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Front Office Grades: Draft and UDCFAs 2011-2014

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In the final part of this series we'll look at our relative success with undrafted college free agents and then we will hand out an overall grade to the John Elway led Bronco's front office of the past 4 years.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For the purpose of review here is part 1 and here is part 2. In part 3 we are going to look at the final piece of our front office' ability to evaluate college talent in comparison to the rest of the league.

Undrafted College Free Agents

I chose to include players who started in the NFL in 2011 or later even if they finished up their collegiate eligibility prior to 2011. Again I looked at AV and starters (to be counted as a starter a player must have started 8 games in one season). Here are the numbers for the entire league (I did not count punters, kickers and long snappers as starters).

UDCFA data for 2011-2014

Team Total Starters ST% Total AV
Seattle Seahawks 44 4 9% 97
Cleveland Browns 61 1 2% 90
New Orleans Saints 66 0 0% 86
Carolina Panthers 45 4 9% 78
Dallas Cowboys 70 1 1% 78
Indianapolis Colts 54 0 0% 75
Denver Broncos 55 3 5% 70
New York Giants 24 4 17% 64
New England Patriots 32 4 13% 62
Jacksonville Jaguars 78 3 4% 61
Oakland Raiders 48 3 6% 60
Baltimore Ravens 71 1 1% 58
Cincinnati Bengals 55 2 4% 58
Green Bay Packers 51 3 6% 58
New York Jets 46 1 2% 53
St. Louis Rams 77 3 4% 53
Atlanta Falcons 88 5 6% 48
Philadelphia Eagles 37 2 5% 48
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 62 1 2% 47
Houston Texans 68 2 3% 37
Detroit Lions 40 2 5% 33
Buffalo Bills 52 0 0% 32
Arizona Cardinals 67 0 0% 29
San Francisco 49ers 50 1 2% 29
Chicago Bears 50 2 4% 27
Kansas City Chiefs 50 0 0% 26
San Diego Chargers 74 1 1% 25
Miami Dolphins 57 0 0% 23
Minnesota Vikings 55 1 2% 23
Washington Redskins 29 0 0% 23
Pittsburgh Steelers 52 1 2% 12
Tennessee Titans 55 0 0% 4

The Broncos have done pretty well with undrafted college players over the past 4 seasons, finding Chris Harris, Jr., Duke Ihenacho and C.J. Anderson (along with Aaron Brewer). I found it interesting to see that some teams brought in loads of undrafted college players over the past 4 years (topped by the 88 guys brought in by the Falcons) while others only brought in a handful each year (NYG, WAS, NE). Despite only bringing in a handful of players both the Patriots (Jeremy Ross, James Develin, Kenbrell Thompkins and Joe Vellano) and the Giants (Henry Hynoski, Spencer Paysinger, Larry Donnell and Will Hill) have been good at finding starters in the bargain bin of undrafted players. For the purpose of tabulating starters, I gave the credit to the team that found/signed the player first, even if he turned into a starter for a different team.

From the AV perspective, Seattle really did well with undrafted players over the past 4 seasons (finding UDCFA starters - Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse for them and two guys who became starters with KC Sean McGrath and Ron Parker who both originally signed with SEA). On the other end of the spectrum the Titans did horribly with undrafted players deriving almost no value from all 55 of the guys that they singed. The Titans not only failed to find starters, but they failed to find even minimal contributors.

The Broncos did quite well with undrafted college players over the past 4 seasons.

Half of our AV in the table above comes from Chris Harris and C.J. Anderson (35 of 70). To put that in perspective all of the undrafted players on our roster last season contributed 51 of the team total 243 (21%). 21 of that 51 last season came from CHJ and CJ.  The average NFL team brought in 55 UDCFAs over the past 4 years and found 1.8 starters among them. So the Broncos are exactly average in the number of UDCFAs we have signed and above average at finding starters from that group. Eight teams have not found a single starter in the recent pool of undrafted players with KC being one of those teams.

Value vs Expected Value by Draft Position

Chase Stuart from Football perspective has calculated the career expected AV for players drafted by draft position. Another way to evaluate our recent drafts is to compare the value that we have gotten out of players picked in those spots compared to all players historically picked in those spots. This way normalizes for teams that are consistently drafting early or late. For example the average total career AV of player taken with the 28th pick is 13.4. The average NFL career (according to the NFLPA) is 3.3 years. So historically players taken at 28 have produced an average AV of 4.1 per year (13.4/3.3).  We took Sylvester Williams at 28 and he has a career AV of 9 so far, 4.5 per year, just slightly above what is historically expected for players taken at 28. Below is a chart of how all of John Elway's picks have done relative to what is historically expected from players picked in that draft spot

Year Drafted Round Draft Spot Player Pos Career AV AV/yr NFL Average/yr
2014 1 31 Bradley Roby DB 2 2.0 3.8
2014 2 56 Cody Latimer WR 0 0.0 2.7
2014 3 95 Michael Schofield OL 0 0.0 1.7
2013 1 28 Sylvester Williams DT 9 4.5 4.1
2013 2 58 Montee Ball RB 8 4.0 2.6
2013 3 90 Kayvon Webster DB 3 1.5 1.8
2012 2 36 Derek Wolfe DT 19 6.3 3.6
2012 2 57 Brock Osweiler QB 0 0.0 2.7
2012 3 67 Ronnie Hillman RB 11 3.7 2.4
2011 1 2 Von Miller LB 43 10.8 9.2
2011 2 45 Rahim Moore DB 18 4.5 3.2
2011 2 46 Orlando Franklin OL 30 7.5 3.1
2011 3 67 Nate Irving LB 9 2.3 2.4
2011 4 108 Quinton Carter DB 5 1.3 1.5
2011 4 129 Julius Thomas TE 13 3.3 1.1
2011 6 189 Mike Mohamed LB 0 0.0 0.4
2011 7 204 Virgil Green TE 2 0.5 0.2
2011 7 247 Jeremy Beal DL 0 0.0 0.0
2012 4 101 Omar Bolden DB 3 1.0 1.6
2012 4 108 Philip Blake OL 0 0.0 1.5
2012 5 137 Malik Jackson DT 8 2.7 1.0
2012 6 188 Danny Trevathan LB 12 4.0 0.4
2013 5 146 Quanterus Smith DE 1 0.5 0.9
2013 5 161 Tavarres King WR 0 0.0 0.7
2013 6 173 Vinston Painter OL 0 0.0 0.5
2013 7 234 Zac Dysert QB 0 0.0 0.0
2014 5 156 Lamin Barrow LB 1 1.0 0.7
2014 6 207 Matt Paradis OL 0 0.0 0.2
2014 7 242 Corey Nelson LB 1 1.0 0.0

The total expected AV from all of Elway's picks over the past 4 years is 53.9/yr. The AV that the Broncos have realized from these picks in 62.2/yr. So John Elway and our front office are doing better than average. I did not attempt this analysis for every NFL over the past 4 seasons so I have no idea how that compares to the best drafting teams in the league (and worst, for that matter).

The Whole Picture

Our front office has been average at finding productive players in the early rounds, above average at finding contributors in the mid-to-late rounds and great at finding talent in the undrafted pool. Here is how we rate if you sum all of that up using AV

AV Total for Players Coming from College and entering the NFL 2011-2014 by Team

TEAM AV rnds 4-7 AV rnds 1-3 All drafted AV AV UDCFA Total
SEA 160 142 302 97 399
CLE 67 138 205 90 295
CIN 57 174 231 58 289
DAL 31 176 207 78 285
STL 47 178 225 53 278
CAR 37 158 195 78 273
DEN 46 152 198 70 268
NWE 35 145 180 86 266
IND 27 158 185 75 260
HOU 70 148 218 37 255
PHI 75 125 200 48 248
BUF 60 149 209 32 241
BAL 52 126 178 58 236
GNB 74 103 177 58 235
MIN 80 131 211 23 234
NYJ 43 128 171 53 224
WAS 91 105 196 23 219
MIA 64 130 194 23 217
TAM 30 136 166 47 213
ATL 57 106 163 48 211
JAX 64 83 147 61 208
ARI 69 106 175 29 204
TEN 60 140 200 4 204
OAK 62 78 140 60 200
KAN 21 152 173 26 199
SDG 37 132 169 25 194
NOR 28 103 131 62 193
NYG 37 84 121 64 185
PIT 49 115 164 12 176
CHI 30 118 148 27 175
SFO 39 106 145 29 174
DET 32 96 128 33 161

Based on AV, the Broncos have been near the top of the league in terms of selecting and developing college players over the past 4 seasons. It's scary how much better Seattle has

The Broncos have been near the top of the league in terms of selecting and developing college players over the past 4 seasons

been over the past 4 seasons compared to even the #2 team in the league, Cleveland. It should be noted that of the top 10 teams on the table above, only Cleveland and St. Louis have been losing teams over the past 4 seasons - the other 8 franchises have winning records even with some horrible seasons included.  If you look at the teams in the bottom 10, SanFran and Pittsburgh (and maybe NYG and SDG) seem like they don't belong there as they have been fairly successful over the past 4 seasons.

For those who are interested I have uploaded the spreadsheets I used for all three pieces here and here as read-only files.