Side Stories

NFL

Top10Busts Football Index: TFI

Given their propensity to trade future draft picks in the early 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys developed a quantitative tool to help them make better decisions. Commonly referred to as Jimmy Johnson’s Trade Value Chart, the methodology actually came into existence because of team executive Mike McCoy. Specifically, McCoy developed a numerical value for each draft position such that proposed trades could be evaluated quickly and objectively. Still in use today, that chart reflects how teams seemingly value future draft picks. Similarly, I created the Top10Busts Football Index (TFI) as a mechanism to value future picks based on expected production. McCoy tried to show what teams do. In contrast, I’m trying to show what teams should do.

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.

Side Stories

The Art Schlichter Effect (The Anti-Midas Touch)

According to Greek mythology, Icarus suffered a tragic fate after failing to heed his father’s advice about flying too close to the sun. In particular, he fell to his death when the wax binding his wings melted from the sun’s heat. Apparently, the ancient Greeks used the legend to teach about the need to avoid hubris (i.e. excessive pride). As detailed in my previous post, Art Schlichter’s hubris led to his own tragic fate. In particular, he failed as an NFL player after ignoring advice about the dangers of a gambling addiction. However, unlike Icarus, Schlichter brought down not only himself but also anyone close to him. The following post references another myth by detailing the extent of Schlicter’s anti-Midas touch.

NFL

Randy Moss or Jerry Rice – Who Ya Got?

If given the option, who would you chose between Jerry Rice and Randy Moss? Arguably the two greatest receivers in NFL history, one proved to be the epitome of excellence while the other had a flair for the spectacular. While Moss had impressive career totals of 156 TDs and over 15,000 yards, he fell far short of Rice’s career totals of 197 TDs and almost 23,000 yards. Still, I’d like to ask Tom Brady which receiver he’d prefer to have in his huddle. For that matter, I’d like to ask Joe Montana or Steve Young the same question. I imagine the former 49ers would stick together. However, I’m sure both QBs would have relished throwing to Moss as well.

Honorable Mention

Penn State Jinx

For those of you who might be curious as to whether or not The Penn State Jinx really exists, this post analyzes the four running backs (D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, and Curtis Enis) usually mentioned in support of the argument. While they don’t deserve to be called Top 10 Busts, their stories are worthwhile to clarify certain exemptions.

– As a 14th overall pick, Dozier was drafted too low (i.e. the Brady Quinn Exemption);

– With almost 3,000 yards from scrimmage, Thomas was too good (i.e. the Tony Mandarich Exemption); and

– Both Carter and Enis had their careers end prematurely because of injuries (i.e. the Steve Emtman Exemption).

With the worst career of the four, Dozier still earned an Honorable Mention despite his exemption.

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