Happy Memorial Day Rumblers!
We are in the dead period between the draft and camp, so I thought that it would be a good time to put some retrospective together on the draft. I have some interesting data to share on how the actual draft picks compared to the draft expert predictions/rankings.
Draft Expert Predictions/Rankings
To come up with the average "draft expert predictions/rankings, I averaged 14 different easily downloadable sources of player rankings (e.g. The Draft Network, Pro Football Network, DraftPlex, Bleacher Report, Sporting News, DraftTek, CBS, etc...).
As you can see above, the variation between the "experts" was huge. There is no such thing as
"consensus" rankings. Within the 1st round, the "experts" averaged a whole round (32 picks) of variation. In the 2nd round, the "experts" average variation was over two rounds (67 picks). That is the opposite of consensus. As much fun as it is to play with these draft simulators, they are a bit of fools gold because they give the impression that certain players can be drafted in specific rounds depending on what simulator you use. It is an illusion of Draft Value/Player Rankings. But I had to use something, so I went with the average of all of these sources.
This is why I rarely accuse a GM of over-drafting. The 32 teams have infinitely more resources than the internet draftniks and the internet draftniks have infinitely more resources than me. I like to play the GM game because it is fun and I have plenty of opinions on where I think players should be ranked, but I know so little of what the team scheme visions, strategies, and financial needs. This inside information drives the draft
There is no such thing as BPA. Every GM drafts for needs. It is just that some GMs have the luxury to draft for more future and strategic needs than some other GMs.
The Results: Difference Between Estimated Pick and Actual Pick
Now that I have established an "average ranking" for each player based on multiple draft website rankings, I thought it would be interesting to see how the "average ranking" compared to the actual draft position for each drafted player. The first two charts are for all draft picks at all positions.
The following chart shows all of the 2022 draft picks (x-axis) and whether that pick was above or below the average rankings based on several draft websites (y-axis).
The best way to think of the charts is...
- The x-axis is the actual pick for every player form left to right (1=pick#1 and 262=the last pick in the 7th round)
- If the plotted point is higher than 0 on the y-axis (Green region), then the player was taken above the average rankings based on several draft websites
- If the plotted point is lower than 0 on the y-axis (Purple region), then the player was taken below the average rankings based on several draft websites
So, the farther the dot is away from 0 on the y-axis, the bigger the "reach" or the "fall". This convention is true for all of the position graphs, but I did not include the green box or the purple box in the position graphs because I wanted to highlight where each round was. Does that help?
All Positions By Round
I also wanted to see if there were any trends within each round. The following chart sums up the diffs in each round.
There were a couple of things that stood out to me from these two "All Position" charts.
- The 1st round was fairly accurate to the average estimated draft position
- In the 2nd and 3rd round, the "predictions" are on average off by almost half a round. The 4th round was on average off by almost a round and a half.
- If picks were above their estimated ranking, they tended to be much higher than the picks that were below their ranking. I think this is mostly because some GMs have desperate needs, so they are forced to go after the players that they really like. Even if teams don't have huge needs, I think GMs want the players that they want and they tend to aggressively go after them to fit their scheme, culture, team vision, etc...
While it is interesting to look at all of the draft picks for all of the positions, I found it more insightful to break this analysis down into specific positions. There were a couple of positions that stood out from the others. It was interesting to show how the talent fell and was drafted. So, in the following sections, I will highlight the draft picks for those positions with the same chart as I showed above for all of the positions.
The same convention applies as in the chart above. If the plotted point is higher than 0 on the y-axis, then the player was taken above the average rankings based on several draft websites. If the plotted point is lower than 0 on the y-axis, then the player was taken below the average rankings based on several draft websites.
NOTE: I did not include the green region and purple region shading for each of the position charts because I wanted to show the boundaries for each round. I thought it was more important to show how certain positions fell in each round.
NOTE: the dotted curvy line in each chart is just a trendline to give a visual idea of trends of whether players were being taken above or below their projected rankings
The estimations for Running Backs were one of the most accurate of all of the positions. There were 10 RBs taken between late 3rd round to the 5th round. There were only 8 RBs taken outside of that "sweet spot"
The estimations for Wide Receivers were also fairly accurate, but in the 1st two rounds there were 12 WRs taken and only 2 were taken below their "estimated" ranking and one of those was Jameson Williams (likely because of his injury). The opposite was true in rounds 3 through 5. There were 9 WRs taken in these rounds and all but 2 were taken below their "estimated" rankings.
The estimations for Tight Ends were not very accurate. In general, the TEs went late, but they mostly went above their "estimated" rankings. With all of the emphasis on the passing game, this position seems to be in higher need than its perceived value. As a result, all but 4 of the TEs were taken above their "predicted" ranking. The passing game rules! This may be why Beane did not take a TE in the draft. He did not have a high need, so he was not looking to aggressively go after a player higher than what he had them valued at.
Yikes! The estimations for Offensive Guards were all over the map. This position had the highest variation of all positions. And the pool of pure OGs was very small. Only 12 OGs were drafted. You can see why Belichick "reached" for Cole Strange. But he was not even close to the biggest "reach". He was the 4th biggest "reach". At the top of the 4rd round an OG that was predicted to go as a UDFA was taken. This was not a great group of talent. But the demand in the 1st three rounds was fairly high for some teams. The trenches are always in demand. If you were in the hunt for an OG, then this was not the year to be looking for one. Maybe that is why Beane did not dip in his toes in this position group. Just based on my research into this position, it seemed that there were lots of OTs that were projected as OGs in the NFL, so maybe that had something to do with this group being so small.
This was a fascinating position, and it seems like this chart shows the delayed effect of so many teams going to 11 personnel. The defense is trying to catch up. The estimations for Cornerbacks were fairly accurate through 1 ½ rounds. After that, the CBs went much higher than predicted. There were 18 CBs taken in the 1st 4 rounds and only 2 of them were taken below their "estimated" ranking. This was a good class of CBs. I think it was one of the stronger positions in the draft. I think this graph shows that.
- There is no such thing as "consensus" draft position.
- The Draft value of a player is exactly the place where they are picked. The draft is a market economy. The draft value of a player is not based on what analysts think a player will go. Their value is the pick that a team is willing to use to select a player. It is like free agency. The value of a free agent is not what PFF or Spotrac predicts that a player will get. It is exactly what a team spends on a player.
- WRs and CBs seem to be high in demand. They are the positions that are moving the needle for 2022. Teams are scrambling to build an offense like the Bills, the Bucs, the Rams, and the Chiefs and scrambling to defend these teams too.
What do you see in the data???