Who should get the most help from the 2014 draft?

All teams have high hopes entering a draft, but some are better positioned than others to get help. The key to having a good draft yield is to have as many choices as possible in the early rounds. In some cases that expectation is “earned” by being a crummy team and in other instances it is achieved by front office maneuvering. The new economics, with lower pay for draft choices, makes it even more important to draft well.

Before getting into which teams should expect the most help, I first reviewed the general expectations for the entire draft. Out of the 256 draft selections in the 2014 draft:

• 225 players should see the field at least once
• 128 players should play at least five seasons
• 92 players should be starters for at least two seasons
   -A starter is someone who starts at least eight games in a season
• 54 players should be starters for at least five seasons
• 42 players should start as rookies
• 20 players should make the Pro Bowl at least once
• 11 players should be named All Pro at least once

Three teams improved their draft expectations by making trades. Here are the trades that resulted in a team getting extra choices in the first three rounds:

• The 49ers get the 56th pick in the draft from the Chiefs as part of the Alex Smith trade
• The 49ers get the 77th pick in the draft from the Titans as a result of moving from the 34th pick to the 40th pick in the 2013 draft
• The Browns get the 26th pick in the draft from the Trent Richardson trade with the Colts
• The Browns get the 83th selection from the Steelers in exchange for the 111th pick in the 2013 draft
• The Rams get the 2nd pick from the Redskins as the final installment in the RG3 trade
   -Ironically, the Rams gave up the 2nd pick to the Redskins as the first part of this trade
• The Vikings get the 96th pick from the Seahawks as part of the Percy Harvin trade

In establishing draft yield expectations by team, I used the projected number of five-year starters as the metric. (The more restrictive measures, such as post-season honors, have a limited number of data points.) Draft expectations typically change considerably during the draft as teams move up and down in the draft via trades, but here’s how it stands right now.

It should be noted that expectation range from a high of 2.7 five-year starters to a low of 0.7, so the difference is two five-year starters. The distribution is as follows:

Both the Browns and the Rams have two choices in the first round. The Browns also added two more choices by trading 2013 selections for better 2014 choices. The Rams have five extra choices with the real prize being the second selection in the draft. They also added three late round compensatory picks plus a seventh rounder from the Colts in a trade (Josh Gordy).

While not listed in the highest expectations group, it should also be noted that, barring trades, the 49ers should do very well while their archrivals, the Seahawks, are at the other end of the spectrum. The 49ers added a net of four choices with a second round pick as part of the Alex Smith trade, a third round pick as a premium for moving down in the third round in 2013, two seventh round picks in minor trades, while surrendering a sixth round pick for Blaine Gabbert (with additional compensation dependent on playing time).

Of the bottom four teams, all have lost draft choices via the trades. The team with the lowest expectations (Colts) surrendered a first round pick in exchange for Trent Richardson and a fourth rounder in exchange for an extra fifth round choice in 2013. The Seahawks lost a third-round choice as part of the Percy Harvin trade while adding a fifth-round selection in getting rid of Matt Flynn. The Broncos, Chargers and Panthers all have the same expectation.

These expectations are tempered, of course, by the current state of a team. A playoff team will generally have fewer openings than a bad team, but it is also true that a drafted player with ability will find a place to play in the NFL,

Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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