Trying to settle a debate…Ruskell/Holmgren drafts

I’ve gotten a little tired of topic and am going to move onto our offensive potential this season, but since I owe some folks some research, and I figured I could share it with all of you as well.

You see, I caused quite a stir over at Field Gulls (a nice Hawks blog done by John Morgan) the other day by daring to call out Ruskell for his draft results with running backs. In an attempt to bring the discussion back to more objective measures, I’ve decided to look at all of Holmgren’s drafts and all of Ruskell’s drafts, only rounds 1-3 (because I have a life), and see what percentage of those picks succeeded. Success is subjective, so I’m going to grade this way:

1st Round Pick Success = Made Pro Bowl at some point

2nd Round Pick Success = Started more than 50% of games played

3rd Round Pick Success = Started more than 25% of games played

Note that any 2nd or 3rd round pick that meets the qualifications for rounds higher than they were drafted (e.g., a 2nd rounder is a Pro Bowler), is automatically considered a success. And if you think these are bogus measures, remember they will be applied to both Holmgren and Ruskell so they are either equally fair or equally unfair. Each man is 100% accountable for the drafts when they were GM. Ruskell doesn’t get to hide behind the fact that his coach lobbied hard for this player or that and Holmgren can’t do that with his defensive coordinators. The GM title comes with ultimate accountability for the personnel decisions. Lastly, I am counting all drafts before Ruskell as Holmgren drafts because I do not believe Bob Ferguson was anything more than a front man, and Holmgren still made the decisions behind the scenes. With those caveats aside, let’s jump in:

Holmgren 1st Round Pick Success Rate: 50% (4/8)
Ruskell’s 1st Round Pick Success Rate: 0% (0/3)

Holmgren 2nd Round Pick Success Rate: 50% (3/6)
Ruskell 2nd Round Pick Success Rate: 75% (3/4)

Holmgren 3rd Round Pick Success Rate: 29% (2/7)
Ruskell 3rd Round Pick Success Rate: 66% (2/3)

Holmgren Details:

Ruskell Details:

Note this doesn’t even count Holmgren’s trade of 1st and 3rd round picks for Hasselbeck AND a 1st rounder. As far as I’m concerned that’s use of a 3rd round pick for a franchise player and should be considered when evaluating the two. Also consider Ruskell traded our 2007 1st round pick for Deion Branch. That makes him 0/4 with 1st rounders by our success criteria. Ruskell also traded away 3rd round picks in 2008 and 2006.

If I were to start counting Pro Bowls, it wouldn’t even be close. Ruskell’s only Pro Bowl player he drafted is Lofa Tatupu. Holmgren drafted Pro Bowlers in three out of six drafts, and four total Pro Bowlers if you count Hasselbeck.

Some folks will talk about value in later parts of the draft. I don’t think that’s a slam dunk for Ruskell either as far as real contribution to the teams. The things that really sticks out to me with Ruskell is the total fail in the 1st round. Those are picks that franchises are built around and he’s not only not found cornerstone players, he’s drafted three guys who could be off the team this season or next. I also think he’s shown some ability to succeed in the third round, yet he trades those picks away regularly. Some of those trades have resulted in getting players like Lofa and Carlson, but it’s impossible to know if he overpaid to get there.

With that, I’ll retire from this debate and move onto more happy thoughts.

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