Little payoff from unbalanced draft classes
May, 12, 2012
By John McTigue, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Andrew Luck was the first of eight offensive players drafted by the Colts.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
Five teams used at least 75 percent of their draft picks on one side of the ball in this year’s draft. The New England Patriots (six of seven), Seattle Seahawks (eight of 10), Detroit Lions (six of eight) and Green Bay Packers (six of eight) went heavy on defense. The Indianapolis Colts (eight of 10) loaded up on offense.
Examining draft classes back to 2002, the first season there was 32 teams, there have been 18 instances of a team using 75 percent or more of its draft picks of offense and 15 instances of a team using 75 percent or more of its picks on defense.
When teams have gone mostly offense, their scoring has usually decreased the following year.
Twelve of the 18 teams that went this path saw their scoring decrease the following season by an average of nearly three points per game.
If anything, focusing on the offensive side of the ball in a draft harmed a team's defensive unit the following season. 13 of the 18 teams to take offensive players with at least three quarters of their picks allowed more points the following season. These teams allowed approximately three more points per game.
When teams have gone mostly defense, the results have been less one-sided.
Seven of the 15 teams that went this route allowed fewer points the following season. These teams allowed just over five points per game fewer on average.
Seven of the 15 teams allowed more points the following season, with those seven averaging approximately four points more per game. The 2009 Atlanta Falcons, who used seven of their eight picks on defense, allowed the same amount of points in 2008 that they did in 2009.
The other side of the ball wasn’t affected as much by this strategy. Eight teams scored more after going heavy on defense while seven scored less.