Ask BTB: Grading The 2010 Leaked Cowboys Draft Board

Jerry Jones gave us a look into the Cowboys 2010 rookie talent evaluations. We'll take a closer look at how well the Cowboys scouting department really did.

We're going to do something a little bit different with this edition of Ask BTB (submit questions to KDP10FOR10@GMAIL.COM). One of our valued members requested an analysis that I feel deserved a full article. IMHO (the BTB community-member, not the internet shorthand) requested that we evaluate the leaked 2010 Cowboys Draft Board and compare it to how those rookies performed last season. Here is the task that I was presented.

Since it may be a slow/long off season maybe someone would like to take a look at last years drafted players (maybe 1st and 2nd rd), and compare their first years performance to the Boys draft board (see attachment).  I realize that one year will not be a very good sample size for a players career, but it may be fun to look at.  There is also the fact that the Boys will rank players based on team/Wade scheme like 1 gap vs. 2 gap.  I still think Suh should have been higher than McCoy but who am I, and it was only 1 position.

- IMHO

I love it. As you recall, it was the fan poster Requiem and the amazing BTB Community that got credit from most mainstream media for deciphering the famous pic that IMHO referenced. You can find that post here. For what may have been the first time in NFL history, we got inside access to a particular teams' take on most of the entire draft class. We know how the draft played out, but what we really want to know is how well the Cowboys did in evaluating the talent. Did their draft board match the production of the rookies? Obviously there is the caveat that players are drafted not just for immediate impact, but potential as well. We never really know how well a pick performed until three years are under his belt, and sometimes even later. I think we'd all agree that the evaluation of our own Mike Jenkins has fluctuated greatly each season, and proves the premise.

Follow the jump for more...

Legwork

So how do we compare? I came across Draft Guru Rick Gosselin's attempt at a redraft, Don Banks entry, and a redraft done by NFLMocks.com. I can't vouch for the last website's evaluation talents, but it's not as if the world's fate depends on this analysis. What I'll do is borrow from our BTB Writer's Mock (hat tip to O.C.C. for the evaluation concept) and compare the Cowboys draft board against the redrafts for a under or over value. The caveat is two-fold however. First, the scribes are still assigning rank based somewhat on team needs. Second, the redrafts only account for 32 players, so we don't have a value for the remaining pool.

In an effort not to throw off the averages of the redraft positioning too much, any player listed on one redraft board and not the other(s), will be assigned a position of 33 if they were a first round pick, and 49 (midway point) if they were a second round pick. For example, Sean Lee is only listed on the 'NFL Mocks' redraft, at #16. We'll assign him #49 in Gosselin's and Banks' redrafts. Anyone in this category originally drafted after the 2nd round will be assigned their draft rank (turned out no one fell in this category).

That brings us to the players that aren't on any of the redraft lists. We'll rank those players, starting at 33, in the order they were drafted. It's not perfect and I'm probably abusing some advanced statistics rules, but it will give some insight as to the initial returns on the projections. The final number won't be the main objective, rather we'll be looking at which tier the player falls into. That should minimize the impact of these generalizations for rankings we can't account for.

Tier I: Major Over Value (+15 or more)

Tier II: Moderate Over Value (+5 through +14)

Tier III: Accurate (-4 through +4)

Tier IV Moderate Under Value (-5 through -14)

Tier V: Major Under Value (-14 or greater).

We'd obviously like to see the majority of Dallas' board fall into Tier III. The ranking of Tiers II, IV and  V are in the eyes of the beholder; would you rather have the Cowboys reach a little, or miss out on a value? Finally there's the dreaded Tier I where we hope to avoid a large number of hits. Following the analysis of the Cowboys leaked board, we'll also look at how the league did with the actual results of the 2010 draft.

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Results

 

Tier I (Maj. Over): Gerald McCoy, Demaryus Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Sergio Kindle, Jerry Hughes, Derrick Morgan, Russell Okung, Sean Lee, CJ Spiller, Kyle Wilson, Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, Taylor Mays, Morgan Burnett, Navarro Bowman

Tier II (Mod. Over): Trent Williams, Kareem Jackson, Jermaine Gresham, Travis Best, Bryan Bulaga, Rolando McClain, Joe Haden, Mike Iupati, Dan Williams, Bryan Price

Tier III (Accurate): Dez Bryant, Earl Thomas, Ndamakong Suh, Sam Bradford, Dexter McCluster, Ryan Matthews, Eric Berry, Patrick Robinson

Tier IV (Mod. Under): Nate Allen, Rob Gronkowski, Tyson Alualu, Maurkice Pouncey, Anthony Davis

Tier V (Maj. Under): Devin McCourty


Wow, that's a lot of names in the wrong tier. Before we start persecuting the Cowboys front office for over valuing the majority of the top of the draft, let's compare their results to those of the NFL consensus. To review league accuracy, we'll use the same redraft data, except now we'll be looking for reaches and steals. If a player was actually drafted in a slot after his redraft slot, then the player was a steal. The reverse, a reach.

Tier I: Major Reach (-15 or more)

Spiller, Matthews, Graham, Morgan, Okung, Davis, Jackson, Thomas D., Pierre-Paul, Williams Dan, Wilson, Odrick, Robinson, Price, McCoy G., Kindle, Hughes, Misi, Mays, Burnett, Bowman

Tier II: Moderate Reach (-5 through -14)

Haden, McCluster, Gresham, McClain, Williams T.

Tier III: Accurate (-4 through +4)

Alualu, Berry, Iupati, Suh, Bradford, Best, Bulaga, Thomas

Tier IV Moderate Steal (+5 through +14)

Pouncey, Gronkowski, Allen

Tier V: Major Steal (+14 or greater)

Bryant, Lee, McCourty

-- Comparing the two rankings, it appears that Dallas mostly overvalued the same prospects that the rest of the league had a 'major reach'  on. There were two exceptions; we'll address one in a moment but the other was RB Ryan Matthews. The Cowboys had an accurate value on the Fresno State runner while he was reached for in the actual draft. I think these serve as good signs Dallas was no worse than their draft competitors in 2010.

-- Of the players the NFL moderately reached on, Dallas moderately overrated 5 of the 6 prospects. The lone exception was another running back, Dexter McCluster, whom the Cowboys again accurately valued. Depending on where you stand with Felix Jones, the Cowboys have shown a good ability to spot running backs and avoid bad ones as of late.

-- For the players that were accurately picked by the league, here's how the Cowboys valued them: Alualu (Mod -), Berry (Acc), Iupati (Mod +), Suh (Acc), Bradford (Acc), Best (Mod +), Bulaga (Mod +), Thomas (Acc). Four accurates, three moderate overvalues, and one moderate undervalue. No major violations however, so again it looks like we can be happy with the Boys front office performance compared to the league.

-- The three players that were moderate steals, the Cowboys all moderately undervalued. Again, on par with the competition.

-- Here's where it get's fun. Out of the three players who were major steals, two of them now call Dallas home. Even though Dallas majorly overvalued Lee (rank: 14, draft: 54, redraft: 38), getting him where they did in the second was a great pickup. Although Lee wasn't in Gosselin or Banks redraft, I'm comfortable slotting him as a top 50 rookie on their lists. Bryant (rank: 11, draft: 24, redraft 8) is a major coup for the Boys any way you slice it. Both players boast a +16 steal value. That's second to Patriot CB Devin McCourty, who topped the list at +18. After the draft, then coach Wade Phillips had said that McCourty was one of the alternatives to Bryant for the team's first pick. In essence, the Cowboys were in the know when it came to the three major steals of the 2010 draft.

-- Dallas overvalued Bryan Bulaga and Mike Iupati while the league was accurate on them. In fact, Dallas wasn't accurate on any offensive lineman. The same offensive and scouting brain trust are in effect this season. I'm not jumping ship, but that doesn't bode well if Dallas is really the only team that sees Tyron Smith as a top 10 pick.

-- Nate Allen, the safety prospect many Boys' fans had targeted, was actually undervalued by the team. The evaluation on Earl Thomas was accurate, but the Cowboys greatly overvalued Taylor Mays and Morgan Burnett. By most accounts, those two were the third and fourth ranked safeties in the draft, so it's a lucky thing that Sean Lee fell to us at 54.

-- I still don't know what to make of the Bowmann ranking, although all three redraft scores were in direct relation to his actual draft slot.  PFF.com gives him a +3.7 grade in VERY limited snaps (217). If we believe that PFF's rating of Stephen Bowen means more production with more snaps, you'd have to assign that logic to Bowman as well, especially if he gets to line up next to Patrick Willis. Could turn out that Dallas had the right idea on the kid after all, could be they were cuckoo.

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Conclusion

I'd venture to say that the release of the Cowboys 2010 Draft Board actually gives good support to the powers that be. Although the coaching staff has now turned over, the accuracy on the major steals and the lack of variation away from league opinion on the rest give me a better feeling than when I entered this exercise. Let's hope that the new regime aligns this well with the scouting department in a few weeks time. Oh, and thanks to IMHO for the great question. Keep 'em coming BTB!

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Cowboys Draft Board Actual Draft Position   Gosselin Banks NFL Mocks Average Redraft Position   Cowboys Under(-) /Over(+) Value NFL Steal/ Reach
1 Bradford 1   1 1 1 1   0 0
2 McCoy, G 3   20 3 31 18   16 -15
3 Suh 2   2 2 2 2   -1 0
4 Okung 6   33 33 18 28   24 -22
5 Williams, Trent 4   17 6 6 10   5 -6
6 Berry 5   12 5 5 7   1 -2
7 McClain 8   21 20 8 16   9 -8
8 Haden 7   9 17 24 17   9 -10
9 Spiller 9   34 34 33 34   25 -25
10 Iupati 17   22 18 17 19   9 -2
11 Bryant 24   5 8 12 8   -3 16
12 Thomas 14   6 13 10 10   -2 4
13 Bulaga 23   15 26 23 21   8 2
14 Lee 54   49 49 16 38   24 16
15 Odrick 28   45 44 42 44   29 -16
16 Pierre-Paul 15   33 32 33 33   17 -18
17 Morgan 16   38 37 38 38   21 -22
18 Wilson 29   46 45 43 45   27 -16
19 Pouncey 18   3 11 14 9   -10 9
20 Bowman 91   107 106 104 106   86 -15
21 Best 30   28 28 27 28   7 2
22 Alualu 10   10 10 22 14   -8 -4
23 Gresham 21   33 33 21 29   6 -8
24 McCourty 27   4 15 7 9   -15 18
25 Thomas, D 22   42 41 40 41   16 -19
26 Misi 40   56 55 53 55   29 -15
27 Hughes 31   47 46 44 46   19 -15
28 Graham 13   36 36 36 36   8 -23
29 Allen 37   24 24 25 24   -5 13
30 Burnett 71   87 86 84 86   56 -15
31 Mays 49   65 64 62 64   33 -15
32 Williams, Dan 26   44 43 41 43   11 -17
33       -- -- -- --   -- --
34 Jackson 20   40 39 39 39   5 -19
35 Matthews 12   35 35 35 35   0 -23
36 Price 35   51 50 48 50   14 -15
37 Gronkowski 42   30 27 32 30   -7 12
40 Kindle 43   59 58 56 58   18 -15
41 Davis 11   26 31 34 30   -11 -19
43 Robinson 32   48 47 45 47   4 -15
44 McCluster 36   52 51 30 44   0 -8
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