Michael Nania analyzes the success rates of each offensive and defensive position in the third round of the NFL Draft.
As Joe Douglas and the Jets ponder over positional value in preparation for the Draft, it is interesting to look back at the past and examine which positions have yielded the most value at each point of the draft.
After digging through the second round, we move on to the third. I charted the career production of each third round pick from 2010-19 (317 players) to get a sense of how successful draft picks at each position have turned out to be.
Various measures of productivity are listed for each position, as well as its rank in those measures among all positions. For the round one and round two breakdowns, I ranked the positions by their “primary starter rate,” but this time, I will be ranking them by their average approximate value (AV) per season. Because we are getting towards the later stages of the draft, it seems fair to place less emphasis on finding true starters and focus more on how well teams have fared at finding any sort of value.
Which positions have proven to be the worst investments during the third round? Let’s start with the most successful positions and work our way towards the least fruitful of the bunch.
Change from the first two posts: Cornerbacks and safeties have been grouped into one “defensive back” position.
#11 – Running back (3.47 AV per season)
Possible seasons: 121
Approximate value: 302 (3.47 per season – 1st)
First-Team All-Pro seasons: 2 (1.7% – 3rd)
Pro Bowl seasons: 9 (7.4% – 3rd)
Seasons as primary starter: 25 (20.7% – 11th)
First-Team All-Pro players: 2 (7.7% – 2nd)
Pro Bowl players: 5 (19.2% – 2nd)
After posting mostly poor success rates over the first two rounds, the running back position comes back strong with by far the highest average of AV per season in the third round. With two First-Team All-Pros (DeMarco Murray and David Johnson) and five Pro Bowlers (Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and James Conner in addition to Murray and Johnson), it has been one of the best star-producing positions in the third round as well.
Despite the excellent production, the running back position still put up the lowest primary starter rate of any position in the third round. That is because many of its best contributors have provided the majority of their value in reserve roles. Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, Stevan Ridley, Kenyan Drake, and Jerick McKinnon have combined for 123 AV over 29 possible seasons – a rate of 4.24 per season that is phenomenal for the third round – but they have only been considered primary starters for four of those 29 seasons, a paltry 13.7% rate. Hence why we are now ranking the positions by AV per season – as the draft goes on, amassing depth takes priority over plugging holes in the starting lineup.