Who’s Been Doing the Best Job of Drafting

30 01 2013

“Who’s Been Doing the Best Job of Drafting – – Perception vs Reality” has probably attracted more comments than any other article published by DRAFTMETRICS. It might be appropriate to follow up that article with a few additional comments and observations.


  • DRAFTMETRICS sincerely appreciates any and all comments it receives and gives consideration to any suggestions received. We don’t have all the answers (or all the questions) and sometimes we’re standing a little too close to the trees to see the forest
  • Regarding the comments that more than just the draft needs to be considered in rating or judging a team, this article was never intended to be anything more than a review of the draft performance of each team
    • From that perspective it doesn’t matter which team a player plays for, just who drafted him
    • DRAFTMETRICS has published and will continue to publish other articles regarding all facets of building an NFL team
    •  DRAFTMETRICS acknowledges that is impossible to judge a draft solely on the basis of numbers. Making judgments based on numbers is kind of what DRAFTMETRICS does, though, and it often provides a view that is different from what is thought to be fact (and which may or not be). DRAFTMETRICS has never claimed that numbers hold all the answers, just that it is another viewpoint worth considering.
    • There have been a few comments disparaging the use of starts as a metric in measuring draft performance. Again, DRAFTMETRICS acknowledges that using starts has its flaws.
      • It is worth repeating that starts was NOT the only metric used in this article
      • We agree that a starting quarterback may not equal in value to a starting center, but on the other hand a superior starting center may be worth more than a lousy starting quarterback.
        • DRAFTMETRICS leaves those kind of assessments to others like Pro Football Focus, our mission in life is to concentrate on the measurable
        • The use of Pro Bowl selections in the index logarithm does introduce the matter of quality to some degree
  •  The number of starts is measurable and verifiable and, despite its flaws, does provide useful information. We will continue to use the number of starts as a centerpiece of our analysis. Number of plays from scrimmage may indeed be a better measure than starts, but the NFL only started releasing that data for the 2012 season.
    • Other websites have been tracking snaps from scrimmage pre-2012, but it would not be ethical for DRAFTMETRICS to use their information
    •  As time goes on (and assuming I avoid Alzheimers) I’m sure that snaps from scrimmage will replace starts as our centerpiece. For right now, though, number of starts is a pretty good indicator.
  •  The issue of the comparative worth of positions can’t be avoided. To decide the relative worth of positions and then comparative performance of the guys playing those positions is a task DRAFTMETRICS will leave to others. Again, it simply isn’t what we set out to do.
  • The bottom line is that there is no “perfect” way to measure draft performance. DRAFTMETRCS presented one methodology  based on objective outcomes. This methodology should be part of the discussion, not the end of the discussion

Reviewing the NFL Offseason by the Numbers

27 09 2012

With the season now well underway, DRAFTMETRICS took a final look at off-season player movement. The full analysis by NFL team is available at http://www.draftmetrics.com/files/2012offseason.pdf.

DRAFTMETRICS uses the metric of games started in the preceding season to measure offseason activities. This is an obviously imperfect metric as it excludes such things as Peyton Manning going to the Broncos but it is available and reasonably meaningful. One final caveat – this analysis was done based on NFL rosters on September 24. The analysis would change slightly throughout the season (for example, the subsequent signings of Ryan Grant and Andre Carter) but it does give us a reasonable measure at a point in time.

Let’s start with the big picture. The analysis shows that there is not wholesale movement of players among teams. Here’s a summary:

• Players who started 77% of all 2011 games returned to the team they played for in 2011.
• Players who started about 13% of all 2011 games changed teams prior to the 2012 NFL season.
• 10% of all 2011 games were started by players who are not on 2012 NFL rosters (including injured reserve).
o Retirements accounts for 2% out of the 10%

The analysis by team showed some wide variances in offseason activity. The 49ers and Lions retained players who started almost 91% of 2011 games while the Rams were the low at retaining 42% of their 2011 games started (probably a good thing considering their 2011 record). It would make sense that for a good team, retaining players is a good thing. This was pretty much proven to be true as nine of the 12 playoff teams retained 77% or more of their 2011 starts, with the Bengals, Broncos and Patriots being outliers.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were ten teams that lost more than seven games. Half of those were near or above the average in terms of retaining 2011 starts. The Rams, Colts and Vikings with a combined 7-41 record in 2011 had the lowest retention rate, which is probably a good thing. It is also somewhat interesting to note that these three teams accounted for over 23% of the 2011 games started by players who are not on NFL rosters. Again, not surprising given the lack of success for these teams. They each employed a number of “transient” players who started only because no one better was available.

A few other comments/observations:

• The Bears have the most experienced team in the league in terms of 2011 starts with players who started 370 games in 201 on their roster
o They are followed by the Patriots with 364 but players with about 50 starters are on injured or other reserve lists
• The Vikings have the least experienced team in the league in terms of 2011 starts with only 252
o The Rams follow the Vikings with 263 starts
• The Colts (90), Rams (85), Raiders (85) and Texans (79) lost the most starts to other NFL teams
• The Texans (1), Saints (3) 49ers (4) and Dolphins (5) have the fewest 2011 starts by players who are no longer in the NFL
o Rams (100), Vikings (62) and Colts (55) have the most

Summary of Off-Season Team Building Activities – Training Camp Edition

26 07 2012

As NFL teams head to training camp, DRAFTMETRICS takes a final preseason look at player movement within the league. Numbers, of course, never tell the whole story but they do tell some of the story. DRAFTMETRICS has tracked the movement of all players who started a game during the 2011 season. Of those starters:


  • Players representing 80% of all 2011 games started are with the same team in 2012
  • Players representing 13% of all 2011 games started have changed teams
  • Players representing 6% of all 2011 games started are unsigned
  • Players representing 1% of all 2011 games started have retired


It is generally, though not always, a good thing to retain your starters from the preceding season in a team game such as football. The DRAFTMETRICS analysis shows that the Bills (players who started 92% of the Bills 2011 games return) were the most successful in retaining starters followed closely by the Bears (91.5%), Lions (90.9%), 49ers (90.6%), Eagles (89.8%) and Falcons (89.5%). At the other end of the spectrum were the Rams (50.9%), Colts (57.7%), Vikings (64.8%), Chiefs (65.6%) and Broncos (67.9%).


The analysis also showed a wide range of activity in the free agent market. New England brought in players who started 121 games in 2011, followed by the Rams with 107 and the Broncos and Chargers with 87 each. (The Broncos numbers exclude Peyton Manning who was injured for the entire 2011 season). Among the teams with a low level of activity were the Steelers with 11 and the Bills, Browns and Panthers with 12 each.


On a big picture basis the Patriots (with players who started 408 games in 2011) stand out as the most experienced team in the NFL. The Bears rank next with 375 games started in 2011 and the Chargers with 372. The least experienced teams are the Vikings and the Colts with 252 and 253, respectively, games started in 2011.


These numbers will all change during training camp, so DRAFTMETRICS will redo this analysis after the start of the NFL season. The complete chart is available at http://www.draftmetrics.com/files/OffSeason725.pdf

Time to Blog

7 05 2012

DRAFTMETRICS is starting this blog to give it a venue to give shorter takes on current football topics. The longer research articles will continue to appear on the website, this just gives us a vehicle to respond quickly to time sensitive topics.