Sunday, November 7, 2010

Using Average Value To Evaluate Drafts

Pro Football Reference has a proprietary statistic called Approximate Value, developed as a method to evaluate players across eras.

Maybe not the most original idea, but I thought it would be interesting to look at Career AV as a tool to evaluate drafts. The nice thing about it is that while it is additive, it also has diminishing returns so it is possible to evaluate active players who have played more than about 7 years. Yeah, the 9 year guy will have a slight advantage over the 8 year guy but not so much that entire drafts would be skewed.

There are a lot of ways to look at this, but considering how little time I actually want to put into it, I'm going to just look at the top ten guys from drafts across 7 years, and maybe sum them up to calculate "star power" of each draft. I fully acknowledge that this is an entirely arbitrary system. I should also note that AV is calculated on a seasonal basis, so is only current to the end of 2009. I warn you in advance this is going to chart ugly, I have no patience for formatting right now.

Year Player Pick # Career AV
1995 Derrick Brooks 28 138
Warren Sapp 12 117
Curtis Martin 74 101
Steve McNair 3 100
Kevin Carter 6 89
Ty Law 23 85
Kerry Collins 5 83
Joey Galloway 8 78
Terrell Davis 196 73
Hugh Douglas 16 71
Tie Ruben Brown 14 71 Top Ten Total: 935

1996 Ray Lewis 26 143
Marvin Harrison 19 124
Terrell Owens 89 116
Zach Thomas 154 115
Jonathon Ogden 4 101
Brian Dawkins 61 100
La'Roi Glover 161 91
Willie Anderson 10 89
Simeon Rice 3 88
Muhsin Muhammed 43 82 Top Ten Total: 1049

1997 Jason Taylor 73 115
Ronde Barber 66 110
Tony Gonzalez 13 102
Orlando Pace 1 101
Tiki Barber 36 100
Walter Jones 6 96
Warrick Dunn 12 95
Sam Madison 44 87
James Farrior 8 86
Derrick Mason 98 82 Top Ten Total: 974

1998 Peyton Manning 1 153
Randy Moss 21 120
Alan Faneca 26 90
Fred Taylor 9 87
Charles Woodson 4 86
Hines Ward 92 83
Ahman Green 76 80
Jeremiah Trotter 72 74
Matt Hasselbeck 187 73
Flozell Adams 38 73 Top Ten Total: 919

1999 Edgerrin James 4 114
Donovan McNabb 2 102
Champ Bailey 7 101
Torry Holt 6 100
Daunte Culpepper 11 86
Joey Porter 73 84
Chris McAlister 10 73
Jevon Kearse 16 70
Ricky Williams 5 70
Donald Driver 213 69 Top Ten Total: 869

2000 Tom Brady 199 104
Brian Urlacher 9 97
Jamal Lewis 5 69
Keith Bullock 30 68
Shaun Alexander 19 68
John Abraham 13 68
Laveranues Coles 78 67
Plaxico Burress 8 66
Adalius Thomas 186 64
Julian Peterson 16 64 Top Ten Total: 735

Okay, so what do we learn? Well, one thing is that I grossly underestimated the value of a couple of extra years to Career AV. But even with those years it looks like Tom Brady aside, the 2000 draft was awful for star power. That total won't get pushed up much. Half of those guys are retired and only Brady is still contributing at a particularly high level. There really aren't too many guys who are still active who will push their way up the list.

And golly! What a powerful draft in 1996, and three of those guys still active. Lawyer Milloy may also push his way into that top ten before he is done. He is sitting at 78 Career AV and having a pretty good year in Seattle.

I like the process. I think the next step is to work backward to 1990. Well, gotta include Barry Sanders, so 1989. Get a look at what these top tens look like when the players really are completely retired and try to get an idea of how much that total grows on an annual basis. Right now I really don't know how 735 in 2000 compares to 869 in 1999 to 919 in 1998, except to see that the slope is non-linear (not shocking).

1 comment:

  1. Will also be interesting over the years to capture how teams draft overall and see who drafts the best and who the worst. Just eyeballing the list quickly for Ravens, they didn't draft in '95 (well they did, but they were the Browns still). Of the other five years, they have five of the players listed. That's a pretty solid crop and probably is pretty rare for any team to see that sort of success. Ed Reed almost certainly hits the '02 list. Suggs may in '03. Etc.

    Would be interesting to split by total value per draft by team, as well as value of the top one or two players by team in each draft - to measure overall value teams get as well as star power they get from each draft.

    No idea if it's possible to try to develop a list that can compare how important getting stars is vs. drafting well across the board. Basically I'm thinking about ways to try to evaluate whether it's a better strategy to do what the Pats do where they try to get as many picks as possible and never really try going for stars, vs. what teams like say the Jets do where they give away all their depth to try to get a handful of really productive players.

    Oh the things I'd love to do if I could get hired as an analyst for an NFL team.....


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