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Old 04-18-2010, 06:55 PM  
cdcox cdcox is offline
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My fascinating study of the NFL draft

All the trade down talk got me thinking if there was a objective way to analyze this. So I came up with a methodology to assess the value of picks.

I basically looked at every draft from 2007 to 1993 (15 years worth of data). I considered picks 1, 5, 10, 15, 28 and 29. To rate the players, I used Pro-Football Reference's Approximate Value, which is an attempt to rate a player's contribution to his team. I compared approximate value per year for each pick: the higher the value the better the picks turned out to be. I then calculated the ratio of (draft value points)/(approximate value per year). The lower this ratio, the better the value of the pick. Here are the results (first entry is pick, second is draft value points, third is approximate value per year, fourth is draft value points required per unit of average value per year).


Pick Draft Value Points AVPY DVP/AVPY
1 3000 8.7 343
5 1700 7.5 228
10 1300 6.0 216
15 1050 5.4 193
28 660 6.2 105
29 640 5.5 115


For picks 1 through 15, there is a trend where the players drafted earlier ended up having better careers. But at pick 28 a funning thing happened in which players picked at 28 were better than those picked at 15 and those picked at 10. Looking at the list of players, Trevor Pryce and Derrick Brooks were two really good players picked at 28. But even removing those players, would only drop the AVPY to 4.75. So I analyzed round 29 and it turned out to yield at least as good of players as those drafted at 15. What's going on? Teams that draft later are better. They probably make better picks than those picking at 15. But this artifact can be overcome by picking as well as the good teams. The other factor is that good teams surround those 28 and 29 picks with better talent, so the players have a better chance of making an impact.

The last column is really interesting. It is the number of draft value points that a team needs to spend in order to get a unit of NFL production for each pick. You get a lot more value by picking late than you do picking early.

For example, drafting at pick 5 has the same number of draft value points as picking at 15 plus either 28 or 29. Picking at 5 you can expect to get 7.5 points of NFL production per year (Peyton Manning averages about 20 points of NFL production per year). But if you were instead to pick at 15 and 28 or 29 (approximately the same number of draft value points) you could expect about 11 points of production.

One final caveat. It is better to concentrate NFL production in fewer players. For example, I'd rather have one player contributing 10 points of production than two players contributing 5. The reason for this is that with the player contributing 10, you can put another player on the field. If he contributes anything, that pair will be better than the pair contributing 5 each.

I do think that the draft value chart might be flawed.

What does this mean for trading down? I think I'd rather have two players around 6 AVPY would be better than one contributing 7.5. Does that mean always trade down? No. If you really believe in a player at 5 you should take them. But if you are ambivalent, trading down makes a whole lot of sense.

Last edited by cdcox; 04-18-2010 at 07:21 PM..
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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I hit submit too soon. It's not fascinating yet.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:14 PM   #3
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I hit submit too soon. It's not fascinating yet.



Tell me when it's fascinating.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:17 PM   #4
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So , the #15 pick is the best value ?
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:20 PM   #5
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So , the #15 pick is the best value ?
Late picks like 28 and 29 give you the most on field production (on average) per invested draft value point.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:25 PM   #6
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Here are the players analyzed:

Pick 1.
Jamarcus Russell
Mario Williams
Alex Smith
Eli Manning
Carson Palmer
David Carr
Michael Vick
Courtney Brown
Tim Couch
Peyton Manning
Orlando Pace
Keyshawn Johnson
Ka-jinta Carter
Dan Wilkiinson
Drew Bledsoe

Pick 5.
Levi Brown
AJ Hawk
Cadalac Willams
Seat Taylor
Terrence Newman
Quentin Jammer
Ladanian Tomlinson
Jamal Lewis
Ricky Williams
Curtis Enis
Bryant Westbrook
Cedric Jones
Kerry Collins
Trev Alberts
John Copeland

Pick 10.
Amboi Okoye
Matt Leinart
Mile Williams
Dunta Robinson
Terrell Suggs
Levi Jones
Jamal Reynolds
Travis Taylor
Chris McAlister
Duane Starks
Chris Naeole
Willie Anderson
JJ Stokes
Jamir Miller
Jerrome Bettis

Pick 15.
Lawerence Timmons
Tye Hill
Derick Johnson
Michael Clayton
Jerome McDougle
Albert Haynesworth
Rod Gardner
Deltha O'Neal
Anthony McFarland
Anthony Simmons
Yatil Green
John Mobley
Ellis Johnson
Wayne Gardy
Wayne Simmons

Pick 28.
Joe Staley
Mercedes Lewis
Luis Castillo
Chris Gamble
Andre Woolfolk
Jerramy Stevens
Derrick Gibson
Rob Morris
Andy Katzenmoyer
RW McQuarters
Trevor Price
Jerome Woods
Derrick Brooks
William Floyd
Thomas Smith

Pick 29.
Ben Grubbs
Nick Mangold
Marlin Jackson
Michael Jenkins
Nick Barnett
Mac Colombo
Ryan Pickett
R Jay Soward
Dmetrius Underwood
John Avery
Chris Canty
Jamain Stephens
Blake Brokermeyer
Derrick Alexander
George Teague
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cdcox View Post
Late picks like 28 and 29 give you the most on field production (on average) per invested draft value point.
Picks 28 and 29 went to better teams. Those teams generally have better coaching, better systems, and better scouting.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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Tell me when it's fascinating.



still waiting
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cdcox View Post
Late picks like 28 and 29 give you the most on field production (on average) per invested draft value point.
you don't think that player 28 and 29 were drafted to teams around the super bowl level could be influencing things a little bit?
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Saul Good View Post
Picks 28 and 29 went to better teams. Those teams generally have better coaching, better systems, and better scouting.
As I mentioned in my post.

But if you are going to become a better team, you better count on having better coaching, a better system and better scouting. If you think you can pick as well as the good teams, and coach as well as the good teams, it can pay off to trade down. If you don't think your scouting and coaching is better than the good teams, you should go home and let someone else have a chance at running the team.

As I mentioned, I would never trade down, if I was convinced a player on the board was a difference maker or if I needed a QB and one was sitting there.
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:39 PM   #11
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you don't think that player 28 and 29 were drafted to teams around the super bowl level could be influencing things a little bit?
At the same time, it should be harder for a rookie to crack the starting lineup on a strong playoff team. So while they're surrounded with better talent if they do start, the odds of them starting should logically be lower. I'm not sure if that's the case, but in theory it should be.

Nice analysis, cdcox. I've long had the theory that there's a discontinuity in the draft that can be exploited in theory. Since each draft is unique, you're going to have some drafts where the draft chart overvalues higher picks and others where it overvalues lower picks. A person who can figure out what type of draft it is could conceivably stack the deck in their favor by trading up or down even if they give up "draft points". If it's a bad draft at the top, you can accept fewer points than the chart shows and still come out ahead. Same with trading up.
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:26 PM   #12
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Amazing none of the draftobators have weighed in here.
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:28 PM   #13
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Let's pick AJ Hawk at number 5.
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:31 PM   #14
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Amazing none of the draftobators have weighed in here.
He's only using certain numbers for one, and for 2 how do you quantify what production is from certain positions compared to others?

Hey you could take a guard first and get production, doesn't make it a good pick when productive guards go in the middle rounds.

You use the draft to maximize the value of all your picks, not just to "uh lets take something safe so we make sure we don't get a bust".
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Old 04-18-2010, 11:32 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by cdcox View Post
As I mentioned in my post.

But if you are going to become a better team, you better count on having better coaching, a better system and better scouting. If you think you can pick as well as the good teams, and coach as well as the good teams, it can pay off to trade down. If you don't think your scouting and coaching is better than the good teams, you should go home and let someone else have a chance at running the team.

As I mentioned, I would never trade down, if I was convinced a player on the board was a difference maker or if I needed a QB and one was sitting there.
Tell that to Scott Pioli when Eric Berry is still on the board.
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