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PFF shows Bengals among better drafting teams in the NFL

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PFF used WAR to rank teams in terms of draft capital, and the Bengals ranked higher than expected.

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NFL: APR 27 2018 NFL Draft Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The draft is a very complicated and delicate system. Each team has their own way of evaluating players, picks, and prospects that they try to keep under wraps.

Pro Football Focus found a way to evaluate players by the most important metric in football: wins. Their system of wins above replacement is their attempt to not only determine the value of players on the football field, but to evaluate the draft.

PFF’s Timo Riske created a chart that shows, using PFF WAR, how much draft capital each team has had from 2006 to 2016, and how well they drafted accordingly.

Four of the top five teams were the Browns, Rams, Lions, and Bills; they were teams that have had a lot of high picks due to losing seasons. The Browns and Rams had two of the three worst records over that span, so their draft capital were the two highest.

Surprisingly, the Bengals were seventh in the NFL in highest draft capital. This is surprising because the Bengals made the playoffs six times in the 10 years from which PFF collected data.

The next team in the AFC North on the chart was the Ravens at 19th, followed by the Steelers at 25th.

Here’s what Riske said about the AFC North:

Despite Ben Roethlisberger being the clear best quarterback of the division since 2006, the AFC North was still fairly competitive, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens giving the Pittsburgh Steelers a run for their money in many of these years. The draft success charts show us why, as the Bengals drafted really well and the Steelers found more busts than expected, even though they were really good at drafting wide receivers (4.8 WAR over expected).

In essence, the Steelers were the worst drafting team in the division. They compensated for their poor drafting with Roethlisberger’s high level of play during the decade.

While the Browns are loaded with draft capital, obvious deficiencies in the coaching staff and front office over the years kept them from exploiting it.

The Bengals did a great job drafting for the most part, though some recent draft classes have stood in the way of a higher draft capital (don’t ask about 2015).

Picks like Nedu Ndukwe (2007, 7th round), George Iloka (2012, 5th round), and Marvin Jones (2012, 5th round) were some who raised the Bengals’ number.

Recent picks like Darius Philips (2018, 5th round) and Auden Tate (2018, 7th round) could raise their grade in the upcoming decade.