AFC West: Bill Barnwell

Evening AFC West notes

March, 10, 2011
The San Diego Union Tribune looks at whether or not the Chargers would move up from No. 18 for the right player. Perhaps that player is Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. He has been moving up draft boards and could be a top 10-12 pick. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith was at his pro day.

Smith has extra picks in the second and third rounds. He told me last week he is not sure what he is going to do with the picks, but he is pleased that he has options. Smith has been known to move up in the draft as he did for running back Ryan Mathews last year. Smith moved up 16 spots to get Mathews. I could see the same thing happening this year. As for Watt, he is a fine prospect who’d fill a need for the Chargers.

I think if Smith falls for the right player -- I know he’s studying pass-rushers hard -- a trade up could happen.
  • In an Insider piece, Bill Barnwell looks at the speed of the running backs in this year’s draft class. He is high on Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray. Denver is one of the teams that have a pre-draft visit setup with him.
The Denver Broncos are examples of both the best and worst in the NFL at drafting during the 2000s, according to a study by Football Outsiders.

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders created a system that he has labeled GSAA -- Games Started Above Average.

Here’s Barnwell’s formula: He compiled the games started by a player over the first five seasons of his career for everyone drafted between 1993 and 2007 . Games started by players taken in 2006 and 2007 have been prorated. Barnwell compared a player's total games started to the total of everyone at the same position taken within 10 picks of that player, or within the first 10 overall picks for players taken in the top 10.

That formula (yes, Barnwell is one deep thinker) allowed Barnwell to find out which teams have been the best and worst in the last decade at picking players. He will reveal his full findings in an upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine.

That brings us back to the Broncos.

Mike Shanahan was both brilliant and a disaster in the 2000s, according to Barnwell’s study. He was gracious enough to give me a sneak preview of his findings.

Barnwell’s study concludes that the 2006 Denver draft class was the best in the decade. That draft netted Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall, Elvis Dumervil, Domenik Hixon and Chris Kuper. All have been become solid NFL players. Cutler is now in Chicago after being traded for Kyle Orton and a bevy of picks last year. Hixon is with the Giants after he was cut during his second season in Denver. Yes, the class is strong, but it would look a lot better heading into the future if Cutler and Hixon were still in Denver and Marshall wasn’t being shopped.

The great bounty of 2006 came three years after Denver had one of the worst drafts of the decade, according to Barnwell’s formula. Denver had the 20th and 51st picks in 2003, along with three fourth-round picks and two fifth-rounders. The draft netted one starter, George Foster, who was marginal at best after being the team’s first-round pick.

Shanahan had his ups and downs during the draft, but this disparity is shocking. Thanks again to Barnwell for allowing us to preview his impressive system.