1st Round Breakdown

A couple of people asked for a more detailed breakdown of the 1st round, so we’ll do that today.  First, however, I need to apologize for a fairly large mistake.  As I was putting together today’s data, I noticed a mistake in the Strategy Chart I posted yesterday (and have posted before).  The upshot?

– 1st round LBs are much more successful than I had listed them.

Obviously this affects the Dion Jordan comments yesterday and will affect my draft analysis going forwards.  Sorry for the misinformation, just a typo in excel that I missed.  Thankfully I caught it before we start incorporating the data into the PVM rankings.

Now back to the subject:

If you haven’t seen the post showing the top 15 breakdown, please read that here:

Top 15 Breakdown

That post illustrates pretty clearly that there isn’t nearly as big a difference between, say the #5 pick and the #12 pick, as some people believe.  However, there is a big drop-off after #15.  In general, the real “first round” is picks 1-15.  Hence my point about the advantages of trading down from #4 but remaining in the top 15.  There is some positional loss from trading down (no QBs in general), but overall it appears to be a good strategy.

For those wondering, I also did a positional breakdown post for the Top 15 picks here.  That’s also a must-read for anyone interested in the draft, as it gets to the “prospect tiers” aspect of strategy.  Please note that both of those use a slightly different time-frame than we will use today.

Now let’s look at success rates for the first round.  Here is the complete chart, with the first round broken into three segments.  Following is each segment by itself to make it easier to read.  The data does not include this past season, so pro bowlers/all-pros from this past year are not included.

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Before we start analyzing, I want to warn everyone about the danger of small sample sizes.  The reason I haven’t typically broken the draft into such small sections (1-5) is that when you do that and combine it with a positional breakdown, the samples get way too small to draw any conclusions from.  For example, there have been just 2 safeties drafted in the top 5, Sean Taylor and Eric Berry.  Both were/are very good players and each made the Pro Bowl.  However, it’d be wrong to suggest that the odds of a top 5 safety making the pro bowl are 100%.  In light of that, try view this data in a proper context.

Now the takeaways-

– Notice that the odds of getting an All-Pro caliber player fall significantly after the top 15.

– QBs, as we’ve discussed, are very risky throughout the first round, but especially so in the second half of it.  Just 45% of QBs drafted between 16-32 became “starters”.   Just one of the 11 became a Pro Bowler (Aaron Rodgers).

– The charts certainly support the point I made earlier: The “first round” of the draft should really be viewed as just the top 15 picks.  Odds of success fall dramatically after that, so it’s unreasonable to hold all 1st round selections to the same standard.

– Obviously positional distribution is a major factor here.  Since the best QBs are typically taken high in the first round, we can assume that those selected towards the end of the round are lesser prospects.  Compare that to positions like G or TE, which are not typically taken high.  As a result, it makes sense that those positions would carry greater odds of success towards the end of the first round.

– In all, this highlights the importance of BPA discipline.  Just because you need a QB doesn’t mean you should take the best one available.  As we can see above, taking the best prospect, regardless of position, is a much better strategy.  Note I still believe in adjusting for positional value, but BPA with that adjustment remains, by far, the best draft strategy.

– RBs are really terrible value picks and should be taken in the 1st round much less often.

– Regarding the Eagles, the data shows that, regardless of which position the team selects, it has good odds of getting an elite player.  With several “needs”, the Eagles main focus should be on minimizing risk.  Blowing the #4 pick because you picked “potential” over “performance” or were focused on one position would be a HUGE missed opportunity.  I’m not directing that comment at any prospect in particular, just trying to emphasize how important it is for the Eagles to maintain BPA discipline.

Sorry again for the bad LB data. I’ll be updating the full chart and reposting next week.

I’m on the road the rest of this week, so NO POSTS TILL MONDAY.  I may be able to respond to comments, but full posts will not be possible.

Thanks for reading.  I appreciate all the feedback and hope you continue to find this blog interesting.




3 thoughts on “1st Round Breakdown

  1. The LB analysis was an error? I though that too at first, but I’m not so sure you DID make an error at all. Your comments were that the LB position is essentially the least predictable, yet most consistently rewarding (i.e. highest chance of success, highest chance of failure). That is 100% accurate … drafting a LB in the 1st round has the highest % chance of drafting an all-pro LB … yet the lowest % chance of drafting a starter at that position.

    I point this out because I too have had heated discussion over Dion Jordan who is the quintessential “high risk, high reward” draft prospect for the Eagles’ 1st round pick (tossing out crazy Geno Smith pipe dreams). I’ve been playing Devil’s Advocate over Dion Jordan because his game tapes throw up a plethora of red flags that he is soft. All his hype seems to stem from his great combine workout but a great combine player does not a great football player make! The tape says Dion is a massive bust as a #4 pick, while the measurements & combine stats suggest big potential … and I don’t see that conflicting with the statistical analysis you have done at all… if anything I think it strongly supports it; that drafting LBs in the 1st round are the best and worst decisions made.

    More important is that organizations most frequently mis-assess LB talent… an error I believe many are making when arguing that the Eagles draft Dion Jordan @ #4.

    • THe error was in the overall starter %, didnt effect the all-pro or pro bowl numbers. 1st round LBs have a pretty high chance of starting (the mistake was in showing they had among the lowest odds). It’ll be clearer once I re-compile all the data and post the complete 1-7 chart.

      I agree with you on Jordan though. I see him as a high risk/reward guy and don’t think that fits what the Eagles should be looking for at all. I’d be surprised if they actually draft him, regardless of what people are projecting. We’ve got depth at that position, he’s not a stand-out prospect, and he appears to carry more risk than the other guys rated similarly to him.

      Always beware of guys who rise after the workouts, but I do think the NFL is getting better at valuing the “measurables” for what they are (i.e. not over-weighting them).

      For me it’s still Fisher, Milliner, or Star as the best picks (unless Joeckel falls). Though I’d rather trade down a few picks.

      • I agree with both of you that Jordan carries more risk then prospects that are rated similar to him without bringing much more potential. However, I do think it’s important to note that Dion was considered a top prospect before the combine. The combine just reinforced what everyone already thought about his athleticism.

        I also think there are reasons that explain his lack of production especially his sack total. He was asked to drop back in coverage so often that he didn’t get the same opportunities to rush the passer as many top sack guys like Jarvis Jones had. He definitely has a lot of work to do in the pass rushing department but I think some people exaggerate his lack of skill as a rusher.

        In the end, I do think Dion will have a good NFL career but I’m still in favor of drafting an OT or DT with the 4th pick.

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