Anyone who closely follows the Washington Redskins knows that the team didn't get much help from their 2016 draft class this past season. But how does the production of this group of rookies compare to the rest of the 2016 classes around the league? How does the output of this group stack up against other Scot McCloughan and Redskins' drafts?
These are the questions that I endeavored to answer in an attempt to get a better understanding of the value of the year-one returns that the Redskins received from their picks in the 2016 NFL draft.
Of course, it is difficult to compare people who play at different positions and in different eras, so most of the traditional statistics used to compare players won't be of much help to us for this exercise. Instead, we will focus on playing-time stats and Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value Metric. Here is a brief explanation of Approximate Value (AV) pulled from the Pro Football Reference (PFR) site:
Created by PFR founder Doug Drinen, the Approximate Value (AV) method is an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year (since 1950). The following links will help explain the theory behind the AV system:
AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can't be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player. But I am pretty confident that the collection of all players with 16AV played better, as an entire group, than the collection of all players with 14AV
Essentially, AV is a substitute for --- and a significant improvement upon, in my opinion --- metrics like 'number of seasons as a starter' or 'number of times making the pro bowl' or the like. You should think of it as being essentially like those two metrics, but with interpolation in between.
The approximate value metric can be a very useful tool when it comes to comparing draft picks and drafts as a whole. I admit that it is far from a perfect way to measure players and draft classes; but at the same time, it is probably the best system that we currently have to do so.
Before we begin, I should point out that when we look at AV it will often be referred to as "rookie AV" or "Rook AV", because we are only looking at the AV of these players in their rookie seasons. Now that we've set the table for the study, let's dig into the data. We'll start with the numbers for the Redskins' 2016 class itself.
|2016 Redskins Draft Class Year-One Statistics (sorted by Pick #)|
|Player||Pick #||Games||Starts||Snaps||Rook AV|
Check out all of the individual player numbers, but note that we will be using the total and average figures at the bottom of the table as the basis for most of our comparisons.
2016 vs. Expectation
Well, if the expectations were for the Redskins to get the same kind of first-year returns out of this group as they did with the 2015 class, then clearly 2016's iteration was a letdown.
|2015 Redskins Draft Class Year-One Statistics (sorted by Pick #)|
Comparing the team's 2016 draft to the outstanding 2015 haul probably isn't fair, though. If we want to be more equitable then a better way to look at things would be to compare the playing time and production of these players to the same measures for players that were selected with the same draft pick in previous years.
So for example, the average rookie selected 22nd overall sees action in 12.2 games and starts in 6.4 contests. Josh Doctson played in 10.2 less games (2) and had 6.4 fewer starts (0) in his rookie campaign (see -10.2 and -6.4 in the table below).
I used the 1994-2015 drafts as a basis for comparison, because 1994 was the first year of the seven-round draft and the second year of modern free agency.
|2016 Pick Year-One Numbers vs. Expectation (1994-2015 drafts)|
|Player||Pick #||Games||Starts||Rook AV|
As you can see, this class nearly failed to live up to expectations across the board. Only Kendall Fuller and Matt Ioannidis played in an above average number of games for their draft positions. Fuller was the only one that earned more starts than the expected number, and Ioannidis was the lone pick with an above average AV.
Ioannidis recorded a paltry eight total tackles, 0 hits and 0 sacks this season and the only reason his AV of 1 was better than average (barely) is because he was picked so low in the draft.
2016 NFL Rankings
It's official; the Redskins' 2016 class underperformed. The big question now is: how does their production last year stack up against the draft classes of the other 31 teams in the NFL?
All of the following tables are sorted by average rookie approximate value (Avg AV, which is the column on the far right).
|2016 Year-One Class Totals & Averages (sorted by Avg AV)|
|Team||Games||Avg Games||Starts||Avg Starts||Snaps||Avg Snaps||Rook AV||Avg AV|
|Wash Rank||Worst||Worst||4th Worst||4th Worst||3rd Worst||3rd Worst||t-3rd Worst||3rd Worst|
The answer: not great, Bob!
Washington ranked no better than fourth worst in every single statistic that we looked at. It didn't matter if it was a raw total or an average, the output from this class was just plain bad.
No group of players participated in less games in total or on average. Only the Vikings and Rams were worse in terms of approximate value. The Redskins were just one of seven teams whose draft did not produce at least one primary starter. They were one of four teams that failed to see a single rookie draft pick with an AV of at least 3, 4 and 5. This is almost a complete 180 compared to what they got out of last year's rookie haul.
|Draft Class AV Ranks||Rook AV||Avg AV||# of AV >/= 2||# of AV >/= 3|
|2016 Ranking||3rd Worst||t-3rd Worst||t-3rd Worst||t-Worst|
Even if you unfairly include all of the Redskins' undrafted rookies into the equation (Robert Kelley, Maurice Harris, Anthony Lanier and Mack Brown), the team still doesn't rank in the top half of the league in any of these metrics. In fact, they fare just as poorly in some of the categories that are looking at averages.
For those of you that want an easier way to see how some of the other teams' classes did this year, I've included a sortable table below.
Here's a quick recap of the best and worst teams in each category:
Games: Top 3- Browns, Titans and Lions. Bottom 3- Redskins, Panthers and Cardinals.
Average Games: Top 3- Saints, Packers and Giants. Bottom 3- Redskins, Bills and 49ers.
Starts: Top 3- Browns, Cowboys and Bears. Bottom 3- Vikings, Bengals and Cardinals.
Average Starts: Top 3-Falcons, Cowboys and Bears. Bottom 3- Vikings, Bengals and Cardinals.
Snaps: Top 3- Browns, Colts and Titans. Bottom 3- Vikings, Cardinals and Redskins.
Average Snaps: Top 3- Saints, Falcons and Colts. Bottom 3- Vikings, Cardinals and Redskins.
Rookie AV: Top 3- Cowboys, Titans and Bears. Bottom 3- Rams, Vikings, Cardinals and Redskins (tied).
Average Rookie AV: Top 3-Cowboys, Colts and Bears. Bottom 3- Rams, Vikings and Redskins.
Take notice of the fact that five top-three teams made the playoffs and that none of the bottom-three clubs did. Other than the Bears, no team with a top-3 ranking in an average ranking category had less than seven wins, while no team with a bottom-three standing had more than eight wins.
McCloughan Class Rankings
I've established that Scot McCloughan is one of the best drafting general managers in the NFL, so it shouldn't surprise you to learn this was one of the worst first years for one of his draft classes as a personnel executive.
Please note that official snap data only goes back to 2012. Also, Scot McCloughan was an executive with the Seahawks during or just prior to the 2001-2004 and the 2011-2014 NFL drafts. He was an executive with the 49ers during or just prior to the 2005-2010 drafts.
|Scot McCloughan Year-One Class Totals & Averages (sorted by Avg AV)|
|Year||Games||Avg Games||Starts||Avg Starts||Snaps||Avg Snaps||Rook AV||Avg AV|
|2016 Rank||Worst||2nd Worst||t-3rd Worst||t-3rd Worst||Worst||2nd Worst||Worst||t-3rd Worst|
The 2016 class was one McCloughan's three worst drafts as a personnel executive in every one of these statistics; it was his worst in nearly half of them (3 of 8). The numbers for this class don't even touch 50% of his averages in virtually every category.
His only drafts that were worse in more than one of these metrics were 2002, 2008 and 2013. Use the links and check out those classes. The vast majority of the players selected by McCloughan in those years have not been anything special. The 27 selections between those three classes have produced a combined 0 pro bowls and all pros. Hopefully, the first-year returns from those drafts is not a sign of things to come for the Redskins' 2016 picks.
Scot McCloughan obviously has a better track record in the draft than the Redskins have had in recent years, so you pretty much know what's coming next.
|Redskins Year-One Class Totals & Averages from 1994-2016 (sorted by Avg AV)|
|Year||Games||Avg Games||Starts||Avg Starts||Snaps||Avg Snaps||Rook AV||Avg AV|
|2016 Rank||16th||4th Worst||3rd Worst||3rd Worst||Worst||Worst||t-3rd Worst||3rd Worst|
With the exception of games played, the 2016 draft ranks in the bottom four of every metric yet again. The only Washington drafts that got less from their players in their rookie years were 1996 and 2005.
Those classes did produce Stephen Davis, Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell, but seven of the 12 picks by the Skins in those years never started a game or earned a single point of AV in their careers. This also does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the future of the 2016 class.
I'm well aware of the fact that injuries had a lot to do with the lack of production from the Redskins' 2016 selections, but durability is an important quality for an NFL player to have, and we did not see enough of it from the Redskins' top picks.
We also shouldn't discount the fact that the other classes that we looked at with poor first-year production ended up producing few players that were quality long-term assets for their teams. Now, that doesn't mean this will be the case for the 2016 class, but you at least have to acknowledge that it is a bad sign for them.
I also wouldn't look at this draft and say that McCloughan is falling off or anything of that nature, because: 1) he's had poor drafts in past 2) he just had one of his better ones in 2015. The glass-half-full perspective here is that he might be due for some positive regression in the 2017 draft.
One thing is for sure, the team did not get enough help from their 2016 draft haul this past season. As we saw in the tables above, many of the teams that got decent production from their rookies also did well this year overall and many of those that did not had worse records. If the Redskins got just a bit more out of their rooks, then there is a pretty good chance that they would've made the playoffs. They only fell one game short of making it in, after all.
Take away what you will from all of this information, but no matter how you cut it, the first-year production from the Washington Redskins' 2016 draft class ranks among the worst in the NFL this year, for Scot McCloughan during his tenure as a personnel executive and for the franchise as a whole in nearly 25 years.
*All statistics were gathered on 1/23-1/25 and are are courtesy of Pro Football Reference*