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2015 Team AV and Draft Value

Did you know Wilson was a 3rd round pick?

Did you know Wilson was a 3rd round pick?

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks both had very good seasons in 2015, with each team ultimately losing in the division round of the playoffs. But they got there with very different rosters when it comes to the NFL Draft.

The Chiefs have Alex Smith at quarterback, and while he wasn’t drafted by Kansas City, he was the first overall pick in 2005. Eight years later, offensive tackle Eric Fisher went first overall, while safety Eric Berry gives the team a third top-five pick, tied with five other teams for most in the league. Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson, Marcus Peters, Jeremy Maclin, and Tamba Hali were all top-20 picks, too. Thought of another way, all of the top 5 Chiefs in Approximate Value were drafted in the top 20; the team’s next three leaders in AV are Hali and two high third round picks (Travis Kelce and Justin Houston).

Smith had 16 points of AV last year, or 7% of the Chiefs total AV. Since he was the first pick, and the first pick is worth 34.6 points, that means 7% of the Chiefs weighted “average draft value” is 34.6 points. Kelce had 8 points of AV, or 4% of KC’s AV; as a result, 4% of the Chiefs weighted “average draft value” is equal to 8.2, the value of the 63rd pick in the draft. Do this for every player on the team, and Kansas City’s average draft value is equal to 11.5 points, or in between the 37th and 38th picks in the draft.  That maybe doesn’t mean much in the abstract, but it’s the most average draft value of any team in the NFL.

Now, let’s look at Seattle. Eight Seahawks had at least 10 points of AV last year: those players were Russell Wilson (3rd round), Bobby Wagner (2nd), Richard Sherman (5th), Michael Bennett (undrafted), Doug Baldwin (undrafted), Garry Gilliam (undrafted), K.J. Wright (4th round), and Earl Thomas (14th overall). It’s easy to forget, given how talented Seattle is, but only Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin, Marshawn Lynch, and Thomas were first round picks (and only Thomas returns for 2016). And only two of the team’s regular contributors — Wagner and Justin Britt — were second round picks. In fact, Seattle’s averaged draft value using the weighting formula described above was 5.15 points, equivalent to the 101st pick in the Draft. That’s two full rounds lower than Kansas City’s average.

The table below shows the average weighted draft value for each team in the NFL in 2015. As you can see, the NFC West was the most extreme division, with the Cardinals and Rams ranking in the top 4, and the 49ers and Seahawks ranking at the bottom:

RkTeamTeam AVAvg Draft ValuePick Equivalent
1Kansas City Chiefs23011.538
2Carolina Panthers2561141
3Arizona Cardinals2441141
4St. Louis Rams1891141
5Atlanta Falcons19510.643
6Detroit Lions19410.346
7Tampa Bay Buccaneers18310.246
8Cincinnati Bengals25410.147
9Philadelphia Eagles1879.750
10Oakland Raiders2019.551
11New York Giants2019.452
12Buffalo Bills2079.254
13Minnesota Vikings2179.155
14Jacksonville Jaguars1888.957
15New York Jets2298.659
16Houston Texans2188.659
17Denver Broncos2148.461
18Cleveland Browns1688.461
19Dallas Cowboys1748.362
20Green Bay Packers2168.263
21Tennessee Titans1687.867
22San Diego Chargers1907.867
23Miami Dolphins1837.768
24Pittsburgh Steelers2247.669
25Washington Redskins2067.472
26New Orleans Saints1927.373
27Chicago Bears1986.977
28Indianapolis Colts1846.484
29New England Patriots252689
30Baltimore Ravens1825.892
31San Francisco 49ers1635.892
32Seattle Seahawks2605.2101

You will probably notice that there isn’t a big correlation between average draft value and team production: the correlation coefficient between AV and average draft value was just 0.16. The Seahawks and Patriots stand out as extreme examples the other way, with both teams being successful despite a lack of high draft picks. Of New England’s top eight players in AV, only Chandler Jones (now in Arizona, which will boost the Cardinals already high rating) was a first round pick; Rob Gronkowski at pick 42 is the second-highest, with half of the the team’s top eight players being drafted in the fifth round or later.

What stands out to you?

  • Richie

    The question I’ve been asking for a few years: are the Seahawks good at identifying late-round value, or just lucky?

    Since their higher draft picks haven’t panned out as well, I tend to think that they were just pretty lucky to get such value at of guys like Wilson, Sherman and Chancellor. Will be interesting to see if they can continue to put talent around Wilson for the next decade.

  • Joe Wright

    Not a direct reply, but related fun fact: the last top 5 overall Steelers draft pick was Terry Bradshaw. The only other top 5 pick to play a down for them since he retired in 1983 is Michael Vick.

    • That is a fun fact.

      • sacramento gold miners

        George Webster was a great linebacker for the Oilers, but knee injuries reduced his effectiveness during his age 27 season. He joins the likes of William Andrews, Billy Sims, and others, who were on a Hall of Fame trajectory, but knee problems were too much. John Jefferson and Drew Bledsoe were among those who just faded from elite status into the vortex of oblivion.

    • Richie

      Yes, it is a fun fact, but you were a little sneaky there. The implication was that Bradshaw and Vick are the only 2.

      George Webster and Joe Greene were also top 5 picks, but they played during Bradshaw’s time there.

      Still – having just 4 top 5 picks play for them since the merger is impressive.

      PFR also lists Levi Brown as being on the Steelers for one game in 2013. I assume he never actually played?

    • Richie

      The Dolphins have had 17 top-5 picks play for them since the merger. Only 4 (Griese, Ronnie Brown, Jake Long and Dion Jordan) were actually drafted by the Dolphins.