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Considering the ROI for players drafted 2012-2017

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Broncos’ biggest return on investment comes from players drafted in the late rounds.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I was planning to do a follow-up article on DERPP next, but the discussion after that first article led to some very interesting ideas about how else we could evaluate return on investment (ROI) from teams’ draft picks.

So I have chosen to use Approximate Value (AV), a metric developed by pro-football-reference.com, to assign every player’s value to his team every year. Because of this, they have been able to figure out the average career value for players drafted at every spot in the draft.

The method I will use will normalize high draft picks (since you SHOULD get good performance out of them) and low draft picks (since very little is expected from them). I could have used the “Jimmy Johnson” draft slot values for this, but decided against it since they overvalue the top 15 picks, and there is no value to put in the numerator if we use that measure of draft slot value.

So what’s the method?

Drafted player AV divided by player’s expected career AV

Using drafted player AV means that you only count the value generated for the team that drafted the player. Malik Jackson has a career AV of 37, but only 17 of that was generated while he was a Bronco. Jackson was drafted as the 137th pick in 2012. The expected career AV for the 137th pick is 3.3 so Malik’s ROI to the Broncos is 17/3.3 or 5.15.

Let’s look at two other examples of this method. Andrew Luck was taken with the first overall pick in 2012. The expected career AV for the first pick in the draft is 34.6. Luck has a career AV of 59. So the Colts have gotten 59/34.6 or 1.71 ROI out of their selection of Luck.

The Broncos selected Trevor Siemian with the 250th pick in the 2015 draft. The average career AV for the 250th pick is 0.1 (most 7th round picks play very little in NFL games). Siemian has a career AV of 13, so his ROI for the Broncos is 13/0.1 or 130. In other words, the Broncos got “decent” return on a tiny draft investment.

Now, unlike DERPP, this does not look at the quality of his play (although Siemian’s AV of 4 in 2017 was the lowest AV in the league for a QB with 10 or more starts). Se let’s look at the ROI for every draft pick from 2012-2017 for the Broncos.

Player AV by draft slot AV with DEN ROI
Garett Bolles 15.5 6 0.39
DeMarcus Walker 9.6 1 0.10
Carlos Henderson 6.5 0 0.00
Brendan Langley 5.2 1 0.19
Jake Butt 2.9 0 0.00
Isaiah McKenzie 1.8 0 0.00
De'Angelo Henderson 0.8 0 0.00
Chad Kelly 0.1 0 0.00
Paxton Lynch 13.9 2 0.14
Adam Gotsis 8.2 8 0.98
Justin Simmons 5.4 7 1.30
Devontae Booker 3.3 8 2.42
Connor McGovern 3 3 1.00
Andy Janovich 1.7 1 0.59
Will Parks 0.3 4 13.33
Riley Dixon 0.1 4 40.00
Shane Ray 14.6 11 0.75
Ty Sambrailo 8.6 3 0.35
Jeff Heuerman 5.8 2 0.34
Max Garcia 3.5 14 4.00
Lorenzo Doss 2.1 0 0.00
Darius Kilgo 0.8 2 2.50
Trevor Siemian 0.1 13 130.00
Taurean Nixon 0.1 0 0.00
Josh Furman 0.1 0 0.00
Bradley Roby 12.7 10 0.79
Cody Latimer 9 3 0.33
Michael Schofield 5.6 13 2.32
Lamin Barrow 2.4 1 0.42
Matt Paradis 0.6 17 28.33
Corey Nelson 0.1 6 60.00
Sylvester Williams 13.4 22 1.64
Montee Ball 8.7 8 0.92
Kayvon Webster 5.9 4 0.68
Quanterus Smith 2.9 1 0.34
Tavarres King 2.2 0 0.00
Vinston Painter 1.8 0 0.00
Zac Dysert 0.1 0 0.00
Derek Wolfe 11.8 36 3.05
Brock Osweiler 8.9 7 0.79
Ronnie Hillman 7.8 15 1.92
Omar Bolden 5.2 5 0.96
Philip Blake 4.8 0 0.00
Malik Jackson 3.3 15 4.55
Danny Trevathan 1.3 20 15.38

Keep in mind that this is a now-look, so that players who have only been in the league one or two years (even if they have played quite a bit), probably have not shown large ROIs unless they have torn it up (and frankly, most of our draft picks have not done that recently).

We see that the biggest ROIs the Broncos have, not surprisingly, come from late-round picks, with Siemian, Corey Nelson, Riley Dixon, Matt Paradis, Danny Trevathan and Will Parks as the only players with an ROI > 10.

One of the reasons that I DON’T really like AV as a measure of value to the team is that you can get results like this where Malik Jackson and Max Garcia are shown to have essentially the same ROI for the team. This is decidedly not the case.

So now let’s see how the entire league has done from an ROI standpoint 2012-2017:

Rank Team Total Draft ROI Total Draft Capital by AV
1 SEA 380 232.7
2 CHI 323 272.8
3 DEN 321 222.5
4 PHI 304 271.5
5 PIT 289 235.9
6 NYJ 218 289.9
7 OAK 216 252.7
8 MIA 212 283.6
9 SFO 197 308.9
10 DET 196 265.2
11 MIN 193 281.5
12 NWE 192 212.1
13 NYG 189 248.7
14 ATL 187 227.0
15 BUF 186 261.1
16 IND 179 240.5
17 CIN 174 291.2
18 GNB 153 240.0
19 BAL 149 285.3
20 LAR 148 329.4
21 KAN 141 261.0
22 HOU 127 276.0
23 TEN 125 326.3
24 CLE 104 402.6
25 WAS 104 253.4
26 JAX 91 335.8
27 ARI 82 244.4
28 DAL 74 247.7
29 CAR 67 234.5
30 LAC 67 260.0
31 TAM 54 279.2
32 NOR 48 249.8

You’ll notice that I have also summed the total amount of draft capital that each team has had to spend over these six drafts. Denver has had the third least amount of draft capital (by summed expected Career AV), but has gotten the third most ROI from its draft picks.

Now, before you start screaming about this in the comments, I will fully own that this ROI metric assigns way more value to the play of Trevor Siemian than I would like. You will note that he accounts for 130 of the team’s total of 321. In fact, by this metric Siemian provided more ROI by himself than 11 teams got from ALL of their draft picks combined.

As such, I thought about injecting some kind of scaler into this ROI metric to “soften” the impact of day-three draftees, but I decided against it. Feel free to debate/discuss this with me in the comments.

Poll

Did you expect the Broncos ROI for 2012-2017 to be this high?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Yes
    (57 votes)
  • 29%
    Sort of - because of Siemian
    (169 votes)
  • 60%
    No
    (345 votes)
571 votes total Vote Now