Positional Value of Top-5 Draft Picks

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February 19, 2017
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March 7, 2017

Positional Value of Top-5 Draft Picks

Justis Mosqueda

On episode 14 of the Setting the Edge Podcast, the topic of positional value came up when Charles and I discussed the upcoming NFL draft. For example, Jamal Adams of LSU, a safety, has recently been mocked to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth overall slot, while Reuben Foster of Alabama, an off the ball linebacker, has been mocked to the San Francisco 49ers in the second overall slot.

When you look at the type of guaranteed money that those positions make, relative to what those draft slots make, something doesn’t add up. For example, if Foster was drafted second, he’d have the second-best contract in the league for an off the ball linebacker in terms of guaranteed money. If Adams was drafted fourth, he’d have the best safety contract within the same framework.

Cap hits and total money are farces, with guaranteed money being the only leverage points that players and agent have in the NFL. To¬†paint a clearer picture for everyone, I broke down the top five contracts from last year’s draft and juxtaposed them with the league overall. Click here for a spreadsheet that ranks the top five 2016 draft slots with contracts at every position in the NFL, based on guaranteed money.

I went off of Spotrac’s numbers, with the only edits to positions being DL/EDGE/LB. Full disclosure:

  • DL: Ndamukong Suh, Marcell Dareus, Muhammad Wilkerson, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell and J.J. Watt
  • EDGE: Von Miller, Olivier Vernon, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, Dante Fowler and Cameron Jordan
  • LB: Luke Kuechly

If you average those five rankings by position, here is the positional value of each position in the NFL relative to the top five draft slots in the 2017 draft, with the higher number being better:

  1. Quarterback: 18.2
  2. Interior Defensive Line: 7.6
  3. Wide Receiver: 5.4
  4. Edge Defender: 4.4
  5. Cornerback: 3.8
  6. Offensive Tackle: 3.0
  7. Off the Ball Linebacker: 1.8
  8. Interior Offensive Line: 1.4
  9. Running Back: 1.2
  10. Safety: 1.0

The split between DL/EDGE can be a bit murky in today’s NFL. If you just wanted to group the two and call them line of scrimmage defenders, the numbers reflect closer to reality:

  1. Quarterback: 18.2
  2. Line of Scrimmage Defender: 12.0
  3. Wide Receiver: 5.4
  4. Cornerback: 3.8
  5. Offensive Tackle: 3.0
  6. Off the Ball Linebacker: 1.8
  7. Interior Offensive Line: 1.4
  8. Running Back: 1.2
  9. Safety: 1.0

Pass-rushers are quarterbacks. Do with that what you will.