It's very easy to say that someone needs to be fired. It's quite a different thing to bring forth sufficient evidence to justify it.
It would seem like an exhausting task to do a comparitive analysis of EVERY GM in the league and rate draft picks, signings, and trades. (I would LOVE to actually do it, but not for free) Only after looking at every one could you truly rate 'em. I honestly have no idea where Graves would fall. I'd hate to fire a guy only to find out that there isn't anyone out there better. (Bill Polian is fine. I like what he did in Buffalo and Carolina, but I have major questions about what he did in Indi. Minus Peyton they would have been...?)
What I do know is that Graves has drafted some very good players under his term. I don't know how much credit he deserves, but I find it interesting that he gets the blame for bad picks and no credit for the good ones. Doesn't seem right.
At the risk of boring people with draft analysis... if you broke down his drafting ability per player we might get a clearer picture. (Ignoring Draft Value and BPA/NEED of each selection). I guess I should define Good/Average/Bad first.
Good draft picks are players that started and made a good impact. And, if they got drafted late (say 4th - 7th) and they made an average impact they should be considered good, because they played better than their draft position.
Average players would be guys drafted early, but didn't quite live up to their draft position. But at least they made some impact. Or average players could be later picks that are just okay. Maybe STers.
Bad players would be wasted early picks. I wouldn't consider any late picks as bad picks, because most late picks don't make it anyway.
The following lists are pulled from 2003-2011, and they are certainly debateable, but hopefully useful. (I didn't add 1012 as its to soon to tell)
14 Good Picks: PP21, Acho, Sherman, D. Washington, A. Roberts, Hyphen, Campbell, Breaston, Rolle, Fitz, Dansby, Dockett, Antonio Smith, and Q.
16 Average Picks: R. Williams, Housler, D. Williams, O. Scho, Skelton, B. Wells, Toler, DRC, Hightower, Keith, Levi Brown, B. Patrick, Deuce, Pace, Hayes, and R. Wells.
11 Bad Picks: C. Brown, R. Johnson, Doucet, Branch, Buster, Leinert, Pope, Arrington, E. Green,
Blackstock, and Bryant Johnson.
His 10 1st round picks are 3-5-2 (Good-Avg-Bad)
His 9 2nd round picks are 4-2-3
His 10 3rd round picks are 2-2-6
He's got 4 good later rounders and 7 average ones.
Only 30% of the time does his 1sts turn out good. That doesn't sound like a plus. While he doesn't have a ton of busts, his 1sts do tend to come out average. And since half of those picks are top 10, that is alarming.
Again, I don't know how other GMs are doing, but he did pull 11 players out of the later rounds that made an impact. That's 11 out of 36 total drafted. So he's got a 30% approval rating in the 4th through 7th.
If we compare him to the Cards 10 years of drafts before he got there he looks a whole lot better (but that isn't saying much). Graves had 14 good, 16 average, and 11 bad. Before him the Cards were 8 good, 14 average, and 20 bad. (Only their bads were really bad; W. Bryant, Wadsworth, Knight...)
Again, this is only looking at a simple view of his drafting prowess. And after looking at all this, I wouldn't say he's been great, but I wouldn't say he's been horrible either. I'd guess somewhere close to average. But he's for darn sure better than what we had before he got here. Which, again, isn't saying much.