Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'm so excited that its almost time for Vikings football again!  I like summer...but there's just something about the fall...I cannot wait!!!

 

Monday, June 3, 2013


 Predicting the Future of the NFC North


 By: Alexander Lawson



Predicting the future of the black and blue division may seem to be an impossible task as the NFL is a fluid business and involves many changes from year to year.  One would be correct to uphold such skepticism; however, there is one tool we can use to collect information and apply it to make predictions regarding the future of the division: the NFL draft. 

It’s no secret by now that successful teams are built through the draft - a process that takes years to accomplish, but is definitely worth the investment…just ask the Patriots, Packers, and Ravens. This article researches each NFC North team’s draft from the last five years (2008-2012). Quantitative analysis was performed in order to find facts that can be used to predict the direction in which this division is heading. Specifically, the percentage of players that remain on their respective teams via the draft was found for each team throughout the last five years. This stat is known as the draft retention rate, and NFL dynasties tend to have high retention rates. This allows a team to remain young and competitive for many years. It was also important to investigate the success in which each team had selecting in the first three round of the draft because selecting a “bust” early in the draft can be detrimental to the roster in the future. Finally, the overall average age of the team, average age of the offense, and average age of the defense were identified and borrowed from , an article written by Chase Stuart in which he ranked every NFL team in terms of age. The age factor was included to account for free agent signings that have taken place. For example, this article will expose that the Bears have struggled mightily in the draft throughout recent years; however they remain to be a contending team. The reason for this is due to free agency, which can be correlated to a high average roster age because free agents tend to be over the age of 27. Including free agency in this research would have created too many variables that could incorporate error into the statistical analysis. Therefore without further ado, let us investigate the numbers that speak for themselves.



Chicago Bears Analysis

Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2008
1
14
Chris Williams
Released and signed by the Rams
2008
2
44
Matt Forte
Starter
2008
3
70
Earl Bennett
Starting slot receiver
2008
4
90
Marcus Harrison
Waived
2008
5
120
Zach Bowman
Waived, Signed by Bears
2008
5
158
Kellen Davis
Signed with Browns
2008
7
208
Ervin Baldwin
Waived
***The 2008 Bear’s draft class yielded 3 players out of 11 drafted that remained with the team up to this point. They were 2 out of 3 in terms of being successful in the first three rounds.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2009
3
68
Jarron Gilbert
Released and signed with Bills
2009
3
99
Juaquin Iglesias
Canadian Football League
2009
4
105
Henry Melton
Franchise Tagged (8.5 million this year)
2009
4
119
D.J Moore
Free agent
2009
5
140
Johnny Knox
Retired
2009
5
154
Marcus Freeman
LB coach at Purdue
2009
6
190
Al Afalava
Signed with Titans
2009
7
246
Lance Louis
Signed with Dolphins
2009
7
251
Derek Kinder
Retired
***The 2009 Bear’s draft class yielded 1 player that still remains with the team out of the 9 selected. They went 0 for 2 in terms of selecting players in the first three rounds successfully.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2010
3
75
Major Wright
Still with team
2010
4
109
Corey Wootton
The man that ended Favre’s career still remains on the team
2010
5
141
Joshua Moore
Signed with broncos
2010
6
181
Dan LeFevour
Canadian Football League
2010
7
218
J’Marcus Webb
Still with team
***The bears have retained 3 of the 5 players selected in 2010. They were 1 for 1 in terms of selecting players in the first three rounds that still remain on the team; however major wright hasn’t played well during his tenure in Chicago and is likely to compete with Chris Conte, Brandon Hardin, and Tom Zbikowski for playing time.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2011
1
29
Gabe Carimi
Still with team
2011
2
53
Stephen Paea
Still with team
2011
3
93
Chris Conte
Starter
2011
5
160
Nathan Enderle
Signed with Titans
2011
6
195
J.T Thomas
Still with team
***The bears have retained 4 out of the 5 players drafted in their 2011 draft class. They were 3/3 in the first three rounds.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2012
1
19
Shea McClellin
Still with team
2012
2
45
Alshon Jeffery
Starter
2012
3
79
Brandon Hardin
Injured first year
2012
4
111
Evan Rodriguez
Still with team
2012
6
184
Isaiah Frey
Still with team (Practice Squad)
2012
7
220
Greg McCoy
Signed with Vikings
***The bears retained 5 of the 6 players they drafted in 2012. They were 3 for 3 in the first three rounds as of now.
A Closer Look at the Numbers
The Chicago Bears have retained a total of 16 players out of the 36 they have drafted throughout the last five years. That comes out to 44%. Thus, the Bears have failed to retain over half of the young talent in which they have drafted. This number is drastically low and may provide many problems for the franchise in the near future. However, the Bears are 8 for 11 in terms of drafting success in the first three rounds. This comes out to 73% and allows for slight reassurance that the future may not be as questionable as one might have predicted. This percentage is certainly not bad in terms of drafting success in the early rounds, but it’s not fantastic either. The Bears must avoid early picks such as Chris Williams and Jarron Gilbert if they wish to build a young, competitive roster. One may be wondering, “How are the Bears still considered a contender with these unimpressive draft statistics?” The answer is simple: free agency. The Bears have signed players such as Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, and Brandon Marshall. As a result the average age of the team is relatively high as compared to the rest of the league. As of March 16th, the Bears ranked 29th with an average age of 28.6. The average offensive age was 27.9 and the defensive age was 29.0. These numbers are highly discouraging because the Chicago Bears’ lack of draft success may very well catch up with them as their average age continues to climb. It certainly seems as if this franchise is all in at this point and may need to re-build in the near future. One thing is certain: Phil Emery can’t do any worse than Jerry Angelo. 

Detroit Lions Analysis
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2008
1
17
Godser Cherilus
Signed with Colts
2008
2
45
Jordon Dizon
Retired
2008
3
64
Kevin Smith
Free agent
2008
3
87
Andre Fluellen
Released and signed with Lions
2008
3
92
Cliff Avril
Signed with Seattle
2008
5
136
Kenny Moore
United Football League
2008
5
146
Jerome Felton
Blocks for Adrian Peterson
2008
7
216
Landon Cohen
Signed with Eagles
2008
7
218
Caleb Campbell
Free agent
***The Lions have retained only 1 of the 9 players they drafted in 2008 and were 0 for 5 in terms of drafting success in the early rounds.



Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2009
1
1
Matt Stafford
Starting QB
2009
1
20
Brandon Pettigrew
Starting TE
2009
2
33
Louis Delmas
Starter
2009
3
76
Deandre Levy
Starter
2009
3
82
Derrick Williams
Canadian Football League
2009
4
115
Sammie Lee Hill
Signed with Titans
2009
6
192
Aaron Brown
Free agent
2009
7
228
Lydon Murtha
Dolphins practice squad
2009
7
235
Zack Follett
Retired
2009
7
255
Dan Gronkowski
Signed with Browns
***The Lions have retained 4 of the 10 players they drafted in 2009. They were able to keep 4 out of the 5 early round draft picks from the 2009 draft class.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2010
1
2
Ndomukong Suh
Starting DT
2010
1
30
Jahvid Best
Still with team, however this counts as a *BUST* since it has been reported that he may never play another game with concussion issues
2010
3
66
Amari Spievey
Still with team
2010
4
128
Jason Fox
RFA with team
2010
7
213
Willie Young
RFA with team
2010
7
255
Tim Toone
Signed with Falcons
***Detroit was able to retain 2 of the five players they selected in 2010. They also retained 2 of the 3 early draft selections up to this point in time.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2011
1
13
Nick Fairley
Still with team
2011
2
44
Titus Young
Free agent
2011
2
57
Mikel Leshoure
Still with team
2011
5
157
Doug Hogue
Signed with Panthers
2011
7
209
Johnny Culbreath
Retired
***The Lions retained 2 of the 5 players they selected in the 2011 draft and were 2 for 3 in terms of drafting success in the early rounds.



Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2012
1
23
Riley Reiff
Still with team
2012
2
52
Ryan Broyles
Still with team
2012
3
69
Dwight Bentley
Still with team
2012
4
126
Ronnell Lewis
Still with team
2012
5
148
Tahir Whitehead
Still with team
2012
5
151
Chris Greenwood
Still with team
2012
6
196
Jonte Green
Still with team
2012
7
215
Travis Lewis
Still with team
***The Lions had an impressive draft in 2012 as they retained all eight picks and went 3 for 3 in terms of drafting success.
Taking a Closer Look at the Numbers
The Detroit Lions were able to retain 19 players out of 38 drafted in the last five years. That comes out to 50%, which isn’t much better than the Bears. They were 13 for 19 in terms of drafting success in the first three rounds of the draft which comes out to 63% efficiency. This number is lower than the Bears 73%, but the Bears currently have only 8 players from the first three rounds on their roster whereas the Lions have 12 players. Therefore, I would say the Lions have a slight edge on the Bears in terms of drafting efficiency throughout the last five years because of their higher percentage of retained players and higher number of players selected in the first three rounds that still remain on the roster. The Detroit Lions ranked 19th in the league in terms of average age with 27.7. Their average offensive age was 28.2 and the defensive average age was 27.2. It’s hard to tell what direction the Lions are heading because they have had a couple of solid drafts recently and their age isn’t a big concern at this point. It would be safe to predict that the Lions are past their days of losing every single regular season game and are on the right track to improving.



Green Bay Packers Analysis
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2008
2
36
Jordy Nelson
Starter
2008
2
56
Brian Brohm
Released
2008
2
60
Pat Lee
Released and signed with Lions
2008
3
91
Jermichael Finley
Starting TE…for now
2008
4
102
Jeremy Thompson
Retired
2008
4
135
Josh Sitton
Starter
2008
5
150
Breno Giacomini
Signed with Seattle
2008
7
209
Matt Flynn
Signed with Seattle
2008
7
217
Brett Swain
Released
***The Packers have retained 3 of the 9 draft picks selected in 2008. They were 2 for 4 in terms of drafting efficiency in the early rounds.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2009
1
9
B.J Raji
Starter
2009
1
26
Clay Matthews
Starter
2009
4
109
T.J Lang
Starter
2009
5
145
Quinn Johnson
Signed with Titans
2009
5
162
Jamon Meredith
Signed with Tampa Bay
2009
6
182
Jarius Wynn
Signed with Titans
2009
6
187
Brandon Underwood
Signed with Cowboys
2009
7
218
Brad Jones
Still with team
***The Packers retained 4 out of the 8 players in their 2009 draft class. They were 2 for 2 in the early rounds and selected key pieces to their defense.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2010
1
23
Bryan Bulaga
Still with team
2010
2
56
Mike Neal
Still with team
2010
3
71
Morgan Burnett
Starter
2010
5
154
Andrew Quarless
Still with team
2010
5
169
Marshall Newhouse
Still with team
2010
6
193
James Starks
Still with team
2010
7
230
CJ Wilson
Still with team
***This was a successful draft for the Packers as they retained all 7 draft picks and went 3 for 3 in terms of drafting efficiency in the third round. The Packers won the super bowl the year this draft took place, perhaps hinting at its importance. However, this draft brings up an interesting problem with the “research by numbers” method. It could be argued that the 2009 draft was more “successful” than the 2010 draft for the Packers because of the talent they obtained, however the numbers suggest that 2010 was the more “successful” draft class due to the retention and efficiency percentages. There are many factors that play into this research but this article only focuses on quantitative data that can be analyzed and used for application.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2011
1
32
Derek Sherrod
Still with team
2011
2
64
Randall Cobb
Still with team
2011
3
96
Alex Green
Still with team
2011
4
131
Davon House
Still with team
2011
5
141
D.J Williams
Still with team
2011
6
179
Caleb Schlauderaff
Released
2011
6
186
D.J Smith
Still with team
2011
6
197
Ricky Elmore
Released
2011
7
218
Ryan Taylor
Still with team
2011
7
233
Lawrence Guy
Practice Squad
***The Packers retained 8 of 10 players from the 2011 draft. They were 3 for 3 in terms of drafting efficiency.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2012
1
28
Nick Perry
Still with team
2012
2
51
Jerel Worthy
Still with team
2012
2
62
Casey Heyward
Still with team
2012
4
132
Mike Daniels
Still with team
2012
4
133
Jerron McMillian
Still with team
2012
5
163
Terrell Manning
Still with team
2012
7
241
Andrew Datko
Practice Squad
2012
7
243
BJ Coleman
Practice Squad
***The Packers retained all 8 picks in 2012 and were 3 for 3 in drafting efficiency during the early rounds.
Taking a Closer Look at the Numbers
The Green Bay Packers retained 30 of their 42 players drafted in the last five years which comes out to a sexy 71% retention rate. They have also retained a total of 13 of the possible 15 players selected in the first 3 rounds of the draft. Thus, they have a drafting efficiency percentage of 87%. There is no question that the draft has helped propel this franchise to a super bowl victory and has given them the chance to be perennial contenders. According to Chase Stuart, the Packers currently rank 13th in the league with an average roster age of 27.1. The average offensive age is 27.3 and the average defensive age is 26.8. As long as the Packers continue to do business in the same fashion as the last five years, it’s an extremely easy prediction to ascertain that this team isn’t going anywhere. The Packers can be expected to compete for the NFC North title for quite some time to come.



Minnesota Vikings Analysis
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2008
2
43
Tyrell Johnson
Signed with Lions
2008
5
157
John David Booty
Waived
2008
5
152
Letroy Guion
Still with team
2008
6
187
John Sullivan
Starter
2008
6
193
Jaymar Johnson
Retired
***In the 2008 draft, the Vikings retained only 2 of the 5 players selected. They were also 0 for 1 on their draft efficiency. At least the Vikings came out of this draft with a top 5 NFL center.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2009
1
22
Percy Harvin
Traded to Seattle for 1st,7th,3rd
*Counts as efficient due to “refunded” 1st
2009
2
54
Phil Loadholt
Starting RT
2009
3
86
Asher Allen
Retired
2009
5
150
Jasper Brinkley
Signed with Cardinals
2009
7
231
Jamarca Sanford
Starting SS
***The Vikings were able to retain 3 of the 5 draft selections. Again, the Percy Harvin trade to Seattle yielded the first round pick back to the Vikings; therefore the “pick” was retained. The Vikings were 2 for 3 in terms of drafting efficiency in the 2009 draft.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2010
2
34
Chris Cook
Starting CB
2010
2
51
Toby Gerhart
Still with team
2010
4
100
Everson Griffen
Still with team
2010
5
161
Chris Degeare
Signed with Titans
2010
5
167
Nate Triplett
Waived
2010
6
199
Joe Webb
Still with team
2010
7
214
Mickey Shuler
Waived
2010
7
237
Ryan D’Imperio
Waived
***The Vikings retained 4 of the 8 players selected in the 2010 draft and they kept both players selected in the first three rounds of the draft.



Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2011
1
12
Christian Ponder
Starting QB
2011
2
43
Kyle Rudolph
Starting TE (Pro Bowl MVP)
2011
4
106
Christian Ballard
Still with team
2011
5
139
Brandon Burton
Still with team
2011
6
168
Demarcus Love
Still with team
2011
6
170
Mistral Raymond
Still with team
2011
6
172
Brandon Fusco
Starting RG
2011
6
200
Ross Homan
Waived
2011
7
215
D’aundre Reed
Still with team
2011
7
236
Stephen Burton
Still with team
***The Minnesota Vikings retained 9 of the 10 players in their 2011 draft class. They also went 2 for 2 in regard to draft efficiency.
Year
Round
Pick
Selection
Current Status
2012
1
4
Matt Kalil
Starting LT
2012
1
29
Harrison Smith
Starting FS
2012
3
66
Josh Robinson
Still with team
2012
4
118
Jarius Wright
Still with team
2012
4
128
Rhett Ellison
Still with team
2012
4
134
Greg Childs
Still with team
2012
5
139
Robert Blanton
Still with team
2012
6
175
Blair Walsh
Starting Kicker
2012
7
210
Audie Cole
Still with team
2012
7
219
Trevor Guyton
Waived
***The Vikings retained 9 of their 10 draft selections in 2012. They were 3 for 3 in terms of drafting efficiency. This draft propelled the Vikings from a 3 win season to a 10 win season and a playoff berth.
Taking a Closer Look at the Numbers
The Minnesota Vikings have retained 27 of their 38 draft selections over the last five years which comes out to a 71% retention rate, the exact same as the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings have kept 9 out of the possible 11 draft selections in the first three rounds of the draft which comes out to an efficiency of 82%. These numbers are very comparable with the Green Bay Packers and a lot of the credit should go to the GM of the Minnesota Vikings, Rick Speilman, for stockpiling draft picks and then putting them to good use. The Vikings are the 14th youngest team in the NFL with an average roster age of 27.1. The offensive average age is 26.2 and the defense is 28.1. Chase Stuart calculated these values on March 19th, 2013 so the numbers have varied slightly since then, but overall it serves as a very close estimate of where each team stands in regard to age. The prediction for the Minnesota Vikings is rather simple as they are starting to do business like the Packers: this is a young team that is doing very well in the draft recently and can be predicted to become perennial contenders for the NFC North title.

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