Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas: How the Seahawks' last three drafts stack up against the rest of the NFL


It certainly seems like John Schneider and Pete Carroll have been dynastic in the NFL draft so far, but how do their picks rank against the league? Here's a ranking of players drafted in that time.

Yesterday I posted just a quick overview of all 28 draft selections made by Pete Carroll and John Schneider since they took over this house and "raised the roof" in 2010. There have been 13 players drafted into the NFL in the last three years with All-Pro selections (non-Blair Walsh division) and two of those guys are Seahawks. A couple more Hawks have also been named to the Pro Bowl which means that 1 out of every 7 players drafted by Seattle in the last three years have made either a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team.

You'll take that. Yes, you will like that quite often.

What I have been up to lately is throwing every draft into an excel spreadsheet (an easy-enough activity thanks to Pro Football Reference) and that gives me the option to quickly sort through the thousands of names called during the NFL draft. Currently I have gone as far back as 2000, but for this activity I just isolated it to the last three years. PFR has a player rating system called "Approximate Value" which is not perfect, as no "one number" could possibly tell you the real value of a player just as much as I have no value number that says I'm technically worthless. But it gives you a barometer of how worthless or worthful a player is.

The only player that I've found (at least recently) to post a negative AV is Ryan Lindley so right there I know it's legit.

Since AV is a counting stat though, a player that was drafted in 2012 is naturally at a disadvantage to a player that was drafted in 2010, so what I did was simply divide AV by games played and that gave me AV per game. Again, this isn't science. It's not even poli-science. It's just a way to get an idea of where you can start to try to rank players and then look at the names and decide for yourself.

Look at the top 20, decide for yourself:

Rd Pick Team Name Pos AP PB Starter AV G AV/G
1 2 WAS Robert Griffin III QB 0 1 1 18 15 1.2
6 173 WAS Alfred Morris RB 0 0 1 17 16 1.0625
1 1 CAR Cam Newton QB 0 1 2 33 32 1.03125
1 5 ARI Patrick Peterson CB 1 2 2 33 32 1.03125
3 75 SEA Russell Wilson QB 0 0 1 16 16 1
1 11 HOU J.J. Watt DE 1 1 2 30 32 0.9375
1 2 DEN Von Miller LB 1 2 2 28 31 0.903225806
1 31 TAM Doug Martin RB 0 0 1 14 16 0.875
2 42 NWE Rob Gronkowski TE 1 2 3 36 43 0.837209302
1 1 IND Andrew Luck QB 0 0 1 13 16 0.8125
6 195 PIT Antonio Brown WR 0 1 1 17 22 0.772727273
1 6 ATL Julio Jones WR 0 1 2 22 29 0.75862069
5 154 SEA Richard Sherman DB 1 0 2 24 32 0.75
4 113 NWE Aaron Hernandez TE 0 0 1 28 38 0.736842105
2 35 CIN Andy Dalton QB 0 1 2 23 32 0.71875
1 4 CIN A.J. Green WR 0 2 2 22 31 0.709677419
3 91 SFO Navorro Bowman LB 2 1 2 34 48 0.708333333
1 2 DET Ndamukong Suh DT 1 1 3 32 46 0.695652174
4 120 CIN Geno Atkins DT 1 2 2 33 48 0.6875
1 14 SEA Earl Thomas DB 1 2 3 32 48 0.666666667

Now remember what yo mama (me) told you: This is a barometer. You should note that QB is the most valuable position per AV so RG3, Newton, Wilson all have an advantage and it's not an entirely disagreeable one. You will also notice that it doesn't hurt to play in fewer games when we are talking about averages. Over time, with more games of experience, you will have an AV/G under 1.00. One of the most elite players I've found in this category over the last decade is Aaron Rodgers and he comes in at an incredible .96 AV/G. It won't get much better than that, folks.

So expect Wilson, Morris, even RG3 to fall under 1.00 at some point, but how disagreeable is this list, really? Morris is probably too high, but he had an exceptional rookie season. The thing with Morris is, what would you think of him if I told you he was going to rush for an average of 1,400 yards per season over the next five seasons? Elite running back, right? Or at least, a very good running back in a heavily-favorable system. Throw him down a few spots, it's not a big deal. Here is the big deal as it pertains to me and you:

Wilson, Sherman, Thomas. Seattle notches three players in the top 20 of this category and while you could argue against that, you could also make a compelling argument that they absolutely belong here. Not unlike how the Bengals managed to get Atkins, Green, and Dalton. They are also three of the best players taken over the last three years.

You're probably wondering who Earl just beat out though, so let's keep going and give you the next 20 on the list. I have removed anyone with less than 8 games, like Kirk Cousins (3 games) and Nick Foles (7 games):

6 176 JAX Mike Harris CB 0 0 0 10 15 0.666666667
1 12 SDG Ryan Mathews RB 0 1 3 25 38 0.657894737
3 95 NOR Jimmy Graham TE 0 1 2 30 46 0.652173913
1 18 PIT Maurkice Pouncey C 1 3 3 29 45 0.644444444
2 47 ARI Daryl Washington LB 0 0 3 30 47 0.638297872
1 17 NWE Nate Solder OL 0 0 2 20 32 0.625
1 8 MIA Ryan Tannehill QB 0 0 1 10 16 0.625
2 47 SEA Bobby Wagner ILB 0 0 1 10 16 0.625
2 64 GNB Randall Cobb WR 0 0 0 18 30 0.6
1 30 NYJ Muhammad Wilkerson DT 0 0 2 19 32 0.59375
1 12 MIN Christian Ponder QB 0 0 2 16 27 0.592592593
1 30 DET Jahvid Best RB 0 0 1 13 22 0.590909091
1 24 DAL Dez Bryant WR 0 0 2 25 43 0.581395349
1 5 KAN Eric Berry DB 0 2 2 19 33 0.575757576
3 71 DAL DeMarco Murray RB 0 0 0 13 23 0.565217391
1 7 SFO Aldon Smith DE 1 1 1 18 32 0.5625
2 36 SFO Colin Kaepernick QB 0 0 0 9 16 0.5625
1 9 CAR Luke Kuechly ILB 0 0 1 9 16 0.5625
2 58 TAM Lavonte David OLB 0 0 1 9 16 0.5625
1 22 CLE Brandon Weeden QB 0 0 1 8 15 0.533333333

Does the AV system too heavily account for being a quarterback, hence the involvement of Ryan Tannehill, Christian Ponder, and Brandon Weeden? Perhaps! But you're getting a good idea of which players have been drafted since 2010 and which have worked out the best so far, which team has drafted the most good players, and where they have been drafted.

For Wilson, Sherman, and Thomas, there's a good chance that they qualify as three of the 20 best picks in the last three drafts. There have been 762 players drafted in the last three years, which puts those three players in the 98th percentile! Obviously it puts Wilson in the upper echelon of the upper crust of the creme de la creme of the crop. But overall we are talking about not having one, not having two, but having three players in the 98th percentile.

How has the NFC West as a whole improved so dramatically over the last year and a half?

The Cardinals drafted Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington, and Sam Acho.

The Rams drafted Janoris Jenkins, Sam Bradford, and Michael Brockers.

The 49ers drafted Navorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, and Mike Iupati.

Checking in next on this list for Seattle is Bobby Wagner at 28th overall. The question as to whether or not that is too high is not something to be determined by me or you, it's just what AV/G says. The rest is opinion. But I would ask you this: How many players behind him should be ahead of him? If he remains there, it would give the Seahawks 4 players in the top 30. If you redrafted with a pool of only players drafted in the last three years, Wagner might be a first round pick. The other three would certainly be, but Wagner is right there on the cusp, while noting that he's listed ahead of players like Berry, Aldon Smith, Kaepernick, and Kuechly.

Another Seahawks linebacker checks in with the next group of 20:

2 39 STL Janoris Jenkins CB 0 0 1 8 15 0.533333333
3 92 IND T.Y. Hilton WR 0 0 0 8 15 0.533333333
2 37 CLE Jabaal Sheard DL 0 0 2 17 32 0.53125
1 15 NYG Jason Pierre-Paul DE 1 2 2 25 48 0.520833333
1 9 DAL Tyron Smith T 0 0 2 16 31 0.516129032
4 99 SEA K.J. Wright LB 0 0 2 16 31 0.516129032
1 3 TAM Gerald McCoy DT 0 1 2 18 35 0.514285714
1 22 DEN Demaryius Thomas WR 0 0 1 19 37 0.513513514
1 23 GNB Bryan Bulaga T 0 0 3 19 37 0.513513514
1 27 NWE Devin McCourty DB 0 1 3 23 46 0.5
5 169 GNB Marshall Newhouse G 0 0 2 16 32 0.5
6 193 GNB James Starks RB 0 0 0 11 22 0.5
1 8 TEN Jake Locker QB 0 0 1 8 16 0.5
1 21 CLE Phil Taylor DL 0 0 1 12 24 0.5
2 58 BAL Torrey Smith WR 0 0 2 16 32 0.5
1 25 NWE Dont'a Hightower ILB 0 0 1 7 14 0.5
2 36 DEN Derek Wolfe DT 0 0 1 8 16 0.5
1 17 SFO Mike Iupati G 1 1 3 23 48 0.479166667
4 101 TAM Mike Williams WR 0 0 3 23 48 0.479166667
1 1 STL Sam Bradford QB 0 0 3 20 42 0.476190476

Now there's certainly some questionable placements on here, like Bradford not only behind Locker, but behind Weeden and Tannehill from the last group. Remember that the longer you play, the more likely it is that your AV/G will regress downward. In a small sample size, Locker's numbers aren't terrible, but he's only played in 16 games over two seasons. Bradord wasn't just injured in 2011, missing six starts, but he was statistically terrible. That wasn't all his fault, but it's going to harm his overall numbers. He rebounded for a career year in 2012 (59.5%, 3,702 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT) and would likely be a player you could build a franchise around as long as you could give him a reasonable rookie contract.

Wright checks in at 46th overall, giving the Hawks five players in the top 50. He falls in just behind Pierre-Paul, which seems messed up, right? Remember that JPP was not much of a contributor as a rookie and most of his 27.5 career sacks came in 2011. Would a team take Wright over McCoy, Thomas, Torrey Smith, Bradford? It's up for debate, depending on the team, but it wouldn't be hard to imagine based on this list that Wright is in the top 60 of players drafted in the last three years. In only two seasons he has been a solid outside linebacker. And the value of replacing Aaron Curry is immeasurable.

Where some other Seahawks check in:

- Russell Okung, 85th

- James Carpenter, 113th

- John Moffitt, 137th

- Kam Chancellor, 147th

- Robert Turbin, 176th

- Golden Tate, 179th

As previously mentioned, this is not even imperfect science because it's not science at all. I mean, it's mathematical, but we can't measure the true value of a football player in any one number. We can, however, lay out all the names in some reasonable order and then decide for ourselves. I think that this order is reasonable and then when we can sit down and look at all the names we can say, "In MY opinion, Wilson is 3rd, Sherman is 10th, and Thomas is 22nd" and then another guy, probably a Niners fan, says "Kaepernick is 1st, Wilson doesn't qualify."

You need to balance it out for yourselves but is there an argument that the Seahawks had the best draft overall since 2010? Yes. It is a solid argument? Yes. I think it also says something that Seattle has had four 1st round draft picks in that time and Okung, Carpenter, and Bruce Irvin aren't even where you begin your argument for why they did so well. They did so well because of a third round pick and a fifth round pick, plus Wright in the fourth. (Irvin is way down near 300. Remember that he had 10 tackles in 16 games.)

Which brings up another point, which is that it's much easier to judge the 2010 class than it is the 2012 class. This whole experiment will be better served to re-do in 2015, right after the release of Jaws 19, when hoverboards don't work on water unless you have power you bojo. But it's not 2015, and the question was asked how John Schneider and Pete Carroll's drafts rank against the other teams in that period so far.

Here is an idea of how they did so far. Right up there with the Bengals, 49ers, Patriots, and surprisingly the Buccaneers. I've just sort of laid it out, the rest is up to you to judge.

What do you think?

Follow Kenneth on Twitter. Kenneth Draft Weekly says he's the best NFL draft follow west of the Mississippi. (All the good draft follows are east of the Mississippi.)

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