NFL Draft Grades 2011: Numbers Show Saints Have Best Draft Class

We know the Saints kicked butt in the 2011 NFL Draft last weekend. The fans of Who Dat Nation have spoken and even most experts and analysts have given the Saints high marks for their drafting prowess this year. But how good was it really?  

A random and subjective letter grade chosen by fans or pundits just isn't good enough for me. I'm a numbers guy who much prefers something more tangible to wrap my brain around. So I did a little digging and crunched a few numbers in an effort to more accurately pin down the quality of the Saints 2011 draft.

Two websites, NFL.com and the National Football Post, graded nearly every single player individually before the draft ever took place. For NFL.com, their grades were determined a bit ambiguously: 

Expert assigned grade based on estimated Draft quality

The National Football Post, however, came up with a significantly more detailed grading system for each player, which can be found on their website.  

I took the grades of all the players in each team's draft class and averaged them out. In other words the Colts, who drafted Anthony Castonzo(8.0), Ben Ijalana(7.4), Drake Nevis(6.1), Delone Carter(5.2) and Chris Rucker(4.1), had an average draft grade of 6.160 on NFL.com.

Some players, mostly later-round or small school guys like Nate Bussey, weren't assigned grades before the draft. So I came up with a flat grade to give each of them, based on each website's grading system. For NFL.com, who used a scale between 2.0 and 9.0, I chose to assign ungraded players a 4.0. For National Football Post, who used a scale from 4.0 to 9.0, I used 5.6.  

So how did the Saints do in the 2011 NFL Draft after running the numbers? Well, just as everyone has been saying this past week, they killed it. Based on NFL.com's grading system, the Saints came away with the best valued draft class. According to National Football Post, the Saints had the second best behind the Lions. The worst draft class was Seattle. 

It's not perfect, of course. These results are obviously still subjective because they're based on dubious individual player grades from these two websites. Also, a teams average is going to get brought down if they had a stockpile of late-round picks. But the similarity of the results from both websites should at least speak for something. 

Entire results from across the league can be found below. Let the discussion commence. 

 

NFL.com                         Average
Saints 8.1 8.3 6.5 6.5 4.9 4             6.383
Colts 8 7.4 6.1 5.2 4.1               6.160
Broncos 8.6 7.6 7.4 5.3 6.1 4.5 3.4 5.7 5.9       6.056
Lions 8.5 7.2 7.3 2.9 4               5.980
Ravens 8 7.5 5 7.1 4.6 5.2 5.6 3.9         5.863
Browns 7.8 7.1 7.2 5 3.7 4.9 4.7 5.4         5.725
Bengals 8.6 6.8 6.1 7.2 5.3 3.7 4 4         5.713
Patriots 7.9 6.6 5.4 4.9 7.4 7.1 4 4 4       5.700
Dolphins 8.1 6.7 6.5 4.7 4 4             5.667
Cowboys 8.3 6.7 6.1 4.5 5.5 6.4 3.8 4         5.663
Giants 8.5 6.8 6.3 5.7 5.1 5.5 4 2.5         5.550
Bears 8 7.6 4 4.5 3.6               5.540
Cardinals 8.6 7.6 5.6 5.6 4 6.5 4 2         5.488
Chargers 8.3 6.2 4.7 5.6 6.6 5.9 2.6 4         5.488
Falcons 8.4 5.5 6.2 2 5.5 5.3             5.483
Bucs 7.9 8.1 5.3 6 6.2 3 4 3.3         5.475
Steelers 7.9 6.4 6.4 4.1 6 3.2 4           5.429
Bills 8.6 7.6 5.7 4.9 5.5 6.3 2.7 3.1 4       5.378
Titans 7.9 7.8 7.5 6.1 2.5 4.6 4 4 4       5.378
Texans 8.3 7.4 7.8 5.2 5 2.8 2.7 3.1         5.288
Rams 8.5 6.2 5.1 6.1 4.3 4 4 4         5.275
Jaguars 8.4 6.8 4.9 2 4               5.220
Jets 8.2 5.6 4.8 5.5 3.2 4             5.217
Vikings 6.5 7.5 7.5 6.4 5.3 4 3.4 5.2 3.4 2.9     5.210
Raiders 5.3 5.7 4.9 6 6.5 4.1 4 4         5.063
Chiefs 6.9 6.2 8.1 7 4.3 5.8 2 3.1 2       5.044
Panthers 8.1 6.9 2.5 5.8 3.1 4.6 2 6         4.875
Packers 7.3 7.8 5 6.1 5.5 2 2 3 4 5.8     4.850
Niners 8.4 6.8 5.3 6.4 2 3.8 4 4.9 2 4     4.760
Eagles 7.6 6 5.4 5.6 4.5 5.7 3.7 2.4 3.8 2.5 3.2   4.582
Redskins 8.3 6.4 6.7 4.7 2.1 5.4 2 3.7 2.2 3.3 2.1 2.9 4.150
Seahawks 6.5 5.1 5.1 3.4 2.5 3.6 2.9 2 4       3.900

National Football Post                         Average
Lions 8 6.9 6.9 5.9 5.6               6.660
Saints 7.5 7.5 6.8 6.4 6.1 5.6             6.650
Browns 6.6 6.9 6 6.5 7 6.2 6.8 5.4         6.425
Cardinals 8.5 6.8 5.7 5.8 6.8 6.4 5.9 5.4         6.413
Colts 6.9 6.9 6.8 5.9 5.5               6.400
Bengals 8.5 6.3 6.3 6.5 6.2 5.5 5.8 5.3         6.300
Bucs 7 7 6.9 6.4 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.5         6.263
Ravens 7.5 6.4 6.1 6.3 6 6.3 5.7 5.8         6.263
Cowboys 8 6.5 5.8 5.5 6.1 5.7 6.4 5.6         6.200
Broncos 8 6.8 5.8 5.7 6.3 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.5       6.167
Bears 7 6.8 5.7 5.4 5.8               6.140
Steelers 7 6.5 6.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.5           6.129
Patriots 6.6 6.1 6.7 5.8 6.6 6.3 5.8 5.6 5.6       6.122
Texans 7 6.3 7 6.5 5.7 5.5 5.6 5.3         6.113
Giants 7 6.6 6.7 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.6 5.8         6.113
Vikings 6.8 7 6.5 6.4 6.1 5.5 6.1 5.8 5.5 5.4     6.110
Titans 6.6 7 6.6 5.7 6.3 5.5 5.7 5.6 5.6       6.067
Falcons 8 5.5 6.2 5.1 5.9 5.7             6.067
Chiefs 7 6.3 6.6 5.9 5.6 6.4 5.1 6 5.6       6.056
Chargers 6.8 6.4 5.5 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.4 5.6         6.038
Eagles 7 6.1 6.8 5.7 5.5 5.7 5.4 5.6 6.3 5.3 6.9   6.027
Raiders 7 5.6 6 6.3 6.2 5.8 5.6 5.6         6.013
Bills 7 6.4 6.5 5.4 5.8 5.5 5.7 6.2 5.6       6.011
Jets 6.5 6.6 5.8 5.7 5.9 5.5             6.000
Niners 7.5 6.1 6.4 6.2 5.5 5.9 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.6     5.980
Rams 8 6.3 5.9 5.8 5.4 5.6 5.2 5.6         5.975
Packers 7 6.7 5.5 6.1 6.2 5.5 5.2 5.8 5.5 6     5.950
Panthers 6.6 5.9 5.8 6.2 5.6 6.3 5.4 5.8         5.950
Jaguars 6.8 6.5 5.6 5.1 5.6               5.920
Dolphins 7 5.8 5.9 5.6 5.6 5.6             5.917
Redskins 6.8 5.9 6.8 5.8 5.5 6.5 5.5 5.7 5.6 5.3 5.5 5.4 5.858
Seahawks 6.4 5.8 6.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.5       5.689
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