Vikings

2017 Consensus Big Board: What Were the Best Values and Biggest Reaches in the Draft?

Value, value, value.

The goal of any draft isn’t to get the best value, it’s to find the best players to help your team. If you have 10 picks and only three players in the draft qualify — a probably brazen hypothetical — then it makes sense to move those 10 picks for the express purpose of acquiring those players regardless of cost.

Generally speaking, however, there are probably 75 players with a good chance of helping a team out and only about eight picks with which one can find them. In that case, finding value can help because it maximizes your odds of finding the most players with the best capability for your team.

Value as a general concept can be a useful proxy for using the draft strategically. The best example of “value” in a draft might be understood as that late-round pick who stood out (Stefon Diggs) or a universally well-liked player that fell more than you’d think, like Jalen Ramsey from the second-ranked player to fifth overall pick last year or Tunsil from the highest-rated player to the thirteenth pick.

It’s not an always accurate assessment, but it can be mostly accurate. With that in mind, which players were the best steals and the worst reaches?

Pick Player School Team Points Gained
31 Reuben Foster Alabama San Francisco 49ers 750.2
17 Jonathan Allen Alabama Washington Redskins 597.9
185 Caleb Brantley Florida Cleveland Browns 540.8
116 Carl Lawson Auburn Cincinnati Bengals 484.4
41 Dalvin Cook Florida State Minnesota Vikings 466.9
201 Bucky Hodges Virginia Tech Minnesota Vikings 462.8
15 Malik Hooker Ohio State Indianapolis Colts 445.5
19 O.J. Howard Alabama Tampa Bay Buccaneers 415.9
151 Desmond King Iowa Los Angeles Chargers 401.7
237 Isaiah Ford Virginia Tech Miami Dolphins 379.4
38 Forrest Lamp Western Kentucky Los Angeles Chargers 337.0
215 Brad Kaaya Miami (Fla.) Detroit Lions 313.1
247 Malachi Dupre LSU Green Bay Packers 310.8
78 Tim Williams Alabama Baltimore Ravens 256.4

Two teams appear twice — the Los Angeles Chargers with Desmond King and Forrest Lamp, as well as the Minnesota Vikings with Dalvin Cook and Bucky Hodges. One school appears four times (Alabama) and one makes two appearances (Virginia Tech).

It’s unsurprising that the 49ers made the “best” pick of the draft with Reuben Foster. Grabbing a top-ten player at the bottom of the draft will always be praised. Jonathan Allen wasn’t a bad snag for Washington either, though one might rightly question their overall approach of drafting players who won’t see the field that much because of positional redundancy.

And who committed the worst reaches? It shouldn’t be shocking to learn that “bad” reaches can largely only occur early in the draft when quite a bit of value is at stake, while the best steals can occur later one when a small investment might result in an enormous return. That’s just the nature of the draft.

That said, there are some day three reaches that were so spectacular that even the relatively limited investment produced negative value.

Pick Player School Team Points Gained
2 Mitchell Trubisky North Carolina Chicago Bears -1298.3
10 Patrick Mahomes II Texas Tech Kansas City Chiefs -640.9
18 Adoree’ Jackson Southern California Tennessee Titans -477.7
5 Corey Davis Western Michigan Tennessee Titans -434.4
4 Leonard Fournette LSU Jacksonville Jaguars -430.4
9 John Ross Washington Cincinnati Bengals -418.3
8 Christian McCaffrey Stanford Carolina Panthers -408.6
45 Adam Shaheen Ashland Chicago Bears -399.4
12 Deshaun Watson Clemson Houston Texans -390.9
7 Mike Williams Clemson Los Angeles Chargers -362.5
98 Chad Williams Grambling Arizona Cardinals -359.7
44 Gerald Everett South Alabama Los Angeles Rams -350.9
59 Tanoh Kpassagnon Villanova Kansas City Chiefs -349.7
96 Kenny Golladay Northern Illinois Detroit Lions -349.3
51 DeMarcus Walker Florida State Denver Broncos -324.8

San Francisco’s pick of C.J. Beathard just barely missed the cut. Only three of the fifteen above players were defensive players, so it looks like teams reached early for offensive playmakers knowing that the defensive draft might have more depth and would be worth investing in later.

Three teams appear twice: the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans. The Titans may have had the most understandable reaches of that group, but I can’t help but feel a reluctance to trade results in serious value loss—the Titans essentially sacrificed mid-round picks so that they could ensure that they selected Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson.

If they don’t see values in mid-round picks like Vince Biegel, Kareem Hunt, Josh Reynolds or Tedric Thompson I guess that’s fine, but it seems unlikely. Tennessee made one trade during the draft (several pre-draft, including the infamous Rams trade that earned them so much draft capital), so they might just be a front office resistant to the idea of trading and just staying pat to get their guy.

It might be that I cover the notoriously trade-happy Vikings, but I think it’s a mistake for a team not to try and maximize the capital they are given to acquire more assets.

It’s entirely possible that the Titans would have missed out on their receiver had they traded down (the Chargers selected Mike Williams two picks later) but it’s also likely that they started a run on receivers by overvaluing them. Had they convinced the Saints that teams were clamoring for cornerbacks, they could have acquired a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick, possibly one they could use on an insurance receiver like Juju Smith-Schuster.

Even at an awful discount, like a third-round pick instead of a second, avoiding a value loss while grabbing an opportunity to pick another player seems enticing.


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