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NFL Draft 2015: What position groups in the NFL Draft contain the most NFL athletes?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the all the SPARQ work that Zach Whitman does, I thought it would be interesting to go through his database to find which position groups are producing the greatest number of NFL athletes (relative to their position -- the 0.0 Sigma is relative to the NFL Average for the position, not for their draft class) on both a percentage and absolute basis.

Zach has whopping 1,991 names in his 2015 database (over 2,000 with specialists), 1,004 on Defense and 987 on Offense. Of those 1,991 names, only 338 (17%) have SPARQ sigma scores that are 0.0 or higher (Again, sigma scores are relative to the NFL average, so a SPARQ sigma of 0.0 means you test at the level of the average NFL player in your position group, which is quite good) - or about 1 in 6 prospects. A sigma of 1.0 means you are one standard deviation better than the average NFL athlete in your position group (very, very good).

For this exercise I am not hunting 3-sigma, 2-sigma, or even 1-sigma athletes -- just 0.0 sigma or higher.



(1) WR and OL produce the most NFL athletes in this class -- 66 WR and 58 OL.

Out of 324 WR and 286 OL, that works out to be 20% yield from those groups, which is quite good, both on a yield and absolute basis.

45 OL were drafted last year and 33 WR were drafted last year. This is a good year (athlete wise) to draft two OL and two WR, and for the Seahawks to grab two UDFA receivers after the Draft. (The Seahawks are set up well for this - as they have only eight WR on roster and need 12 for camp. No other position group has that many open spots.)

(2) This is also a decent year to add DL and EDGE players, with 37 qualifying DL and 29 EDGE (37 of 167 or 22% DL, and 29 of 182, or 16% Edge).

Compared to WR and OL, these two positions are still rarer to find on an absolute basis, with less than 40 DL and less than 30 Edge players with NFL average-or-above athleticism.

(3) QB and FB are forgotten positions in the SPARQ-world, but there are a whopping 25 QBs (out of only 76 names -- so 33%) and 12 Fullbacks out of 65 names (18%) that qualify in this analysis.

(4) The two hardest positions to fill for athletes this year on the offensive side of the ball is RB and TE. RB is yielding only 19 athletes out of 144 names (13%), and TE is the worst of all groups -- 7 athletes out of 92 names (8%).

Again, another reason why Seattle traded for a Tight End.

(5) NFL Average Linebackers (traditional off the line of scrimmage ones) and Defensive Backs are hard to find this year.  To yield 53 Defensive Backs (both CB, SS and FS) you have to comb through a whopping 429 names (12%). There are 32 Linebackers out of 226 names that qualify (14%).

(6) It is easier to find athletes on Offense than Defense -- as Offense yields 187 names from the pool of 987 (19%).

Even if you take out the QBs -- you net 162 athletes from 911 names (18%).

On Defense, you yield only 151 names out of a pool of 1004 (15%).

This may support the notion that Seattle will go Offense early (to fill some starter needs), then shift to Defense through the heart of their draft. Then, they may back to Offense to finish off the draft. This also may tie in with some of Zach's work on what positions deliver "Surplus AV" relative to Draft Round.

I believe his findings also supported the theory that says to draft Offense early and very late, with defense in the middle rounds.