Draft analytics shows that the Jimmy Johnson draft pick value chart is outdated. Can the Dallas Cowboys exploit this to win the 2020 NFL Draft?
The Dallas Cowboys will draft several prospects later this month when the NFL holds a virtual draft. America’s Team hopes that the newly selected prospects will contribute to the teams 2020 and beyond success. The reality is that most of the draft picks will only contribute beyond the 2020 season.
Pro Football Reference has charted a metric called Approximate Value (AV) that assigns a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year post-1950. To check the metric’s calibration, you can view the career AV leaders or the single-season AV leaders and judge for yourself if it identifies the elite NFL players.
I have chosen this metric as it was prepared by a reputable source and tested over a large data set. The metric creator, Doug Drinen, did caveat that it is possible that players with lower AV scores performed better than players with higher AV scores but on the whole, it is a reasonable indicator of a player’s performance.
In preparing for this year’s draft, I was hoping to find a few interesting insights from recent draft history. I charted every draft pick from the 2011 to 2016 drafts for my analysis.
I chose these drafts as the 2011 draft was the first draft after the 2011 CBA was ratified leading to lower cap hits for high draft picks. The 2016 draft was the last draft where the drafted players have played four seasons in the NFL.
Four years was a magic number for me. For most draft picks, this is the length of their rookie contracts with only first-round draft picks having a team option fifth season.