With the end of the season and the firing of Schwartz there has been a lot of speculation on if the front office would be fired. This brought up the inevitable debate of Mayhew and his draft record. I have maintained that Mayhew drafting has been above average but I thought of a way to give a more definitive answer.
The fine folks over at Football Prospectives did some work a few years back to investigate the value of a NFL draft pick. They used Pro Football Reference Approximate Value (AV), which is an advanced state that uses typical statistics, games played, pro-bowls, all-pros, and yearly awards to rank players. It is a rough value, as you can guess, a player might get a 17 and might not necessarily had a better year than someone with a 15 but 90% of the time that is the case.
When they created the expected AV per a given draft pick they complied it into a draft value chart. What I did for this study of Mayhew's drafting ability was use the draft value chart as the basis of what "average" is for a given pick. The draft value chart was for 5 years so I projected the expected results based off the players performance. I tried to be conservative with this and I made notes on when I extrapolate and how it was done. So with out further ado the results.
|Pick||Player||Expected AV||Actual/Calculated AV||Difference||Notes|
|1||Matthew Stafford||34.6||44||9.4||Assumed lower than last year|
|20||Brandon Pettigrew||15.5||22||6.5||Assumed Average|
|33||Louis Delmas||12.3||23.75||11.45||Assumed Average|
|76||DeAndre Levy||7||30||23||Assumed Average|
|115||Sammie Lee Hill||4.4||13.75||9.35||Assumed Average|
|2||Ndamukong Suh||30.2||55||24.8||Assumed Average|
|213||Willie Young||0.5||5||4.5||Assued 2 this year 1 next|
|13||Nick Fairley||18.3||14.6||-3.7||Assumed same as last year but then average|
|57||Mikel Leshoure||9.1||7||-2.1||Assumed back up role but more play time than this year|
|23||Riley Reiff||14.6||30||15.4||Used Backus average first few years starting LT|
|54||Ryan Broyles||9.2||2||-7.2||Assuming he never plays again|
|85||Dwight Bentley||6.3||7.5||1.2||Assuming 2 this year and average other years|
|138||Tahir Whitehead||3.2||5||1.8||Assumes he stays a ST player|
|148||Chris Greenwood||2.8||2||-0.8||Assumes he plays at least one more year on ST/spot start|
|196||Jonte Green||1||5||4||Assume 1 for this year plays ST next year|
|223||Travis Lewis||1||3||2||Assume 1 for this year plays ST next year|
What we can see here is that Mayhew has a 92.7 AV above expected AV for the spots he drafted. Meaning that overall he is an above average drafter. I did not include this last year because there just was not enough data to really make it worth it and Pro Football Reference has not updated AV for this year yet. It should be no surprise that Mayhew's best draft was his first where he exceeded expectation by 58.8 AV. I will give a comparison later for context but for now you can trust that it was a pretty good draft.
2010 was lifted by Suh and Willie Young but we see that Best and Speivey while being considered injury busts did at least meet the expected value for their draft position. This actually is not that unexpected if we really think about how short the average NFL career is. 2011 was a stinker of the draft and Leshoure was the only player I assumed would do better in the future mainly because I think he will get play time in the future, even if its not with Detroit.
2012 was dragged down a lot by Broyles because he just hasn't played and I assumed he never would again. I assumed Greenwood, Green, and Lewis would be special team players but be out of the league in a year, which is pretty pessimistic. Even with all that pessimism it was still an above average draft for Mayhew.
Due to popular request and excellent points by Thorpac and Billy, I compiled Mayhew's draft day trades to evaluate them to see how it affected his overall performance. To evaluate trade for future draft picks I used the rule of thumb that a pick this year is worth a round higher next. So every time a future pick was traded I used the value of the future picks round lower. For example if I traded the for the 64th pick in next years draft its value is about the 96th pick in this years. This is because the NFL seems to value an extra year earlier of play as a round worth. Obviously while the straight up trade in that scenario could result in something balanced the person you pick with the higher pick should far out strip what you gave up.
|Player||Pick Got||Picks Given||Value Difference|
|Zach Follet||235,2010 5th||174||-0.4|
|Sammie Lee Hill|
We see that over all Mayhew came out about even with a net value of -1 AV taking his over all value to 91.7 AV. That being said he clearly lost on the Leshoure trade and the Best trade. Funnily enough the trade he won the most on was with the Jets, who traded up to get Shonn Green. All of Mayhew's other trades were pretty even in value, though. Moral of the story here seems to be DON'T TRADE UP FOR RUNNING BACKS!
Now for some comparisons. I went through the same exercise with Ozzie Newsome's drafts over the same time frame. Newsome came away with a 178.3 AV above expected AV, nearly double what Mayhew has. I'm not going to post here the chart for Ozzie but I was very optimistic when I extrapolated his charts so that would probably go down some. Ozzie's high for a draft was 58.2 AV above expectation, which goes to show just how good Mayhew's first draft was. Newsome's low was 23.5, with an average draft of 44.5 AV above expectation. The biggest difference between these two GMs was wide receivers where Mayhew lost on Derrick Williams, Young and Broyles, Newsome won big on Torrey Smith.
In attempt to remove as much guessing as possible lets compare the two drafts that have actually had 5 years to evaluate. The graph below shows each GMs 2009 draft with AV on the Y and the pick number of the X. The green line is the expected value.
We see that each GM wiffed on a single player but Mayhew did it a round earlier but both were above expectations basically across the board. I know some people have complained that because the team lacked so much talent that Mayhew's game's played by lower draft picks got a boost. I did not find this. Indeed the expected value of those pick and the expectation of them shows that for the most part they played the same amount to just slightly more than other players drafted at that point.
So when we look at this Mayhew is above average but well below Newsome and the rest of the top tier of GMs when it comes to drafting. I know its hard for some to believe but Mayhew has not had horrible drafts. If anything his drafts have been consistently above average but one position has consistently tanked him and that has been wide receivers. I should also note that his is not an ringing endorsement of Mayhew by any means. If we think of Newsome as an A (note Ted Thompson has kicked Ozzies ass at drafting so there is room for A+'s) and an average as a C. Mayhew would be somewhere around a B. Now the big flaw here is that I haven't looked at every other GM. If someone is markedly above Newsome such that he would not be an A we could see Mayhew easily slip to a B-. It could be that Ozzie has a great reputation but other's are far better than him but I think he is a decent bench mark.