View Full Version : Math to the Draft: First Round Position Analysis

03-23-2012, 03:29 AM
After my last post on the QB metrics on the draft forum, I've agreed to do a post in the VIP forum every week until the draft breaking down some of the metrics of the draft. I'm posting one each Friday there and then after it's there for a week, I'm moving them to this forum and posting a new one in the VIP forum. In honor of NFL Network's Path to the Draft, this weekly post will be Math to the Draft. Each week I'll be looking at a position group, a player, or actual statistics about the NFL Draft and I'll be posting them. Hope y'all enjoy.

This week I'm looking at the success rates of drafting certain positions in the NFL draft. Using the 2002-2006 draft classes, I've taken a look at whether the players are still on an NFL roster, whether they are currently starters (or were consistently starters, 3-5 years, before they aged), or have been Pro-Bowlers at any given point.

As far as the general statistics; on average there are about 11 (35% of first round) Pro-Bowlers taken in the first round of every draft. Conversely, 16% or about 5 players picked in each first round are out of football.


The topic on every Dolphin fan's mind is Quarterback. Between Luck, RGIII, Tannehill, Weeden, Flynn and Manning - we're nuts to see who is going to play the most important position on the field for us. In light of that, I'll start off with the QBs drafted from 2002-2006

17 Quarterbacks were taken in this time span, they range from David Carr and Patrick Ramsey to Eli Manning and Philip Rivers
Of those, only 2 aren't currently on a roster (Patrick Ramsey and Joey Harrington), I'm not counting Matt Leinart and Vince Young who will most likely find backup spots before the year starts
8 are currently on rosters but not starting, that's 47% - while some of them like Byron Leftwich have started - I'm looking at consistent success
7 are starters, which comes out to 41%
Incidentally,7 are also Pro-Bowlers (also 41%), but that includes Vince Young who was a Pro-Bowler one year and is not a starter now, and Alex Smith who has never made a Pro-Bowl but is currently a starter
Unlike many other positions (and quite obviously), QBs are overwhelmingly drafted early but (disregarding the small sample size) there is no correlation between success of going 1 overall or QBs drafted at 7-15

Given that a large Marshall shaped hole just opened up on the roster, we'll see what the percentages are like for WRs like Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, and Kendall Wright are.

20 drafted in the 1st rounds, from Ashlie Lelie (drafted by the Broncos in 2002 from Hawaii) to Andre Johnson
30% have made a Pro-Bowl sometime in their career
35% are currently starters, while 25% are unemployed and working the 9-5 grind
The other 10% are on rosters but are playing the 3rd or 4th WR role
Unlike QBs, teams are far more likely to just cut WRs given that you can find a lot more depth later in the draft. Unlike QBs, where these 1st round busts can at least be solid backups

This category was a bit hard because there's so many tweeners here, so I tried to go for guys who played OLB or DE instead of being transitioned to ILB or DT.

17 drafted in the 1st rounds
4 of them have been Pro-Bowlers (23.4%)
Unlike WRs, far more are starters at a 53% current or high past start rate, the rest are on rosters but not starting
Only 2 or 12% are totally out of the league
Pretty solid choice if you're looking at a pass rushing DE or a tweener at Courtney Upshaw. At the worst, you're likely to get an average starter, but the rate of hitting on a Pro-Bowler at 23.4% is less than the first round average of 35%

There's been some chatter surrounding Luke Kuechly and the Dolphins #8 pick (or possibly after trading back), so let's look at the rare phenomena of ILBs being drafted in the first round

Only 6 drafted in the 5 rounds I looked at, again a little difficult to distinguish ILBs from OLBs, this group includes Napoleon Harris and Robert Thomas
None of these were named to a Pro-Bowl, I did miss Patrick Willis by one year, so this is going to exclude his awesome play
2 are starters, 2 are on rosters, 2 are unemployed - makes it pretty easy on me

For anyone who is feeling Trent Richardson at #8 (assuming he falls there) here are some stats for you:

14 total were drafted in these rounds, and of course these drafts being 6-10 years ago RBs were a little more prevalent then than they are now, also dealing with the rapid aging problem of RBs, we have a lot of RBs that were Pro-Bowlers (Larry Johnson) but can't even break a roster now
43% or 6 were Pro-Bowlers, a very high amount for the first round
On the flip side, 21% are out of football all together, so you have a definite boom or bust potential here
Other less detailed stats, that I thought were interesting:

Toward the end of the 5 drafts I looked at (in the 20-32 range) there were far more busts and people who are just on the rosters and not starting. It makes sense because it's not necessarily guaranteed talent
The Pro-Bowl rate on corners is 37% and the unemployment rate is 16% (gives a bit of justification to the Vontae pick a while back)
The Pro-Bowl rate on OTs is 46%, pretty good amount for those who are pushing for a solid RT at #8 or in a trade back
The stats also kind of lead into an interesting discussion over whether you should trade a 1st round pick or use it on a tendered player like Mike Wallace from the Steelers. I mean if you are seriously looking at a Wide Reciever at #8, like Justin Blackmon (if he slides, however unlikely) or Michael Floyd - and by God you have to have one, it's the only pick you want to make; are you better off just using your first on the tender for Mike Wallace (this, of course, is disregarding the fact that you'd have to give him far more money than a first rounder)?

Given that Wallace is only 25 and Floyd and Blackmon are 22, and the Pro-Bowl rate for WRs is 30% - do you just go for the sure thing? I'm not advocating using #8 on Wallace's tender, but it could be interesting food for thought or discussion for WRs or other positions where you could potentially trade your first for a solid starter.

Next week it's looking like I'll be doing a matchup comparison of Dwayne Allen and Colby Fleener in the battle of the 2nd round seam-stretching TEs, so check that out next Friday. Thanks for reading.

03-23-2012, 07:38 AM
Picking in the 22-32 range of the 1st round is the worst place to be in the entire draft. That's why Belichick likes to accumulate 2nd round picks. The top half of the 2nd round is a much better slot to be picking in than the latter portion of the 1st round.

You're essentially choosing from the same quality of talent pool in the 25-50 range overall, but with less binding contracts in the 2nd round.