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View Full Version : Why teams shouldn't pick RBs in first round of the draft (new from SteelCityStats)



thethinkingguy
01-31-2013, 12:17 AM
All, thanks for all the kind words and encouraging comments for our first article. The Drinking Guy and I have finally published our second article, which explains quantitatively why teams should not be drafting running backs in the first round. Check it out, and be sure (if you like it) to tell friends and family.

Cheers!

www.steelcitystats.com

Chadman
01-31-2013, 12:28 AM
Hard to argue your points in there. Chadman isn't convinced there is such a great drop-off between the 1st round type RB's this year than the 3-4th round type RB's.

Chadman
01-31-2013, 12:32 AM
1 thing that wasn't quite pointed out though- if 8 out of the top 20 RB's were from the 1st round (40%), that means 60% of the top RB's were spread throughout the remaining 6 rounds. Without breaking down the maths- that'd mean that no other round gets statistically close to the 1st round in terms of success at RB.

So really, the chances of success with a 1st round type RB, are far greater than with a lower round guy.

thethinkingguy
01-31-2013, 12:39 AM
Chadman, good point. But, 12 of the 20 top rushers are not from the first round, that means the better play is on running backs in the 2nd or 3rd round in terms of cost/benefit. You're going to have to pay a first round pick big money. The Bears had Matt Forte under contract for about $750K a year because he was picked in the 2nd round. Rice, McCoy, MJD, Forte, Gore, Ridley, etc. all had cheaper rookie contracts and delivered nicely.

Chadman
01-31-2013, 12:48 AM
RB is a real hard spot to evaluate like this, particularly due to the RB-Rotation phenomenon of the last few seasons. More & more teams are getting equal value from 2 RB's instead of just 1.

The real issue Chadman has with Eddie Lacy is not that he is, or isn't, 1st round worthy, but is he much more different from what the Steelers already have on the roster at RB?

Chadman
01-31-2013, 12:51 AM
Chadman, good point. But, 12 of the 20 top rushers are not from the first round, that means the better play is on running backs in the 2nd or 3rd round in terms of cost/benefit. You're going to have to pay a first round pick big money. The Bears had Matt Forte under contract for about $750K a year because he was picked in the 2nd round. Rice, McCoy, MJD, Forte, Gore, Ridley, etc. all had cheaper rookie contracts and delivered nicely.

While Chadman agrees with your statement- 2nd & 3rd round RB's are often better 'value' RB's, statistics don't back up that 2nd & 3rd round RB's are better than 1st round RB's. The 12 of 20 RB's not selected in the 1st round are spread throught 6 other rounds... the simple maths equation says that's 10% success from each remaining round.

Not disagreeing that there is better value in the 2nd/3rd round, just being nit-picky about stats. :)

Shawn
01-31-2013, 02:38 AM
Chadman, good point. But, 12 of the 20 top rushers are not from the first round, that means the better play is on running backs in the 2nd or 3rd round in terms of cost/benefit. You're going to have to pay a first round pick big money. The Bears had Matt Forte under contract for about $750K a year because he was picked in the 2nd round. Rice, McCoy, MJD, Forte, Gore, Ridley, etc. all had cheaper rookie contracts and delivered nicely.

Statistically that makes sense. More running backs are selected in rounds 2-7, therefore more chances to be a top running back. I would expect most of the top 20 rushers not to be first round picks.

Oviedo
01-31-2013, 08:54 AM
RB is a real hard spot to evaluate like this, particularly due to the RB-Rotation phenomenon of the last few seasons. More & more teams are getting equal value from 2 RB's instead of just 1.

The real issue Chadman has with Eddie Lacy is not that he is, or isn't, 1st round worthy, but is he much more different from what the Steelers already have on the roster at RB?

I think it is safe to say that Lacy is probably better than Dwyer and he is definitely better than Redman and Batch.

Chadman
01-31-2013, 08:59 AM
I think it is safe to say that Lacy is probably better than Dwyer and he is definitely better than Redman and Batch.

Probably better... yeah, why not. But that wasn't Chadman's point. If the Steelers field a RB committee of Lacy, Dwyer & Redman... there's zero variety there. They are the same guy, more or less, in style. Where's the change of pace? The recieving back? The 3rd down guy?

If the Steelers draft Lacy- they'd be better off punting at least 1, if not both Dwyer & Redman & finding other types of RB to compliment Lacy.

The Steelers need a 'take it to the house' RB, not another 'up the middle' guy.

feltdizz
01-31-2013, 09:36 AM
I think it is safe to say that Lacy is probably better than Dwyer and he is definitely better than Redman and Batch.

I'm tired of trying to find Bettis 2.0... we need a Gore, Lynch type RB. I wish Mendenhall would make up his mind and play to his potential because he has the perfect skill set for our team he just dances too much.

Slapstick
01-31-2013, 09:40 AM
I think it is safe to say that Lacy is probably better than Dwyer and he is definitely better than Redman and Batch.

I don't. Lacy hasn't played a down in the NFL...

Change the word "probably" to "potentially" and I agree...

steelerkeylargo
01-31-2013, 10:11 AM
Barring he has some type of character issue that no one knows about, Eddie Lacy will be a first round draft choice.

steelerkeylargo
01-31-2013, 10:33 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPrnpAK4n5Y

Eddie Lacy highlights. Don't play around the kids. Profanity laden soundtrack.

SidSmythe
01-31-2013, 11:16 AM
There are a few RBs that would be worthy of a 1st round pick.
I think they're a dime a dozen myself, but guys like Adrian Peterson don't come around everyday.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
01-31-2013, 12:30 PM
I would say, Yes...You could find highly productive or even Pro Bowl caliber RBs later in the draft. You could say that about every position but it seems RB is one that gets the attention because of the touches. I would say it is very rare where a RB clearly warrants that high 1st round grade where he seperates himself from everyone else. That "special" guy coming out where you could see he is a game changer. The speed of the game in the jump is a big equilizer for RBs. That is where being a football player first makes those mid-late round picks have production at this level. There is no meter at the combine that measures "football player". When you put the ball in his hands 20-30 times a game at this level, the football players come to the top & the "athletes" may struggle.

RBs are one of those skill positions where a player can be highly productive in the NFL because of intangibles & non-measurables. It is also difficult at times to project what you see on tape because of whom they played for meaning talent around them, system, depth etc. at the college level. You can find that RB with average measurables that may have unique vision, the ability to be a one cut decisive runner, runs downhill with a good pad level, ability to break tackles & not go down on first contact, and has great balance & feet. A real workhorse who is durable. Not a home run hitter but a chain mover and can get you big chunks. Those are the guys you can find throughout the draft. They can be a "feature" back and make DC gameplan to stop them. I don't think that "risk reward" factor balances out enough for RBs drafted high. Personally, I don't like any RB this year in the top 50.

Steelerphile
01-31-2013, 07:13 PM
The Lacy highlights shows him executing "spin" moves. That should move him out of consideration since Steeler Nation dislikes Spindenhall. What I've seen of Lacy, I think I would rather resign Mendenhall. Mendenhall has been a basically productive player, and he's faster. He's been out for a year so he should be able to rehab and get ready for a few more seasons. So he was mad and stayed home for a game, which he wouldn't have dressed or played in anyway. I don't think that warrants the death penalty. If he is contrite, he's forgiven. I'm easy. I don't trust Dwyer or Redman to be a lead back next year and if they don't draft a back in the top 2-3 rds, you don't know what you'll get. The FA crop of RBs is not that enticing.

Captain Lemming
01-31-2013, 07:14 PM
I would say, Yes...You could find highly productive or even Pro Bowl caliber RBs later in the draft. You could say that about every position but it seems RB is one that gets the attention because of the touches. I would say it is very rare where a RB clearly warrants that high 1st round grade where he seperates himself from everyone else. That "special" guy coming out where you could see he is a game changer. The speed of the game in the jump is a big equilizer for RBs. That is where being a football player first makes those mid-late round picks have production at this level. There is no meter at the combine that measures "football player". When you put the ball in his hands 20-30 times a game at this level, the football players come to the top & the "athletes" may struggle.

RBs are one of those skill positions where a player can be highly productive in the NFL because of intangibles & non-measurables. It is also difficult at times to project what you see on tape because of whom they played for meaning talent around them, system, depth etc. at the college level. You can find that RB with average measurables that may have unique vision, the ability to be a one cut decisive runner, runs downhill with a good pad level, ability to break tackles & not go down on first contact, and has great balance & feet. A real workhorse who is durable. Not a home run hitter but a chain mover and can get you big chunks. Those are the guys you can find throughout the draft. They can be a "feature" back and make DC gameplan to stop them. I don't think that "risk reward" factor balances out enough for RBs drafted high. Personally, I don't like any RB this year in the top 50.

In other words.... Emmett Smith type. Lame measurables, but ridiculously consistent.

lloydroid
01-31-2013, 07:38 PM
While Chadman agrees with your statement- 2nd & 3rd round RB's are often better 'value' RB's, statistics don't back up that 2nd & 3rd round RB's are better than 1st round RB's. The 12 of 20 RB's not selected in the 1st round are spread throught 6 other rounds... the simple maths equation says that's 10% success from each remaining round.

Not disagreeing that there is better value in the 2nd/3rd round, just being nit-picky about stats. :)

You can make this argument for any position on the field, if you wanted to. Should we not take QBs until the 6th round since that is where Tom Brady was taken?

Were Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Chris Johnson, Jon Stewart, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Stephen Jackson, Larry Johnson, Willis McGayhee, LT, Duce McAllister, Jamal Lewis, Shaun Alexander, Edge James. Ricky Williams, Fred Taylor, Eddie George, Marshall Faulk, Barry Sanders, Bettis, Robert Smith, Hearst, Emmitt Smith, et al not worthy of taking in the first round?

Also, the article mentions that taking Lacy at 17 over all is too high. I haven't seen ANYONE assert that Lacy go in the 1st round. Everyone has him listed as a 2nd round pick. There have been a ton of top RBs taken in the 2nd round, including Ray Rice, Mo Jo, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, Travis Henry, Tiki Barber, Corey Dillon, Mike Alstott, Charlie Garner, etc.

Chadman
01-31-2013, 07:48 PM
You can make this argument for any position on the field, if you wanted to. Should we not take QBs until the 6th round since that is where Tom Brady was taken?

Were Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Chris Johnson, Jon Stewart, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Stephen Jackson, Larry Johnson, Willis McGayhee, LT, Duce McAllister, Jamal Lewis, Shaun Alexander, Edge James. Ricky Williams, Fred Taylor, Eddie George, Marshall Faulk, Barry Sanders, Bettis, Robert Smith, Hearst, Emmitt Smith, et al not worthy of taking in the first round?

Also, the article mentions that taking Lacy at 17 over all is too high. I haven't seen ANYONE assert that Lacy go in the 1st round. Everyone has him listed as a 2nd round pick. There have been a ton of top RBs taken in the 2nd round, including Ray Rice, Mo Jo, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, Travis Henry, Tiki Barber, Corey Dillon, Mike Alstott, Charlie Garner, etc.

Not sure if we are arguing the same thing. The article suggests that it's not worth taking a RB in the 1st round because only 8 out of the top 20 RB's in 2012 are 1st round guys. Chadman pointed out that is 40% of the top 20 RB's coming from 1 round, while 60% is spread among the remaining 6 rounds.

Simple maths will show that no other round is as successful in 2012 than the 1st round for RB's, because no other single round of the draft can produce 40% of the top 20 RB's.

That doesn't mean you can't find players in Round 7 that will be successful- but stats prove that it's definately harder.

thethinkingguy
01-31-2013, 08:09 PM
The article suggests that it's not worth taking a RB in the 1st round because only 8 out of the top 20 RB's in 2012 are 1st round guys. Chadman pointed out that is 40% of the top 20 RB's coming from 1 round, while 60% is spread among the remaining 6 rounds.

Simple maths will show that no other round is as successful in 2012 than the 1st round for RB's, because no other single round of the draft can produce 40% of the top 20 RB's.

That doesn't mean you can't find players in Round 7 that will be successful- but stats prove that it's definately harder.

What you say is true, however it's not the point. The point is that there is not much drop off between the first through third round running backs (see the confidence interval chart), especially when you remove AP's stats. Shame on the franchise that reaches and overspends on a position where there is so much fungibility. Unless you can guarantee you're going to turn a back into Peterson, you should wait until the 2nd round to grab a back...and he'd better be good at receiving also.

You can't just look at the 8/20 fact, albeit it's tempting to. I can counterpoint it with these (which are qualitative in nature - not quantitative because I can't prove they're significant):
- 4 of the top 10 RBs (in terms of rushing yards) are on losing teams, including the team with the first overall pick this draft
- all 4 of the conference championship game teams (ATL, BAL, SF, NE) have starting RBs that are from the 2nd round or higher in the draft.
- Ray Rice is the highest drafted player of those 4 teams and he was 55th overall (almost 3rd round)

Chadman
01-31-2013, 08:18 PM
What you say is true, however it's not the point. The point is that there is not much drop off between the first through third round running backs (see the confidence interval chart), especially when you remove AP's stats. Shame on the franchise that reaches and overspends on a position where there is so much fungibility. Unless you can guarantee you're going to turn a back into Peterson, you should wait until the 2nd round to grab a back...and he'd better be good at receiving also.

You can't just look at the 8/20 fact, albeit it's tempting to. I can counterpoint it with these (which are qualitative in nature - not quantitative because I can't prove they're significant):
- 4 of the top 10 RBs (in terms of rushing yards) are on losing teams, including the team with the first overall pick this draft
- all 4 of the conference championship game teams (ATL, BAL, SF, NE) have starting RBs that are from the 2nd round or higher in the draft.
- Ray Rice is the highest drafted player of those 4 teams and he was 55th overall (almost 3rd round)

These are Chadman's favourite types of discussion- comments backed up with facts & theories. Nice stuff. Chadman, for the record- completely agrees that the drop-off from Round 1 to Round 2 or even 3 is nowhere near as significant as it may have been in the past- there are good players everywhere in a draft, and teams are doing better jobs finding them.

For what it's worth, Chadman prefers 2nd round RB's Ellington, Randle & Gillislee to Bernard & Lacy in this draft..

BradshawsHairdresser
01-31-2013, 11:48 PM
These are Chadman's favourite types of discussion- comments backed up with facts & theories. Nice stuff. Chadman, for the record- completely agrees that the drop-off from Round 1 to Round 2 or even 3 is nowhere near as significant as it may have been in the past- there are good players everywhere in a draft, and teams are doing better jobs finding them.

For what it's worth, Chadman prefers 2nd round RB's Ellington, Randle & Gillislee to Bernard & Lacy in this draft..

In full agreement with you on this...we certainly don't need to be spending a first-round pick on a RB.

feltdizz
02-01-2013, 10:07 AM
If there is a CJ Spiller type RB at #17 I would take him in a heartbeat.

papillon
02-01-2013, 10:24 AM
If there is a CJ Spiller type RB at #17 I would take him in a heartbeat.

The Steelers need a back that can get yards after contact (IMO) and I'm not certain, but Spiller is a guy that looks to outrun defenders or make them miss. I would love to have a 20 carry a game back that has forward lean, delivers a bit of a hit himself and rarely is tackled for a loss with the first hit. I know Dwyer and Redmond have these abilities, but neither of them have the ability to carry the ball 20 times a game for 16 games or more. That's why I like Lacy (I know he didn't average 20 carries a game) I think he can be that guy. The running game needs to sustain drives and force the defense to make tackles which will open up the passing game. You score points in the passing game for the most part and the running game needs to be a viable option to at least force the defense to play both pass and run. I doubt one team the Steelers played this year cared how many times Dwyer, Redmond, Batch or Mendenhall carried the ball, they defended Ben and the passing game to stop the Steelers.

Give me a chain mover over the occasional homerun hitter, that's just me though.

Pappy

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
02-01-2013, 11:26 AM
IMO RB is the toughest position to evaluate because they each play under vastly different circumstances. Lacy is a perfect example.....

Pro: He did it playing with the best and delivered in the biggest games.

Con: He ran behind a group of behemoths who opened huge holes for him and wore down defenses.

Both arguments are valid. Then you have the Alfred Morris, Fred Jackson types. Nobody ever saw them play but I'm guessing that there was a good chance that often the first defenser that they met was in the backfield. Look at our own Willie Parker. He never saw the field at NC. Was that because he wasn't good enough or because the coaches had their favorites who they already were comfortable playing? Whatever the reason, we do know that FWP was an NFL RB, but I don't know who played ahead of him in college.

supersteeler
02-01-2013, 11:36 AM
IMO RB is the toughest position to evaluate because they each play under vastly different circumstances. Lacy is a perfect example.....

Pro: He did it playing with the best and delivered in the biggest games.

Con: He ran behind a group of behemoths who opened huge holes for him and wore down defenses.

Both arguments are valid. Then you have the Alfred Morris, Fred Jackson types. Nobody ever saw them play but I'm guessing that there was a good chance that often the first defenser that they met was in the backfield. Look at our own Willie Parker. He never saw the field at NC. Was that because he wasn't good enough or because the coaches had their favorites who they already were comfortable playing? Whatever the reason, we do know that FWP was an NFL RB, but I don't know who played ahead of him in college.

Parker was benched in favor of Ronnie McGill who I never heard of, Parker an undrafted player got a SB ring and McGill didn't even get a phone call from the NFL. Just like Franco Harris had to play behind Lydell Mitchell and Franco has 4 rings.

There is always a back thats overlooked, just ask the Texans when they got Foster.

steelblood
02-01-2013, 12:07 PM
If there is a CJ Spiller type RB at #17 I would take him in a heartbeat.

Giovani Bernard has a burst like Spiller. He is shorter, but stout. He is also, like Spiller, a fantastic receiver and return man.

thethinkingguy
02-01-2013, 10:03 PM
There is always a back thats overlooked, just ask the Texans when they got Foster.

And the Falcons, when they got Turner. And the Redskins, when they got Morris.

Slapstick
02-02-2013, 03:25 PM
Turner wasn't overlooked...he just played for a MAC school (Northern Illinois)...he rushed for tons of yards with NIU and was nickenamed "Turner the Burner"...

lloydroid
02-02-2013, 04:07 PM
In full agreement with you on this...we certainly don't need to be spending a first-round pick on a RB.

That's good, because not a single RB is slated to be taken in the first round. None. So it's highly doubtful we would use our 1st round pick on a RB, but definitely could see us using a 2nd or 3rd on a back, for sure.

NorthCoast
02-03-2013, 11:37 AM
Chadman, good point. But, 12 of the 20 top rushers are not from the first round, that means the better play is on running backs in the 2nd or 3rd round in terms of cost/benefit. You're going to have to pay a first round pick big money. The Bears had Matt Forte under contract for about $750K a year because he was picked in the 2nd round. Rice, McCoy, MJD, Forte, Gore, Ridley, etc. all had cheaper rookie contracts and delivered nicely.

This.

Since the transition of the league to passing, the financial decision plays as much a part as anything. Be interesting to see how contract value factors into your stats. Based on % of offensive contribution to a team, how much of the cap does the RB consume on a per yard basis.

NorthCoast
02-03-2013, 11:39 AM
Parker was benched in favor of Ronnie McGill who I never heard of, Parker an undrafted player got a SB ring and McGill didn't even get a phone call from the NFL. Just like Franco Harris had to play behind Lydell Mitchell and Franco has 4 rings.

There is always a back thats overlooked, just ask the Texans when they got Foster.

Don't forget about HOF'r Bettis who was cast off by St Louis because he didn't seem to be all that in their offense.