How NFL Teams Value Positions

Using the conventional draft value point chart, we can evaluate the relative weight that teams place on each position. By summing the draft points "spent" on players at certain positions we can rank the relative importance of each position in the draft. Here is a list of each position and how many total draft points have been spent on them based on the '99-'06 drafts for all 7 rounds.

It's an interesting list because high-profile positions such as QB or RB are not at the top of the list as we'd expect. Many other analysts make a chart like this each year, but there is a flaw with ranking positions this way.

A far better measure of the relative value placed on each position in the draft would be one that takes into account the number of players needed at each position. We can allow for the difference in the number of players needed in two ways. First, we can divide total points by the number of players of each position typically on a roster. Alternatively, we can divide by the number of players of each position typically on the field.

Here is the table of position draft pick value per player on the field:

Here is the table of position draft pick value per player on a typical roster:

Expectedly, "singular" positions such as QB and RB move up the lists because there are fewer of them required and "multiple" positions such as WR or CB move down the list. A lot of conclusions can be drawn from these tables, but what surprises me most is that RBs are valued as highly as QBs. Conventional wisdom says that solid QBs are so much harder to find than solid RBs, but it appears teams choose to spend roughly the same amount of draft points on those positions.

Perhaps the "typical" roster has more than 3 RBs or less than 3 QBs, but I'd suspect the true average number of roster spots isn't that far off. Plus, we get the same result when accounting for players on the field, and it's been a long time since we've seen 2 RBs on the field simultaneously.

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2 Responses to “How NFL Teams Value Positions”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting analysis. I would try factoring expected life in your chart. It might help explain the RB thing. A good RB has a much shorter lifespan than a good QB. You have to get a new one much faster.

    Another good factor would be hit/miss ratio. If only 3/10 drafted QBs are starters 3 years later, you may have to draft them more often.

  2. Brian Burke says:

    Great points.

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