Let the Draft Holidays Begin

The NFL offseason reaches its peak beginning on Thursday with the start of the three-day NFL draft. A couple of us old-timers were reminiscing earlier this week about the days when the draft was a midweek, two-day event with 17 rounds. There was no wall-to-wall television coverage. As a Pittsburgh native, I got my Steelers draft information by arming my mother with a list of likely draft selections and and deputizing her to listen to periodic radio updates all day. I am not exactly breaking any new ground by telling you how much things have changed since then. ESPN and the NFL Network provide full “gavel to gavel” coverage of the draft. A cottage industry has sprung up around the NFL draft with amateur and former professional players and scouts providing real-time opinions as events transpire. The schedule for this year’s draft event is as follows:
  • Round one will take place on Thursday, beginning at 8 pm ET
    • Each team is allotted 10 minutes to make their selection.
  • Rounds two and three will take place on Friday beginning at 7 pm ET
    • Seven minutes are allowed for a second round selection
    • Five minutes are allotted for a third round selection
    • Four minutes are allowed for compensatory selections
  • The draft wraps up on Saturday beginning at noon with rounds four through seven
    • Five minutes are allowed for a pick in rounds four through six
    • Four minutes are allotted for selections in round seven
    • Four minutes are allowed for compensatory selections, regardless of round
This article is intended to provide the draft follower with a handy guide that reminds him or her of relevant historical information and provides a better perspective from which to interpret what is going on during the draft. We avoid providing information for potential draftees or projected selections by team. There are ever growing numbers of sources that provide mock drafts and other prospect information. I am sure that if you are really into the draft you already have at least one of those sources in your possession or on your computer. Number of Picks The number of picks for each team will change during the course of the draft but following are two tables that reflect the number of picks by team as it stands how. The first table is for the entire draft and the second is for the first three rounds, when most starters are drafted. Both tables include:
  • The basic number of selections for each team
    • One per round for each team, or seven for the full draft and three for the first three rounds
  • The number of compensatory selections (32 in total and three for the first three rounds}
  • The net number of selections traded or received in trades (which by definition net to zero in total for all teams)
  • The total picks per team.
First, is the table for the full draft, reflecting that the Seahawks have the most picks of any team: The next table shows the same information for only the first three rounds (99 selections). There were only three compensatory selections awarded in the first three rounds and only three trades involving the first three rounds. The Browns received a first round selection in the Sammy Watkins trade and the Saints received a first round pick in the Jimmy Graham trade plus a third round selection for Kenny Stills. The Bills, Dolphins and Seahawks each surrendered a selection in the first three round and have the fewest selections. What are Realistic Expectations for the 2015 Draft The three-day draft event is a time of great hope, kind of like when you bring home what you are sure is a winning lottery ticket. Come Saturday, a seventh-round pick is a sure starter and is fifty-fifty on making All Pro. Then comes training camp and it becomes obvious that this sure starter is not going to even make the team. The following table shows what history tells us what can actually be expected by draft round. All numbers represent the number of players. The table reinforces the fact that the first three rounds produce the most players. About three-quarters of five-year starters come from the first three rounds with 80% of rookie starters and almost 80% of Pro Bowl and All Pro players also coming from the early rounds of the draft. Probability of Drafting a Five-Year Starter  While there are several metrics that could be used to measure success, we have traditionally focused on a player achieving five-year starter status as being the principal success metric. This means that a player started at least eight games in each of at least five seasons. In earlier articles, we have analyzed the probability of becoming a five-year starter by Draft Range. The Draft Ranges represent ranges of draft choices where the historical success rates are similar. The Draft Ranges used for 2015 are as follows: The probability of success varies for each playing positions within each Draft Range. In addition, a Draft Range can extend over two or more draft rounds. There is a significant difference in probability for a player drafted at the end of a round compared to the beginning of a round. A quarterback, for example, is twice as likely to become a five-year starter if he is drafted early in the first round as compared to one drafted at the end of the first round.   The following table shows the probability of becoming a five-year starter for each playing position in each round. The round is then further broken down by Draft Range, recognizing that Draft Ranges overlap draft rounds. For example, picks at the end of the first round have the same probability of success as selections through the middle of the second round. This table is for the first three rounds of the draft. The next table shows the same information but for rounds four through seven. Trades  When the inevitable draft day trades occur, there will discussion about who got the best of the trade and how it compares to the so-called Trade Value Chart and any of the other iterations of comparative worth of draft selections. The one thing that is not arbitrary, though, is the actual consideration in past trades. Here is a summary of each 2014 draft day trade. This table shows the teams involved, the movement in the draft (i.e., from and to), the number of draft slots moved for the primary picks, the playing position of the player ultimately selected with the trade up selection and the consideration involved. For example, the Lions received the #40 pick from the Seahawks in exchange for its #45, #111 and #227 picks. The Lions also received pick #146 in the trade. The Lions used selection #40 to take Kyle Van Noy, a linebacker. Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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