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The Shape of the NFL Draft

We are putting the finishing touches on the research into the 2010 NFL Draft.  Some macro conclusions we did not anticipate have resulted from the analysis.

We are still not done yet with the draft board but it is coming later this week.  In the meantime we can pass along some interesting observations that came about because of the methodology.  Players were assigned to draft spots based on where Wonder expected the player to go.  This was done logically by how well he played… example… ‘oh, he has mid Round 2 talent so let’s put in at 45.’  We figured that after we ranked everyone that we would go back and tweak a few here and a few there and everyone would fit neatly into where they belonged.  WRONG!  We had some big voids.  Pockets of ~15 picks where about 3 or 5 players were present… not the 15 or so we would expect.

Here is the distribution of what resulted:

Round #/Players of Value/Players that have to get picked 

R1 19 vs 32

R2 27 vs 32

R3 28 vs 34

R4 34 vs 33

R5 36 vs 38

So essentially there are 19 players this year that are deemed to be Round 1 talent.  Since there are 32 players that get picked, that implies the Draft is 13 players short on VALUED talent.  Round 2 was 5 players light as well.  Round 3 was also 6 players light.  It was not until the 4th and 5th rounds that the amount of talent matched the value they should be picked at.

What does it mean?  This is the first year we are doing this, so we cannot compare it to a previous benchmark.  Our conclusions need to be considered as unverified.  But this is what we believe the macro message is: 

1) This draft is not very strong.  It has plenty of players, but not a lot of upper echelon talent.

There is also another way to look at this…

2) Perhaps this is just Wonder’s filter showing through. Maybe he is merely discriminating between what he sees as NFL-ready talent… that every season you are going to find some kind of serious deficiency somewhere on the board. 

3) There is an above average quota of very good Tight Ends in this draft. 

The research is ongoing.  As we noted above, the picks will be coming out starting the end of this week.  We’ll roll them out position by position.  Also note that we have Motown doing some work to look at how each position has fared the past 10 years in Round 1 of the draft.  These results will not only shed light on our preliminary conclusions about Defensive Tackle but also on the other positions.  We expect them to also give us a better sense of what is a statistically normal hit rate for Round 1.  And that in turn will give us a baseline for how we can grade out our forecasters… seeing how well they pick versus each other AND the baseline of professional GMs.  If they are no better than the GMs, then it is noise.  If they are better than the GMs, then there is value in their projections.  If you have read Moneyball then you know which way we think this project is going to turn out.