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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    To test the draftnik conventional wisdom, I went back and looked at the 1998 through 2008 drafts and calculated the average draft selection round of future Pro Bowl players at each position (this task was made realtively simply by Wikipedia, which maintains a complete list of each draft with Pro Bowl players highlighted). I included undrafted players, who I assigned a value of 8 (as in, the "eighth round" of the draft).

    The results were interesting in that they were very close to what I expected:

    Position/Average Round (Pro Bowl Players)

    Defensive Tackle/1.94
    Offensive Tackle/2.00
    Running Back/2.00
    Cornerback/2.08
    Safety/2.14
    Wide Receiver/2.54
    Defensive End/2.70
    Quarterback/2.76
    Tight End/2.91
    Linebacker/2.96
    Guard/3.00
    Center/3.30
    Fullback/5.00

    This analysis really supports those who favor taking a DT or OT in the first round. Top players at these positions are typically gone on the first day of the draft.

    It also supports those who argue that it does not make sense to take a guy like Andre Smith in the first round if you think he'll ultimately be an OG, rather than an OT. Top guards are often available later in the draft.

    This analysis also shows why teams are often reluctant to take LBs and WRs early in the draft (last year, not a single WR was taken in Round 1). These depth of quality at these positions tends to go past the first round.

    Finally, the QB position, as I expected, was middle of the pack. There have been a lot of top QBs taken in the first round, no doubt. But, on average, these are balanced by the late round hits (Brady, Hasselbeck, Bulger, Romo).

    So... are you surprised, or do you feel vindicated?


  2. #2
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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    This is pretty much what I expected overall. I'm surprised the defensive end number is as high as it is (that is, I expected the average Pro-Bowl DE to go a bit sooner) but the others make a lot of sense.

    I'm sure others will point out that there are a lot of conflating variables mixed in here that skew some numbers, but even though it's pretty crude I think that it does tell us something - if you want pro-bowl tackles, get em quickly.

  3. #3
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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    LB surprises me. But then my memory is altered by recent early LB draft successes:

    2008 - 1.6 Vernon Gholston, 1.9 Keith Rivers, 1.10 Jared Mayo, 2.6 Curtis Lofton

    2007 - 1.11 Patrick Willis, 1.15 Lawrence Timmons, 1.25 Jon Beason, 2.2 Paul Posloszny, 2.15 David Harris

    2006 - 1.5 A.J. Hawk, 1.9 Ernie Sims, 1.17 Chad Greenway, 1.18 Bobby Carpenter, 1.22 Manny Lawson, 2.1 DeMarco Ryans, 2.2 D'Qwell Jackson, 2.3 Rocky McIntosh


    Of those guys, there is what 2, mebbe 3, yould wouldn't want (Gholston, Carpenter & mebbe Timmons?). I'd say that was a solid bunch of guys really.

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    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by Weddle View Post
    LB surprises me. But then my memory is altered by recent early LB draft successes:

    2008 - 1.6 Vernon Gholston, 1.9 Keith Rivers, 1.10 Jared Mayo, 2.6 Curtis Lofton

    2007 - 1.11 Patrick Willis, 1.15 Lawrence Timmons, 1.25 Jon Beason, 2.2 Paul Posloszny, 2.15 David Harris

    2006 - 1.5 A.J. Hawk, 1.9 Ernie Sims, 1.17 Chad Greenway, 1.18 Bobby Carpenter, 1.22 Manny Lawson, 2.1 DeMarco Ryans, 2.2 D'Qwell Jackson, 2.3 Rocky McIntosh


    Of those guys, there is what 2, mebbe 3, yould wouldn't want (Gholston, Carpenter & mebbe Timmons?). I'd say that was a solid bunch of guys really.
    A lot of those players have never made the Pro Bowl.

    As for the DE number, I too was little surprised. However, there have been some late round choices who have had high sack totals on good defenses and, as a result, made the Pro Bowl.

  5. #5
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    So... are you surprised, or do you feel vindicated?
    Confused .. What exactly do the numbers illustrate? Start with #1 on your list: Defensive Tackle. 1.94 ... What does the 1.94 stand for over the ten year period as opposed to 2.00 for Offensive Tackle? Sorry for being such a dim bulb, but this is an interesting premise on certain player positions seeming to merit more consideration for being selected higher in the draft, particularly first round selections.

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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    By way of example...

    If 10 of a postion (OT, DT, DE, etc.) selected in the period in question (1998-2008) made the Pro Bowl, I added up the numerical value of the rounds in the draft when they were selected.

    Thus, if 2 of the Pro Bowlers were taken in Round 1, 2 in Round 2, 2 in Round 3, 2 in round 4, and 2 in round five, that would be 1+1+2+2+3+3+4+4+5+5= 30. The total is then divided by the number of players or, in this case 30/10 = 3.00, which is the average draft round of the players selected.

    Thus, the lower the number, the earlier (on average) the Pro Bowlers at that position were selected. If every Pro Bowl player at a position was taken in the 1st round, that position's average draft round would be 1.00.

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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    I've seen articles before that have argued the success rate for first round offensive tackles is higher than for other positions, and that the bust rate for first round receivers is higher than average. Your findings seem pretty consistent with what I'd expect.

    Your rationale on quarterbacks makes sense, but it was still a little bit of a surprise. Given the promising futures of Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philips, Cutler, Rodgers, Ryan, Flacco, Campbell, Palmer, and other first rounders, it will be interesting to see whether the trend continues to play out that way. It at least seems like we're seeing fewer first round busts at quarterback these days.

  8. #8
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    Re: Stats Confirm That Certain Positions Merit High Draft Choices

    QBs were interesting in that there were a lot of first round Pro Bowlers, and a few late round/undrafted Pro Bowlers. There were few drafted in Rounds 2-5 (Drew Brees is one exception).

    I think that tells us that the scouts generally can spot the top QBs, but there are a few "late bloomers" who really fall through the cracks.

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