From the FanPosts -- JD
The Kansas City Chiefs head into the 2019 NFL Draft with eight draft picks and plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. And while the free agency period has so far been a busy one for GM Brett Veach, the upcoming draft remains the most crucial pipeline for adding talent.
It is very common for GMs to suggest that they simply take the best player available in each round. But with the 31st ranked defense and first-ranked offense, it is quite clear that drafting the BPA would only make sense if the focus is on the defense; making draft choices based on positions of need would seem to be a much more fitting approach for a team that may only be a few pieces away from a Super Bowl championship.
It seems rather straightforward for coaches, scouts, and executives to determine biggest needs on the roster. The complexity, however, comes when the question changes from "What are our needs?" to "How do we want to address them?". And if the free agency period told us anything, it is that Brett Veach believes he and his staff can put the finishing touches on the Chiefs roster through the draft.
But which picks should the Chiefs spend on which positions?
I decided to take a look at recent draft history and see how hit rates stack up at the Chiefs' four key defensive positions of need: cornerback, EDGE, inside linebacker and safety.
For each position, I looked at the players drafted from 2007 through 2017, and determined how many of them became starters, made the Pro Bowl, or became All-Pros at their positions.
Here's what I found. The numbers in parentheses represent the raw numbers.
Cornerback Hit Rate
|1||47||11% (5)||38% (18)||91% (43)|
|2||41||0% (0)||10% (4)||59% (24)|
|3||59||0% (0)||0% (0)||36% (21)|
|4||51||0% (0)||4% (2)||31% (16)|
|5||64||5% (3)||5% (3)||25% (16)|
|6||56||0% (0)||2% (1)||18% (10)|
Passing on cornerback in the first round would likely be a mistake. Not only is it a huge position of need, but looking at draft history shows us the hit rate difference between a first and second round cornerback is staggering.
In fact, there have been eight All Pro CBs drafted from 2007-2017, and five of them have come in the first round. Waiting until the second round drops the probability of getting a Pro Bowl-caliber player by 28%, and you are 32% less likely to find a starter.
Greedy Williams (LSU), Byron Murphy (Washington), Rock Ya-Sin (Temple), Deandre Baker (Georgia)
Edge Rusher Hit Rate
|1||61||13% (8)||33% (20)||84% (51)|
|2||43||0% (0)||12% (5)||58% (25)|
|3||44||2% (1)||9% (4)||43% (19)|
|4||41||0% (0)||10% (4)||46% (19)|
|5||35||0% (0)||3% (1)||31% (11)|
|6||37||0% (0)||3% (1)||16% (6)|
Much like the cornerback position, EDGE hit rates drop off very quickly as you jump from from the first round to the later rounds. In fact, the likelihood of drafting a Pro Bowl caliber player in the first is about one in three -- with 20 of 61 OLB/DEs being Pro Bowlers from the 2007-2017 draft classes. In all other rounds combined, only 15 players have played in a Pro Bowl, with Justin Houston being the sole All Pro drafted in rounds 2-7.
Brian Burns (Florida St.), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)
Inside Linebacker Hit Rate
|1||23||17% (4)||43% (10)||91% (21)|
|2||43||7% (3)||19% (8)||81% (35)|
|3||35||3% (1)||3% (1)||57% (20)|
|4||47||0% (0)||4% (2)||40% (19)|
|5||46||0% (0)||0% (0)||26% (12)|
|6||46||0% (0)||0% (0)||28% (13)|
Here we see that it's much easier to get a quality player outside of the first round; at inside linebacker, the drop-off from the second round to the third is the most significant in all three categories. All-Pros (4% drop), Pro Bowlers (16% drop), and starters (24% drop). This makes inside linebacker the no-brainer best value for the Chiefs in the second round.
Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner, and Sean Lee are three second round picks who have had All-Pro NFL careers. With two second-round picks and a massive void at the position, I would be surprised if the Chiefs didn't use one of their picks to find the inside linebacker of the future.
Te'Von Coney (Notre Dame), Blake Cashman (Minnesota), Germaine Pratt (NC State)
Safety Hit Rate
|1||19||11% (2)||53% (10)||100% (19)|
|2||30||10% (3)||20% (6)||77% (23)|
|3||23||9% (2)||13% (3)||70% (16)|
|4||30||7% (2)||10% (3)||43% (13)|
|5||28||4% (1)||7% (2)||29% (8)|
|6||28||0% (0)||0% (0)||25% (7)|
Among these positions of need, no position stands out more than safety; 70% of safeties drafted in the third round become starting-caliber players. Of the four positions, it is by far the safest to draft in the third round.
You want upside instead? Well, third round-drafted safeties also have the highest hit rate for both All Pros (9%) and Pro Bowl players (13%) compared to the other positions of need on defense.
Darnell Savage (Maryland), Amani Hooker (Iowa), Juan Thornhill (Virginia)