With the NFL draft approaching I thought it might be fun to take a look back at how the league has approached what is now the first round in the draft by position. I went back and looked at the top 32 draft picks in every season from 1970 through 2013 and calculated the four year average of total draft picks made by each position in the NFL. Why 4 years? My assumption was that would cycle through an entire college class to help smooth out weak seasons that occasionally occur.
Not surprisingly the biggest drop has come from Running Backs who were common selections through the late 1980’s, but fell in the 1990s. The last few years have been bad for the position but it had been very consistent for about a 15 year period. Wide Receivers have recently fallen from their peak and I wonder if some of that is due to the failures of picks during that peak period, thus making teams more cautious about spending top picks on the receivers. Interior linemen also saw a decrease in selections for a long period of time but have recently seen an uptick in selections.Defensive Ends have continued to grow in importance in recent years and the Quarterback is being selected more often over the last decade or so. The QB selections probably is more of an indication of teams giving up earlier on prospects and jumping back into the draft to hope to find the QB of the future.
The chart is an interactive chart and if you click on the positions underneath the chart you can turn on or off the position, to more easily compare two or three positions and make much easier to read.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.