What is the Value of a National Football League Draft Pick? An Analysis Based on Changes Made in the Collective Bargaining Agreement

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze and compare the value of players drafted in early rounds of the NFL Draft since the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) began in 2011. The NFL’s player statistics database and database of player contract details were searched for players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2011 to 2013 NFL Drafts. Performance outcomes specific to each position were divided by each player’s salary to calculate a value statistic. Various demographics, NFL Combine results, and total number of games missed due to injury were also recorded for each player. These statistics were compared within each position between players selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft (Group A) versus those drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round (Group B). A total of 147 players were included (Group A 35, Group B 112). Overall, players in Group A were significantly taller (p < 0.01) and heavier (p = 0.037) than players in Group B. Group B demonstrated significantly greater value statistics than Group A for quarterbacks (p = 0.028), wide receivers (p < 0.001), defensive tackles (p = 0.019), and cornerbacks (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between groups with regard to number of games missed due to injury. Players drafted in the 2nd or 3rd rounds of the NFL Draft often carry more value than those drafted in the 1st round. NFL teams may wish to more frequently trade down in the Draft rather than trading up.

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