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Do NFL draft grades predict team results?

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In the absence of any daily sports at this time last year, I took on a project for the first time, analyzing the grades given for each NFL team’s drafts over the previous five years. What I was hoping to find out was whether or not there was any correlation between a team’s draft grades and its success, or lack thereof, on the field. Let’s face it, the NFL has become a year-round league and there is nothing more scrutinized each offseason than the draft. That means it’s of ultra importance, right? Well, I learned a few things last year, so I decided to update the findings after the 2021 draft, which wrapped up last Saturday.

One of the most consistent, efficient and reliable sources for each NFL draft is Sports Illustrated, as it has typically put out its full analysis within 24 hours of the final pick being made. In the six years I have tracked SI’s grades, I have never seen one lower than a C-, and the average grade is a touch higher than a B. With this steady analysis serving as the foundation of my study, I went back and compared the regular-season won-lost records in recent years to the grades that SI assigned the teams for their draft work.

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