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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

04 Apr 2007

Five Years of Draft Picks

Guest Column by Mike Horn

Now that free agency has drifted into the second phase (also known as "Daniel Snyder has run out of cap room"), the draft is the next big event on the NFL calendar. I needed a football fix not generated by a Peter King column. I'm not a draftaholic, but I started wondering what positions get drafted most frequently by which teams. Regular readers of Football Outsiders know about the Patriots and tight ends, but what other patterns exist?

To look for those patterns, I compiled five years of data from the extraordinarily useful drafthistory.com. (Why five years? So we don't have to adjust for the non-existent Houston Texans.) What follows is more reference material than analysis, although there are some comments. I don't think this data can necessarily help you predict this draft -- and you probably know more about your favorite team than I do. But when your local blowhard says (or writes in his blog), "Team X always takes a defensive back in the draft", you have some charts to refer rather than digging around at drafthistory.com for half an hour on the company's time. And maybe you can point out to your new best friend that Team X has drafted fewer defensive backs than any team except the Cardinals over the last five years.

Here's the raw data of teams and their draft picks by position for 2002-2006:

Draft Picks From 2002-2006 By Team and Position
Team QB RB WR TE T G C DE DT LB DB K/P Tot Wins
ARI 3 2 6 2 1 2 2 4 5 7 2 0/0 36 25
ATL 3 5 7 0 3 1 0 3 3 3 6 0/0 34 40.5
BAL 4 5 8 3 3 0 3 3 4 3 7 0/2 45 45
BUF 1 4 5 2 4 4 1 2 5 4 7 0/0 39 35
CAR 2 5 3 4 4 3 2 4 1 4 9 0/0 41 44
CHI 3 4 7 1 1 3 0 4 5 5 9 0/0 42 40
CIN 3 2 6 1 5 1 1 6 3 5 7 1/0 41 37
CLE 2 5 3 2 2 2 3 3 2 8 7 0/0 39 28
DAL 0 3 5 4 4 3 2 5 1 3 10 0/0 40 39
DEN 3 6 7 2 1 2 3 4 3 2 7 1/0 41 51
DET 2 5 5 2 4 1 0 4 1 6 9 0/0 39 22
GB 3 1 8 0 4 1 3 3 5 6 9 0/1 44 44
HOU 4 5 5 2 3 1 3 4 5 4 8 0/0 44 24
IND 1 3 0 2 4 2 1 5 2 6 14 2/0 42 60
JAX 2 5 5 3 4 1 0 4 3 5 8 2/0 42 40
KC 2 2 4 1 5 1 0 4 4 6 6 0/1 36 47
MIA 0 2 4 2 4 3 2 1 4 3 7 0/0 32 38
MIN 1 3 3 1 3 1 1 5 2 7 7 0/1 35 38
NE 3 3 5 6 0 4 1 4 5 1 8 1/0 41 59
NO 2 2 6 2 3 2 1 5 4 5 5 0/0 37 38
NYG 1 1 7 2 3 2 1 6 2 3 8 0/0 36 39
NYJ 2 4 3 3 4 1 1 3 4 4 10 1/0 40 39
OAK 2 2 6 2 5 1 2 5 1 6 9 0/0 41 26
PHI 1 4 5 1 4 5 2 4 4 5 8 0/0 43 53
PIT 3 4 5 3 3 3 2 4 2 2 7 0/0 38 50.5
SD 3 3 4 1 6 3 3 2 4 4 6 2/1 42 47
SEA 3 3 3 3 4 2 1 3 3 7 5 1/3 41 48
SF 4 1 9 5 1 4 1 3 5 3 9 1/1 47 30
STL 3 3 5 6 2 5 2 2 2 7 9 0/1 47 41
TB 2 4 8 5 3 4 2 3 1 3 9 0/0 44 39
TEN 1 6 7 2 4 2 1 4 5 6 12 0/0 50 40
WAS 3 4 2 3 3 2 0 1 2 4 5 0/0 29 33
Grand
Total
72 111 166 78 104 72 47 117 102 147 249 12/ 11 1288 1280
Max 4 6 9 6 6 5 3 6 5 8 14 2/3 50 60
Min 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 0/0 29 22
Mean 2.3 3.5 5.2 2.4 3.3 2.3 1.5 3.7 3.2 4.6 7.8 0.3 40.3 40.0
Median 2 3.5 5 2 3.5 2 1 4 3 4.5 8 0 41 39.5

Again, the draft information is from drafthistory.com, so safeties are not separated for cornerbacks and fullbacks are not separated from halfbacks. Positions reflect what the players were drafted as, not what they play in the NFL. Wins are regular season only, so please no complaints that your franchise has been disrespected.

The cells highlighted in green reflect a maximum value for that category; cells in yellow reflect a minimum. At the end of the article, I've included tables breaking the draft into its first and second day.

Here's the same information as in the previous table, but displayed in a different way (plus a little Day 1/Day 2 data thrown in):

Summary by Position of Draft Picks 2002-2006
POS Total MAX/TM MIN/TM Day 1 Day 2 D2/D1
DB 249 14 IND 2 ARI 102 147 1.44
WR 166 9 SF 0 IND 63 103 1.63
LB 147 8 CLE 1 NE 68 79 1.16
DE 117 6 CIN
NYG
1 MIA
WAS
47 70 1.49
RB 111 6 DEN
TEN
1 SF
NYG
GB
37 74 2.00
T 104 6 SD 0 NE 36 68 1.89
DT 102 5 Various 1 Various 36 66 1.83
TE 78 6 NE
STL
0 ATL
GB
29 49 1.69
G 72 5 PHI
STL
0 BAL 22 50 2.27
QB 72 4 SF
BAL
HOU
0 DAL
MIA
28 44 1.57
C 47 3 Various 0 Various 16 31 1.94
K 12 2 SD
IND
JAX
0 Various 2 10 5.00
P 11 3 SEA 0 Various 2 9 4.50
Tot 1288 50 29 488 800 1.64

The color-coding reflects positions drafted at roughly the same frequency, for example, the numbers of WR and LB drafted have more in common with each other than with the other positions.

The MAX/TM columns capture the maximum number drafted at each position by a specific team (or teams) in this five-year period. The MIN/TM is the same information for the minimums. "Various" means a lot of teams drafted the maximum or minimum number.

The Day 1 column shows the number taken at each position in Rounds 1-3 of the draft; Day 2 is for Rounds 4-7. D2/D1 shows the ratio of players at each position drafted on the second day vs. the first. Since there were more second day picks (800) than first day (488), the overall ratio of 1.64:1 is reflected in the Grand Total row.

I've highlighted the "LB" D2/D1 number in dark blue font because it is the smallest number by a considerable margin. NFL teams would seem to want to draft linebackers on Day 1. On the other hand, I've shown the "G" D2/D1 number in red -- guards seems to be something the NFL goes after on Day 2 of the draft. Kickers and Punters are also Day 2 positions (must... not... make... Mike Nugent... joke...).

Not surprisingly, there are more defensive backs drafted than any other position: defenses almost always have more DBs on the field at a time than players at any other position, and often play five or more. Plus DBs have value on return and coverage teams. What did interest me was that the Colts had drafted 14 DBs, easily the most players at one position by any one team over the last five years. The second most common choice was DBs by the Titans (12) who had the most total picks (50) in five years, so they could spread them around more. The Colts used a third of their picks on DBs -- no other team used over a quarter. Now the Colts have been known to use a DB as a linebacker, but that's still a lot of DBs (and they drafted an above average number of LBs too).

At the other end of the DB spectrum are the Cardinals. They only drafted two DBs in five years: both on Day 1 in 2005 (Antrel Rolle and Eric Green). No other team drafted fewer than five DBs. There doesn't seem to be much correlation between drafting DBs and wins (0.23, but only 0.03 if I take the Colts out and -0.17 if both the Cardinals and Colts are removed from the sample). I wonder what the Arizona front office thinks it knows that the rest of the league doesn't.

Wide receivers are the second most-drafted position. I would have thought it would be linebackers, as most teams have three or four LBs in their base defense compared to two or maybe three WRs in their most-used offensive alignment. But except for the odd quarterback or two converted to WR, most NFL receivers seem to come into the league at that position, while some LBs are drafted as DBs or DEs. So perhaps that explains it.

In any case, the 49ers have been the team drafting the most WRs. They've also tied for the top spot in drafting QBs and third in drafting TEs. My guess is that the constant changes in offensive systems have caused them to have to repeatedly draft players with different skills at these positions. In the final year under Mariucci and first year under Erickson, San Francisco was running the West Coast Offense. In Year 2 of the Erickson Era, quite a big deal was made of abandoning the WCO that had been in place since the Walsh Dynasty. Then the Nolan Restoration brought back the WCO in 2005 with OC Mike McCarthy, but only briefly because Norv Turner came in with his offense in 2006 (the last two 49er OCs got head coaching jobs -- I guess the NFL really does reward excellence). Perhaps all this churning of systems led to draft pick after pick being spent on players suited to the offense du jour who became superfluous in the next OC's scheme. Or maybe the 49ers just found WRs, QBs, and TEs to consistently be the best players available. Or they could just have drafted badly...

Then there's the Colts, who haven't drafted a wideout since Reggie Wayne in 2001. And have kept their offensive system in place since before Jim Mora Sr. was wondering if his team would make the playoffs. Interestingly, the Colts have been emulating the old 49ers, who went 20-some years with one offensive system. Or maybe the Colts were so happy with their two main wideouts, Manning-favorite Brandon Stokely, and TE/WR Dallas Clark that they didn't need any more receivers.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the Browns are to linebackers what the 49ers are to wide receivers. I'm not as familiar with the Brown defensive coordinator travails as I am with the 49ers' OCs. I do note that the Romeo Crennel/Phil Savage Browns have drafted four LBs in two years. Meanwhile, the Patriots have drafted one "LB" in five years (a fifth rounder at that). New England did take a median number of DEs (four) in this period, two of whom are now listed at linebacker (Tully Banta-Cain and Jeremy Mincey -- Mincey never played with the Pats and was picked up by the Jaguars). In any case, the New England front office has tried to man its 3-4 with linebackers accumulated less through the draft than the Browns even though their head coaches presumably run comparable defensive systems (the Patriots drafting three LB-types in five years vs. the Browns taking four LBs in the last two years alone).

I also noticed that two teams that I think of as having strong linebacking corps, Pittsburgh and Denver, each only drafted two LBs. When I looked at the Steeler depth chart, I saw that only Larry Foote (Round 4, 2002) among its 2006 starters entered the league in the time frame I'm examining. I'm sure a lot of you knew this, but I hadn't realized the degree to which the Steelers LB corps was aging and not being replenished through the draft. The Broncos had used a #1 on D.J. Williams in 2004, and need fewer LBs in their 4-3 alignment than the Steelers' 3-4 requires, so their low number of LBs drafted is a little less remarkable.

Meanwhile, the Broncos spent six picks accumulating running backs to plug into their vaunted star-RB assembly line, and that's without drafting any RBs 2006. Of course, last year they signed undrafted rookie free agent Mike Bell instead of using a pick on him. Neither Denver nor Tennessee, the other team drafting six RBs from 2002-2006, drafted one in the first round. The teams only taking one back (Giants, 49ers, and Packers) took their choices in round 3 or later as well.

The Chargers have consistently taken an offensive tackle in the late rounds (missing only 2003 but picking two in 2004) -- even last year when they found wunderkind Marcus McNeill 50 players into the draft they also took Jerome Clary in the sixth round. Meanwhile the Patriots haven't spent a pick on an OT since 2001 (Matt Light and Kenyatta Jones). Just to illustrate how drafting patterns can change, though, New England took five OTs from 1999-2001.

Defensive tackle, which falls right in the middle of all the positions in popularity as a draft pick, seems to inspire strong opinions. Eight different teams tied for the maximum number of DTs chosen (five) while four other teams only drafted one each. Aside from kickers and punters, only centers had that many teams at the extremes. Six teams took the maximum number of centers (three) and six drafted the minimum (zero).

Probably no one who has bothered to read this far is surprised that the Patriots are a leading consumer of tight ends. But the Rams? For the last five years, the Rams have thrown the ball to their tight ends less than any other team in the league (226 pass targets, just ahead of the Steelers' 230 and of course Pittsburgh threw the ball a lot less overall than the Rams). Even last year with Mike Martz gone and two rookie tight ends taken on the first day of the draft, the Rams seldom threw to their TEs.

The Falcons took Alge Crumpler in 2001 and haven't drafted a TE since. The Packers last took a TE in 2000 (Bubba Franks) not counting WR-convert David Martin, picked in 2001. That ties the Ravens (guard) for the longest current streak of not drafting at a position.

The Ravens do like to draft QBs, four in six years, although they mixed in three sixth or seventh rounders with Kyle Boller before turning to FA to fill the position with Captain Checkdown. And the Texans, despite taking David Carr at #1 in their very first draft, didn't hesitate to take three more QBs in 2003-2004. Meanwhile the Cowboys and Dolphins haven't drafted a QB since 2001 (Quincy Carter and Josh Heupel) although they've certainly picked up quarterbacks through other means, including Drew Henson, who was originally a sixth round pick in 2003 - by the Texans.

Centers were the least drafted non-special teams position. But when you consider that there are half as many centers (and quarterbacks) starting in college as guards, proportionately a larger number of those centers are getting drafted by the NFL. Guards are the least likely position to get drafted relative to their supply (and demand). And, as already mentioned, guards have been viewed as "second day" players in the draft. It will be interesting to see if the increased value placed on guards as measured by their highly-publicized large FA contracts translates into a different draft demand -- or if those contracts were just a small sample aberration.

Say what you want about the Jets, at least they only drafted one kicker. The Jags, Chargers, and Colts have taken two each -- accounting for half the kickers chosen in the last five years. And the Colts don't even have their choices (admittedly a sixth and a seventh) on their roster anymore.

That brings me to Seattle and its punters. There's a tale to tell. But it's already been told (see Pro Football Prospectus 2006).

The next chart rolls up the positions into some larger groupings:

Draft Picks From 2002-2006 By Team and Position Grouping
Team D O KP D/O DB B7 F7 DL OL OO TR Tot Wins
IND 27 13 2 0.68 14 20 13 7 7 6 0.35 42 60
MIN 21 13 1 0.62 7 14 14 7 5 8 0.35 35 38
KC 20 15 1 0.57 6 12 14 8 6 9 0.40 36 47
CHI 23 19 0 0.55 9 14 14 9 4 15 0.31 42 40
TEN 27 23 0 0.54 12 18 15 9 7 16 0.32 50 40
NYJ 21 18 1 0.54 10 14 11 7 6 12 0.33 40 39
GB 23 20 1 0.53 9 15 14 8 8 12 0.37 44 44
NYG 19 17 0 0.53 8 11 11 8 6 11 0.39 36 39
CIN 21 19 1 0.53 7 12 14 9 7 12 0.40 41 37
NO 19 18 0 0.51 5 10 14 9 6 12 0.41 37 38
CLE 20 19 0 0.51 7 15 13 5 7 12 0.31 39 28
DET 20 19 0 0.51 9 15 11 5 5 14 0.26 39 22
OAK 21 20 0 0.51 9 15 12 6 8 12 0.34 41 26
ARI 18 18 0 0.50 2 9 16 9 5 13 0.39 36 25
JAX 20 20 2 0.50 8 13 12 7 5 15 0.30 42 40
PHI 21 22 0 0.49 8 13 13 8 11 11 0.44 43 53
SEA 18 19 4 0.49 5 12 13 6 7 12 0.35 41 48
HOU 21 23 0 0.48 8 12 13 9 7 16 0.36 44 24
DAL 19 21 0 0.48 10 13 9 6 9 12 0.38 40 39
MIA 15 17 0 0.47 7 10 8 5 9 8 0.44 32 38
BUF 18 21 0 0.46 7 11 11 7 9 12 0.41 39 35
NE 18 22 1 0.45 8 9 10 9 5 17 0.35 41 59
SF 20 25 2 0.44 9 12 11 8 6 19 0.31 47 30
ATL 15 19 0 0.44 6 9 9 6 4 15 0.29 34 40.5
CAR 18 23 0 0.44 9 13 9 5 9 14 0.34 41 44
STL 20 26 1 0.43 9 16 11 4 9 17 0.28 47 41
WAS 12 17 0 0.41 5 9 7 3 5 12 0.28 29 33
SD 16 23 3 0.41 6 10 10 6 12 11 0.46 42 47
DEN 16 24 1 0.40 7 9 9 7 6 18 0.33 41 51
BAL 17 26 2 0.40 7 10 10 7 6 20 0.30 45 45
PIT 15 23 0 0.39 7 9 8 6 8 15 0.37 38 50.5
TB 16 28 0 0.36 9 12 7 4 9 19 0.30 44 39
Total 615 650 23 0.49 249 396 366 219 223 427 0.35 1288 1280
Max 27 28 4 0.68 14 20 16 9 12 20 0.46 50 60
Min 12 13 0 0.36 2 9 7 3 4 6 0.26 29 22
Mean 19.2 20.3 0.7 0.49 7.8 12.4 11.4 6.8 7.0 13.3 0.35 40.3 40.0
Median 20 20 0 0.49 8 12 11 7 7 12 0.35 41 39.5

I've used bright green and bright yellow as I did in the first table. I'll explain the paler colors below. A key to the letter codes:
D = Defense; total defensive players drafted.
O = Offense.
KP = Kitchen Police (just checking, actually Kickers and Punters).
D/O = Percentage of defensive players chosen; the chart is sorted on this column.
DB = Still defensive backs.
B7 = Back Seven, DB + LB in the first table.
F7 = Front Seven, LB + DT + DE.
DL = Defensive Linemen, DT + DE.
OL = Offensive Linemen, C + G + T.
OO = Other Offensive Players, commonly mis-termed "skill players" as if any big ol' fat guy can play the line.
TR = Trench Ratio, the number of lineman (OL + DL) chosen divided by the total number of offensive and defensive players drafted. Not actually a ratio, now that I think about it.

The Colts have a distinct profile on this chart: they have drafted the most defensive (27) and fewest offensive (13) players, both in raw numbers and in the percentage of defensive players taken (0.68). Those defenders have been heavily weighted toward their back seven, and have minimized the number of non-linemen on offense (only six OO). The result has been the most regular season wins over the last five years. Obviously, having and retaining key offensive stars has been part of that and cap management has been linked to their draft strategy.

Other observations:

I was under the impression that defenders were more often drafted than offensive players -- maybe because I'm a Chiefs fan and they have been one of the heaviest drafters of defenders (percentage-wise). In fact, the league slightly favors drafting for offense (650 to 615).

The Bucs have been the team drafting the most on the offensive side of the ball, both in total numbers (28) and weighting (D/O = 0.36). I think that equates to "aging defense". The fact that Tampa has also drafted the fewest front seven defenders, tied with the draft pick-deprived Redskins (DPDR), in the last five years is also notable.

In the D/O column, I've highlighted in pale green and yellow the teams with the second highest and lowest percentages of defensive players drafted. You can see that the gaps between the Colts (0.06) and the Bucs (0.03) and the next closest team on either extreme are pretty large; only the spread from the Vikings to the Chiefs (0.05) is that big anywhere else. Those two franchises have really been outliers in how they've drafted.

In the various position groupings, the Cardinals are notable because of their focus on their front seven. They tied for the lead in most DL drafted, and that, combined with an above average number of LBs selected, also gave them the lead in the front seven category.

Several teams tied with the Cardinals in drafting nine DL, but the Bears stand out because they didn't place similar emphasis on the OL, where they and the Falcons only drafted four players. There is always a lot of talk about whether the Falcons' woes in the passing game are due to the quarterback or the receivers. But at some level you have to wonder if the lack of talent drafted along the line has also been a factor. I know the zone-blocking scheme and line guru Alex Gibbs were supposed to compensate, but drafting no first day lineman since 2000 might not be the way to go.

I already mentioned the Chargers' having drafted the most offensive tackles. They also totaled double-digit OL overall, the only team besides the Eagles to spend that many picks on the O-line. Because of that, San Diego had the highest percentage of players drafted for the "trenches" (0.46) by a couple of percentage points. The Eagles and Dolphins (who both took the most guards) tied for second in this category (0.44), also a few percentages points above the next team. The Eagles, though, drafted 19 lineman to the Dolphins' 14, as Philadelphia had many more picks than Miami.

Then there's the Lions. Apparently former LB Matt Millen, among his other quirks, doesn't have much use for drafting linemen. His team chose the lowest percentage of players in the trenches from 2002-2006 -- and only the DPDR drafted fewer lineman total. None of the Lions' OL picks were on Day 1.

Noted with interest: the Ravens drafted the most OO players of any team, over three times as many as the Colts. No wonder that playoff game was the Ravens offense vs. the Colts defense.

Thanks to drafting three punters, the Seahawks dominate the KP category. Over half of all franchises have not drafted a KP in the last five years. The correlation between KPs drafted and wins was higher (0.40) than for any other category in the table. Not a real strong correlation and I have no explanation for it other than perhaps good teams are more willing to draft specialists than bad ones, but there it is. Several of the correlations were close to zero and I've already discussed the DB-wins correlation. Two positive correlations with wins might have some meaning, OL (0.21) and TR (0.25), and obviously they are not independent of each other. The largest negative correlation (-0.15) was for the front seven. The more statistically-educated readers can speak more authoritatively than I can on this, so I'm not going to comment further.

The next chart really just summarizes a lot of the information in the first table: the total number of draft picks each team had and the positions on which they focused their drafting (or ignored) relative to the rest of the league:

Summary of Maximum and Minimum Draft Picks
By Position From 2002-2006
Team Total MAX POS MIN POS Wins
TEN 50 2 RB, DT 2 K, P 40
SF 47 3 WR, DT, QB 1 RB 30
STL 47 2 TE, G 1 K 41
BAL 45 2 QB, C 2 G, K 45
TB 44 0 -- 3 DT, K, P 39
GB 44 2 DT, C 3 RB, TE, K 44
HOU 44 3 DT, QB, C 2 K, P 24
PHI 43 1 G 2 K, P 53
CHI 42 1 DT 3 C, K, P 40
SD 42 3 T, C, K 0 -- 47
IND 42 2 DB, K 2 WR, P 60
JAX 42 1 K 2 C, P 40
CIN 41 1 DE 1 P 37
DEN 41 2 RB, C 1 P 51
CAR 41 0 -- 3 DT, K, P 44
NE 41 2 DT, TE 3 LB, T, P 59
OAK 41 0 -- 3 DT, K, P 26
SEA 41 1 P 0 -- 48
DAL 40 0 -- 4 DT, QB, K, P 39
NYJ 40 0 -- 1 P 39
BUF 39 1 DT 2 K, P 35
CLE 39 1 LB 2 K, P 28
DET 39 0 -- 4 DT, C, K, P 22
PIT 38 0 -- 2 K, P 50.5
NO 37 0 -- 2 K, P 38
ARI 36 1 DT 3 DB, K, P 25
KC 36 0 -- 2 C, K 47
NYG 36 1 DE 3 RB, K, P 39
MIN 35 0 -- 1 K 38
ATL 34 0 -- 4 TE, C, K, P 40.5
MIA 32 0 -- 4 DE, QB, K, P 38
WAS 29 0 -- 4 DE, C, K, P 33

The MAX/POS section shows at how many positions the team took more players than any other team (including ties) and lists what those positions were. MIN/POS is the same thing for the fewest picks made at the various positions.

The shaded area includes the teams within +/- 2 total draft picks of the mean (40.3). This includes half the league, with the first quartile above the shaded area and the fourth quartile below. The first quartile averaged 39.5 wins per team. The middle two quartiles averaged 41.6, and the bottom quartile averaged 37.5 wins. It would generally appear that it's better to have more picks than fewer, but that gathering too many picks is not a great strategy in the short run. The overall correlation between the number of picks and wins is only 0.14 so perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about.

Only two teams were more than two standard deviations away from the mean number of draft choices; the Titans on the high side and the DPDR on the low end.

Three teams had extremes (Max or Min) at five positions. That one of them was the Patriots argues for the value of staking out a definite drafting philosophy and sticking to it. That the Packers (slightly above average in wins from 2002-2006) and the Texans (one of the worst franchises) were the others weakens this argument.

Three other teams had only one extreme position, and that was either kicker or punter. The Seahawks, Jets, and Vikings have been the teams least likely to focus on a particular position when drafting (well, except for the Seahawks and punters). The Saints and the Steelers both only had extremes (minimums) at kicker and punter, so they too didn't have a noticeably strong preference or aversion for the other positions. Every other team recorded a maximum or minimum for some position besides the kicking specialists.

Lastly, here's the Day 1 -- Day 2 splits:

DAY 1 Draft Picks From 2002-2006 By Team and Position 2-Day
Tot
Team QB RB WR TE T G C DE DT LB DB K/P Tot
ARI 2 1 3 1 0 1 0 3 1 4 2 0/0 18 36
ATL 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 3 0/0 11 34
BAL 1 1 2 0 1 0 1 3 2 0 2 0/0 13 45
BUF 1 1 3 1 1 0 0 2 2 1 3 0/0 15 39
CAR 0 3 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 2 4 0/0 18 41
CHI 1 1 3 0 1 1 0 1 3 1 3 0/0 15 42
CIN 1 1 2 1 2 1 0 2 0 2 4 0/0 16 41
CLE 1 1 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 3 3 0/0 14 39
DAL 0 1 1 2 1 2 1 3 0 2 3 0/0 16 40
DEN 1 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 4 0/0 15 41
DET 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 3 4 0/0 16 39
GB 1 0 3 0 1 0 1 1 1 3 4 0/1 16 44
HOU 2 1 2 1 3 1 1 2 2 2 1 0/0 18 44
IND 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 2 7 0/0 15 42
JAX 1 2 2 1 2 1 0 0 1 4 2 0/0 16 42
KC 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 3 2 0/1 13 36
MIA 0 1 1 0 1 2 1 1 0 2 1 0/0 10 32
MIN 1 0 2 0 2 0 1 4 0 4 3 0/0 17 35
NE 0 1 3 3 0 2 0 1 2 0 3 0/0 15 41
NO 0 1 2 0 2 0 1 2 1 4 2 0/0 15 37
NYG 1 0 2 2 1 1 0 3 1 1 1 0/0 13 36
NYJ 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 2 3 4 1/0 16 40
OAK 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 4 6 0/0 19 41
PHI 0 2 2 1 2 0 0 2 2 1 4 0/0 16 43
PIT 1 0 3 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 5 0/0 14 38
SD 2 0 2 0 1 2 1 0 2 2 5 1/0 18 42
SEA 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 2 1 3 4 0/0 16 41
SF 1 1 3 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 2 0/0 16 47
STL 0 2 2 2 1 0 1 1 2 3 4 0/0 18 47
TB 1 1 3 1 2 1 0 1 0 2 0 0/0 12 44
TEN 1 2 3 1 1 0 0 2 2 1 4 0/0 17 50
WAS 2 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 0/0 11 29
Grand
Total
28 37 63 29 36 22 16 47 36 68 102 2/2 488 1288
Max 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 4 3 4 7 1/1 19 50
Min 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 10 29
Mean 0.9 1.2 2.0 0.9 1.1 0.7 0.5 1.5 1.1 2.1 3.2 0.1 15.3 40.3
Median 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 3 0/0 16 41

The Day 1-2 tables use the same formatting as the table for all draft picks except the minimums are only selectively highlighted as there were so many zeros.


DAY 2 Draft Picks From 2002-2006 By Team and Position


2-Day
Tot


Team

QB

RB

WR

TE

T

G

C

DE

DT

LB

DB

K/P

Tot
ARI 1 1 3 1 1 1 2 1 4 3 0 0/0 18 36
ATL 2 3 5 0 3 1 0 2 2 2 3 0/0 23 34
BAL 3 4 6 3 2 0 2 0 2 3 5 0/2 32 45
BUF 0 3 2 1 3 4 1 0 3 3 4 0/0 24 39
CAR 2 2 2 3 1 2 1 3 0 2 5 0/0 23 41
CHI 2 3 4 1 0 2 0 3 2 4 6 0/0 27 42
CIN 2 1 4 0 3 0 1 4 3 3 3 1/0 25 41
CLE 1 4 0 1 2 2 1 3 2 5 4 0/0 25 39
DAL 0 2 4 2 3 1 1 2 1 1 7 0/0 24 40
DEN 2 3 5 1 0 2 3 4 2 0 3 1/0 26 41
DET 1 3 2 2 4 1 0 2 0 3 5 0/0 23 39
GB 2 1 5 0 3 1 2 2 4 3 5 0/0 28 44
HOU 2 4 3 1 0 0 2 2 3 2 7 0/0 26 44
IND 1 2 0 0 4 2 1 3 1 4 7 2/0 27 42
JAX 1 3 3 2 2 0 0 4 2 1 6 2/0 26 42
KC 1 1 4 0 5 1 0 3 1 3 4 0/0 23 36
MIA 0 1 3 2 3 1 1 0 4 1 6 0/0 22 32
MIN 0 3 1 1 1 1 0 1 2 3 4 0/1 18 35
NE 3 2 2 3 0 2 1 3 3 1 5 1/0 26 41
NO 2 1 4 2 1 2 0 3 3 1 3 0/0 22 37
NYG 0 1 5 0 2 1 1 3 1 2 7 0/0 23 36
NYJ 1 3 3 2 3 1 0 2 2 1 6 0/0 24 40
OAK 1 1 5 1 3 0 1 4 1 2 3 0/0 22 41
PHI 1 2 3 0 2 5 2 2 2 4 4 0/0 27 43
PIT 2 4 2 2 1 2 2 3 2 2 2 0/0 24 38
SD 1 3 2 1 5 1 2 2 2 2 1 1/1 24 42
SEA 2 2 3 2 3 1 0 1 2 4 1 1/3 25 41
SF 3 0 6 4 0 2 0 2 4 1 7 1/1 31 47
STL 3 1 3 4 1 5 1 1 0 4 5 0/1 29 47
TB 1 3 5 4 1 3 2 2 1 1 9 0/0 32 44
TEN 0 4 4 1 3 2 1 2 3 5 8 0/0 33 50
WAS 1 3 0 2 3 1 0 1 2 3 2 0/0 18 29

Grand
Total

44

74

103

49

68

50

31

70

66

79

147

10/9

800

1288
Max 3 4 6 4 5 5 3 4 4 5 9 2/3 33 50
Min 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 18 29
Mean 1.4 2.3 3.2 1.5 2.1 1.6 1.0 2.2 2.1 2.5 4.6 0.3 25.0 40.3
Median 1 3 3 1 2 1 1 2 2 3 5 0/0 24.5 41

The samples are pretty small to analyze meaningfully. Some brief observations of where particular teams compared to the league or to themselves on (and between) Day 1 and Day 2 choices:

  • 49ers -- like their Day 2 tight ends; they drafted maximums for receivers on both days.
  • Broncos -- a lot of Day 2 defensive ends and centers (and none on Day 1).
  • Browns -- tied for the maximum Day 1 and minimum Day 2 numbers of receivers drafted.
  • Buccaneers -- no Day 1 defensive backs but nine on Day 2; also a lot of Day 2 tight ends.
  • Cardinals -- tied for the fewest Day 2 picks with the Vikings and Redskins. Tied for most Day 1 linebackers.
  • Chargers -- their defensive back choices are weighted heavily to Day 1.
  • Chiefs -- Tackles. Day 1 is for defense, Day 2 for offense.
  • Dolphins -- weight their defensive tackles to Day 2. Fewest Day 1 picks (thanks for coming, Mr. Feeley).
  • Eagles -- all those Day 2 Guards I mentioned before.
  • Jaguars -- linebackers on Day 1, defensive ends on Day 2.
  • Packers -- tied for the maximum wideouts on Day 1, near the max on Day 2.
  • Patriots -- I wonder why they like Day 2 quarterbacks?
  • Raiders -- plenty of Day 2 wideouts and a lot of Day 1 linebackers.
  • Rams -- accumulate tight ends, guards, and quarterbacks on Day 2.
  • Ravens -- more defensive ends than anything else on Day 1; Day 2 they get pass catchers (WR and TE).
  • Saints -- another team that likes Day 1 linebackers.
  • Steelers -- running backs on Day 2.
  • Titans -- a lot of Day 2 linebackers.
  • Vikings -- Day 1 defensive ends. And linebackers. Like they Saints, Cardinals, and Raiders. Something you normally don't want to read about your team. But the Saints are looking up and the Jags also like Day 1 LBs, so it's not that bad. Hmmm, the new-look Saints didn't draft any LBs last year...

As I said at the beginning of the article, you can't necessarily predict this year's draft with all this information. You can see tendencies, but a team that always drafts LBs that just signed three in free agency is probably going to go away from that tendency. Teams that haven't taken a player at a position in a while may now have a need there. And franchises that have taken a lot of linemen may now be full up. You need a lot more detailed knowledge to make draft predictions. This may be one small piece.

Mike Horn writes a stats-based column for FantasyGuru.com. In real life he is a retired Army officer working as a military defense analyst in the Washington, DC area. If you are interested in writing a guest column for Football Outsiders, something with a unique take on the NFL, please e-mail info-at-footballoutsiders.com. Readers should know that, with less football news to run on FO, May and June are great months for submitting a guest column.

Posted by: Guest on 04 Apr 2007

44 comments, Last at 23 Apr 2007, 10:47pm by Mark

Comments

1
by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:09am

I think you have the Day 1 table twice and no day 2 table.

2
by OMO (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:15am

Mike,

A truely excellent article. Thanks for the info and the hard work. Very appreciated.

3
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:25am

Pretty headache inducing stuff with all those charts and colours. I'm a bit surprised that linebackers get taken in roughly equal amounts for D1 and D2, I always thought that LBs were a second day -ish priority. Can anyone who is better than me at statistics establish if there is any correlaton between the trench ratio and wins?

4
by DaveP (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:37am

Hi Mike,

Nice article, thanks for all the work! I think your last two tables are the same though (Day 2 is missing).

Dave

5
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:38am

zip is right. The day 1 table is repeated.

I think you may be right about the reason for the correlation between drafing a K/P and winning. In general, the only time a team will spend a draft pick on a K/P is when they either have no other major holes to fill, or when they see themselves as a better kicker away from a championship (e.g. the NY Jets). One should not make the mistake of thinking that drafing a K/P improves your chance to win...this would probably work almost as well as the "kneel to win" strategy.

6
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:44am

The problem with looking at win correlations is that drafting a lot of players at one position could be indicative of three somewhat opposing things.

Either it's indicative that a team was building a solid group of exceptional performers that will be cheap but effective for years to come (NE's D-line, San Diego's O-line, etc.).

Or it's indicative that a team does not place a lot of value on a position for its system and is willing to bring cheap rookies year after year to keep the unit competent (but never great) while it focuses its money on another aspect of the time (e.g. Indy's DB's and LB's, NE's TE's, Denver's RB's).

Or it's indicative that the team drafts poorly, and has to keep taking players at the same position to replace busts from previous years (e.g. Millen's WR's).

Obviously, if a team is in the first category, we would expect a lot of wins, while a team in the last category would have a lot of losses. So maybe a win correlation has some information about the positions that are more fungible. But it's probably difficult to glean that info out because of the existence of poor talent evaluators like Millen.

7
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:49am

The Cleveland carpet-bombing method of finding LBs can be explained like so. Butch Davis first cut the entire veteran LB corps, and decided to go with a lot of youth. This had incredibly good results, for Jamal Lewis. Then a few years later they switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and they're restocking the entire front 7 because none of the inherited players fit the system. Or any system, really. Well, they just sucked at drafting for so long, maybe they're just flinging enough poo at the LB position and hoping some of it sticks.

This is a nice article, and along with the draft value charts from the ESPN draft guide, really gives a good look at how teams build. You can see the formula for the Colts (lock up mega-stars on offense, fill in O-line with spare parts, and go with young, replacable players on defense), and some other interesting patterns emerge. I think my favorite is that the teams that draft a lot of kicking specialists (at least 2 of either) all average 8 wins a year or more.

8
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 11:59am

Very good article, kudos sir, kudos!

Can someone explain to me what the hell happened to Miami's first day draft picks? They had fewer than the Redskins, and the Bucs who traded theirs for the red faced shouting machine.

9
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 12:01pm

#3: Yes (about 0.25, which is pretty strong, surprisingly) but I doubt it's causative. It's driven by the data at the edges (for the teams in the middle, the correlation disappears), which kindof implies teams at the bottom "need" skill positions more, rather than the idea that drafting linemen leads to more wins.

I think it just says "teams without a need for skill players win more."

10
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 12:05pm

Pat, a strong correlation doesn't surprise me at all, I expected there to be one because that would back up the idea that football is won or lost up front. Cheers for crunching the numbers.

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 12:17pm

because that would back up the idea that football is won or lost up front

No, it really doesn't - correlation doesn't equal causation, and in this case, I definitely don't believe it does. There aren't cases of teams with good skill players not drafting linemen and doing poorly (In fact, Arizona's pretty middle of the pack in terms of number of linemen drafted).

The teams with low "trench ratios" and low wins are the teams whose skill players suck (Detroit, Cleveland). They aren't losing because they're not selecting linemen.

Like I said, as well, the correlation's pretty lopsided. There are more winning teams with low "trench ratios" than losing teams with high TRs. That's usually a good indication of a noncausative relation.

12
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 12:46pm

"Like I said, as well, the correlation’s pretty lopsided. There are more winning teams with low “trench ratios� than losing teams with high TRs. That’s usually a good indication of a noncausative relation."

Pat, I think theres also the issue of the dataset being way too small.

Teams may not be drafting in the trenches because they already drafted for the trenches. Good lineman play for a long time.

I dont think theres enough data to say anything.

13
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 12:57pm

Interesting that the Patriots haven't "drafted any OT's" in the past five years, despite the fact that they have drafted two players in those years that now play tackle (and split starting time last year)--Nick Kaczur and Ryan O'Callaghan. DraftHistory indicates that both were guards when drafted.

I wonder if this says something about the Pats O-line? Do they draft bigger, stronger, slower linemen (as opposed to Denver or Atlanta)? If so, it's interesting, because it was my understanding that the Pats O-line employs a zone-blocking scheme more often than a man-blocking scheme (although they use both). But maybe its a different sort of zone-blocking scheme than that of Denver or Atlanta, that typically relies on small, fast linemen (where "small" and "fast" are, of course, relative terms).

14
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 1:18pm

MJK, my understanding is exactly the opposite. The patriots are almost exclusively man-blocking.

Light is undersized for a tackle, but is quick, and seems to do fine with speed rushers (except aaron shobel). Light is also cheap, which may be the reason the Pats haven't drafted any tackles. As far as guards, they've got two marquii guards in Mankins and Neal, so I'm sure that atleast some of the guards selected were selected essentially as tackles. You can take a chance on a cheap guard when you're looking at right tackle, instead of left.

15
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 1:26pm

Pat, I think theres also the issue of the dataset being way too small.

It's not that small. In any case, you're saying the same thing I am, just from the opposite side - seeing a team draft a bunch of skill players doesn't indicate that they're going to lose.

But in any case, the correlation's pretty artificial, like I said. It's being entirely driven by the Lions, Browns, Eagles, and Chargers. It's also silly because the ratio shouldn't matter - the total number should. The Titans, for instance, drafted 16 linemen total, which is well above average, but in terms of the fraction of all of their picks, it's well below average.

16
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 1:59pm

Nice piece, and I totally agree with "football fix not generated by Peter King" sentiment..

#7

The short answer is Ricky Williams (2 #1's), AJ Feely and Daunte Culpepper (both #2 picks). Or, if you prefer, the Wannstache and Nick Saban.

17
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 3:05pm

Interesting that the Patriots haven’t “drafted any OT’s� in the past five years, despite the fact that they have drafted two players in those years that now play tackle (and split starting time last year)–Nick Kaczur and Ryan O’Callaghan. DraftHistory indicates that both were guards when drafted.

Nope. The Patriots tend to draft tackles and use the smaller agile ones at guard. Mankins was a college tackle who moved to guard. Kaczur, O'Callaghan, and Light were all college tackles. Neal was a college wrestler. In fact, I don't remember the Patriots drafting a college guard in a long time. They tend to move tackles in or centers out.

18
by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 3:44pm

Re: 13

I completely disagree with you that Matt Light does OK with speed rushers. In addition to his troubles with Schobel, he's struggled against Jason Taylor and Freeney. I'm pretty sure the Patriots almost always put a TE on Light's side when he is facing a good speed rusher.

The Patriots use both man and zone blocking schemes, but at least last year, I don't think the Patriots blocking schemes were really that comparable to any other teams(or at least the teams that I watched extensively). It's all about wham blocks and traps - it's definitely nothing at all like the Alex Gibbs zone-blocking one-cut-and-go scheme.

One of my problems with drafthistory.com is that they list players by what they were "projected" to, not what they played in college or what they play in the pros. That's how you end up with both Kaczur and O'Callaghan being listed as guards even though they were both tackles in college and play tackle for the Patriots.

19
by patfanken (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 3:51pm

As to your question why the Pats seem to like second day QB's. I think they are trying to emulate what the Packers have done during the Bret Farvre era. Since they have a capable #1 in Brady, the object is to find low pick QB's that over time might become valueable trade bait down the road. Matt Castle looks to be one of those guys. Picked with the Pats last 7th rounder, he is now the back up and has done well in preseason games. He has only played extensively in one game, but managed a comback and 2 td pass (BTW- 2 more than he had in college)

My guess is the Pats are hoping that in 2 years, some QB hungry team will be willng to give up a first day pick or two to get a young athletic QB who has been in the league 4 years.

The Packer got some nice picks for developing Hasselback and Brunell. The same goes for Atlanta this year with Matt Shaub.

This isn't always successful, the Pats took a prolific college QB in Kliff Kingsbury who looked awful in the one camp he had with the Pats, but they are going to do well with Castle, who the Pats took a shot at, although he never started a game in college.

BTW- chances are better this year that the Pats might draft a day one LB, but I would be shocked if they didn't draft at least 3 DBs

20
by Phil (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 4:03pm

Great Article.

This definately "scratched the itch" (Thank you Catholic Match Girl) for my football fix.

21
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 4:16pm

I just wanted to say I enjoyed this article and I had to post something because my security word right now is "dpar".

22
by jim (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 5:09pm

I often read GM's saying they draft the best player available regardless of position. I noticed the top 3 teams in drafting defence over offence were Indy, Minn, KC, essentially the top three offensive teams from say 98-2002. Conversly, the teams drafting the highest percentage of offensive players TB, Pitt, Indy were of course top defensive teams in that period. 3 of those teams won Super Bowls from 2002-2007. Maybe drafting for need makes sense.

23
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 5:26pm

Drafting for need makes sense if you're a couple of pieces away from a championship caliber team. Drafting BPA makes more sense if you're consistently mediocre.

For very bad teams, drafting for need and drafting BPA is essentially the same thing, since a really good player at any position will help.

24
by Terry (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 7:02pm

Superlative article.

25
by Tim Gerheim :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 7:14pm

Fixed the problem with the Day 1 and Day 2 tables. For those of you who've never worked with HTML, let me just say in case you couldn't tell that these tables are EPIC.

26
by Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 7:58pm

re: 19

Lucky for me, I printed out a copy of that picture. It is on the wall in my bedroom.

27
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 8:29pm

It's not about drafting need or best player available. It's about participating in the draft, period. This is why being a Redskin fan can be so annoying.

28
by JonFugeEverybody (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 10:03pm

Are you guys going to do a somewhat scientific mock draft? It'd be appreciated.

29
by Insomniac (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2007 - 10:33pm

Great article!

One point about the Steelers that may skew your data, and maybe a point (depending on frequency) that you may have to account for. The Steelers rarely choose a college linebacker - they choose undersized defensive ends and convert them to OLBs. For example, both Joey Porter and Clark Haggans were successful examples, Alonzo Jackson one that was not so successful. At the WR position, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El were QBs in college.

But the larger point, depending on how often it happens, is that if a player is chosen, it does not necessarily mean that they will play the same position as in college.

30
by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:07am

Many times Centers are thought of as Guard prospects as well (versatility), which would explain the comparative low demand for guards v. centers. Can't believe Arizona had so few DBs. No wonder they denfense and special teams suck so bad.

Great article, like others have said, a mock draft would be great to see. Another variable to evaluate would be to see which teams spend the most per position in free agancy, as some teams may prefer to acquire certain positions through FA. (I bet the redskins would be number one in most positions.)

31
by Truman (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 6:51am

That Falcons day 1 picks chart is disgraceful. No offensive linemen in the last 5 years.

32
by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 9:50am

It would be helpful if the life of the position were known to compare the turnover rate to the expected life of the position. Might be able to see if "spare parts" fit as a description for drafting or to spot poor drafters. Doesn't take away from the excellent job though. Thanks!

33
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 11:11am

Regarding kickers, I think there's a reason a team that picks a kicker very early (like the Jets) would only draft the one.

Simply put, it's the PR factor. If you cut loose a 7th round pick, nobody is going to get too upset over the pick being wasted. However, as bad as the Jets are lambasted over the Nugent pick, they'd get it even worse if they cut their losses now, and had not even a mediocre kicker to show for their high draft pick.

Basically, due to the perception of kickers as expendible, using a high pick for a kicker is a "in for a penny, in for a pound" scenario. It might not make much football sense, but it's more of a PR move than anything else.

34
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 12:37pm

"Neal was a college wrestler. In fact, I don’t remember the Patriots drafting a college guard in a long time. They tend to move tackles in or centers out."

Just a not on Neal, he did play Tackle in college IIRC. He just only played it the last 2 years of school. Neal wasnt just a college wrestler, he was the 1999 Freestyle World Champion at heavyweight. He then decided he wanted to play football, and played well his last couple years in college. I'm honestly surprised he wasnt drafted.

35
by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 1:49pm

#32 - Are you suggesting that Nugent is a loss the Jets are considering cutting?

36
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Thu, 04/05/2007 - 1:55pm

#34 - Not that they are considering cutting him, but that they reasonably could, given the resources he's eating up.

37
by STI (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2007 - 10:03pm

18: A couple of points about Cassel. . . .

(1) He was actually the first of the Pats' round 7 picks in 2005; the Pats also had Mr. Irrelevant that year, and chose TE(!) Andy Stokes. [Had someone else taken Stokes off the Pats' hands, Mr. Irrelevant would have been S Ray Ventrone.]

(2) Actually, the likely hope is that someone wants to pay Cassel a lot of money after this season, and is willing to give up a second- or third-rounder for him; after 2008, he becomes a FA, and the Pats would have to settle, at best, for a comp pick.

38
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 04/07/2007 - 7:13pm

I would laugh my ass off if someone was stupid enough to give up a third-rounder for Matt Cassel.

39
by Rob (not verified) :: Sun, 04/08/2007 - 2:25pm

37, hey who knows, someone just gave up the equivalent of a first for Schaub.

40
by Kuato (not verified) :: Mon, 04/09/2007 - 3:34am

While I agree the Texans gave up WAY too much for Schaub, Cassell has an even smaller sample size than Schaub to judge from.

At least Schaub played in games that actually mattered where Cassel has only played mop up duty or in an end of season meaningless contest.

Unless he shows something in a real game situation, I wouldn`t rate Cassel`s value at more than a 6th rounder at this point.

I wonder how the FO QB projection system rates Cassel, he of the ZERO carrer starts in college.

41
by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 04/12/2007 - 11:24am

I think the most interesting data is in the totals for the league. As some have pointed out, there are all kinds of reasons why any particular team drafts more or fewer at a position in a five year period (no one would say that WR is not an important position for the Colts). And it has to be remembered that free agency is also a big part of fulfilling important needs.

But league-wide numbers give us an idea of certain trends and basic realities of the game. DBs are drafted most because: a) teams use a lot of them in nickel, dime packages and on special teams, b) passing is the name of the game, so stopping the pass is critical to defensive success, c) a good coverage DB is almost as hard to find as a good QB, and d) speed, quickness and reactions are the hardest to maintain at a high level when injuries and basic wear and tear take their toll.

On the last one, smart players with experience can get by at a lot of positions when they lose a step. DBs can certainly benefit from film study and experience. But pure man coverage is all about quick reactions and speed. When you're nicked up you can't do it as well.

42
by Jody (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 1:32pm

The Texans have drafted 6 OL in five years. No wonder David Carr has been sacked so much. Thanks, Casserly, for royally screwing up the career of a nice and talented QB, and messing up an expansion team. How did he get on as an analyst?

43
by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 04/13/2007 - 5:09pm

Jody,
I think Hou drafted so few OLs for the same reason that Indy drafted ZERO WRs during this span... what they have is so good, who needs to draft for that position? Harrison and Wayne and Stokely put so many DBs on their backs while running to the end zone just like the Hou OL put Carr on his back so often.

Okay, that was just cruel. I am ashamed of myself.

44
by Mark (not verified) :: Mon, 04/23/2007 - 10:47pm

Great information here.

I was interested in the fact that linebackers are taken relatively more on the first day than the second, because I had done a similar analysis about first round picks. Surprisingly, linebackers are taken LESS often in the first round than almost any other position, which must mean that there are a lot of linebackers taken in rounds two and three. Here's some of what I wrote:

How important do coaches think linebackers are? And where do teams find good linebackers?

I decided there'd be some clues in the draft, so I looked back at the first round of the last seven drafts.

There are 22 starting positions on the team, and 32 guys go in the first round. If all players were of equal importance, 1 out of every 22 drafted in the first round would be a quarterback, or 1.45 per first round. 1.45 running backs per first round, 1.45 centers. Since there are two of a lot of positions, you'd expect 2.90 tackles, 2.90 guards, 2.90 safeties, etc. And since there are three linebackers, there should be 4.36 linebackers that go in the first round. (The numbers don't add up exactly because some ***** took a place kicker in the first round one year. Good move.)

What happened in the first round over the last seven years? 2.71 QBs instead of 1.45, 3.14 running backs instead of 1.45, 3.86 DEs instead of 2.90 and 3.86 DEs instead of 2.90.

And linebackers? 2.57 instead of 4.36! Teams don't take first round linebackers! They just don't. The only other positions that get filled less often in the first round than linebacker are guard and center.

If all things were equal, teams would take three times as many linebackers as QBs, since they have three times as many LB positions to fill. Instead, teams take more QBs in the first round than linebackers, instead of one third as many. They take more running backs than linebackers, instead of one third as many.

What does that mean? Well, it could mean that the coaches think the other defensive positions are more important. Or it could mean that there are a lot of guys with the size and skills to play linebacker, and relatively few with the skills to play running back or quarterback, so they snatch up the running backs and QBs and fill in with linebackers wherever they can find them. Or it could mean that even though there are a lot of decent linebackers, there are more great running backs than great linebackers.

One other thing I noticed looking through the draft lists: Even though there are relatively few linebackers taken in the first round, just about all the ones who are taken are household names. Names like Arrington, Urlacher, Vilma. A lot more first round QBs are busts than first round linebackers.

http://boards.buffalobills.com/blogs/buffalo_bills_diner/archive/2007/04...