Analyzing success in the NFL Draft


Few things in sports are analyzed as deeply as the NFL draft, especially in victory-starved and football-crazed Cleveland. But the discussion is almost always based on debating which players will be NFL stars by rating their talent.

We took a different twist in 2012, looking back at what has worked. We set the scale high – finding an All-Pro. This gave us a clear way to judge players from year to year. What we found said a lot about why teams are successful. The teams with the best records over the last decade also were the most successful on draft day, despite not always drafting as high. Accumulating a lot of top 100 picks seemed to be key. The Browns were among the worst on both draft day and on the playing field.

Take a look at what we found, including the likelihood of finding All-Pros in each round of the draft, and position-by-position trends (hint: All-Pros receivers were picked higher than any other positions).

What’s the value of an NFL running back these days?

Running backs used to be the stars – or at least co-stars with quarterbacks – in the NFL.

Remember Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, John Brockington, Franco Harris and others? It seems that every good team in the 1970s and early 1980s had a star running back. Not so anymore.

As talk in Cleveland ahead of the 2012 NFL Draft began to focus on potentially picking Alabama running back Trent Richardson high in the first round, we took a look at today’s value of an NFL running back, researching records going back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

What we found is that running backs are less likely to go high in the draft, and good teams have become far less likely to depend on the run. Read our findings and associated graphics.