Alabama and Stanford Provided the Most Valuable Talent to the NFL in the 2012 Draft

Many NFL teams use the relative valuation of draft selections established by the Dallas Cowboys to evaluate possible trades for “moving up” or “moving down” in the draft.  According to the Cowboys’ chart, the top pick in the draft is worth more than 5 times as much as the first pick in the second round (the 33rd pick) and ten times as much as the first pick in the 3rd round (the 65th selection).  The value of players declines exponentially because there are more substitutes for less skilled players and the NFL imposes a minimum salary schedule.

These values can be used to determine which positions are expected to provide the NFL with the most valuable talent in the just completed 2012 Draft.  The following chart shows that quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive ends and cornerbacks, despite representing less than one third of a team’s positions, are expected to provide almost half of the value in the draft.  This is a clear indication that the NFL has become a pass first league.

Position Share of Draft Value Share of Players Selected
Quarterback

14.12%

4.35%

Wide Receiver

13.14%

13.04%

Defensive End

10.26%

7.51%

Cornerback

10.17%

11.86%

Defensive Tackle

10.10%

9.88%

Offensive Tackle

8.19%

7.11%

Running Back

7.95%

7.51%

Offensive Guard

6.00%

8.30%

Outside Linebacker

5.83%

9.09%

Safety

5.46%

7.91%

Inside Linebacker

5.02%

3.56%

Tight End

2.20%

4.35%

Offensive Center

0.90%

1.98%

All Other Positions

0.66%

3.56%

The chart also shows that quarterbacks are selected much earlier in the draft (their share of draft value is more than three times their share of players selected) than other positions.  Safeties, inside linebackers, tight ends and centers are selected later, on average, than other positions.

The draft values used by NFL teams also can determine which college teams provided the NFL with the most valuable talent in expected value terms) in the 2012 draft.  Alabama had the most players selected (8 out of 253) and are expected to be the source of almost 10% of the value of the 2012 draft.

Position Share of Draft Value Share of Players Selected
Alabama

9.85%

3.16%

Stanford

7.86%

1.58%

Baylor

5.84%

1.98%

LSU

5.34%

1.98%

South Carolina

4.41%

2.37%

USC

4.12%

1.19%

Oklahoma State

4.11%

1.19%

Illinois

3.62%

1.58%

Notre Dame

3.05%

1.58%

Boise State

2.80%

2.37%

College football players were drafted out of 105 different colleges and universities.  The ten schools listed above accounted for 19% of the players and 51% of the value of the talent in the draft.  Only twenty schools accounted for 32.4% of the players and 71.5% of the value in the draft.

The pattern of players selected in the draft emphasizes the high value that NFL General Managers place on both passing offense and defense.  It is difficult to forecast the value of professional football players based on their performance in college and the NFL combine.  Many of the quarterbacks selected in the 2012 draft will underperform relative to expectations, while others will outperform quarterbacks selected ahead of them.  An NFL  team, such as the Miami Dolphins, is willing to take a big chance in the draft on a quarterback because the right player can elevate a team’s performance and profitability for a decade.

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