Introduction

Introduction

Value of a Top 10 NFL Draft Pick (Defense)

As detailed in my last post, I was intrigued by Mel Kiper’s pre-draft comment that running backs such as Todd Gurley and Mel Gordon should be avoided in the first round even though they were top prospects. In response, I reviewed previous drafts from 1977-2007 to evaluate top ten draft picks by position. In this post, I evaluate draft picks on the defensive side of the ball to determine which positions are the most worthwhile. As a quick summary:

Defensive Linemen: 5% are complete busts / 45% make at least one Pro Bowl / 20% are truly game changers;

Defensive Backs: 10% are complete busts / 60% make at least one Pro Bowl / 15% are truly game changers; and

Linebackers: 5% are complete busts / 50% make at least one Pro Bowl / 15% are truly game changers.

Based on these numbers, it appears that defensive linemen offer the best risk/return profile with the lowest percentage of busts and highest percentage of game changers. With respect to defensive backs vs. linebackers, the decision is less clear with DBs having more upside and more downside.

Introduction

Value of a Top 10 NFL Draft Pick (Offense)

The most interesting debate from the first night of the 2015 NFL Draft involved the exchange between Chris Berman and Mel Kiper regarding the sensibility of taking a running back in the first round. As Berman pushed for teams to select highly rated running backs Todd Gurley and Mel Gordon, Kiper argued that teams shouldn’t waste a first round pick on either player. Specifically, the long-time NFL draft expert claimed productive running backs could be found in later rounds. In response, I researched early first round picks to determine which positions provide the most value.

Quarterbacks: 25% were complete busts / 50% became Pro Bowl players / 20% won at least one Super Bowl;

Running Backs: 20% were complete busts / 55% became Pro Bowl players / 25% are Hall-of-Fame caliber;

Receivers: 10% were complete busts / 50% became Pro Bowl players / 30% could be considered game changers; and

Offensive Linemen: 5% were complete busts / 60% became Pro Bowl players /25% made at least five Pro Bowls.

So, which position offers the best risk/return profile? You’ll just have to read on.

Introduction

Ricky Williams: Bad Pick vs. Bad Trade?

In general, higher draft picks perform better than lower draft picks. That statement obviously doesn’t tell you anything new. However, have you ever wondered how much better? Fortunately, pro-football-reference.com has developed a proprietary statistic to quantify a player’s value. Called Weighted Average Value (WAV), the statistic can be used to rank all-time greats as well as to determine all-time busts. Furthermore, it can be applied to evaluate trades involving future draft picks. For instance, the Saints gave up draft picks totaling an expected WAV of 175 in order to get the rights to Ricky Williams. You probably already know that the Saints made a bad decision. After reading this post, you’ll learn how bad.

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