Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NFL Draft value charts for everyone!’s Mike Sando, writer for the NFC West blog, put together an interesting series of posts last Thursday and Friday about the draft capital available to each team. The Thursday post looked at the capital available according to the NFL Draft value chart in wide use within the league, created by the Cowboys organization in the early 1990s, which we’ll call Chart Classic from here on out. On Friday, Sando analyzed each team’s position according to a revised version of the chart created by Kevin Meers in 2011 and featured on the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective site. As you can see below, the capital of each team varies widely between the two[1].

Total draft capital for 2013 draft (based on picks as of 3/26)

Being a fan of updating the draft value chart myself, I thought I would be helpful and provide a crack at this with my version of the chart and throw in Chase Stuart’s from as well. Chase acknowledges the crucial point that his chart does not specifically account for the value of concentration of skill. One dollar is better than four quarters on the football field. While using Career Salary Cap Value rather than Career Approximate Value should help mine reflect the excess value of star players, it is a point of uncertainty in my chart as well.

One of the major things that sticks out from looking at the comparison of each chart against the original is how much additional capital is floating around. Picks 2-254 in the draft are worth 19.2x the number 1 pick according to Chart Classic. The comparable numbers for my chart, Football Perspective and HSAC are 37.0x, 44.1x and 54.1x. In more tangible terms Chart Classic is saying that only one team, Jacksonville, has the capital to put together a worthy trade offer for Kansas City using only this year’s picks. My chart would say that 22 teams have enough – though this would cost Green Bay all of their picks just to equal the value so that’s not much inducement for KC to do the deal. Football Perspective has it at 28 and the HSAC chart shows each team having sufficient capital to acquire the pick.

The relative improvement of teams is remarkably similar between the three alternative methods. 

This makes sense, as all are based on roughly the same logarithmic function.

A final chart to highlight the differences between the four charts shows all four valued as a percentage of the number one overall pick.

All four charts with each pick shown as a percentage of the value of the top pick

In this one the differences come out a bit more strongly. The switch from logarithmic to linear halfway through the draft is clear in my chart, while the chart from the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective is an outlier by not reaching near-zero value for the last pick.

[1] My totals vary ever so slightly from those featured in Sando’s post because I had to recreate the updated version of the Meers chart that he used. Through trial and error I found it to be the log trendline from the posted 1st round values on Meers’ original post, ignoring the posted values for subsequent picks. Once I had this I could also extend out to the 254th pick to account for the compensatory picks. Apologies to Kevin if I misrepresent his data through errors in my recreation.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On the injury rates of running QBs: The future is now

The NFL, we are told at length, is on the brink of a new era of dual-threat quarterbacks. These new QBs will take advantage of their rushing ability to put the defense off-balance and change the way the game is played. Stop me if you have heard this before.

The dual-threat QB is hardly a new phenomenon. Quarterbacks were, of course, originally more like running backs in the early days of football. While my command of football history is far short of sufficient for this or any other analysis, such names as Fran Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Steve Young have demonstrated the power of a QB with the ability to run the ball.

That a dual-threat QB could offer an improvement over a traditional drop back passer should not be in serious dispute. Given two QBs of equal passing ability, the one of the two with greater rushing ability will almost certainly have better performance – in passing as well as in rushing. The statuesque, lumbering traditional QB will have far fewer scrambles for first down, more sacks (assuming equal ability and judgment to throw the ball away in a hopeless situation) and more marginal throws forced in.

The dual-threat QB will have a huge impact even before the snap. The defense will have to consider him a threat to run even on a play that looks like a certain pass, pulling one defender away from the passing game and opening up better opportunities for completion. Once the play begins, the dual-threat QB will have the benefit of an additional option should the receivers look covered. Rather than forcing a marginal throw, throwing the ball away or taking a sack, this QB can make something happen on his own. Again assuming equal judgment and passing ability, the dual-threat QB will trade some of the worst throws of his almost-doppelganger for some scrambles that are far less likely to be turnovers and far more likely to yield positive yardage.

Despite all this upside the dual-threat QB seems prone to injury concerns that will keep him out of reach. Redskins fans in particular may be having second thoughts about Robert Griffin III tallying 120 runs – tied for the league lead among quarterbacks.