Something else that I wrote also went up today, this time over at the SBNation NFL site. It's a look back at 2010 and ranking the draft classes. I found that the Seahawks ranked really high in 2010*, which also happens to be the first year of Pete Carroll and John Schneider. I've spent this week going over every NFL draft in more detail and honestly the saddest thing for me is knowing that I only have a sample size of three when evaluating Pete and John drafts.
Knowing that the years prior were Ruskell is just oh so demoralizing :(
But rejoice fellow Hawkers!! Because now we do get Pete and John. They've done really, really, amazingly stupendously well and that all started in 2010. This piece is slightly different than what I wrote for SBNation, but go ahead and read them both. Thanks, goofball!
*My finding was that the four best drafts of 2010 wound up being the four best teams by DVOA in 2012: New England, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco. Something to think about when drafting, that you may only be three years away from serious Super Bowl contention.
Here are some of the best (and worst) picks of the 2010 draft, starting at the top with a local hero:
Best pick in the first round as of today: Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks, 14th overall
Honestly, this was a tougher decision than you think whether you believe I am being a homer or not. Here is the competition against Earl:
#2 - Ndamukong Suh, DET
#15 - Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG
#17 - Mike Iupati, SFO
#18 - Maurkice Pouncey, PIT
These are the five players, including Earl, that would belong in the conversation for best pick right now. Suh, Thomas, JPP, Iupati, and Pouncey have all made the All-Pro team in their careers (a great achievement for any first round class of players) but here is how I start to eliminate them. Iupati and Pouncey are great lineman but their positional value simply doesn't measure up to the other three. Suh is great but I am also going to take "draft position value" into account and see that Suh was the second overall pick, significantly ahead of Earl and JPP. So it's either Thomas or Pierre-Paul.
Thomas has been a full-time starter from day one and provided exceptional value in his career from start to now. Pierre-Paul was a rotation/situation player as a rookie and provided little overall value before exploding for a huge season in 2011. For that reason, I am going with Thomas.
Worst pick of the first round as of today: Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles, 13th overall
If you're unfamiliar with the name, don't worry because I forgot about him too. Graham was a 5-star linebacker recruit that went to Michigan and moved to defensive end when he trimmed down. He had a good career and a solid combine, which not only prompted the Eagles to draft him at #13, but they traded three picks (#24, #70, #87) to move up to get him. Those picks were eventually used on Dez Bryant, Ed Dickson, and Eric Decker.
Graham was okay as a rookie, recording three sacks in thirteen games, but tore his ACL in Week 14. He missed practically all of 2011 and then played in every game last season. He didn't improve much from where he was at as a rookie: 5.5 sacks, 38 tackles. There's still time for Graham to improve of course, but as of today he's the least valuable pick of the first round based on where he was taken, what he cost, and what he's done.
Other candidates include:
#16 - Derrick Morgan, TEN
#24 - Tim Tebow, DEN
#29 - Kyle Wilson, NYJ
#31 - Jerry Hughes, IND
#32 - Patrick Robinson, NO
Wilson, Hughes, and Robinson are practically second round picks. Derrick Morgan had a decent season in 2012 and could be coming around. Some of you might go "Haha, come on, it's Tebow!" but the Broncos did make the playoffs in 2011 and they had an excellent draft everywhere besides Tebow. It wasn't a good pick, but it was 11 picks after Graham and the Eagles traded up and still passed on Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Mike Iupati. What?
Best pick of the second round as of today: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots, 42nd overall
Don't judge players based on how many times they get voted into the Pro Bowl or anything, but it's at least a weak barometer of success. Very weak, but still a barometer. Twelve players in the first round of 2010 have been voted to the Pro Bowl. Only one player from the second round has so far: Gronkowski, and he's gone twice, and he's been an All-Pro. There's no competition here, really. The Patriots traded pick #44, and a sixth round pick to move up two spots for Gronkowski.
Player taken just ahead of Gronkowski: DT Torell Troup, Bills, 15 career games
Player taken just after Gronkowski: LB Sergio Kindle, Ravens, 3 career games
Gronk's 38 touchdown catches are 11 more than second-place Dez Bryant. The Ravens drafted both Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta that year, and they have 16 combined career touchdown passes.
There is only one player that has an argument and believe it or not, the Cardinals drafted him. Linebacker Daryl Washington, 47th overall. The Seahawks took Golden Tate 60th overall. The Rams drafted Rodger Saffold with the first pick of the second round. The 49ers took Taylor Mays, the player everyone assumed Pete would take.
Worst pick of the second round as of today: Sergio Kindle, LB, Ravens, 43rd overall
Look, you can't necessarily be mad at a player for getting hurt but it still has to remain the worst pick. He has played in three games. Troup and his injuries would be right behind him. If we are talking about a player who hasn't been diminished because of injuries though:
Jimmy Clausen, Panthers, 48th overall
The best thing that Clausen did was lead the Panthers to Cam Newton. He was a travesty at quarterback as a rookie. The Panthers didn't necessarily pass on any "star" that was taken just behind them but Clausen was taken with the pick after Washington to Arizona.
Best pick of the third round as of today: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints, 95th overall
Ugh. UGGHHHH. Why 'Ugh'? Because this was a really tough decision between Graham and Navorro Bowman, 91st overall to the 49ers and no my tie-breaker wasn't hating the 49ers. We can find other ways to diminish their players. My tie-breaker was simply the fact that Graham was taken four picks after because it's that close.
Bowman has been an All-Pro in each of the last two years, he's been phenomenal in that time. Graham has put up record-numbers for tight ends. What's not to like about either?
Other solid third round picks:
#69 - Jared Veldheer, OAK
#70 - Ed Dickson, BAL
#78 - Brandon LaFell
#83 - Corey Peters, ATL
#87 - Eric Decker, DEN
Seattle traded 5th and 7th round picks in 2009, and their 3rd round pick in 2010, for the rights to draft Deon Butler the year prior. Oof. The pick was eventually traded around until it got into the Ravens hands and they took Dickson.
The Rams made a pretty bad pick (Jerome Murphy, 15 career games). The Cardinals made a solid pick with WR Andre Roberts.
Worst pick of the third round as of today: Chad Jones, DB, Giants, 76th overall
I think this is the last time I'll name a "worst" because the lower you get, who cares. But Jones is a special case. He was a safety drafted out of LSU that was once such a good athlete that the Houston Astros drafted him in the 13th round of the 2007 MLB draft. He decided to stick to football though and was a third round pick of the Giants.
Two months later he was in a single-car crash and broke his tibia and fibula. He has never played professional football and was finally waived last May.
Maybe the most disappointing player that actually has played is wide receiver Armanti Edwards, 89th overall to the Panthers. Edwards was a quarterback at Appalachian State that converted to receiver/kick returner that has never panned out. A cautionary tale for Denard Robinson, perhaps.
Best pick of the fourth round as of today: Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals, 120th overall
Done, forget about it, who is second best?
Atkins was considered "too small" to make anyone a believer going into the draft. I mean, look at pictures of him and he's too short to play defensive end, too thin to play tackle. His draft size was listed as 6'2". 293 lbs. But he knows how to use it and is arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL. The Bengals got him for almost nothing.
Other good fourth rounders:
#101 - Mike Williams, TB
#104 - Alterraun Verner, TEN
#108 - Jacoby Ford, OAK
#113 - Aaron Hernandez, NE
#114 - Dennis Pitta, BAL
The Seahawks selected Walter Thurmond with pick 111, and EJ Wilson at 127. :(
The Rams (who just had an awful, awful draft) took Mardy Gilyard 99th. The Cardinals took O'Brien Schofield.
Best pick of the fifth round as of today: Reshad Jones, S, Dolphins, #163
Here is the thing about Kam Chancellor (#133 of the 2010 draft) and why I went with Jones over Chancellor. They are arguably of equal value but you probably have never heard of Jones. Why? Because we love Chancellor since we get to watch him every week and see the big hits he puts on people but in reality, safeties can be had later on in drafts. Good ones.
The Dolphins have Jones. In this same draft, the Browns took TJ Ward in the second round. The Eagles took Nate Allen in the second round. The Chiefs took Kendrick Lewis in the fifth round. All in this same 2010 draft. All after the first round. All arguably of equal value. This is probably why Seattle won't give Chancellor a big contract when he becomes a free agent. He can accept a reasonable contract or the Hawks will keep looking for his replacement. I'm sure they'll draft someone like Kam in the fifth round this year too.
I went with Jones because he went 30 picks after Kam.
The Rams took TE Michael Hoomanawanui and DE Hall Davis. The Cardinals took John Skelton.
Best pick of the sixth round as of today: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers, #195
Pittsburgh drafted Emmanuel Sanders in the third round but really hit paydirt with Brown. Only Dez, Mike Williams, Gronk, Graham, and Demaryius Thomas have more career receiving yards from this draft and Brown hardly played as a rookie.
Other good picks
#175 - Greg Hardy, CAR
#193 - James Starks, GB
#205 - Ted Larsen, NE
The Seahawks also got good value with Anthony McCoy at #185, though they could have had Brown I guess.
The Rams selected guys named Fendi Onobun and Eugene Sims. I really hope they continue to suck at drafting even when they have all of these picks. The 49ers drafted Anthony Dixon and Nate Byham. The Cardinals took Jorrick Calvin.
Best pick of the seventh round as of today: Kavell Conner, LB, Colts, #240
It's nice when you can get anything in the seventh round, even a solid practice squad player. Some teams actually have found three-year starters! Conner has started 36 games at linebacker for Indianapolis.
#218 - J'Marcus Webb, CHI (44 starts at tackle)
#230 - CJ Wilson, DE, GB (12 starts, 3.5 sacks)
#244 - Kurt Coleman, S, PHI (29 starts, 7 INT)
Seattle drafted Dexter Davis and Jameson Konz. Practice squad baby! "The Konz" has one official game on his resume. Davis had a sack as a rookie. The Rams took Marquis Johnson, George Selvie, and Josh Hull to wrap up their draft that was only saved by having Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold with their first two picks. The 49ers drafted Philip Adams. The Cardinals took Jim Dray.
The funny thing about San Francisco is the Jim Harbaugh came into a situation a lot sweeter than you might imagnie. They did some really good drafting before he got there. They got Anthony Davis, Iupati, Bowman, and Kyle Williams in this draft alone.
The Seahawks got a couple duds with Wilson and not having a third round pick, but hit the jackpot with Thomas and did pretty well with Russell Okung, Golden Tate, Chancellor, and McCoy. There's still hope yet for Thurmond.
Three years is still not enough time to evaluate all of these guys, but it's a good start and I think the Seahawks did really well. That really showed in 2012 and their next two drafts should continue to display that mastery of the front office. Hopefully it continues in a couple of months, I can't wait to find out who they pick! (And maybe see the Rams blow their two picks in the first round).