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2018 NFL Draft Class Early Winners and Losers

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Wild Card Round - Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Larry Holder of The Athletic posted a fascinating article yesterday about the winners and losers (thus far) of the 2018 NFL draft based on the teams’ sum of their draft picks AV (Approximate Value) points according to Pro Football Reference. Here is the link:

In the never ending quest to understand the “inexact science” of the NFL draft, it is interesting to take a close look at the results that Holder accumulated to see if we might learn something.

Mind you, that the players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft have now played for three years. That is, the players who have made their teams rosters and have been consistent contributors.

Top 23 AV scores:

5 Star *****

48 — QB Lamar Jackson (BAL) —- (#32)

42 — G Quenton Nelson (IND) —- (#6)

42 — LB Darius Leonard (IND) —- (#36)

Interesting notes:

  • Lamar Jackson, at #32, was the 5th QB taken in the 1st Round (with 4 going in top 10)
  • Top Rated QB in Draft Class: Acquired by a trade 2 years in a row (Mahomes 2017, Jackson in 2018 with 2 and 4 QBs taken ahead of them, respectively)
  • Draft Myth: “You never should take a guard in the top 10” Hello, Quenton Nelson.
  • In Vogue: 3 Down LBs who can stuff, chase and cover. Hello, Darius Leonard.

4 Star ****

35 — QB Josh Allen (BUF) —- (#7)

33 — LB Tremaine Edmunds (BUF) —- (#16)

33 — LB Fred Warner (SF) —- (#70)

32 — T Orlando Brown (BAL) —- (#83)

31 — QB Baker Mayfield (CLE) —- (#1)


  • Best odds of drafting a franchise QB remain in the top 10 (but 50/50 so far in 2018 as Sam Darnold has an AV thus far of 15, while Josh Rosen’s AV is 2 which is one of the reasons why he is currently with his 4th team on a future’s contract).
  • Vogue 3 down LBers: Edmunds and Warner
  • T Orlando Brown was the 8th tackle taken in the draft

3 Star ***

29 — LB Roquan Smith (CHI) —- (#8)

25 — RB Nick Chubb (CLE) —- (#35)

25 — WR D.J. Moore (CAR) —- (#24)

24 — WR Calvin Ridley (ATL) —- (#26)

24 — TE Mark Andrews (BAL) —- (#86)

23 — RB Saquon Barkley (NYG) —- (#2)

23 — T Colton Miller (LV) —- (#15)

23 — T Brian O’Neill (MIN) —- (#62)

23 — T Mike McGlinchey (SF) —- (#9)

21 — T Braden Smith (IND) —- (#37)

21 — C Frank Ragnow (DET) —- (#20)

20 — S Jesse Bates (CIN) —- (#54)

20 — CB Jaire Alexander (GB) —- (#18)

20 — DT Daron Payne (WAS) —- (#13)

20 — LB Rashaan Evans (TEN) —- (#22)


  • Only 1 TE, 1 CB, 1 C, 1 G, 1 DT, 1 S and 0 Edge players, but 5 Ts, 5 LBs, 3 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs
  • Is it tougher to find good defensive players in the draft? Other than vogue linebackers?
  • Does it take more time for defensive players to develop?
  • Is it a little too risky to draft CBs and DTs in the top half of the 1st round?
  • Draft Myth: “You shouldn’t waste a 1st or 2nd round pick on the RB because you can find them later in the draft.” The two RBs who made the top 23 players here were taken #2 and #35. Both of this year’s Super Bowl starting RBs were 1st round picks (Leonard Fournette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire).
  • 23 players: 15 1st Day picks; 8 2nd Day picks; 0 3rd Day picks.
  • Teams with multiple 3-5 star draftees (of these 23 players): IND—3, BAL—-3, BUF—-2, CLE—-2, SF—-2.
  • Teams with 1 3-5 star draftee: CHI, ATL, NYG, LV, CIN, GB, CAR, DET, WAS, TEN, MIN
  • Teams with no 3-5 star draftees: TB, DEN, DAL, MIA, LAC, SEA, JAC, PIT, LAR, ARI, HOU, NE, NYJ, PHIm KC, NO
  • Only 6 of the top 10 picks in this draft are among the top graded players.

Top AVs picks on each team per the Day they were picked (Colts tied with Nelson and Leonard at 42):

Day 1— 18

Day 2 — 13

Day 3 — 2

Cumulative AV points per each team’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd picks:

1st Picks: — 563 points

2nd Picks: — 469 points

3rd Picks; — 361 points

  • Hitting big on the first 3 picks is, as we know, is every team’s hope.

Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft:

24. Arizona — 42 AV Points

1 (10) Josh Rosen —- 2

2 (47) Christian Kirk —- 15

3 (97) Mason Cole —- 12

4 (134) Chase Edmonds —- 11

6 (182) Christian Campbell —- 0

7 (254) Korey Cunningham —- 2

  • Cards could have stayed put at #15 and drafted Lamar Jackson, and thereby could have held on to picks #79 and #152 that they gave to the Raiders.
  • Christian Kirk was supposed to be one of the best slot WRs and return men in that draft —- roles that he has not embraced during his 3 years in Arizona.
  • Mason Cole played LT for the Wolverines his senior year, but many scouts projected him as an NFL C or G. Cole was the only OL to start and play all 16 games as a rookie (and was pretty danged good under the circumstances for being a rookie who had not played center in college as a senior and for having to work with double digit line combinations and a revolving door of new line mates), but he was rusty this past season after spending his 2nd year on the sidelines. The question remains —- is Cole out of position at center? Is he best suited to play guard?
  • Chase Edmonds has been arguably the best value pick for the Cardinals in this draft. He has been very good in his role as RB2, although he has incurred some injuries the past two years that have caused him to miss games. The question remains —- can Edmonds, in terms of production and durability, be the team’s RB1?

Hindsight Cardinals Re-Draft:

1 (15) Lamar Jackson, QB — 48

2 (47) Fred Warner, LB —-33

3 (79) Orlando Brown, T —-32

3 (97) Bradley Bozeman, C/G —- 18

4 (134) Chase Edmonds, RB —-11

5 (152) Marquez Valdez-Scantling, WR —- 15

6 (182) Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT —- 16

7 (254) Darious Williams, CB

  • I know that every team can go back a do these kind of hindsight drafts, but it’s interesting to see on paper what could have happened if the Cardinals had the winning ticket to the draft lottery jackpot.
  • The other curious thing to wonder about is, if this had been the Cardinals’ draft, how would this draft have shaped the Cardinals’ last two drafts?

Draft Capital:

Does having more draft picks than normal tend to help a team draft better and more productively?

Well, if the 2018 NFL Draft is an indication, the top 5 highest graded team drafts had the following number of picks to work with:

  1. IND —- 11
  2. BAL —- 12
  3. CKE —- 9
  4. BUF —- 8
  5. SF —- 9


A good argument can be made about the flexibility that having extra drafts picks gives a team to be able to move up and down in the draft. But, having extra picks can also can give teams a sense of confidence that when they draft at one position they still have numerous picks to address other positions —- which thereby tends to allow teams the luxury on Day 1 and Day 2 of being able to draft the BPA (best player available) on the board regardless of position.

Question of the day:

With the Cardinals having 32 free agents while having what appears to be a limited budget in free agency, should the Cardinals make a strong effort to acquire more draft picks than the five they currently have?