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Published on 03/31/2012 at Sat Mar 31 10:20.
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I am not personally a huge college football fan, so I tend to leave the analysis of individual players to others and instead focus on interesting statistical trends dealing with the draft.  One of my favorite resources is a retired old geezer named Tony Villiotti who has been analyzing the drafts since 1969.  I have no affiliation with him or his website Draft Metrics – I’m just a fan.  That said, his analysis of the draft from a positional view is very interesting to me and how it relates to the Denver Broncos specifically.

Two of his more recent articles sparked me to write this little blog post up.  The first concerned his ideas about Value Groups and how they relate to successful careers in the NFL.  I won’t go into great detail about it as you can click that link and read up on it in fairly short order, but essentially it is the statistical compilation of length and quality of careers for every draft pick from 1992 to present day.  I’ve taken a condensed version the main table from the article and duplicated it below as I will want to reference back to it later on.

Value Groups via
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Draft Positions 1-13 14-28 29-44 45-66 67-100 101-141 142-181 182-250
Number Drafted 260 300 320 440 680 820 800 1302
Avg Career (yrs) 7.35 6.55 6.05 5.70 4.95 4.00 3.25 2.55
Starters (yrs) 5.70 4.45 3.75 2.90 1.95 1.30 0.85 0.60

As you can see, there is a significant drop off in terms of starting talent after the first two rounds in the draft.  The Broncos currently draft on Value Groups 2, 4, 5 and three more picks in Value Group 6.  Obviously you can find talent anywhere, but historically, John Elway and company absolutely must hit pay dirt with their first two picks in this draft to maximize the potential of having a successful draft in the long term.

This bring us to the Urgency Index part of this discussion.  Tony’s formula for calculating this index is:

The historic probability of drafting a five-year starter at a particular playing position in that Value Group, divided by the historic probability of drafting a five-year starter at that same playing position in all later Value Groups, times 100.

He goes on to explain further:

A higher Index means that history suggests there is more urgency to draft for that playing position in that Value Group. An index of 100 means that players drafted later have had the exact same level of success as those drafted in the current Value Group. An index of less than 100 indicates that players drafted later have actually had more success than those in the current Value Group.

Once again, I have duplicated the table below for easy reference.  You can still read the entirety of his analysis via the link above.

Urgency Index via
Value Group 1 Value Group 2 Value Group 3 Value Group 4 Value Group 5 Value Group 6 Value Group 7
1-13 14-28 29-44 45-66 67-100 101-141 142-181
RB – 725 WR – 521 QB – 612 CB – 501 WR – 933 CB – 456 DT – 363
QB – 553 G – 420 WR – 534 S – 481 TE – 455 OT – 312 CB – 294
TE – 493 DT – 413 TE – 459 DT – 426 G – 367 RB – 277 LB – 256
WR – 473 RB – 386 RB – 410 WR – 382 RB – 308 DE – 264 OT – 197
LB – 366 CB – 379 S – 391 OT – 319 DT – 273 QB – 256 QB – 188
CB – 335 TE – 359 CB – 390 TE – 275 OT – 259 LB – 201 G – 189
DE – 303 C – 352 LB – 356 C – 266 LB – 201 C – 192 RB – 182
OT – 300 S – 317 OT – 318 G – 239 C – 193 WR – 152 DE – 178
DT – 290 LB – 290 G – 279 LB – 232 S – 188 TE – 132 S – 132
C – NA DE – 263 DE – 233 DE – 210 DE – 161 G – 109 TE – 100
G – NA OT – 243 DT – 206 RB – 161 CB – 132 S – 107 C – 73
S – NA QB – 107 C – 175 QB – 116 QB – 118 DT – 46 WR – 56

This tidbit hit me the hardest:

So, how might the Urgency Index be used? Say a team has dire needs at both wide receiver and corner back and is considering players at both positions in Value Group 1 (first 13 picks of the draft). The Index would suggest that a team is more likely to draft a five-year starter at corner later in the draft (473 Urgency Index for wide receivers versus 335 for corner backs) so, with all other things being equal, they should draft the wide receiver first.

About a week ago, I wrote about wanting the Broncos to go running back at #25.  After reading that quote above and reading through the entire chart, I will likely be wanting a defensive tackle early more than a running back.  I assumed defensive tackles were a more sure hit earlier in the first round rather than later in the first round.  I was wrong and it is time to backtrack some. The good thing for us is that historically, quality defensive tackles can be found in both Value groups 2 and 4, which is exactly where the Broncos first two picks lie.

Using the information from both articles tells us a lot about the value of positions in terms of years served.  For a defensive tackle, getting a solid starter means a much longer career from the player – unlike running backs whose careers are typically short, even for the talented backs.  When you tie the two together, it makes far more sense to go after a surer position early and look for diamonds in the rough during later rounds for positions with a short shelf life.

Obviously, this is not the end-all-be-all of selecting through the draft, but I think this information can be useful when analyzing individual players by position and draft grade.  If one of us happens to be really high on a wide receiver graded out in Value Group 5, then at least you know history is with you.  After ready both of these articles from Tony and an earlier post from guest Bronco Talk writer, Geoff Bangs (Part 1 & 2), I’ve slightly adjusted my own view of how the Broncos should target their needs in this draft.  Bolstering the rushing attack is something EFX should still address, but going defensive tackle early might give them the greatest chance of hitting a solid multi-year starter than neglecting the position until later in the draft.

  • Orange Crush

    I like your analysis, Tim.  Seems pretty likely EFX will grab the DT at #25, and probably won’t trade down.  I personally hope Poe or Brockers are still available.

  • Tim Lynch

    Thanks!  I would also be happy with that.

  • Rbschaeffer22

    I’m 75% sure Denver trades out of the first round. They need to draft GREAT rotational linemen, and the price(second rounders) for these players will be low. We need a quick DT and another who will demand double team’d. This will create so much pressure on the Quaterback. ORANGE CRUSH 

  • Anonymous

     Makes sense, but how are you 75% sure?

  • Tom9798

    Tim, great read and enjoyable links!

    Since the girl in Wendy’s on Bijou knows we need a DT, does any of these metrics explain how we let Bunkley leave town? . . . or Royal for that matter?

  • Anonymous

    I would agree, but that’s what I thought last year and passed on all the DT’s.  

    Overall I would give their 2011 draft class a B grade.  Miller is a stud, Moore is very iffy, Franklin has a chance to be a 10 year anchor at RT and Irving disappeared.  I think you need to give everyone else another year to see one or two step up.

    If they can hit on 2 or 3 more this year then you have the start of a great young foundation.

  • Tim Lynch

    I’m about 37.865% sure myself.

  • Tim Lynch

    Manning fever is the only explanation I know of.  Blinded them  to all other aspects of their business…big fail if you ask me.  They must be pretty high on Ty Warren.

    Eddie Royal was easily replaced, unfortunately.  I just wish he didn’t go to a divisional rival – Eddie Kennison-ed

  • Tim Lynch

    Carter was a solid pickup too.  He made the Rahim Moore struggles less painful late in the season.

  • Anonymous

    Good point.  Forgot about him.  Hoping Syd Quan comes back strong too.

  • Tom9798

    Maybe I’m the only guy who remembers Royal’s game winning catches and great returns.
    Sometimes I feel the Broncos will be like that guy in ‘Braveheart,’ when Wallace comes riding into his bedroom on his horse and smashes his brains in.
    I know it’s a business, but when teams like the Chargers, Saints and Patriots take our players, kinda feel like the mirror was fogged up when the door got opened.

  • Tim Lynch

    I cannot argue that.  I’ve argued in Royal’s defense many times, but reality is he wasn’t a huge contributor week in and week out.  

    He will probably continue the trend, except his big games will be against Denver.  Just like Eddie Kennison.  lol

  • Monty