In less than a week, the 32 NFL teams will take their swings at the 2020 NFL Draft.
This draft has been the most debated and discussed ever because of the current circumstances in the world. The NFL draft is the only thing really going on in the sports world and has provided fans a distraction and something to debate with their friends.
We decided to look at the past five drafts and see if there are any trends to be detected and what those tell us about potential decisions teams face in this year’s draft.
Starting with the 2015 draft, we used Pro Football Reference’s Draft Finder tool to break things down.
In those five drafts, there have been 608 offensive players drafted, 558 defensive players taken and 18 on special teams.
Here is some of what we found:
Position taken the most
Teams have drafted wide receivers more than any other position, a reflection on how important the passing game has become. There have been 159 receivers taken — 17 in the first round, which is the third-most. Cornerback (147) is in second overall and tied for first with 18 first-round picks. Running back (121), defensive tackle (109) and defensive end (105) round out the top five.
Defensive end is tied with cornerback for the most first-round picks taken (18). While quarterback and offensive tackle don’t have high overall numbers, they are tied for fourth, along with defensive tackle, in first-round picks (16).
Position taken the least
We excluded kickers and punters from this count. Interior offensive linemen take up two of the top five spots. Centers (33) have been taken the least in the past five drafts. They are followed by inside linebackers (34), quarterbacks (56), guards (67) and outside linebackers (69).
The first-round selections fall pretty closely to the overall numbers. The one exception is running back. While the 121 running backs taken are the third-most by position, only nine have been taken in the first round, which is the tied for the fifth-fewest. That backs up the theory most teams now have that running backs can be found in later rounds.
First round or bust
There is always great debate about positional value when it comes to first-round picks. Do you use a first-round pick on a wide receiver or wait until later rounds? Can you find a good edge-rusher outside of the first round?
Here are the positions at which we found first-round picks succeeded much more than those in the rest of the rounds: offensive lineman, cornerback and quarterback.
Let’s start with offensive tackles. There have been 96 drafted, 16 in the first round, four in the top 10. Out of those 96, three have made an All-Pro team and all of those were first-round picks; two of those were top-10 picks.
There have been 67 guards drafted, eight in the first round and two in the top 10. Only Quenton Nelson has been All-Pro and he was taken No. 6 overall by the Colts in 2018.
Only one of the 33 centers drafted has made a Pro Bowl, and that was another Colts first-round pick, Ryan Kelly.
At cornerback, of the 147 players drafted, eight have made a Pro Bowl. The Dolphins’ Xavien Howard, a second-round pick, is the only one from outside the first round.
Quarterback is one you’d expect to have a higher hit rate in the first round, because quarterbacks always get over-drafted. Of 56 drafted, there have been eight Pro Bowlers, with Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick, the only one coming from outside of the first round.
You can wait on these
The positions at which teams have had the most success outside of the first round are running back, wide receiver and defensive end.
Running back is probably the most debated position in the draft. There have been 121 drafted, nine in the first round. Of the 14 who have made a Pro Bowl, nine came from outside the first round. For every Ezekiel Elliott, there is an Alvin Kamara.
There is a debate among Jets fans right now about taking a wide receiver in the first round. The numbers say they should wait. Of the 159 wide receivers drafted, 17 have been taken in the first round. There have been eight (not including those selected as a returner) of those who have made a Pro Bowl, and seven of them were drafted outside the first round. Amari Cooper, drafted by the Raiders in 2015, is the only first-rounder who has been a Pro Bowler.
Defensive end is an even split. Of the 10 Pro Bowlers, five have come outside the first round.
Does volume matter?
There is always discussion at this time of year of trading down to acquire more picks with the idea that more picks means getting more good players.
That is not always the case.
The Browns have used the most draft picks over the past five years (52). While they have improved their talent greatly in that time, they have not made a playoff appearance. They also have made some big trades (Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry) to supplement their roster.
The teams right behind the Browns have had mixed success. The Seahawks (49), Vikings (49), Bengals (48) and 49ers (48) round out the top five.
The teams that have used the fewest picks are the Panthers (32), Falcons (32), Eagles (32), Bears (32) and Saints (33).
Volume does not always equate to draft success. Would you rather have the Saints’ past five drafts or those of the Bengals?
Making a move
Which general managers are most likely to make a move? Examining teams that have traded in the first round since 2015, Seahawks GM John Schneider loves to move back. Bills GM Brandon Beane and Eagles GM Howie Roseman like to move up.
Schneider has traded down six times in the first round. It makes sense because Seattle is usually drafting late in the first round. Many teams like to move out of the end of the first round, feeling there is not much of a difference in the caliber of player to take in the second round. The Browns and Ravens have also traded back three times.
The Bills and Eagles each have moved up three times. In both instances, two of those trades led to drafting a quarterback. Philadelphia moved up twice to get Carson Wentz in 2016. Buffalo did the same in 2018 for Josh Allen.
Source: Read Full Article