Critiques of general managers and their draft record are common in this era. It’s much easier to find fans unhappy about how their teams have drafted in any given year than it is to find ones who believe the general manager has done a great job at selection players every year.
Much of that discourse, though, is anecdotal. Rarely is there a good, comprehensive look at a general manager’s track record in the draft that compares those selections both to expectations and other drafters. But today we got a version of that courtesy of Jeff Feyerer of Inside the Pylon. By using Approximate Value (AV) — Pro Football Reference’s single-digit value metric — Feyerer put together a list ranking general managers by their overall success and per year success during drafts from 2002 through 2015.
The exact measures looked at the total accumulated AV per year for players drafted in that time, the average AV per year, the total surplus value for of AV per year over expectation from each draft position, and the average surplus AV per year over expectation. In more simple terms, it looked at how good these draft selections were overall and how good they were compared to the level of play expected while selecting from the given draft slot.
89 decision makers were looked at in this study, but three names of those names will be of interest to Giants fans — two former general managers in Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese as well as current general manager Dave Gettleman.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Accorsi came out as one of the best drafters of this group. The time range accounts for six of Accorsi’s drafts as Giants general manager from 2002-2006. With those drafts, Accorsi ranked 30th in the sample for total AV per year, sixth in average AV per year, sixth in total surplus AV, and second in average surplus AV per year. While Accorsi hit on multiple first round picks in his time, those surplus values come from hitting on great players in the later rounds. Getting star level performances from second-round picks like Osi Umenyiora and Chris Snee a third-round pick in Justin Tuck, and fourth-round picks in Barry Cofield and Brandon Jacobs.
However, the Giants went from one of the best drafters to one of the worst by this study. Jerry Reese came out ranked a respectable 21st in total AV per year, but 69th in average AV per year, 86th in total surplus AV per year, and 70th in average surplus AV per year. While there obviously are great hits on Reese’s resume — such as Odell Beckham, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Landon Collins — Reese struggled to hit where Accorsi excelled — the middle and late rounds. In Reese’s first draft, four players selected in the third round or later had a career AV over 10, which is exceptional. But only four players in all of Reese’s drafts since then have reached that mark.
With this study cutting off at 2015, it does account of the past two drafts under Reese, which have provided Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, but also another first-round miss in Eli Apple.
Giants fans should be happy to know the franchise went back to the top of the list for their current general manager, Dave Gettleman. Gettleman ranked 56th in total AV per year, but fourth in average total AV per year, 18th in total surplus AV per year, and fifth in average surplus AV per year. Again with this just going to 2015, only three of Gettleman’s drafts as general manager of the Carolina Panthers were considered and his last two are not included.
In those drafts, Gettleman was still able to get contributions from the majority of his selections. First-round picks Star Lotulelei, Kelvin Benjamin, and Shaq Thompson were all key players for the Panthers as were second-round picks Kawann Short, Kony Ealy, and Devin Funchess. 2014 third-round pick Trai Turner has turned into one of the league’s better guards.
Gettleman’s past two drafts do leave at lot to be desired. 2016 first-round pick Vernon Butler has struggled to get playing time behind Short and Lotulelei. That year’s second-round pick James Bradberry had a great rookie season, but fell victim to a sophomore slump. The only real contributor from Gettleman’s 2017 class — a draft he was fired shortly after — was first-round pick Christian McCaffrey.
The hope will be Gettleman can recreate the drafts of Accorsi that found not just depth, but important contributors in the later rounds. That’s where the Giants struggled with Reese and it was evident on the field.
The full GM Draft Scorecard can be found here.