Almost all of the recent discussion on MHR has focused on the draft. One big point of debate has become where the Broncos should spend their high draft picks - on the defensive side of the ball or on the offensive side of the ball. I decided to look back at the last decade of superbowl winning teams to answer 2 questions:
1. How did they rank offensively and defensively (in terms of points scored/allowed)
2. How did they spend their picks in the first 3 rounds during this past decade? I focus on the first three rounds because these are the rounds in which the majority of the starters in the NFL are selected.
Make the jump with me and lets learn from the winners...
I'm going to state my assumption at the beginning of this - Peyton Manning alone, even if we add no further pieces on offense, will get the offense into the top 10 in points scored in 2012 (the Broncos were 24th last year). You can argue with this if you like, but the Colts were not in the top 10 in scoring only 3 times during PFM's 13 years in Central Indiana - one of those was his rookie year.
Here are the rankings of the super bowl winning teams from the past decade
|Year||Team||Points scored||Points allowed|
|2009||Saints (Bounty Hunters)||1st||20th|
No team has won the super bowl with an offense ranked lower than 20th, but three teams have won the super bowl with defenses ranked 20th or worse (Saints, Colts and '11 Giants). The average defensive ranking for a super bowl winning team is 9th over the past decade. The average offensive ranking is 10th. Only twice in the past decade have we had a team that was mediocre in both offense and defense win it all - in 2007 and in 2011 (you could argue that the Giants were above average offensively and bad defensively). So the general rule is you either have to be really great offensively OR really great defensively if the other side of the ball is poor or mediocre. The 2011 Giants are strange because their defense was relatively poor for most of the season, but it improved dramatically when they get some starters back from injury. The improvement was dramatic enough that they were able to hold the vaunted Pats O to 17 points in the Super Bowl, that tied the season low output for the Pats O in 2011.
So we have three teams that won multiple Super Bowls during the past decade - Pats, Steelers and Giants. The four one-time winners are the Colts, Saints, Packers and Bucs. The Bucs are the anomaly here given that the rest of the teams have been successful over this whole time period; they have not been. So we will start by looking at how they drafted in 2001-2011 in the first three rounds more as a cautionary tale of what not to do. Then we will move on to the other Super bowl winners are see where their focuses have been. The inherent problem with this analysis is that it does not take into account what talent was already on the roster and what holes each team needed to fill.
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 30 Total on O = 15 Total on D = 15
The Bucs were evenly split between O and D. Of their 30 picks, 13 went on to start for more than one season. Only one of these players ever made the pro bowl, though. Six of those draft picks were never starters for any team (although Bowers and Lewis could develop into starters still). I would say that the Bucs are definitely not who the Broncos should learn from for draft strategy.
Total number of pick rounds 1-3 = 33 Total # of picks on O = 10 Total # of picks on D = 23
Indy was without a first round pick twice during this time frame, but they still managed to get an average of 3 picks in the first three rounds over this time period. The picks were heavily weighted to the defensive side of the ball, yet the D was inconsistent being ranked as highly as 1st in points allowed (2007) and as low as 23rd (two seasons). I am excluded last season for the Colts where they were 28th in points allowed. Of these picks, 17 players went on to start for more than one season. 5 have gone to a pro bowl, but none of the picks in the last five years have. 7 have not ever been an NFL starter (although 4 of those were taken in the past two years and still could develop into starters). One the whole it appears that the Colts were much more successful in their drafting in rounds 1-3 than the Bucs.
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 31 Total on O = 11 Total on D = 20
The Saints have had 31 picks in rounds 1-3 over the past decade. They have been fairly active trading draft picks and have been without a 2nd or a 3rd round picks in multiple years. They have also had two 1st round picks twice. They have used 20 of them on D and 11 on O. So they have been focused on the D much like the Colts. Of their picks, 13 have gone on to become multi-year starters (with Jordan and Graham as locks to do so next year). 7 of these guys have been to a pro bowl. So 15 out of 31 picks in round 1-3 went on to be regular starters. This success rate is about the same as the Colts and the Bucs. 7 of their picks have never been starters although - Meacham has been a great contributor and Wilson, Ingram and Robinson could develop into starters. One of their picks, Charles Brown (2nd round), failed to make the team.
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 36 Total on O = 14 Total on D = 22
The Packers were able to actually add three picks in the first three rounds over the course of the decade. The picks were slightly weighted towards the D. They also drafted two QBs in the first three rounds during this time frame. 16 of these picks went on to be multi-year starters, so their success rate is similar to the Bucs. 13 have never been NFL starters - although Cobb and Neal could develop into starters. 6 of these guys made the pro bowl. One of these guys, Donnell Washington, didn't make the team.
|Antwaan Randle El||WR|
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 31 Total on O = 16 Total on D = 15
Like the Bucs and the Pack, the Steelers were balanced with their top picks. 17 of their picks have become multi-year starters and Gilbert is a lock to make that 18. 18/31 is a good success rate. 9 of their picks have gone to the Pro-bowl - this is the best number of any team in the study. Two of their picks never made an NFL roster - although Cam Heyward, their first pick last year, should make the team this year.
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 39 Total on O = 19 Total on D = 20
The Pats have been amazing at stockpiling high draft picks. In 2009 they had 4 second round picks and two 3rd round picks. In 2010 they had one 1st, three 2nd and one 3rd round pick. They have also been balanced with their picks. 18 of their picks have become multi0year starters with Solder and Spikes poised to join that list next year. While their % is not the greatest because fo the high number of picks, the absolute number of starters that they have found in the first 3 rounds is the best in this study. 8 of their picks have made the pro bowl. Despite all this success, two of their picks never made an NFL roster - Taylor Price and Tyrone McKenzie.
Total number of picks in the first 3 rounds = 32 Total on O = 14 Total on D = 18
17 of the Giants picks went on to become multi-year starters. 7 have gone to the pro bowl. Only one has failed to make the roster, Chad Jones (2010). It's interesting to note that Giants have spent 8 of their 32 picks on the DL. 7 of those 8 defensive lineman man are still in the NFL.
So what have we learned from the early draft strategy of the recent Super Bowl Winners?
They either were balanced in their early picks (Steelers, Bucs and Pats) or they were heavily weighted toward the defensive side of the ball (Colts, Saints, Giants and Packers). The two teams with worst defenses of this group (historically the Colts and Saints) have spent the most amount of draft capital on the defensive side of the ball. For reference, the Broncos have had 37 picks in the first 3 rounds over this time period - 19 on O, 18 on D. 6 of those 37 picks were on the defensive line (Ayers, Moss, Crowder, Davis, Toviessi and Heyward). 17 of the Broncos picks went on to be multi-year starters. Only 4 of the 37 ever made it to the Pro Bowl.
Knowing how the past winners have drafted in the first 3 rounds, what do you think the Broncos should do with their first three picks this year?