Thursday, April 25, 2013

NFL Draft History (Part 3)

As the hours count down to the 2013 NFL Draft, this chart shows just how important draft POSITION is to overall projected NFL success. This shows the average Career Approximate Value (CAV) by what spot the player was taken, from 1-32 and from 1970-2012:

The average value of the 10th pick is around 75% of the #1, and the #20 pick roughly half the value of the #1 pick. This should come as no surprise, since a dispassionate analysis of most drafts will show about 10-15 (and that 15 is being generous) true can't-miss prospects, which assumes they can stay healthy. The problem is to confuse potential All-Pros with serviceable players, since a team doesn't need to have the best player at every position as much as a good one.

There are no surpises in those 43 #1 picks--by position:
Defensive End--9
Running Back--6
Defensive Tackle--2
Wide Receiver--2

And even that's deceptive--here's the last time any position OTHER than QB was taken #1:
Defensive End--2006 (Mario Williams)
Running Back--1995 (Ki-Jana Carter--how'd THAT turn out?)
Defensive Tacke--1994 (Dan Wilkinson)
Linebacker--1988 (Aundray Bruce)
Tacke--2008 (Jake Long)
Wide Receiver--1996 (Keyshawn Johnson)

Now, to really break things out for these top picks. This chart shows these picks by:
1. Busts (no games)
2. Flameouts (1-49 games)
3. Solid (50-99 games)
4. Great value (100+ games)

There are no judgments on the QUALITY of the games played. For example, John Elway played 234 games in the NFL and Vinny Testaverde played 233, which places them in the same group here when anyone lacking sawdust between their ears knows this isn't true. However, in one sense, Testaverde answered questions for his teams for many years--they had no doubts who was going to start at QB, freeing them up to address other needs. Say what you want about him, he didn't play 233 games because coaches and GMs were throwing up their hands and saying "Oh well, it could be worse, I guess..."

This chart breaks down the players by the CAV to separate the great from the merely serviceable. This is an important distinction, since whomever is chosen #1 tonight won't be picked because they might play a long time--teams expect IMPACT from the #1 pick. I was all set to put in a chart, but a line graph shows it quite nicely:

Not too often do you see a correlation that clear. If it isn't obvious, the horizontal axis is draft picks 1-32, and the value is the Career Approximate Value per Game played. This helps normalize careers that are still in progress, and what was discussed earlier is graphically shown:
1. Picks 1-5 are that much better than the rest
2. Picks 6-15 are roughly similar, meaning teams are advised to fill needs as opposed to drafting the "best available player."
3. Other than some blips (the spike at #18 comes courtesy of one Art Monk, and the blip at #24 is Ed Reed), it becomes a slow but steady decline in value.

This last chart ties it all together and shows the best player by CAV per pick, the person in the mid-range and the person with the lowest CAV:

This is a ton of information between the three posts I made. I don't make judgments, merely present the information. 

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