the team.  The only bad picks were Jefferson and Allen both of whom were taken over better players at their positions (Hope and Taylor).  Overall, it’s a hard draft to nitpick.  A true game changing rusher and two other other starters is a respectable haul from what was a top loaded draft.

4. Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games: 513

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Chris Hope with Titans-1)

Best pick:  Brett Keisel

Starters drafted: Kendall Simmons (5 seasons), Antwaan Randel El (1 season), Chris Hope (2 seasons), Larry Foote (5 seasons), Brett Keisel (4 seasons)

Summary and grade: A. This is the classic “no home runs, but a lot of hits” draft.  The Steelers only got one Pro Bowl level player (Chris Hope made the Pro Bowl after leaving the Steelers), but they landed five starters for championship teams.  513 games played is the most I’ve tracked from any draft to date.  Any GM would take this kind of production year in and year out.  An excellent draft for sure.  I still rank it just fourth because of the lack of star power, but it’s an A quality draft for sure.

5. Patriots

Total picks: 6

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 300

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Deion Branch

Starters drafted: Daniel Graham (4 seasons), Deion Branch (3 seasons), Jarvis Green (1 season), David Givens (2 seasons)

Summary and grade: B This was not a bad draft for the Pats, but there wasn’t a lot of excellence either.  Branch won a Super Bowl MVP and later netted them a first round pick, so you have to recognize that value.  They got a few marginal starters.  It’s basically a B- draft with a bump considering the value Branch brought specifically to them.

2003

2003 belonged to the Colts and Patriots.  They were neck and neck for the best draft of the year, and I’m giving the nod to Indy by the slimmest of margins.  The Colts had more Pro Bowl players, and I think Clark, June, and Mathis are more valuable than Warren, Samuel and Koppen, though it’s certainly open to debate.  The Colts are still getting good seasons from Clark and Mathis, while the Pats best players from this draft are gone or declining.

1.  Colts

Total picks: 8

Made team: 8

Total Games Played for Colts: 378

Total Pro Bowls:  4 (Clark 1, Mathis 2, June 1)

Best pick:  Robert Mathis

Starters drafted: Dallas Clark (7 seasons), Mike Doss (3 seasons), Donald Strickland (1 season), Steve Sciullo (1 season), Mathis (6 seasons), Cato June (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: A.  This draft should be an A+ simply because of Mathis in the 5th round and 6 starters taken, not to mention 378 total games played for the Colts.  However, as much as I love Dallas Clark, you have to think the Colts would have been a better team had they taken Asomuga in the first round and Whitten in the second.  Whitten is every bit the threat Clark is, and Asomuga is the best corner in football, and has been for several seasons now.  Still, this kind of draft is the motherload.  Three Pro Bowl caliber players (two selected late) and a slew of starters is a total haul for any team.

2.  Patriots

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8

Total Games: 469

Total Pro Bowls: 4 (Samuel-3, 2 with Eagles, Koppen-1)

Best pick: Asante Samuel

Starters drafted: Ty Warren (6 seasons), Eugene Wilson (3 seasons), Asante Samuel (4 seasons), Dan Koppen (6 seasons)

Summary and Grade: A.  This was a great draft for the Pats, but they clearly made a mistake in not resigning Asante Samuel.  They nabbed two Pro Bowl players, four solid starters and a motherload of games.  Drafts like this are what championships are built on.

3.  Steelers

Total picks: 5

Made team: 4

Total Games Played: 211

Total Pro Bowls: 5 (Polamalu-5)

Best pick: Troy Polamalu

Starters drafted: Polmalu (5 seasons), Ike Taylor (5 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B+. Polamalu is one of the best players of the decade, and Ike Taylor is a solid starter, but that is ALL this draft produced for the Steelers.  This was a boom bust draft, but it did help them to two Super Bowl Titles.  If you are going to have a draft where you only get two starters, make sure one is one of the true difference makers in the NFL.

4.  Ravens

Total picks: 11

Made team: 8

Total Games Played: 457

Total Pro Bowls: 3 (Terrell Suggs-3)

Best pick:  Terrell Suggs

Starters drafted: Suggs (6 seasons), Kyle Boller (4 seasons), Jarret Johnson (4 seasons), Ovie Mughelli (1 season), Tony Pashos (1 season)

Summary and Grade: B-.  This draft gets downgraded because of how bad Kyle Boller was.  This is an example of why just measuring starters and games can be misleading. Boller was always awful and every game he played was one more game further away for a title by the Ravens.  He was a massive bust, and despite good production from Suggs and Johnson, this draft can’t be considered a big success.

5.  Eagles

Total picks: 6

Made team: 4

Total Games Played:  16

Total Pro Bowls: 0

Best pick:  L.J. Smith

Starters drafted: Smith (4 seasons)

Summary and Grade: D-.  This draft was an abject disaster by any standard.  When you only get one starter, and he’s a fairly ordinary tight end, it’s not a good year.  First round pick Jerome McDougle was a massive bust.  This was by far the worst of the drafts I’ve examined to date.

2004

2004 can be argued.  The Colts had the deepest draft, producing four starters (though one of them sucked worse than any player in history).  The Steelers get the top grade for selected in Roethlisberger, though I suppose the wisdom of that could be debated.  Still, two world titles later, it’s hard to debate his impact.  The Pats and Eagles had relatively poor (and shallow) drafts, and the Ravens were a mess.  A reader questioned my grade of “B” for the Colts draft, but I think that now you can see it in context, B might have been too low a grade.

1. Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 4

Total Games Played: 205

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Roethlisberger)

Best pick:  Ben Roethlisberger

Starters drafted: Roethlisberger (6 seasons), Max Starks (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: A. All the nonsense aside, if you draft a quarterback who leads your team to two Super Bowls while being one of the highest rated passers all time, you get an A.  The rest of the draft was empty for the Steelers, but hitting on a quarterback is the toughest thing to do right

2. Colts

Total picks: 9

Made team: 8

Total Games Played for Colts: 251

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (Bob Sanders-2)

Best pick:  Bob Sanders

Starters drafted: Bob Sanders (4 seasons), Gilbert Gardner (1 season), Jason David (3 seasons), Jake Scott (4 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B.  This was a solid draft that produced four starters, including Bob Sanders.  It was a top heavy draft, but the Colts largely maximized their picks.  Hartsock over Cooley was a bit of a whiff.  It’s easy to understand why the Colts took Gardner over Schaub in third round, but that was obviously disastrous.  The only pick that I’m sure Polian would like back was Kendyll Pope over Jerad Allen in the fourth round, but I think a lot of people would like that pick back  Jim Sorgi was in this draft as well.  Overall, this draft gets down graded because despite producing a game changer, on the whole the Colts got fewer games out of it than any of the others, and because there were a couple of obvious misses.

3.  Patriots

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 193

Total Pro Bowls: 2 (Vince Wilfork-2)

Best pick: Wilfork

Starters drafted: Wilfork (5 seasons), Ben Watson (5 seasons)

Summary and Grade:C+ Wilfork was a good first round pick, and Watson proved a competent, if disappointing tight end.  They were the only players of note for the Pats that came out of this draft.  Not a strong effort at all.

4. Eagles

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8

Total Games Played: 217

Total Pro Bowls: 2 (Shawn Andrews-2)

Best pick:  Shawn Andrews

Starters drafted: Andrews (3 seasons), Thomas Tapheh (2 seasons)

Summary and Grade: C Andrews turned in two Pro Bowl seasons to justify his selection at guard, although he missed all of 2009 and has already been released by the team.  The only other player to contribute at all was Tapheh who chipped in at full back for a couple of seasons.  Not a good draft at all for the Eagles.

5. Ravens

Total picks: 7

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 154

Total Pro Bowls: 0

Best pick: No one

Starters drafted: Dwan Edwards (1 season)

Summary and Grade: D- Wow, drafts don’t come much worse than this for the Ravens.  They had no first round pick (I believe it was a consequence of the Boller acquisition the year before).  No one from this draft is any good, and only second round pick Dwan Edwards ever started at all.  The tackle has 2 sacks and fewer than 100 tackles in five years…and he was the best player they picked.  Ouch.

2005

The Eagles take the cake in 2005 with a deep draft that churned out a slew of starters.  The Pats were also excellent.  The Colts had one of their worst drafts of the decade, but still managed to do better than either the Steelers or the Ravens.  It’s always nice when your weakest year still produces several starters.

1.  Eagles

Total picks:  11

Made team: 9

Total Games Played: 395

Total Pro Bowls: 2 (Trent Cole-2)

Best pick:  Trent Cole

Starters drafted: Mike Patterson (4 seasons), Reggie Brown (3 seasons), Matt McCoy (1 season), Sean Considine (2 seasons), Todd Herrmans (4 seasons), Trent Cole (4 seasons)

Summary and grade:  A+ Trent Cole is still making Pro Bowls, the draft as a whole produced 6 starters and 395 games and counting.  The Eagles have had some stinkers in this series, but this one was just a great haul.  Lots of good solid starters and a star.

2.  Patriots

Total picks: 7

Made team :5

Total Games Played: 310

Total Pro Bowls: 2 (Logan Mankins-2)

Best pick:  Mankins

Starters drafted: Logan Mankins (5 seasons), Ellis Hobbs (4 seasons), Nick Kaczur (5 seasons), James Sanders (2 seasons), Matt Cassel (1 season)

Summary and grade:  A. This was a wonderful draft for the Pats.  Not only did all five players who made the team end up becoming starters, but they eventually dealt Cassel in part for a second round pick.  They got depth and star power.  Excellent draft.

3. Colts

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8 (Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns made the team but was injured and never played)

Total Games Played for Colts: 275

Total Pro Bowls: 0

Best pick:  Kelvin Hayden

Starters drafted: Marlin Jackson (2 seasons), Kelvin Hayden (3 seasons), Dylan Gandy (1 season), Tyjuan Hagler (1 season)

Summary and grade: B-.  Not the strongest draft, in part because of Jackson’s knee problems.  The real air ball was Vincent Burns, who was taken over several players who went on to significant NFL success.  The most frustrating part of the 2005 draft is that there were several excellent pass rushers available who were not selected.  The 2007 and 2009 seasons might have ended very differently if this draft had gone better.  Still, the Colts pulled down several starters and will likely post more than 300 total games played from this class.  It wasn’t a bad draft so much as a missed opportunity.

4.  Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 6

Total Games: 241

Total Pro Bowls: 1 (Heath Miller-1)

Best pick: Heath Miller

Starters drafted: Miller (5 seasons), Bryant McFadden (2 seasons), Trai Essex (1 season), Chris Kemoeatu (2 seasons)

Summary and grade: B- Miller is a solid, though fairly ordinary tight end.  The rest of the draft is utterly forgetable.

5.  Ravens

Total picks: 7

Made team: 6

Total Games Played: 232

Total Pro Bowls: 1 (Derek Anderson with Browns)

Best pick: Jason Brown

Starters drafted: Mark Clayton (5 seasons), Adam Terry (1 season), Jason Brown (3 seasons)

Summary and grade: C-. Not a good haul at all for the Ravens.  Clayton has never had 1,000 yard season or more than 5 TDs.  Brown was a three year starter, now starting in Saint Louis.  About the only interesting pick was Derek Anderson, who never played for them at all.  The Ravens got neither depth nor talent in 2005.

2006

The Ravens edge out the Colts for the top slot in 2006, thanks in part to the fact that several of the starters for the Colts were real weak links and/or role players in recent years.  Ngata was a great first pick, and the Ravens had more depth and production than the Colts from the year.

1.  Ravens

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8

Total Games Played: 344

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Haloti Ngata-1)

Best pick: Ngata

Starters drafted: Haloti Ngata (4 seasons),  Chris Chester (2 seasons), Dawan Landry (3 seasons), Quinn Sypniewski (1 season), Sam Kotch (4 seasons)

Summary and Grade:  A. An excellent year for the Ravens.  They nailed both depth and quality.  Ngata has become a feared tackle on excellent defenses.  They edge the Colts this year just by a whisker, thanks to more starters and more games played.

2.  Colts

Total picks: 7

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 306

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (Addai-1, Bethea 1)

Best pick:  Antoine Bethea

Starters drafted: Addai (3 seasons), Tim Jennings (1 season), Keiaho (2 seasons), Charlie Johnson (2 seasons), Antoine Bethea (4 seasons)

Summary and Grade: A.  This was a crazy deep draft loaded with great players, but how can you criticize four starters (two of whom made Pro Bowls)?  The worst pick was Keiaho who turned out to just be ‘a guy’ and cost the Colts a chance at a number of Pro Bowl caliber players.  The Colts got more games played out of this draft than out of any of the previous four. That’s remarkable considering that four of those players are still with the team and accumulating games.  This was the draft that put the Colts over the top and on to the Super Bowl.  This is also one of only two Indy drafts of the decade (to date) to produce two Pro Bowl players.

3.  Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 288

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Brodrick Bunkley

Starters drafted: Brodrick Bunkley (3 seasons), Winston Justice (1 season), Chris Gocong (3 seasons), Max Jean-Giles (1 season), Omar Gaither (2 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B- No real star power for the Eagles, but they did managed to get a pile of games, and five different players managed to crack the starting line up.  Unfortunately, none of them have become more than average players.  Bunkley was measured to have had a nice season upfront by Pro Football Focus, but at the end of the day, there hasn’t been a lot to write home about for the Eagles from 2006.

4.  Steelers

Total picks: 9

Made team: 4

Total Games Played: 163

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick: Santonio Holmes

Starters drafted: Santonio Holmes (3 seasons), Anthony Smith (1 season), Willie Colon (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: C+. Holmes is developing into a Pro Bowl caliber player, and Willie Colon is the starting right tackle, so that’s two valuable players.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, this goes down as one of the thinnest drafts I’ve looked at.  They haven’t gotten any ‘playing time production’ out of any of the other picks.

5.  Patriots

Total picks: 10

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 242

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Gostowski-1)

Best pick: Stephen Gostowski

Starters drafted: David Thomas (1 season), Stephen Gotowski (4 seasons)

Summary and Grade: C.  The Vinateri for Gostowski swap worked for the Pats.  Nothing else in this draft did, least of all first round pick Laurence Maroney, who was taken before more accomplished backs.  Gostowski and Maroney are the only players from this draft still with the team.

2007

The Steelers set up their Super Bowl run with a home run draft in 2007.  The Colts could still come out on top here, but Session would have to hit another level, and Gonzo needs to become a star.  Or, Ugoh could become a starter.  The Pats grade will be controversial, but remember that I’m only evaluating them for the players they chose.  NOT for the players they obtained via trade.

1.  Steelers

Total picks: 8

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 225

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (La Marr Woodley-1)

Best pick: LaMarr Woodley

Starters drafted: Lawrence Timmons (1 season), LaMarr Woodley (2 seasons), Matt Spaeth (2 seasons), Daniel Sepulveda (2 seasons), William Gay (1 season),

Summary and Grade: A. A great draft by the Steelers helped put them over the top in 2008.  Five starters and a star in Woodley is an excellent year by any standard.

2.  Ravens

Total picks: 7

Made team: 7

Total Games Played: 232

Total Pro Bowls:  2 (LeRon McClain-2)

Best pick: Ben Grubbs

Starters drafted: Ben Grubbs (3 seasons), Yamon Figures (2 seasons), Marshall Yanda (2 seasons), Le’Ron McClain (3 seasons)

Summary and Grade: B+ A good draft for the Ravens.  Everyone made the squad.  Several players have contributed.  McClain keeps making Pro Bowls because he’s the only fullback left in the NFL.  A nice job by them.

3.  Colts

Total picks: 9

Made team: 9

Total Games Played: 184

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Clint Session

Starters drafted: Gonzalez (2 seasons), Ugoh (2 seasons), Session (2 seasons), Dawson (1 season)

Summary and Grade:  B.  The jury is still out on this group, though it’s safe to say that the pick of Session was a definite hit.  Gonzo was on his way to becoming a star before popping a knee.  No one knows what do with Ugoh, but in looking back over the draft, it’s not clear that anyone else would have been a better pick.  The big blow of the draft was the early retirement of Quinn Pitcock after a nice rookie year.  Unless Gonzo goes on to have a long career, however, this could end up being a bit of a bust class.  There’s still plenty of time for Gonzo and Session to become Pro Bowl players.  If Ugoh ever blossoms into a player, this could be a very productive class.  It’s important to note that all 9 draftees made the team as well.  As a team becomes elite, it is harder for new players to break through.

4.  Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 135

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick: Brent Celek

Starters drafted: Stewart Bradley (1 season), Brent Celek (1 season)

Summary and Grade: C. It’s totally unfair to grade this class until we know if Kevin Kolb can become a starter.  They’ve dealt McNabb betting that he will.  I’m no fan of Kolb, but we have to let it play out before grading this group.  Celek had a breakout year last year at tight end.

5. Patriots

Total picks: 9

Made team: 1

Total Games Played: 48

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Brandon Meriweather-1)

Best pick:  Meriweather

Starters drafted: Brandon Meriweather (1 season)

Summary and Grade: D No draft in the decade is weirder than the Patriots draft in 2007.  They made two trades that netted Wes Welker and Randy Moss, so obviously they did well over all.  The purpose of this exercise is not to evaluate trades, but rather the actual players picked.  The conventional wisdom about the Pats ’07 draft was that they were so loaded, that they didn’t have room for any of the players they picked.  They were so stacked, that they just had to cut the guys they took.  In this case, the facts don’t support the CW.

The truth is that they made bad picks.  Only four of the 9 players they took made ANY NFL team.  Only two played more than five games in the league.  Only one has become a starter (Meriweather).  Had a bunch of players cut by the Pats become solid starters in the league, I would have given them a better grade, recognizing the depth of their overall roster.  In this case, they took a bunch of stiffs, and were unable to replenish their roster.  When you hear analysts say things like “the Pats look old”, you can point to the 2007 draft as the reason.  The Patriots made one good pick and a bunch of terrible ones.

2008

The 2008 draft was awful for most teams.  The Ravens hit a home run in the first two rounds and immediately vaulted toward the top of the AFC.  The Colts did ok, but the Pats, Eagles and especially the Steelers had forgettable seasons.

1.  Ravens

Total picks: 10

Made team: 8

Total Games Played: 167

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (Ray Rice-1)

Best pick:  Joe Flacco

Starters drafted: Tavares Gooden (1 season), Ray Rice (1 season), Joe Flacco (2 seasons)

Summary and Grade: A It’s hard to argue with the production the Ravens have had out of their 2008 class. Anytime a team lands a legitimate starting quarterback AND a top of the league runner in the first two rounds, the draft is going to get a good grade.  The Ravens got lots of depth out of this class as well, however.  Should Flacco ultimately not pan out, this grade will drop, but through two seasons the Ravens have to be thrilled with where he is at.

2.  Colts

Total picks: 9

Made team: 9

Total Games Played: 166

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Pierre Garcon

Starters drafted: Pollak (1 season), Wheeler (1 season), Garcon (1 season), Richard (1 season)

Summary and Grade:  B. This should be lower but Garcon may turn out to be the single best pick in the entire draft.  At the time, people said the 2008 draft was weak, but in hindsight, it was SUPER weak.  Remarkably few of the players in the draft have managed to even earn starting jobs, let alone become stars. The jury is still out on Wheeler, who I thought improved as the season went along.  Garcon was a steal.  Pollak has been disappointing to say the least.  Looking at how bad this draft was, it’s now clear why teams like the Colts and Patriots actively traded out of it both before and during the draft.  This was just a weak, weak crop of players.

3 (tie). Eagles

Total picks: 10

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 99

Total Pro Bowls:  1 (DeSean Jackson-1)

Best pick: Jackson

Starters drafted: DeSean Jackson (1 season)

Summary and Grade: C- This draft is a mirror image of the Patriots.  Precious little production by volume or by star power.  DeSean Jackson did make a Pro Bowl, but now with the move to Kevin Kolb, you have to wonder if his career might wind up coming up short.

3 (tie). Patriots

Total picks:7

Made team: 5

Total Games Played:  100

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Jerod Mayo

Starters drafted: Jerod Mayo (2 seasons)

Summary and Grade: C- The Pats draft was utterly without star power or depth.  Only Mayo and Jonathan Wilhite have played much at all.  Mayo looked like a potential star after winning the Rookie of the Year award, but faded in his second year as he was hampered by injuries.

5. Steelers

Total picks: 7

Made team: 4

Total Games Played: 47

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick: Rashard Mendenhall

Starters drafted: Rashard Mendenhall (1 season)

Summary and Grade:  D. Mendenhall battled injuries in his rookie year, but had a solid YPC in his second year.  This class may go down as one of the worst drafts of the decade by any of the teams.  Mendenhall could still rescue it by having a nice career, or I’d give it an F.

2009

Indy gets top marks in 2009 despite little production from their top two picks.  Powers, Collie, and McAfee were as good as any three rookies in the league last year.  If Brown or Moala become consistent players, 2009 will go down as a banner draft for Bill Polian and company.

1. Colts

Total picks: 8

Made team: 6

Total Games Played: 62

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Pat McAfee

Starters drafted: Jerraud Powers, Pat McAfee

Summary and Grade:  A.  It’s way to early to effectively grade this draft, but considering the major role that Powers, Collie, McAfee had on a team that went to the Super Bowl, it’s hard to argue that the 2009 was anything other than a success.  The Colts still have gotten very little from Brown and Moala, but that doesn’t mean that both guys won’t end up being good players.  All in all, the pick of McAfee alone gave this team a big lift in kickoff coverage.

2. Eagles

Total picks: 8

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 63

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick: Jeremy Maclin

Starters drafted: Jeremy Maclin, Victor Harris

Summary and Grade: A- The Eagles got good production out of Maclin and LeSean McCoy in their rookie years.  They only have four players from this draft still with the team, but three of them are likely to be starters next year.

3.  Patriots

Total picks: 12

Made team: 8

Total Games Played: 95

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Julian Edleman

Starters drafted: Sebastian Vollmer

Summary and Grade:  B+ It’s too early to tell if the Pats got any real stars out of this draft, but they think a lot of Vollmer, and Edleman will get his chance to be Wes Welker next year.  After several years of bad drafts, the Pats desperately needed a deep class.  They may just have gotten it.

4. Steelers

Total picks: 9

Made team: 5

Total Games Played: 66

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  David Johnson

Starters drafted: none

Summary and Grade:  B- It’s just too early to grade this draft yet.  The Steelers had decent participation, but no one looks to be a break out star.  First round pick Ziggy Hood was something of a bust in his first year.

5.  Ravens

Total picks: 6

Made team: 3

Total Games Played: 39

Total Pro Bowls:  0

Best pick:  Michael Oher

Starters drafted: Michael Oher

Summary and Grade: C+ I can’t give them a higher grade unless Oher turns out to be a franchise caliber left tackle.  Only three players made the team, so it will be hard for this draft to be particularly deep or productive for the Ravens.

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