Seeking focus after 2013 NFL draft frenzy


NFL teams added 254 players through the recently completed 2013 NFL draft.

Now is the time to seek higher ground for a better view of what happened. The two charts in this item help bring into focus where NFC West teams should expect results.

2013 NFL Draft: NFC West Picks

The chart at right breaks down NFC West picks by two general parameters: position group and draft round. Listing individual positions and individual rounds would have watered down the results. I've settled on more general position groups and two general round ranges.

Skill positions cover quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

Every team in the division added three players from this skill-position group, but the Rams added more of theirs over the first three rounds.

St. Louis made wide receiver an early focus by adding former West Virginia teammates Tavon Austin (first round) and Stedman Bailey (third round). The Rams did not force a receiver pick at No. 16. Instead, they moved up for Austin and then selected Bailey with a pick acquired from Atlanta for moving back from St. Louis' other spot in the first round.

Note that the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks added numbers to their defensive front sevens after fielding two of the NFL's best defenses last season. The Rams added only one player to this group, but no team in the division used a higher pick than the Rams when addressing this area. Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree was the Rams' pick at No. 30.

The second chart shows how much draft capital each NFC West team invested in the general position groups. The point totals reflect summed values for picks using the an updated version of the chart Kevin Meers produced for the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective. We discussed this chart in March as an alternative to the traditional value chart.

Meers used the Career Approximate Value figures from Pro Football Reference to determine a historical value for each pick. The figures for drafted players from 1980 through 2005 set the values based on how well players from each draft slot had performed in the NFL.

For example, the Arizona Cardinals selected two offensive linemen. They used the seventh overall pick, valued at 330.3 points on the Harvard chart, for North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. They used the 116th pick, valued at 90.2 points, for James Madison guard Earl Watford. The chart below shows these values for Arizona by round range -- first through third or fourth through seventh -- under the heading for offensive linemen.

This second chart is basically a more nuanced version of the first one. For example, Seattle used more picks for its offensive line over the final four rounds than Arizona used for its line, but the one pick the Cardinals used in this range was worth about the same as the three picks the Seahawks used.

Note: I updated the above paragraph item to reflect Seattle drafting three offensive linemen in the seventh round instead of two. Two of them, Michael Bowie and Jared Smith, had been listed in ESPN's database as defensive tackles. I had already changed the designation for Smith, but had not done so for Bowie. The change evened up the draft capital Seattle and Arizona used for offensive linemen in the final four rounds. The overall premise did not change.

2013 NFL Draft: Value of Selections by Position Using Harvard Chart