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Another Look at Draft Success

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This time, from Advanced NFL Stats. The study put together by Brian Burke may remind you of the one that LantermanC put together a ways back, using Pro Bowl Selections and years as a starter as success criteria. Burke used these criteria to compare all NFL teams from 1996-2008. You'll have to click through to see the data tables.

As far as average number of years as a starter achieved out of each draft slot, Seattle came in 11th in the league. Only three teams got more average starting years out of first round picks than Seattle, but the Hawks look decidedly mediocre in all other rounds (for this measure).

By number of Pro Bowls made per draft slot, Seattle came in 5th overall, with most of that damage coming from first round picks.

Both statistics, however, are tainted by draft slot. Consistently bad teams draft higher. This is where Burke got creative. I'll let him explain:

A team that consistently picks in the top third of each round will tend to end up with players with more potential, and therefore have better individual careers. So we need to account for each team's draft positions over the time period studied.

To do this, I calculated the expected number of starting years and expected number of Pro Bowls for each slot in the draft. After smoothing the data, I compared each team's expected draft success to their actual draft success. For example, the Detroit Lions' 1st round picks averaged 3.7 years starting, but they should have averaged a lot more given their typically high pick in each round. If we sum up the differences between expected and average for all the players, we'll see how well teams really drafted.

As it turns out, Seattle is 8th in Starting Years Above Expected, and 4th in Pro Bowls Selections Above Expected. Surprisingly, Detroit and Cleveland finished last in both categories. Who'd have expected that?