Draft Analysis

With the recent completion of the NFL Draft, I thought it would be interesting to look into the stats available for the draft and see what kinds of trends or surprises can be found. A recent study on the draft by Massey and Thaler was very interesting. They found evidence that the salary cap has changed the value of draft picks.

The study covered several points. First, they found that top draft choices are overvalued based on the value teams put on draft picks according the the trade chart widely used in the NFL. Player performance falls off much slower than the value teams place on the picks. They also considered the steep contract amounts top picks receive and found that teams can maximize their draft values by trading top picks for multiple picks at the bottom of the 1st round and throughout the 2nd round where the cost and risk of the players are much lower.

I intend to address their findings, but first I want to take a step back and look at some simpler things we can learn from the draft.

I created a database of draft picks from 1999-2006. According to the conventional NFL draft value chart, each pick is assigned a relative value from 1 down to "Mr. Irrelevant." In addition, the database includes the surplus value calculated by the Massey-Thaler study defined by the average marginal performance of each pick above their contract price measured in dollars. Performance value is estimated by starts, pro-bowl appearances, games played, roster appearance, and lastly comparison to each player's salary after 5 yrs, when the player would by then have earned free-agent status. The database can be downloaded here.

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3 Responses to “Draft Analysis”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Of all the "Mr. Irrelevents", the only one I recognized is Matt Elliot of the Redskins and ironically or not, it was the last year the draft went to 12 rounds, 1992.

    - DMax

  2. Anonymous says:

    In the year 2005 draft for the Redskins, Carlos Rogers, the 9th overall pick, has a MTVALUE of 0.69 while Jason Campbell, the 25th overall pick, has a 0.74 MTVALUE. The Defense rests! :)

    -Dmax

  3. Anonymous says:

    "...and found that teams can maximize their draft values by trading top picks for multiple picks at the bottom of the 1st round and throughout the 2nd round where the cost and risk of the players are much lower."

    Bill Belichick agrees!

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