Stephen Schulist

Stephen Schulist

Stephen Schulist has lived in many places (ten states) and held many jobs over the past 44 years: bookseller, dock worker, stand-up comedian, infantry soldier, software consultant and freelance writer. One thing that has remained constant over all of those years is his love of football and the Green Bay Packers. While the Packers are his favorite NFL team, he has seen games at 13 NFL stadiums and visiting the remaining stadiums is at the top of his bucket of list. He may be reached via email at TheSportsThinkTank@gmail.com or you may follow him on twitter @SoupSandwich97.

As I mentioned in the first part of the article, one of my frustrations w/draft grades is that the grades have no basis on actual performance. Now that I have revisited the teams and given them performance based grades, let’s see how the experts did w/out the benefit of hindsight...

In Part One of my article, I explained my reasoning for looking back upon the 2011 draft and gave grades to the NFC. Hopefully, you’ve read it (if not, you can read it here) and are now looking forward to seeing the AFC grades. Without further ado, the grades:

Team

Division

Grade

Buffalo Bills

East

C

Miami Dolphins

East

B+

New England Patriots

East

D+

New York Jets

East

A-

Baltimore Ravens

North

C

Cincinnati Bengals

North

B+

Cleveland Browns

North

A+

Pittsburgh Steelers

North

C+

Houston Texans

South

A

Indianapolis Colts

South

F

Jacksonville Jaguars

South

B-

Tennessee Titans

South

C+

Denver Broncos

West

A+

Kansas City Chiefs

West

C-

Oakland Raiders

West

C-

San Diego Chargers

West

A

Overall the AFC had twice as many A’s at the NFC, but the AFC also had the only F and have lost four of the last five Super Bowls. Don’t get hung up on trying to make any correlations on the information above or you’ll end up like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. If you’d like to know more details about how the grades were determined, my grading criterion was outlined in my first article (e.g. please read the first article if you haven’t yet). Details on the players selected by each team are available below. All of the teams are broken out by their Division and preceded by a chart that illustrates the following:

  • How many picks the team had in the 2011 draft
  • How many of the draft picks were 6th or 7th round draft picks
  • How many of the players from the draft are currently on that team
  • How many of the players from the draft are currently starters on that team

 

It’s April and forecasting rain isn’t the only popular pastime in this month. The 2014 NFL Draft is two weeks away along with the media storm that accompanies it. After the Super Bowl ends, the NFL media machine knows that there will be six months before preseason games start and they have to do their best to keep fans interested until then. Things that used to be ignored 10-15 years ago now have gained a tremendous amount of coverage. The NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and pro days have all become major events. However, they are nothing compared to the three day spectacle that is now the NFL Draft. Analysts begin to determine where teams are deficient and prognosticate as to what players they will pick within mere days after Super Bowl. Then, from March through May, countless hours of television programming and an exponential number of articles will thoroughly examine every aspect of how well these rookies will or will not potentially adjust to the speed and size that is the NFL. Finally, it will come time for teams to pick their first round at Radio City Music Hall and after the players are selected, analysts will scrutinize the pick to the Nth degree, fans will boo and/or cheer the selections and the three days will pass ever so quickly.

However, unlike the game of football, the draft has no score and that is a problem. How can you have all of this hype and no winner(s)? Since that answer was unsatisfying to fans, analysts decided to provide a score of sorts… draft grades. Every major sports network and magazine offers them now and in fact, many of the grades are given in real time during the draft. I understand that the casual fan wants to know if their team will be better, but all we can definitively conclude during and after the draft is what positions of need were enhanced. For example, if a team that had a poor offensive line took an offensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft, they should have better depth in that area and improve. That’s all we can discern since these grades have no basis on actual performance yet. So what we’re really given is “informed” but idle speculation because the players haven’t even gone to camp much less played a down in the NFL. What’s even more infuriating to me is the how wrong some of these grades can be. I grew up in Houston and one of my favorite examples of this is when the Houston Texans were given a ton of grief for not selecting Mario Williams as the #1 pick over Vince Young and Reggie Bush in 2006. Williams had two Pro-Bowl selections, one All Pro selection and was the 2007 NFL Alumni Defensive Lineman of the Year with the Texans. Even though he is no longer in Houston, he is still playing at an elite level for the Bills. Bush and Young had some accolades, but Bush is now with his third team and Young is out of the league. History has shown that the Texans made the right choice and that’s what drove me to write this article.