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Some Clarification is in Order: What Position is Worth a 1st Rounder?

Von Miller is proving the value of using a 1st round pick on a pass rusher, how do other positions hold up? (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Von Miller is proving the value of using a 1st round pick on a pass rusher, how do other positions hold up? (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The NFL Combine is upon us, the draft is near, and while I normally leave those topics up to many of the other, much smarter, draft gurus of MHR, but as I was doing my own prep for the draft and free agency I had a few questions about positional value. One aspect of the NFL that is ignored, or overlooked, is the value side in terms of a positions value in the draft. Often times teams will draft a position just because that player may be the best available in skill set or may fill a huge need. And while I'm not disputing either method of drafting, I want to take a look at what positions make the most of being a 1st rounder. By that I mean I will examine which positions are best valued in the 1st round. Take offensive tackle and running back, since 2000, of all Pro Bowl offensive tackles, they average the draft position of the early 2nd round while all Pro Bowl running backs since 2000 averaged the draft position of the late 3rd round. This means that an offensive tackles is more valuable in the 1st than a running back.

Now we'll be doing this for each position. I'll try and keep it simple, and since this is meant as a quick update rather than a full study. This is rather just something to chew on while we get ready for the draft.

Breakdown and Table:

To start off, like I mentioned in the introduction, I'll be going back to 2000 and looking at Pro Bowl and All-Pro players. To look at each positions I looked at each player. Once I had the list of each Pro Bowler and All-Pro at a position I'd average the draft position of each Pro Bowler and record that in the table then I'd do the same for All-Pro players. It's a fairly simple system. So if a position has a Pro Bowl value of 3.2 that means they are early 3rd round picks while a 1.7 would be a late 1st rounder. With that settled, lets get to the table.

Position Average Pro Bowl Value Average All-Pro Value
QB 3.6 3.7
RB 3.2 3.4
OT 2.3 1.6
OG 3.2 2.6
C 4.4 2.9
TE 3.7 2.8
WR 3.5 3.1
Average 3.4 2.9
DT 2.4 2.2
DE 2.4 1.9
OLB 2.8 2.3
ILB 3 1.7
CB 2.3 1.9
S 3.1 1.9
Average 2.7 2.0
K 6.9 7.3
P 6.6 5.3
Average 6.8 6.3


- Top 5 in Pro Bowls for OT's, 3 are top 5 picks, 4 are top 10 picks and all were 2nd round or earlier. In the top 10, 8 are 1st rounders and only 1 is below the 2nd round. Of all the 14 All-Pro OT's since 2000, 11 are 1st round picks and only 1 is below the 2nd round.

- Center is surprisingly low, with the average Pro Bowl value at 4.4, and the top 5 players in Pro Bowls, none are 1st round picks. But when it comes to All-Pro, it does get closer to the rest of the offensive line with 2.9.

- While the WR position doesn't really require an early round player to have a solid Pro Bowl career, of the top 10 in Pro Bowls, 6 were 1st round picks, so to get the best of the best, early picks pay off.

- Extremely talented teams are said to build the trenches then move out, it's true. As we've mentioned about offensive lineman, the same holds true for defensive lineman. Pro Bowl DT's and DE's both average a round value of 2.4 and DT averages and All-Pro value of 2.2 and DE's All-Pro value is 1.9.

- Just looking at defensive positions versus defensive positions, defensive positions are much more valuable, averaging a Pro Bowl value of 2.7 compared to the 3.4 of the offensive positions. If we look at All-Pro value we see a bigger difference, 2.0 for defense compared to 2.9 for offense.

- Just looking at this, if I am a GM, I'm only really using 1st or 2nd rounders on lineman on both sides or any defensive positions. I'm only drafting other offensive positions if I have a huge need or it's a great value.

So there you go, hope this was a bit educational and helped you get a bigger picture of some meta-football analysis. While it's hardly as indepth as it could be, it's meant more as a quick educational piece about draft value.