The biggest night in Buffalo sports in 2013 may very well be on Thursday. The Bills have the eighth pick in the NFL draft. The pick could be the one that turns the franchise around or another selection that's looked back upon with regret.
The questions heading into the draft have mostly been surrounding whether the Bills will take a quarterback with their first-round pick, trade down or aim for a second-round QB.
But there's a question that hasn't been asked: Do Bills fans trust General Manager Buddy Nix to make the selection? Should they?
In a WGR-conducted study using a ProFootball Reference's Approximate Value metric (a stat very comparable to baseball's Wins Above Replacement), the Bills' draft picks ranked 29th in the NFL when compared to the production of the rest of the NFL during the last three drafts.
Since the 2010 draft, there have been 1,422 players picked in the NFL draft. The average Approximate Value of those picks is 4.8. The Bills have had an average AV pick of 3.5.
The best player selected since '10 in terms of AV is Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski with an AV of 36. There have also been 192 picks that have never played a down in the NFL, nine of which have played for the Bills.
The Bills' most valuable draft pick has been C.J. Spiller with an AV of 21, which is slightly above the average “best pick,” which is 20.6. Buffalo's average first-round pick over Nix's three years has been a 13.0, also above the average 12.6 average first founder.
What does it all mean?
There is a common saying that a draft class can not be evaluated until three years after it's completed. That luxury, however, does not exist in trying to gauge the most recent draft picks. So the numbers could change a great deal based on one or two players' performances in 2013.
However, there is enough of a sample to draw some conclusions. First, that the Bills do not have a great deal of recent picks who have performed at a high level early in their careers. Also that they have not built a strong core of young players despite having fairly high draft picks each year under Nix. And it means there is a great number of teams who have drafted higher performing players.
Does that mean Buddy Nix will make a blunder in the first round this year? The Bills' lack of stars drafted during his regime might hint toward yes, but we've seen what a quarterback or one star player like Gronkowski can mean to a franchise. So the Bills' poor AV figures could be turned on their head if Ryan Nassib or Geno Smith or Matt Barkley etc. etc. etc. turns into a superstar 30+ AV player.
Here is a link to all the Bills' draft picks during Nix (and beyond) - the list includes each player's AV.
Here are the Bills' top 5 AV players since 2010
1.CJ Spiller - 21
2. Marcell Dareus - 14
3. Kelvin Sheppard - 10
4. Chris Hariston - 8
5. Cordy Glenn - 6
Here is the full research piece, including each team's best draft pick, their first-round picks' AV and “bogeys” (players who never took a snap in the NFL)
|Team||Av||Total Picks||AV per pick||1st Round AV||1st Round Picks||AV per 1st Rd Pick||Best Pick||Best Pick AV||Bogeys|