Tony Villiotti from draftmetrics.com has some great studies up on the Relative Value of Draft Choices here and here as well as historical draft information on all the positions. In this post I will highlight a few of his observations as it relates to the Steelers in the upcoming draft.
I am not going to go too deep into his Relative Value of Draft Choices article, but I do suggest reading it to get a grasp on where he is coming from in his position related articles. For quick reference make sure you understand that the Steelers 1st round pick falls in the VG3 (Value Group 3) area.
Most everyone have the Steelers addressing either the offensive line, defensive line or cornerback position in the 1st round next Thursday should they not trade the pick. The first thing I noticed that Tony pointed out is that over 50% of all offensive linemen drafted in value groups 1-3 started as rookies. We saw the fruits of this most recently last year with Maurkice Pouncey. This is great news should a tackle like Derek Sherrod fall to the Steelers at #31 or the Steelers draft guard Danny Watkins as Dave-Te\' Thomas suggested on our most recent podcast. Tony also points out in his various measures for offensive linemen drafted between 2005 and 2010 table that the VG3 group has performed well in comparison to the VG1 & VG2 groups. It seems that there is certainly quite a bit of value there through the 48th overall selection and a very non-risky position to draft especially in the first two rounds.
The next tidbit that caught my eye in his study was that VG3 group of defensive linemen tended to perform significantly worse than the norm, and as he points out, teams could be reaching in that group of picks. The Steelers drafted Ziggy Hood 32nd overall in 2009 and he would of remained a back-up to Aaron Smith again in his second season had Smith not gotten injured. Hood did play well in his defense once he settled in as the starter, but he surely had not beaten out Smith for the job in training camp. He would have played regardless to spell Smith, but he still likely would not have started any games if not for injuries. If you page down and look at his table on defensive linemen broken down by value groups, you see that defensive linemen in value group 4 offer way more value as it relates to 3 and 5 year careers as well.
I posted recently about how it takes Steelers cornerbacks a little time to develop into solid starters, but that they often see the field in their rookie seasons and his study points out that defensive backs were second only to running backs in the rookie starters category and the VG3 group of defensive backs in his table rival the VG2 group as far as the 3 year and 5 year starter categories go and is just under 3% less in the rookie starter column. Now remember, just because they might see the field and start some games at say the nickel spot, does not mean that they are ready for an outside starting spot, especially in a Dick LeBeau defense. Also it should be noted that defensive backs in VG4 (picks 49-74), still have a 25% chance at perhaps starting in their rookie year based on his results. If you break these defensive backs down by college conference like Tony did , you will see his observation that the Big 10 and Big 12 did not live up to expectations with their defensive back draftees in the 5-year starter category. Not good news for Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown.
There is so much info that can be garnered on his site and impossible to touch on all the great tidbits in one post, but with the Steelers picking at #31, offensive line sure looks like the way to go. Will Sherrod fall? Will the Steelers ignore the age of Watkins and go for his positional value? As tempting as it may be to grab defensive end Cameron Heyward should he fall to them, history certainly is not on his side for the VG3 group of defensive linemen. We will know these answers to all of these questions in less than a week, but this is some solid reading in the mean time. Here are the links I used below: