The Pi-Rate Ratings

June 30, 2021

PiRate Ratings 2021 NFL Draft Grades

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:04 am

In recent years, we have heard from you that you would like to see our NFL Draft Grades with an explanation of why our grades are different from the mainstream. We started this service last year mostly to fill space at a time where it looked like there might not be a season. Looking back at the stats for the post, apparently it was about as popular as our March Madness Bracketology reveal, so definitely we are repeating the process this year.

First, to explain the uniqueness of our draft coverage. We do not look at the players drafted trying to predict what type of career they might have. If a team drafts a quarterback in the first round but has no plans to start this player for at least a few years, the selection might be worthy of an A+ selection by other services, and we would agree using their parameters.

However, our draft grades have a different purpose. We are an integrative computerized/human input rating service. The only reason we have to assign a grade to the draft is by calculating how it alters the teams’ ratings between week 17 and the playoffs the previous season and week 1 of the approaching season. That quarterback, for instance Jordan Love, might eventually be the best one in his draft class around 2023. However, when Love was drafted, it was almost a wasted pick as it failed to affect the Packers’ ratings any more than trading a tested backup for an untested backup. In other words, it was an ultra slight negative.

How does each drafted player appear to affect the team that drafted him in week 1 of the coming season? If he figures to see considerable playing time, that means something. If he figures to start, that means something more. If he figures to be an immediate impact player, that really means something. If he was the teams’ first round pick, whether or not he contributes in the coming year is no different than if he is the 7th round pick. Once, the season starts, teams get no bonus or punishment for playing the 7th round pick over the 1st round pick.

Next, say a team only drafted a couple of players due to trades, but the few they have all figure to contribute immediately. At the same time another team might have piled up picks and took 10 to 12 players, only half that may figure to contribute immediately. We don’t reward the few picks team over the several picks team. Having more picks brings a bonus, because the potential is there for many more players to potentially contribute. So, when Mike Ditka traded his entire draft to get the pick that brought New Orleans Ricky Williams, we figured that Williams would immediately start as the featured back, but the Saints’ overall grade that year was a D-. They had numerous holes to fill on that roster and failed to fill any of them. The bump forward from 3.5 yards per rush to 3.7 yards per rush did nothing to make a 6-10 team better, and when they went 3-13 with three different starting quarterbacks finishing with a QB rating under 60, Williams would have needed to average more yards per game than Jim Brown in his prime to make much of a difference.

It is not an exact science, but neither is a any computer power rating update. However, teams must be adjusted from the end of one season to the start of the next. There has to be some criteria used that approximates improvement or decline in the best method available to the update process. Anybody could have guessed that Tom Brady going from New England to Tampa Bay would totally alter the week 1 power rating of the two teams. As a matter of fact, quarterback is by far the most important factor in the update process. Blind-side tackle is the next most important, and the defensive rush ends are next most important. Each position down to long-snapper on special teams has its own handicapped factor that can influence the ratings update.

Now that you know our process, take a look at our grading scale. We don’t actually use a letter grade as you will see here today, as that means nothing to the rating. There is an internal number that becomes part of an algorithmic equation that adds value to a team’s power rating (occasionally deducts from a power rating if a team has a fire sale and starts a major rebuild.

Our grading scale starts at 0 and maxes out at 10, but only in theory. No team has ever come close to either extreme. Realistically, our draft scores range from a low of 3.0 to a high of 9.0 Anything above 8.0 means a team’s draft class should help them immediately in week 1. Of course, the draft is but one of many factors that go into this, and the overall great draft can be reversed by the loss of many regulars from the previous year.

A score of 6.0 is about par. Teams might become Super Bowl contenders with a par draft just because one key player contributed to the cause. A score under 4.0 means the team will see little to no immediate benefit from their draft.

Here are the scores from first to worst for the 2021 NFL Draft.

TeamDraft Rating
Chicago Bears8.38
Cleveland Browns8.13
Los Angeles Chargers8.13
New York Giants7.88
Miami Dolphins7.63
New York Jets7.63
New England Patriots7.25
Denver Broncos7.00
Atlanta Falcons6.88
Jacksonville Jaguars6.88
Detroit Lions6.75
Philadelphia Eagles6.50
Tennessee Titans6.50
Baltimore Ravens6.13
Minnesota Vikings6.13
Buffalo Bills6.00
Washington Football Team6.00
Kansas City Chiefs5.88
San Francisco 49ers5.88
Carolina Panthers5.75
Cincinnati Bengals5.50
Tampa Bay Bucaneers5.38
Dallas Cowboys5.00
Pittsburgh Steelers5.00
Los Angeles Rams4.88
Arizona Cardinals4.63
Indianapolis Colts4.63
Green Bay Packers4.25
New Orleans Saints3.63
Houston Texans3.38
Las Vegas Raiders3.13
Seattle Seahawks3.13

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