Analyzing the Draft: Quinton Coples
As you know about a month or so ago I developed a scoring matrix for the draft based on games played, seasons started, and pro bowl nods to serve as a guide of sorts for draft expectations and positional values. A score of 300 would indicate an average player, playing exactly the average amount of games, starting seasons, and pro bowl nods. A score of 0 would indicate the player never played in the NFL. The scores are based on the 1997-2007 draft classes. With the draft complete Iíll begin to do write-ups on each player with the earlier the pick the most time devoted to the selection. First up is DE Quinton Coples, who was selected with the 16th overall pick in the draft .
The average score for a player picked between 11 and 32 is a 747, meaning the player is about 2.5 times as productive as the average player. That translates into playing about 1.65 times as many games, starting 2.27 more seasons, and being awarded 2.6 times as many Pro Bowls as the average draft selection. Now that mix wont ever happen because it would result in a fractional amount of Pro Bowls, so to illustrate some examples of the average pick in round 1 we have T Jeff Backus and WR Javon Walker. Backus has started for 11 seasons and played in 176 games to earn his grade of 725 while Walker earned the grade based on his 1 Pro Bowl nod and then flamed out quickly thereafter. So there are many different ways to be considered an ďaverage first rounderĒ The median score is a 458 so there is greater than a 50% chance that Coples is above the draft average. The Jets portion of the draft, which I scored from pick 13 thru pick 19 since I think that is a fair range based on draft boards, comes out to an average of 799 and 471, which represents the benefits of drafting higher in a round for a team.
Defensive Ends accounted for 14% of the 242 picks made in the range we looked at, so itís a popular pick. The risk is higher though with the average falling to a 625. The median is a 478 so the selection is producing just as many decent players, but the lows are greater with DE, which plays into the boom or bust philosophy often discussed about the position. In looking over the position you have about 14.7% of the players you would be absolutely thrilled with, two of whom, John Abraham and Shaun Ellis, were drafted by the Jets. 29.4% are players that end up in the draft bust video such as Michael Haynes and Jerome McDougle. Dwight Freeney was far and away the best player selected with a score of 3616. In the Jets section of the draft 20% of the players are excellent and about 33.3% bust.
The Jets track record in the first round has been great with an average score of 1303 over that period of time. Thatís about 80% better than the average. 6 of their 10 selections have made a Pro Bowl and only Rick Terry, who was technically a 2nd rounder, was considered below average (and he was a disaster so it was almost as far below average as you could get with a score of 44). Since Terry Bradway took over for Parcells the worst selection was Bryan Thomas who still scores an above average 521, so the Jets front office has done stellar outside of the top 10 in round 1. The only recent player that would also fit into this first round category, not included in the study, is TE Dustin Keller who, for all his shortcomings and my complaints about him, going to clearly be above average when its all said and done. It is way to early to make any determination about Muhammad Wilkerson.
So all in all I think for Coples the odds are we definitely have a player that will be above average but the risk for a bust is much higher than other selections the Jets could have made such as Guard. That said I think the Jets positional success significantly minimizes the bust potential. Factoring that in we can probably increase the chances of having a high end selection here to between 32 and 35%, which helps balances out the risk. So Iíd say the odds of superstar or bust is about equal, more than could be said for most teams. The upside would be something of a Javon Kearse type. Iíd imagine the average downside would be Calvin Pace which might now get anyone too excited but will at least result in productive minutes. Pace would seem to be a close comparable since he flashes and then disappears, which seems to be the knock on Coples.
I probably would have played it a little safer and drafted the lineman in this spot as Iím not sure the Jets are in a position to risk the bust potential as they have gotten little out of the 2008-2010 drafts. That said they do need a difference maker on defense and the potential is clearly there for Coples. Pass rushers cost extreme amounts of money on the open market and if you can lock one in for a few million a year via the draft you put your franchise in an excellent position capwise to make improvements elsewhere where the cost for a high end player is not as high as Defensive End. Lets hope for the best.
For reference here is the listing of all Defensive Ends drafted from 1997 thru 2011 in the Jets range of the draft, with scores presented for the players thru 2007. JPP will likely be the only standout of the group post 2007, fitting right in with the 14.7% excellent rate over the prior 10 year period.
|Jason Pierre Paul||NA|
Pro Bowl elections are a nice stat, and of course it is highly correlated with having had a great season, but the election process is far from perfect. A third of the voting power comes from the fans, who are not in a good position to judge many positions, such as offensive linemen (it's hard to tell a good one from a great one without breaking down the tape.) Players watch tape, but I'm sure they mainly focus on who they'll be interacting with / affecting / working with. That means a defensive player doesn't watch much tape on opposing defenses - and even then, they only face 13 different teams unless they make the post-season. The selection process might be better if it was weighted towards, say, the wide receivers voting for the best cornerbacks and vice versa.
My other concern is with just counting the number of games played- does playing every down on defense count the same as only playing on kickoffs?
But, as long as one understands the limitations it still looks like a useful metric. I'd just say that first round picks are probably artificially inflated by the fact that there is so much extra pressure to give those players the chance to succeed, and they may end up with an average score even if their abilities are well below average. Often moderate first round busts are traded or are signed as free agents, simply because they were once viewed as top prospects and someone is willing to gamble a late round pick to see if they can salvage them.
Speaking of which- that would be an interesting topic for an article; first round busts who get second chances with new teams. How often does that work out for the acquiring team?