Re-Drafting the Defensive Linemen From the 2011 NFL Draft using Advanced Analytics

J.J. Watt would have to be the first end to go, but who would follow based on their career production thus far?

Every year, come time for the NFL draft, we talk about evaluations, projections, predictions and comparisons. The lead-up is exciting for all those reasons.

But the same can be said for the years following the draft -- that's when we look at a player's development and potential.

Have they performed as expected so far? Do they show signs of being a superstar, or do they look like a wasted pick?

It's not as often that we look back to compare players from the same draft class. How has this running back panned out versus the others in his group? Was it worth moving up in the draft to get them instead of waiting on someone else?

These are things we usually only consider in head-to-head matchups, but we should do it more. Why? Because it's fun and we now have the means (through advanced metrics) by which we can accurately compare one player to another.

The best way to do this is using Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value (AV), a single number representing each player's seasons, allowing us to compare across positions, seasons and eras. In order to evaluate a career, though, naturally we use Career Approximate Value (CarAV), which takes 100% of a player's best season, 95% of his second-best season, 90% of his third-best and so on in order to weight peak seasons over what we may consider "compiler" seasons.

Using this CarAV, we will re-draft a position from a draft class based on the results and value of their careers to-date. This will point out the poor picks, value picks and much more.

Here, we're re-drafting the defensive linemen (ends and tackles) from the 2011 NFL Draft. But, first, how did the real-life draft develop not too long ago?

3Buffalo BillsMarcell DareusAlabama
7San Francisco 49ersAldon SmithMissouri
11Houston TexansJ.J. WattWisconsin
13Detroit LionsNick FairleyAuburn
14St. Louis RamsRobert QuinnNorth Carolina
16Washington RedskinsRyan KerriganPurdue
18San Diego ChargersCorey LiugetIllinois
24New Orleans SaintsCameron JordanCalifornia
30New York JetsMuhammad WilkersonTemple
77Tennessee TitansJurell CaseyUSC

Would there be a lot of movement? If so, who would make the biggest moves up and down the board?