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Imports and exports: Part II

A deeper look at the rotating casts in the NFL. Tony Villiotti

Print This March 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

A few articles ago, the subject of NFL teams importing and exporting players was explored. One of the comments received from a reader suggested that I look at the first round and first three rounds separately because of the importance of the early rounds. This article supplements the original article as suggested by the reader.

The following two tables summarize import/export information for games started in the 2013 NFL season, initially for the first round alone and then for rounds one through three combined. Each table first shows the number of games started for each team by first round selections, with games split between their own draft choices and players who were first round draft choices and then acquired from others. The tables then show (1) games started for others by a team’s first round choices, (2) all games started by a team’s first round choices and (3) net imports or exports. Calculation references are shown as appropriate.

Some takeaways from these tables:

• Over 25% of all 2013 starts by first-round draft choices were by players who no longer play for the team that drafted them.
    -Of those, about half changed teams via trades.
    -28% of starts by players selected in the first three rounds were by players who changed teams.

• Teams that are net importers of players drafted in the first three rounds tended, at least in 2013, to be more successful than others.
    -For both first round selections and picks in the first three rounds, six of the top eight net importers made the playoffs.
• Being a net exporter of players did not tend to be a good thing in 2013.
    -The Steelers, Cowboys and Dolphins (in varying orders) were the top three exporters for the first round, first three rounds and all draftees and, ironically, all finished exactly with .500 records in 2013.
• The Bengals drafted the most first round players that started 2013 games for other teams
   -Justin Smith (16 starts for 49ers); Carson Palmer (16 starts for Cardinals); Johnathan Joseph (15 starts for Texans); Keith Rivers (8 starts for Giants) 
• The Packers had no players drafted in the first round start 2013 games for other teams.
• The Jaguars drafted the the most players in the first three rounds who started 2013 games for other teams.
    -Reggie Nelson (15 starts for Bengals); Eugene Monroe (11 starts for Ravens); Eben Britten (4 starts for Bears); Justin Durant (6 starts for Cowboys; Rashean Mathis (13 starts for Lions); Khalif Barnes (16 starts for Raiders); Darryl Smith (16 games for Ravens); Greg Jones (5 games for Texans); Terrance Knighton (16 games for Broncos); Derek Cox (11 games for Chargers)
• The Browns had the fewest players drafted in the first three rounds start 2013 games for other teams with only 15
    -Trent Richardson accounted for eight of those starts.

Finally, the last table below summarizes for your convenience the net imports/exports by group of rounds. This table does not explain why teams are net importers or exporters (maybe poor drafting and failure to sign free agents on one side of the coin and good drafting and a willingness to resign players when free agency hits on the other side), but it does identify the category in which each team falls.

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