Last week we introduced a new NFL Draft statistic: Value over Expectation (VoE). The idea behind VoE is to show exactly how much better (or worse) a player performs over the course of his career compared to players with a similar draft pedigree. Terrell Owens would have been great as a top ten pick. As a third-rounder? He was FANTASTIC.
Tom Brady is the poster-child of VoE. A sixth-round pick is not supposed to win the Super Bowl, let alone FIVE of them, but here we are. His VoE of 153.4 is 27.2 points higher than any other player drafted in the past 25 years.
On the other end of the VoE spectrum we have JaMarcus Russell. A quarterback selected with the first overall pick faces the highest expectations of any player. Anything worse than a career Approximate Value of 52.1 would be considered under-performance, so Russell's career AV of 6 is … bad. In fact, his VoE of -46.1 is the worst of any player in the past 25 years.
One of the cool things about VoE is that it can be calculated for a team just as easily as it can a player. Just add up the VoE of every player they drafted and you've got it.
For this piece, we'll look at the five worst draft classes of the past 25 years and break them down (the Broncos' 2009 draft for example).
Let's start at No. 5.[divider]
|1||1||Courtney Brown, DE||28||47.17||-19.17|
|2||32||Dennis Northcutt, WR||41||25.42||15.58|
|3||63||Travis Prentice, RB||4||16.78||-12.78|
|3||79||JaJuan Dawson, WR||5||14.91||-9.91|
|4||95||Lewis Sanders, DB||14||11.7||2.3|
|4||110||Aaron Shea, TE||6||7.82||-1.82|
|5||146||Lamar Chapman, DB||1||10.47||-9.47|
|6||183||Spergon Wynn, QB||2||5.78||-3.78|
|6||206||Brad Bedell, T||3||4.6||-1.6|
|7||207||Manuia Savea, G||0||11.7||-11.7|
|7||209||Eric Chandler, DE||0||5.86||-5.6|
|7||225||Rashidi Barnes, DB||1||4.26||-3.26|
Just so we get this straight, a Total VoE of zero would mean a team's draft picks performed (on average) as expected. No more, no less. A score of -68.84 means the Browns 2000 draft picks under-performed pretty badly, but in a vacuum it isn't all that bad. The other totals you'll see on this list are much lower.
The reason the Browns' 2000 draft comes in at No. 5 on the list is that the 2000 draft was good. Very good. Nine teams amassed a Total VoE better than 90, and only ten had a negative VoE.
The Browns' total VoE of -68.84 is nearly two standard deviations below the mean (relative to other teams in the 2000 draft).
On the plus side, Dennis Northcutt was a good player and a good pick. He significantly exceeded expectations for a wide receiver selected No. 32 overall. But Northcutt and Lewis Sanders are the only players the Browns drafted in 2000 who ended up with a positive VoE. Other than that, pretty awful.
To put this in perspective: Cleveland has drafted 11 quarterbacks in the past 25 years. Spergon Wynn has the third best VoE of any of them. Only Luke McCown (-2.07) and Colt McCoy (0.23) have been better.
|1||5||Bryant Westbrook, DB||25||38.27||-13.27|
|2||35||Juan Roque, T||2||29.19||-27.19|
|2||54||Kevin Abrams, DB||7||22.78||-15.78|
|4||130||Matt Russell, LB||2||11.16||-9.16|
|5||135||Pete Chryplewicz, TE||0||8.81||-8.81|
|5||161||Duane Ashman, DE||0||8.20||-8.20|
|6||168||Tony Ramirez, T||4||7.94||-3.94|
|7||206||Terry Battle, RB||0||3.26||-3.26|
|7||232||Marcus Harris, WR||0||4.10||-4.10|
|7||239||Richard Jordan, LB||3||5.85||-2.85|
Every player the Lions selected in 1997 had a worse career than you'd expect for a player of their draft position. Only Bryant Westbrook came even close to putting together what you might consider a "successful" career, and even then it'd be a stretch given that he was the No. 5 overall pick.
Players drafted in the past 25 years (including active players and players who were JUST drafted this season) have played an average of 61.8 games apiece. This 1997 Detroit group? Only Westbrook played more than 40 games. Three never saw the field at all.
The three offensive skill players the Lions drafted in 1997 combined for 65 career yards and three career touchdowns. The five defenders combined for 275 tackles, 15 interceptions, and five sacks — TOTAL. Those are career numbers. The numbers listed above are the sum total of everything the Lions got out of the 1997 draft.
|3||69||Jason Williams, LB||4||16.57||-12.57|
|3||75||Robert Brewster, T||0||17.79||-17.79|
|4||101||Stephen McGee, QB||2||9.25||-7.25|
|4||110||Victor Butler, LB||6||11.36||-5.36|
|4||120||Brandon Williams, DE||0||17.36||-17.36|
|5||143||DeAngelo Smith, DB||1||8.65||-7.65|
|5||166||Michael Hamlin, DB||0||9.25||-9.25|
|5||172||David Buehler, K||2||4.33||-2.33|
|6||197||Stephen Hodge, DB||0||7.04||-7.04|
|6||208||John Phillips, TE||2||4.74||-2.74|
|7||227||Mike Mickens, DB||0||4.19||-4.19|
|7||229||Manuel Johnson, WR||0||5.10||-5.10|
ESPN did a pretty solid rundown of the Cowboys' nightmare of a 2009 draft back in 2013, when the final player from the draft class left the team.
"No starters were developed from the class and only six made the 53-man roster. Things started off on the wrong foot when the Cowboys began the draft without a first-round pick, handed to the Detroit Lions as part of the Roy Williams deal. The Cowboys traded their second-round choice to Buffalo for third- and fourth-round picks.
What did the Bills do with the pick?
Center Andy Levitre was selected at No. 53."
It was bad bad bad.
|1||19||Lester Holmes, G||38||41.96||-3.96|
|1||24||Leonard Renfro, DT||3||36.92||-33.92|
|2||50||Victor Bailey, WR||8||22.80||-14.80|
|3||75||Derrick Frazier, DB||5||14.83||-9.83|
|3||77||Mike Reid, DB||0||12.09||-12.09|
|6||163||Derrick Oden, LB||3||5.89||-2.89|
|7||190||Joey Mickey, TE||0||3.12||-3.12|
|8||217||Doug Skene, G||3||12.63||-9.63|
The four defensive players drafted by the Eagles in 1993 combined for zero career tackles. Lester Holmes is the only player from the class who played more than 35 games. Injuries played a part, no doubt, but a majority of this horrorshow was simply bad drafting.
In terms of draft capital spent vs production received (which is basically the definition of VoE in a nutshell), Leonard Renfro is the worst Eagles draft pick in the past 25 years, though Marcus Smith could usurp that unfortunate title if he doesn't start making moves in a positive direction.
Renfro only played 23 games in an Eagles uniform. He racked up 19 tackles — almost one per game!
Victor Bailey produced 62 receptions for 868 yards and two scores. Those would be solid numbers for a rookie season, but unfortunately they were for a whole career. [divider]
|1||12||Knowshon Moreno, RB||33||42.52||-9.52|
|1||18||Robert Ayers, DE||24||34.81||-10.81|
|2||37||Alphonso Smith, DB||8||26.36||-18.36|
|2||48||Darcel McBath, DB||3||24.08||-21.08|
|2||64||Richard Quinn, TE||0||17.66||-17.66|
|4||114||David Bruton, DB||10||10.68||-0.68|
|4||132||Seth Olsen, G||3||12.89||-9.89|
|5||141||Kenny McKinley, WR||0||9.31||-9.31|
|6||174||Tom Brandstater, QB||0||7.42||-7.42|
|7||225||Blake Schlueter, C||0||6.52||-6.52|
Wait a minute! Knowshon Moreno was pretty good, wasn't he? He had a couple good years, right? Yeah, he was decent for a minute. But when you compare his production to that of other No. 12 picks and first round running backs he left a lot to be desired.
There have been 65 running backs selected in the first round since 1993. Moreno's 3,616 career rushing yards rank 39th in the group. Only nine running backs selected earlier in the draft than Moreno have fewer career rushing yards, and four of them are Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliot, Christian McCaffrey, and Leonard Fournette.
Robert Ayers and David Burton are the only players from the Broncos' 2009 draft still in the league. So it's technically possible for this draft to get slightly better. But not by much.