There are many ways to judge how a team does in a given draft class, or series of draft classes. In relation to the New York Giants, we generally believe that the 2010 thru 2012 draft classes were inadequate while the 2013 and 2014 draft classes have provided the Giants with much better value.
Is there a way to quantify any of that information into numbers that give us real information?
Tony Villotti, creator of draftmetrics.com and now a writer for the National Football Post, has put together a study trying to do just that. His basic premise is to answer the question 'how often do teams keep their draftees together long-term?'
Let's see where the Giants rank in the various categories Villotti used in his study.
Villotti says 53 percent of plays from scrimmage in 2014 were from players who remain with the team that drafted them. The Giants got only 42 percent of snaps from players they drafted, 29th in the league. Does that indicate that the Giants have not had quality drafts, or that they have not been quick enough to let some of their young players on the field? The data can't answer that question, but after investing so heavily in the free-agent market a year ago this was predicatable.
Villotti looks at players who are on at least their second contract with the team that drafted them. The Giants are not in the top or bottom five percentage-wise in this category, but that could largely be due to the presence of Eli Manning and Mathias Kiwanuka on the roster. The only Giant on the 2014 roster drafted by Jerry Reese and playing under his second contract with the Giants was left tackle Will Beatty.
Finally, Villotti looked at the percentage of snaps played by players still on their rookie contracts. The Giants were 28th in the league in the category at 31 percent. The Seahawks led the league at 48 percent, while the New England Patriots were just below the Giants at 30 percent. Seattle was the only playoff team in the top five.
Villotti offers this conclusion:
How important is it that a team retains its most talented draftees? The data would indicate that it is pretty important. The next table summarizes the results from this analysis and indicates that teams who retain players after their first contract show the best results.
The following chart -- taken from his work -- shows the overall averages.
The Giants got 10.9 percent of their 2014 snaps from players they drafted before 2011, well below league average. And won just games, which the data in this study would say is exactly right.
Overall, the conclusion here has to be that drafting the right players, developing them and keeping as many of them as possible long-term is the best path to winning consistently. Clearly, the Giants have fallen down in this department, and the results on the field show it.