|Draft Metrics: Excellent Performers and Where They Are Drafted|
|By: Tony Villiotti|
|December 18, 2010|
Draft Metrics recently studied the source of NFL players who can be classified as excellent performers. Defining what constitutes an excellent performer is always the principal hurdle to overcome in such a study. For purposes of this analysis, Draft Metrics used the earning of post-season
honors as the sole criteria for defining excellence and looked at both All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections for the period from 1990 through 2009.
Excluding kickers and kick returners, 521 players were selected as All-Pros during the 20-year study period by either the Associated Press or the Pro Football Writers Association/Pro Football Weekly, or both. Most players, of course, were selected by both but there are always a few differences between the teams. These selections, in the view of Draft Metrics, truly represent the cream of the crop as the teams represent the top players at each position with only room for 22 players per season.
Excluding kickers, kick returners and special teams specialists, 1630 players were selected to participate in the Pro Bowl during the study period. This is a slightly looser definition of excellence, of course, but it does allow, for example, both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to be recognized for their excellence instead of just one. Draft Metrics does use a very restrictive definition of a Pro Bowl performer, though, as it includes only original selections and not alternates who may actually play in the game. The original selections are included regardless of whether they actually played.
Draft Metrics developed a list of the All Pro and Pro Bowl selections during the study period and then determined where those players were selected in the draft, or if they were free agents. Drafted players were divided into Value Groups (as discussed in The Relative Value of Draft Choices, available on this website). As a reminder, it is Draft Metrics position that each draft choice within a Value Group is of equal value. Value Group 1 includes selections 1-13; Value Group 2 includes selection 14-28; Value Group 3 includes selections 29-48; Value Group 4 includes selections 49-74; Value Group 5 includes selections 75-114; Value Group 6 includes selections 115-200; and Value Group 7 includes selections 201 and higher.
This analysis placed players in each of the value groups, and also identified those players who entered the NFL through the Supplemental Draft and those that were free agents.
The chart shows the source of All Pro and Pro Bowl selections. This chart illustrates a few points:
• The production of excellent performers in the draft runs true to form as VG 1 selections dominate and each successive Value Group drops off, as expected |
• VG 6 produces more excellent performers than VG 5, but VG 6 is more than twice the size of VG 5 in terms of numbers of players drafted
• The draft produced over 90% of both All Pro and Pro Bowl selections during the study period
• About 6% of the excellent performers were free agents, including veteran CFL players such as Warren Moon
Analysis by Playing Position
Not surprisingly, there are variations when the data is reviewed by playing position. It should be noted, though, that the small number of data points for All Pro selections at each positions (e.g., there were only 21 tight end All-Pro selections and only 10 different players were selected) makes the conclusions less credible than if more data points were available.
Points worth noting regarding All Pro Selections are as follows:
• Nearly 82% of offensive line All Pro selections came from Value Groups 1 through 3, followed by wide receivers (72.1%)
• No wide receiver All Pro selections and only 2.5% of offensive linemen selections came from Value Groups 6 and 7
• Defensive back All Pro selections were pretty evenly divided among Value Group 1-4
• More tight end (38.1%) and linebacker (21.7%) All Pro selections came in Value Group 6 and 7 than any other playing position
• Over 46% of defensive line All Pro selections came from Value Group 1, most of any position
• Only 1 free agent WR (Wes Welker) and 1 free agent DB (Eugene Robinson) were selected as All Pros
Following is the table on which most of these observations are based:
There are more than three times the number of data points for Pro Bowl selections (as compared to All Pro selections) so the results tend to be less dramatic. Points worth noting are:
• Between 60 and 65% of Pro Bowl selections for RB, WR, OL, DL and DB come from Value Groups 1 through 3
• As with All Pro selections, the percentage of tight end selections from Value Groups 1-3 is very low
• There is a lower percentage of Pro Bowl selections in Value Groups 6 and 7 for offensive line and defensive backs than any other positions
• Offensive line accounts for about 1/3 of Pro Bowl selections from free agents with quarterbacks being the next highest
• Principal QB free agents Pro Bowl selections were Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia and Kurt Warner
Following is the table on which these observations are based:
Note: This article was originally published on Tony Villiotti's website, DraftMetrics.com and is being reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Draft Metrics was established in 2010 but its roots were planted long before. Villiotti's obsession with the NFL Draft began in 1969.
Over the years, his interest shifted from predicting draft choices to trying to better understand the draft's importance by examining its eventual outcomes.