In the 2016 NFL Draft, 32 cornerbacks and 31 wide receivers were selected, making those the two most commonly-drafted positions this year. That’s not too surprising, of course, as cornerbacks and wide receivers litter the field on Sundays. But the graph below shows the number of plays drafted at each position:
A little more interesting would be the Draft Value used on each player: after all, spending a high pick on a player means a lot more than spending a low pick on one. Here, we see that cornerback stands out: teams are more likely to use high picks on cornerbacks and late-round picks on wide receivers, at least in 2016:
Here’s the same information in table form:
But I think the most useful way to look at this information is on a per snap basis. Based on PFR data, the average offensive snap last year featured 1 quarterback, 0.98 RBs, 0.20 FBs, 2.47 WRs, 1.30 TEs, 2.09 offensive tackles, 1.91 guards, and 1.05 centers. On defense, the breakdown was 1.79 defensive ends, 1.49 defensive tackles, 3.01 linebackers, 2.55 cornerbacks, and 2.16 safeties. Unfortunately, there is no OLB/ILB breakdown, so I will make one up: my hunch is it is in the ballpark of 1.2 ILBs and 1.8 OLBs per snap. Also, to account for special teams, I am going to pretend that there are 0.3 special team players per snap: that’s a fiction, obviously, but I needed to use some number for the following purpose.
The next graph then shows the Draft Value used per position divided by the number of players on the field per snap. This, I think, is the best way to isolate how teams valued positions in the draft. Take a look:
Now quarterback vaults to the top of the list, but only barely. And while cornerback was number one before, it’s been surpassed by both defensive ends and defensive tackles. There were talks before the draft that this was a very good one for defensive tackles, and the numbers here bear that out. Only a quarterback-needy market that drove the top prospects to become the first two picks prevented defensive tackles topping the charts in draft value spent per snap.
What do you think?