DON’T WORRY BRADY, ONLY 13 MORE PICKS (AND 3 1/4 HOURS) BEFORE YOU’RE DRAFTED
NOW YOU’RE ONLY 12 PICKS (BUT STILL 3 HOURS) AWAY. AT LEAST YOU’LL LIKE THE TEAM THAT TAKES YOU. PYSCH!
Synopsis: Intuitively, a higher draft pick has more upside than an lower draft pick, but how much more? This post discusses the quantitative approach used to determine a threshold such that a player can be drafted too low to be considered an all-time bust. Based on the frequency and total number of Pro Bowl selections, there’s a significant drop-off in the upside potential of a player drafted after the first ten overall picks. As such, players selected with the 11th overall pick or later, such as Brady Quinn, are exempt from being Top 10 Busts.
When determining potential Top 10 Busts, I developed the following criteria as a way to eliminate less deserving candidates.
- The player was selected with one of the first 10 overall picks (aka The Brady Quinn Exemption)
- The player needed to be a bona fide superstar coming out of college (aka the Troy Williamson Exemption)
- The player’s on-field performance was not just bad, but rather really bad (aka The Tony Mandarich Exemption).
- The player’s unproductive career cannot be the result of an injury (aka the Steve Emtman Exemption).
- The player was given a fair shot to compete on the field (aka The Rich Campbell Exemption)
This post details the rationale for the first criterion.
Obviously, expectations grow as players are drafted higher in the draft. While teams hope that late round picks make the team, they expect top picks to start immediately and make Pro Bowls eventually. The value of a Pro Bowl selection has been diluted over the years (thanks to excluded players from Super Bowl teams and “injury” replacements), but the distinction is still the best way to objectively determine which players are exceptional at their respective positions.
Using the same pool of players from the Weighted Average Value (WAV) analysis, the following chart highlights Pro Bowl selections for players drafted in each round. In particular, it summarizes the percent of players from each round who got selected to at least one Pro Bowl and the average number of Pro Bowl selections for each of those players.
PRO BOWL SELECTIONS
|% Making the Pro Bowl||Average # of Pro Bowls Made|
|1st Round: Picks 1-10||50%||
1st Round: Picks 11-20
|1st Round: Picks 21+||25%||
Based on the information in the chart, a team can expect half of all Top 10 overall picks to make at least four Pro Bowls in their careers. The odds of a selecting a Pro Bowl caliber player fall to 1:3 for picks 11-20, 1:4 for late 1st round picks, 1:5 for 2nd round picks, 1:8 for 3rd round picks, and 1:20 for picks taken in rounds 4-7. Given all of these odds, it seems reasonable to use a cutoff of a Top 10 overall pick when determining an all-time bust based on the premise that a bust should be relative to expectations.
For the creation of this particular list of Top 10 Busts, potential candidates were limited to the first ten players actually selected in the NFL Draft. Even if ESPN tries to package Mel Kiper Jr. as an “expert” who can accurately predict draft position or career upside, the fact of the matter is that he’s not much better than a reasonably informed football fan. We just have to look back to the 2010 draft when Kiper declared, “If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out.” In fact, Kiper thought Clausen should/would be a Top 5 pick in that draft.
As the following table shows, Kiper’s opinion of Clausen could be supported with impressive statistics.
JIMMY CLAUSEN’S COLLEGE STATS – NOTRE DAME
In Clausen’s 2009 season, he ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA for passing efficiency, yards and completion percentage. With virtually the same number of attempts as the prior year, Clausen threw for more yards and touchdowns, and decreased his interceptions by over 75%. He certainly performed well enough to attract interest from teams; however, his decision to leave school a year early seems to have been ill-advised.
As a rookie with the Carolina Panthers, Clausen had a 1-9 record with three touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a Blutarsky-esque WAV of ZERO POINT ZERO. If you get the reference, click on the following link and cherish the moment [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKS0GVvoE9I]. If you don’t get the reference, absolutely click on the link to see what you’ve been missing. Clausen threw a pass in a game this weekend for the first time since 2010, so I guess Mel just got a stay of execution.
Despite his bouffant and grating voice, Kiper is entertaining and has an impressive ability to regurgitate information about hundreds of college players.
Fortunately for Kiper, Dean Wormer doesn’t produce ESPN’s draft. In addition, Kiper is lucky that he’s only held as accountable for his predictions as your local weatherman (sorry, I mean meteorologist). Don’t worry Todd, your day to be criticized mercilessly is getting close – especially if Mel follows through on his promise to leave once his prediction about Clausen is completely refuted.
Another Notre Dame quarterback who fooled Dr. Kiper was Brady Quinn. Before the 2007 draft, Kiper thought Quinn also had Top 5 talent but would probably fall to the Miami Dolphins as the 9th overall pick. Instead, Quinn fell much lower in the draft and eventually was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd pick. Even Notre Dame haters had to feel bad for Quinn and the drawn-out humiliation he suffered in the players’ lounge as each pick was announced. The humiliation must have been even greater than the pancake sack he suffered at the hands of A.J. Hawk (his future brother-in-law) during Notre Dame’s 34-20 loss to THE Ohio State University in THE 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
In retrospect, Quinn’s fall in the draft was justifiable because he’s been a bust with a pathetic 4-16 record as a starter. Running out of options in the NFL, he likely will retire with totals of 3,043 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and a WAV of two. Despite his poor career performance, Quinn is not a Top 10 Bust because the expectations for a 22nd draft pick are not be the same as for a top 10 pick. As an aside, the average WAV for a late first round pick (i.e. #21 or later) is 36 while the average WAV for an early first round pick is 50% greater (i.e. 54 for a top 10 pick).
Coincidentally, Quinn was the first of three quarterbacks selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the last eight years. I know that the Colts took three different QBs with the first overall pick within a 30-year period (i.e. John Elway in 1983, Peyton Manning in 1998, and Andrew Luck in 2012), but I’d be surprised if any other team has drafted three players at the same position with the same exact pick in a shorter time frame than the Browns. Drafted in 2012, Brandon Weeden was the second QB taken by the Browns with the #22 pick in recent years. With a 5-15 record as a starter, Weeden was released in March 2014 after two seasons with the team. Fortunately, he still has time to develop even though he’s gotten off to a rough start. Johnny Manziel is the third member of this unique fraternity based on his selection as the 22nd pick in the 2014 Draft. At this point, it’s certainly too early to make a call on Manziel given that’s he’s still only a back-up. Depending on the future careers of Weeden and Manziel, it’s possible that all three players will find themselves included as a package deal of all-time busts. For me, however, they all have been granted the Brady Quinn Exemption given that they were drafted too low to qualify as Top 10 Busts.
In case you’re wondering what Kiper thought about Weeden and Manziel, he liked both players. In particular, Kiper wrote, “I think Weeden projects as a start-early QB who can help a franchise for 7-8 years, easy. And who in this league has a nine-year plan?” Given that Weeden was released after two unsuccessful seasons, apparently he couldn’t even fit into the Browns’ three-year plan. In addition, the following image shows that Kiper initially projected Manziel as the #1 overall pick in the 2014 Draft.
Kiper had projected Manziel as the 11th best player available but stated, “When you talk to people in the (NFL), he’s pretty much the consensus No. 1 quarterback. There’s some that don’t have Manziel that high, but the ones I’ve talked to have him as the No. 1 quarterback. So I see him going 1 or 3.” Clearly, Kiper had some misinformation going into the draft. Go figure, NFL executives fed inaccurate information to Kiper hoping that he would spread it. And, he did.
Overall, some readers might believe that limiting the pool of potential busts to the first ten overall picks is arbitrary (just like asking someone to join you to eat a bunch of caramels), even though a review of WAV and Pro Bowl selections based on draft order makes it justifiable. Separately, it seems like an appropriate cut-off for a compilation of Top 10 Busts. Even though each player mentioned in this post (i.e. Clausen, Quinn, Weeden, and Manziel) can’t be a Top 10 Bust because of the Brady Quinn Exemption, he still may be distinguished with an Honorable Mention if all the other criteria are met. Given their promising futures and horrendous professional careers, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen appear to be legitimate busts who are poised to become of Honorable Mentions. If I ever compile a list of Top 10 Mel Kiper Busts, I’m sure they’ll be shoo-ins.