Mel Kiper, Jr. Still Thinks Everyone Is Just Okay

As I wrote almost exactly one year ago today, NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. has high standards. After last year’s draft, Kiper (henceforth I omit the “junior”) gave each team’s draft a grade. Of particular note was the fact that every team received a grade between a C- and a B+. One year later, I still find this funny.

Kiper just barely avoided a repeat performance in 2008. His lowest grade given was again a C-, and his typical high was again a B+. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs ruined all the fun by earning a presumably impossible A. Boo Kansas City.

Just for fun, let’s compare Kiper’s grade distribution in 2006, 2007 and 2008:

2006:

  • C- : 0
  • C : 11
  • C+ : 7
  • B- : 2
  • B : 9
  • B+ : 3

2007:

  • C- : 4
  • C : 7
  • C+ : 4
  • B- : 4
  • B : 9
  • B+ : 3

2008:

  • C- : 1
  • C : 3
  • C+ : 11
  • B- : 5
  • B : 9
  • B+ : 3
  • A : 1

For the fellow nerds interested, 2006 yielded an average grade right between a C+ and a B-. 2007 was about the same, although slightly closer to a B-. 2008 was almost exactly a B-. Removing the A – a clear outlier – has negligible effect in 2008; the average grade remains a B-.

2008’s grades are a bit funny because they indicate a shift even further to general mediocrity. While the average grade gets marginally higher as the years go on, the distribution changes a little. At least in 2007, Kiper handed out a bunch of C-‘s and C’s, which are essentially the worst grades possible under his ridiculous system. But in 2008, the range narrowed almost exclusively to C+ to B. In 2006, 56.2% of grades fell within that range; in 2007, 46.8%; 2008, 78.1%. In other words, Kiper’s already less-than-revealing grading system has become even more ambiguous with 78% of teams doing essentially “pretty well.”

It is also interesting to note that in each year, he gave out exactly 9 B’s and 3 B+’s. This probably means nothing.

I will now write a math-free paragraph. The point of all this is that, well, Kiper should maybe take a stand on something for once. I understand that it’s hard for a team to be an abject failure, which would necessitate an F. I also understand that it’s hard for a team to be perfect, necessitating an A. And forgive my informality for a moment, but dude, lighten up. You spend all year dissecting players and forming strong opinions about each one. Shouldn’t the aggregate of 252 strong opinions at least yield some D’s and A’s? It’s okay to grade teams relative to their competition instead of on some perfect, absolute scale. I do not like being yelled and screamed every year for two days in April about these players, and then checking your grades later and seeing nothing but C’s and B’s. Show me that all your sound and fury signifies something.

Your system is already as unscientific as all hell, so take a stand. The world will not end. You can do this. Until next year.

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