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Keyplay1
05-16-2011, 07:54 AM
Ran across this hopping around various Steeler fan sites and MB's. Found some interesting points in the writers various studies. A few caught my eye---but first I thought I'd post the article.





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Anthony Villiotti - DraftMetrics (May 12, 2011):

First, can you tell readers about your website, how you got started and what we should expect in the
weeks ahead?

DraftMetrics covers the gamut of NFL player acquisition activities. Most of the coverage is on the draft, but
trades, free agent signings and other activities are covered as well. I have been interested in the draft since the
late 1960s, first as a ďdraftnikĒ and then as someone interested in studying the outcomes of the draft.

I published a study in the late 1980s called The NFL Draft: A Historical Perspective that I sold to a number of
NFL teams and fans. In late 2009 I decided to pick this study back up again and in the spring of 2010 I
published DRAFTMETRICS which was purchased by several NFL teams, player agents and fans. As I was writing DRAFTMETRICS it seemed that a website would be a better way to present my information since it allowed for
continual updating and addition of information.

As far as what to expect in the weeks ahead, my main priority is going to be revising my website to make it more
user friendly. After that I will probably ignore the draft for a little awhile and do more research and articles on
the general issue of how NFL teams are built.

In examining the NFL draft over the past 2+ decades, what are some of the most frequent mistakes teams
make in your opinion?

There is no data to support this so itís just my opinion but I think the two biggest mistakes that teams make are
to place too much value on post-season activities and to reach for players. A guy has four years of game action
on tape that is sometimes wiped out by one offseason workout session.

Reaching is understandable if you have a need at a particular position but it leads to mistakes.

On the Steelers specifically, what have they done well over the past few seasons in the draft? What area of
the draft do you think the Steelers could improve on?

Itís really hard to be overly critical of anything the Steelers have done in the draft.

What they have done best, though, in recent years is to ďhitĒ with their first round draft choice even though they
typically draft later in the round. The jury is still a bit out on Ziggy Hood, though he did look promising in 2010,
but otherwise you have to go back to Kendall Simmons in 2002 for someone who was somewhat disappointing,

Even Simmons was not a terrible pick since he started 83 NFL games. This shouldnít be taken for granted. Based
on research DRAFTMETRICS has done, only about 62% of first round draft choices become five-year starters in
the NFL. The Steelers look on track to bat 100% with their recent choices.

If I had any criticism of the Steelers regarding the draft itís that I think they tend to undervalue the cornerback
position in the draft room. In the last ten years theyíve selected only one cornerback (the ill-fated selection of
Richard Colclough in 2004) with a pick in the top 50 of the draft and only three (Bryant McFadden at #62 in 2005
and Curtis Brown this year at #95) in the top 100 picks.

In short, though, itís really hard to criticize anything the Steelers have done regarding the draft. They pretty serve
as the model for the rest of the NFL when it comes to the draft.

Do you see a difference in how Tomlin has approached the draft versus Cowher? If so, how?

I really donít see any difference in approach. Kevin Colbert is the common denominator with both coaches and the
Steelers draft philosophy is well established. I doubt Tomlin would have been hired if he didnít buy into the
Steelers philosophy.

How does the Steelers' draft approach differ from that of most teams (if in fact it does)?

I donít think the draft approach is much different than anyone else. The stability in the organization just allows
them to have a clear profile of the kind of players that fit the system.

Plus, they are patient and let the players develop in their system. According to Art Rooney II, maybe theyíre even
a little too patient. Over the last 20 years only the New York Giants have had fewer draft choices start as rookies
than the Steelers.

You've done a lot of research on team building and what works best. Have you found trends on whether teams
find more success when built through the draft or through free agency?

What do you think makes one approach better than the other? In your analyses, do you find that teams that
trade down for more draft picks (as has been the trend of New England lately) find more or less success
overall than teams that trade up or stand still?

I think building through the draft has proven to be the most effective way to build a team. There are a lot of
different ways to approach this issue. One very simple way is to look at the teams who used the most draft
choices versus the teams that used the least and see how they fared on the field.

The five teams with the most draft choices, in order, were the Patriots, Titans, Packers, Steelers and Eagles.
These teams have a total of 943 draft selections over the last 20 years and a total of 943 wins (no typo, same
number of wins as draft choices).

The five teams with the fewest number of draft choices were the Redskins, Saints, Lions, Raiders and Jets. These
teams had a total of 739 draft choices and only 713 wins in the 20 year period. So there does seem to be a
positive correlation between the number of draft choices and a teamís success.

The other interesting thing to note is that the second group of teams actually had more draft choices, by a very
small amount, in the first 28 draft selections than did the more successful teams. So it could be argued that the accumulation of later choices really made the difference. I will be studying this issue in more detail later this year.

So why is it better to build through the draft? I think itís due to the salary structure of NFL and its salary cap.
With the cap, nobody can be the New York Yankees and bury their mistakes. Despite some of the big salaries paid
to early first rounders, it is simply cheaper to get talent in the draft than it is through the free agent market.

More and more small school players are making NFL squads and getting drafted. Why do you think this is and
how does it change the way teams approach the draft?

Actually, Iím not sure that is the case, at least on the drafted side.

90% of the players drafted over the last 10 years have come from BCS schools, compared to 85% for the years
from 1996-2000. Football Championship Series schools (aka Division 1-A) have seen their percentage of players
drafted drop from 9% in 1996-2000 to 7% in 2006-2010. Division 2 and 3 schools have had their percentage drop
from 5% in 1996-2000 to 3% in 2006-2010.

This is contrary to what would seem to be logical, though. With the decrease in college football scholarships at
the D-1 level over the years, you would expect a higher level of talent at the other levels of college football. For
whatever reason, that has not been reflected in the draft.

As far as players making in the NFL, I donít have that broken out right now, but I will make a point of addressing
that in the future.

The days of the true, undiscovered sleeper seem to be over.

The ease of filming (I know, showing my age) and access to video makes it hard to hide anyone. So I think all
teams do a thorough job of scouting at all levels of football.

Any correlation between the size of a team's scouting department and their draft success? Do teams that
invest more in the draft process actually draft better?

Thatís a very good question, but one I have not thought to study. Sounds like a summer project!!

In looking at Pittsburgh's 2011 draft, what players excite you most and why? What was the best value
pick? Conversely, do you see any of these picks as being reaches or just poorer selections?

It was a little bit of a funny year for the Steelers draft.

There was no one that I thought they really stretched to grab (Cortez Allen is probably the closet to that) and no
one I thought they got a great bargain on. Iím somewhat excited about Cameron Heyward, because I think he is
the perfect fit for the Steelers defensive scheme, but he isnít a flashy player who is likely to stand out on day one.

Iím most intrigued by Baron Batch and think he has a real shot to be a contributor on this team as a third down
back. He essentially played like a third down back all the time at Texas Tech and he is a really easy guy to root for.

I was not too excited about Marcus Gilbert. Nothing concrete about my feelings, just think he went a little higher
than he could have and that there may have been a better value out there at the time. There is a question in my
mind if he will match up well with quick edge rushers. He is said to be best friends with Markice Pouncey, though,
so maybe some of talent will rub off.

Any last thoughts for readers?

The thing I have found most intriguing in my research is where the talent drop-offs are in the draft. I have divided
the draft into seven ďValue GroupsĒ. All the choices in each Value Group have had about the same rate of success
in their post-draft years. The Value Groups are as follows:

? Value Group 1 Selections 1-13
? Value Group 2 Selections 14-28
? Value Group 3 Selections 29-48
? Value Group 4 Selections 49-74
? Value Group 5 Selections 75-114
? Value Group 6 Selections 115-200
? Value Group 7 Selections 201 and after

The Value Groups mean, for example, that players selected with the 13th choice have done about as well as
players selected 1st.


Lots of good points above. A couple that caught my eye were the stat study types. eg.


1. You've done a lot of research on team building and what works best. Have you found trends on whether teams
find more success when built through the draft or through free agency?

What do you think makes one approach better than the other? In your analyses, do you find that teams that
trade down for more draft picks (as has been the trend of New England lately) find more or less success
overall than teams that trade up or stand still?

I think building through the draft has proven to be the most effective way to build a team. There are a lot of
different ways to approach this issue. One very simple way is to look at the teams who used the most draft
choices versus the teams that used the least and see how they fared on the field.

The five teams with the most draft choices, in order, were the Patriots, Titans, Packers, Steelers and Eagles.
These teams have a total of 943 draft selections over the last 20 years and a total of 943 wins (no typo, same
number of wins as draft choices).

The five teams with the fewest number of draft choices were the Redskins, Saints, Lions, Raiders and Jets. These
teams had a total of 739 draft choices and only 713 wins in the 20 year period. So there does seem to be a
positive correlation between the number of draft choices and a teamís success.

The other interesting thing to note is that the second group of teams actually had more draft choices, by a very
small amount, in the first 28 draft selections than did the more successful teams. So it could be argued that the accumulation of later choices really made the difference. I will be studying this issue in more detail later this year.

So why is it better to build through the draft? I think itís due to the salary structure of NFL and its salary cap.
With the cap, nobody can be the New York Yankees and bury their mistakes. Despite some of the big salaries paid
to early first rounders, it is simply cheaper to get talent in the draft than it is through the free agent market.


---Quantity vs Quality? I think in the steelers case it's Quantiy plus Quality. But is it just a coincidence that the teams with the most draft choices are also currently some of the most successful ones in the league?


2. Any last thoughts for readers?

The thing I have found most intriguing in my research is where the talent drop-offs are in the draft. I have divided
the draft into seven ďValue GroupsĒ. All the choices in each Value Group have had about the same rate of success
in their post-draft years. The Value Groups are as follows:

? Value Group 1 Selections 1-13
? Value Group 2 Selections 14-28
? Value Group 3 Selections 29-48
? Value Group 4 Selections 49-74
? Value Group 5 Selections 75-114
? Value Group 6 Selections 115-200
? Value Group 7 Selections 201 and after

The Value Groups mean, for example, that players selected with the 13th choice have done about as well as
players selected 1st.


---I really didn't know what to make of this, except the number of chances a team had in picking a quality player increased in each value grouping.

This has been a good learning year for this casual fan. Between stuff like this and steelbloods post about Colbert "On the Road" , that's about all the draft process info I really need to know. Next year, it's back to seeing who the Steelers draft and waiting until TC and the pre-season games to see what they got. Although all this stuff is fine and goes along with my own personal draft idea which is " There are a lot of really good players out there ---Get Them!"