FanPost

Why Do Certain Positions Get Drafted Higher Than Others?

James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Hey all! First off, I wanna thank ben.e.bair for giving me the idea of this post. We were discussing earlier the likelihood that both Warmack and Cooper would be taken in the top part of the draft and he brought up a good point that interior offensive linemen aren't generally valued that high. Later in this post, you'll see just how right he was.

Most of us know that the big money positions, and the positions that many teams build their roster around are QB, OT, DE, and CB, but I wanted to know if that theory was shown in the draft. So with that as my stepping stone, I decided to do some research.

I went to NFL.com and looked at the first rounds of the past ten drafts (2003-2012), then I tallied how many of each position was drafted in the top half of the first round (Picks 1-16) and the same thing in the bottom half of the first round (Picks 17-32). After that I used my amazing math skills to calculate the total first round selections by position. Below are the results and a bit of analysis. Remember, this experiment does not take into account the success of the players, only where they were drafted. I hope you enjoy reading, feel free to hit the comments with your thoughts, and as always BEAR DOWN.

Top Half of First Round

Position

Number Drafted

Offense

QB

21

RB

12

WR

18

TE

2

OT

19

OG

0

C

1

Defense

DE

19

DT

21

OLB

12

MLB

8

CB

13

S

13

As expected, quarterback is the most popular position at the top of the first round. What I didn't expect was that defensive tackle had just as many players selected with 21. A few other positions such as offensive tackle and defensive end with 19 and wide receiver with 18. Rounding out the bottom were the two interior offensive line positions (sound familiar?), center with only one and guard with a big, whopping zero. Being a fan of the beloved Bears, I was quite surprised to find that middle linebacker didn't seem to be very highly valued, but I do realize that many other teams don't put a premium on the position. Now, on to the bottom half of the first round results.

Bottom Half of First Round

Position

Number Drafted

Offense

QB

10

RB

17

WR

20

TE

8

OT

16

OG

7

C

6

Defense

DE

20

DT

10

OLB

10

MLB

6

CB

22

S

5

These results I found to be equally, if not more interesting than the first count. The big winners in the bottom half of the round were the cornerbacks with 21, closely followed by defensive end and wide receiver at 20. Again, interior offensive linemen and middle linebackers were near the bottom, with safety bringing up the rear. It seems to me that cornerbacks would have had a higher total in the first half of the round, as they have generally been considered one of the more important positions on the team in recent years. At any rate, here are the totals for each position for the entire first round.

Entire First Round

Position

Number Drafted

Offense

QB

31

RB

29

WR

38

TE

10

OT

35

OG

7

C

7

Defense

DE

39

DT

31

OLB

22

MLB

14

CB

35

S

18

As you can see, the top dogs of the first round are defensive end with 39, wide receiver with 38, with offensive tackle and cornerback tied for third with 35 and quarterback and defensive tackle not far behind with 31. With the way that the NFL has turned into a "passing league", it should be no surprise that these were all at the top. Offensive tackles protect the quarterback, who obviously throws the ball to the wide receivers. All offensive positions that are integral to a successful passing offense. On the defensive side we have defensive end and tackle, both of which now are used for rushing the passer, and cornerbacks which cover the wide receivers. All defensive positions that are integral to stopping a successful passing offense. Yes, there is a pattern here. From there, you have running backs (the only remaining "skill position"), outside linebackers, which are being used more and more as pass rushers, and safeties. After that, there's a fairly large drop-off until you land at middle linebacker, then travel to the depths where you find tight ends and, what do ya know, interior offensive linemen.

So now for the question that is in the title of this post. Why is it that some positions seem to be valued more highly than others. I believe the answer is quite simple: scoring points on offense, and turnovers and negative plays on defense. What's the fastest way to score points in the NFL? You pass the ball. What do you need to pass the ball? A good quarterback, receiver, and offensive tackle. What don't you need necessarily? A good tight end, running back, guard or center. Many teams get by with so-so interior linemen and pedestrian tight ends. There are maybe 3 teams that have what I would call elite tight ends that they couldn't really do without.

On the other side of the ball, we need to create turnovers and negative plays. In order to do that, you need good cornerbacks who can make interceptions and good defensive linemen who can get sacks and force fumbles. Everything else, you can get by with just ok players for the most part. Even for a position such as middle linebacker which is supposed to be the quarterback of the defense, there aren't many teams with elite, game changing MLBs. Off the top of my head I count the 49ers, Texans, Rams, and up until this year the Ravens and Bears. So there you have it. For everyone who still can't believe that the Bears went with Shea McClellin instead of David DeCastro last year (I'm one of those people, BTW), we now know why. Shea may not have been a better value than DeCastro, and we may have needed a guard more, but Phil went with the defensive end. All ties go to the guy trained to destroy Aaron Rodgers, and I suppose that's a pretty good reason to draft someone. :)

<em>This FanPost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.</em>

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