The NFL'S 1%

The Occupy Wall Street and related movements used the slogan “We Are the 99%”. The corollary to that slogan is that the members of the top 1% are the privileged few and enjoy the benefits of wealth distribution inequality. (For the record, that is NOT a view that I share and I am far from being part of the 1%). What does that have to do with the NFL? Well, it turns out that the NFL has its own top 1% when it comes to player performance. Our research indicates that 53 of the 5060 players drafted (or about 1%) from 1995 through 2014 have gone on to become three-time All Pro selections. In our analyses, we have consistently used the milestone of earning three All Pro selections as the proxy for the top category of player performance. While the outcome of voting for post-season honors is not a perfect indication of on-field success, it does provide the advantage of being at least a somewhat objective and a completely verifiable source of information. The purpose of this article is to explore whether there are any common denominators among the 53 three-time All Pros (hereinafter referred to as the “Top Performers”) and to provide additional relevant background information. The analysis for this article was for the period from 1995 through 2014. Who Drafts Them? This is somewhat of a chicken or the egg situation. Do All Pros make a team successful or do successful teams tend to generate more All Pros because of the team’s success? There is no way of answering this question. What we do know, though, is that 27 of the 32 NFL teams drafted at least one Top Performer. The Bills, Cardinals, Falcons, Giants and Titans drafted no Top Performers during the study period. The following table shows the NFL teams that did draft Top Performers and the number selected by each. Where in the Draft Were They Selected? The Top Performers tend to be selected early in the draft. All rounds are represented, though, except for the 7th. The first round produced 35 of the 53 players, with 27 (or almost exactly half of all Top Performers) selected in the first 14 picks. The distribution by round is as follows: How Many Are Selected Annually?  Typically two to four Top Performers are selected in each draft. The highest number selected in the past 20 years is eight in 1996. The number will increase for some of the years as time goes on and the more recent years (2012-2014 in this case) are highly likely to ultimately generate at least a few Top Performers. The number of Top Performers drafted by year for the past 20 years is as follows: Which Playing Positions are the Most Prevalent Top Performers? Top Performers are produced at almost every playing position. Some of the position classifications can be debated (i.e., whether a player was a defensive end or an outside linebacker) but here is the breakdown by position as well as the players who make up the group of 53. The most surprising item in the table is that only one quarterback (Peyton Manning) was a Top Performer. Manning was selected as an All Pro seven times and, given that only one All Pro quarterback per year is selected, his multiple selections effectively blocked such players as Tom Brady from being in the Top Performer group. The remaining 13 All Pro quarterbacks for the 1995-2014 period, with the number of years in parentheses, were Bret Favre (3), Tom Brady (2), Aaron Rodgers (2), Rich Gannon (2), Kurt Warner (2), Drew Brees (1) and Randall Cunningham (1). Favre was drafted in 1991 so he did not fall into the analysis period and is not counted as one of the 53. What Colleges Produced the Most Top Performers? About 85% (45 in total) of the Top Performers came from the Power Five Conferences. Nine colleges in that group produced more than one Top Performer. Miami is the leader with four followed by Georgia with three. Seven colleges (Florida State, Michigan, Pitt, Syracuse, Southern Cal, UCLA and Wisconsin) checked in with two each. Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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Carolina +3 -110

Minnesota -3 -110

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Tennessee +3 -110

Indianapolis -3 -110

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Arizona -2 -110

New England +2 -110

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Cleveland -7 -110

Jacksonville +7 -110

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Miami -6.5 -110

NY Jets +6.5 -110

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Nov 29th, 1:00 PM

Las Vegas -3 +100

Atlanta +3 +100

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Nov 29th, 1:00 PM

NY Giants -6 -110

Cincinnati +6 -110

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Nov 29th, 1:00 PM

LA Chargers +4.5 -110

Buffalo -4.5 -110

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Nov 29th, 4:05 PM

San Francisco +6.5 -110

LA Rams -6.5 -110

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Nov 29th, 4:05 PM

New Orleans -6.5 -115

Denver +6.5 -115

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Nov 29th, 4:25 PM

Kansas City -3.5 -115

Tampa Bay +3.5 -115

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Nov 29th, 8:20 PM

Chicago +9.5 -110

Green Bay -9.5 -110

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Nov 30th, 8:15 PM

Seattle -5.5 -105

Philadelphia +5.5 -105

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Dec 1st, 8:00 PM

Baltimore +8 -110

Pittsburgh -8 -110

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Cleveland +4 -110

Tennessee -4 -110

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Indianapolis -3 -120

Houston +3 -120

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Detroit +5.5 -105

Chicago -5.5 -105

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Jacksonville +9.5 -115

Minnesota -9.5 -115

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Las Vegas -7.5 -110

NY Jets +7.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

New Orleans -3.5 -120

Atlanta +3.5 -120

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Washington +10.5 -110

Pittsburgh -10.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 1:00 PM

Cincinnati +10.5 -110

Miami -10.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 4:05 PM

NY Giants +7.5 -110

Seattle -7.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 4:05 PM

LA Rams -1.5 -110

Arizona +1.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 4:25 PM

New England +2.5 -110

LA Chargers -2.5 -110

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Dec 6th, 4:25 PM

Philadelphia +7 -110

Green Bay -7 -110

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Dec 6th, 8:20 PM

Denver +13 -110

Kansas City -13 -110

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