2012 Oakland Raiders Draft: What Exactly is a Draft Grade?
Jon York – May 15, 2012
I don't understand draft grades.
Some claim that you can't truly judge a draft until some certain number of years later - three seems to be the popular choice. Cynics will say that the high volume of different grades are a response of folks that are unhappy with the grade their team received from ESPN and other sources, which can be the case.
Still, in a time of instant gratification many want to see an initial impression of how a team did. If your daughter brings a date home you won't know right away if he is going to be a good husband, but you are definitely going to form a first impression.
Going into the draft amateurs and professionals spend countless hours attaching a value to a prospect. People pore over workouts, dissect statistics, determine level of competition, and analyze game film.
Countless hours are spent giving a grade to a draft prospect. It would almost seem unfair to not reward all of that work by grades for that actual draft process itself.
Thankfully there are plenty of places to find draft grades, which leads to my confusion about what is actually being graded. For the Raiders draft I have seen grades ranging from B to F.
I've seen critics downgrade Oakland for having so few picks. Others have claimed that Carson Palmer, Aaron Curry, Joe Barksdale, Taiwan Jones, and Terrelle Pryor need to be included in the grade.
Neither way makes any sense to me. Here’s why:
How can you lower a draft grade for having fewer picks or for not having any in the first two rounds? That has nothing to do with the evaluation and selection of prospects. If you are going to consider a lack of picks in your grade then you must include what came from those picks.
The Raiders have a quality starting quarterback, a starting linebacker, a player competing for the right tackle job, and two depth players from those "missing" picks - wouldn't that alone be a good draft day haul?
Still, I don't think it right to include those players. To me, a draft grade needs to be determined from just that - the draft.
It is a first impression assessment of how well a given team did in the draft process. Trading future picks for players is not part of that. The supplemental draft is a part of it - but for last year’s draft class. The Pryor selection was fundamentally trading this year’s pick for a prospect last year.
And yet, the Raiders have received poor marks from some sources - some high profile sources. Even more confusing is that some of those same sources give good grades for the Raiders’ individual selections.
Thus Raiders made mostly good picks in the draft, but their overall grade is poor? That math doesn't work for me.
The Raiders ended up with six selections. They selected an offensive lineman (Tony Bergstrom) who fits their system and was selected around where he should be. He also fills a pretty significant depth need.
Next up was Miles Burris, selected somewhat sooner than expected but a very good linebacker that some speculated would have been a much higher pick if he played in a different conference. He fills a need, is very versatile, has solid measurables, and jumps out at you on game film.
Defensive end Jack Crawford was a solid player with high upside. Wide receiver Juron Criner was widely graded as a second or third round value and was taken in the fifth round. All four of these picks deserve and have widely received high marks.
The final selection of linebacker Nathan Stupar filled a position of need though was neither an exceptional selection nor a great reach, average pick. Only the sixth round selection of defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi raised any eyebrows and brought with him a lower grade.
How do those add up to a poor overall grade?
Not every need was addressed - however the opinion of need is as varied as the opinion of prospects. One or more picks might have even been an area that did not have a need. However, just because Raider selections do not match yours, or NFL.com's, does not mean it was a poor draft.
I wouldn't have made most of these selections. That said, most of the players taken were good college players with upside and were picked relatively close to the slots they were expected to - with one notable steal. If that is not the definition of a good draft, what is?
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