Every year around draft season, especially after the Combine, everyone gets ga-ga over wide receiver 40 times and running back 3 cone drills. Fantasy football has conditioned people to look at skill positions first.
But reality is never the same as fantasy.
Let’s take cues from those who have been most successful and look at what positions the Super Bowl champions (the teams you want to be like) have drafted in the 1st round (their premium choices) in the five years preceding their title (the window for first contracts).
Here are their total results from 2012 through the 2022 Super Bowl Champion Chiefs:
- 9 Defensive Linemen
- 9 Edge / Outside Linebacker
- 9.5* Trade Downs (out of the first round)
- 7.5* Traded Away (either for a veteran or to move up)
- 6 Offensive Linemen
- 6 Cornerbacks
- 4 Quarterbacks
- 2 Running Back
- 1 Safety
- 1 Wide Receiver
- 1 Tight End
- 1 Inside Linebackers
*In 2021, the Chiefs traded down from the 1st round to the 2nd round (along with some other picks trading hands), to acquire offensive tackle Orlando Brown – this move was counted as 0.5 for trading down and 0.5 for trading for a veteran player
- It’s a passing league, but championship teams didn’t frequently use their most valuable draft capital on wide receivers or tight ends – when they didn’t, the results weren’t very impactful:
- The only tight end chosen under these circumstances (OJ Howard) was on IR for the playoffs when his team won the Super Bowl.
- The only wide receiver chosen under these circumstances was Nelson Agholor, who’s career high is 896 receiving yards – he only had 167 total yards and 0 touchdowns in 3 playoff games during his team’s Super Bowl run.
- Defending the pass is a much bigger priority than skill position players for these teams
- The only inside linebacker chosen was Devin White, a top 5 pick who became in All Pro on one of the most stacked defenses in recent memory
- The game is won and lost in the trenches – offensive and defensive lineman are two of the three most heavily drafted positions
- There’s a lot of value to be had in trading down – after defensive linemen and outside rushers, trading down was a very close third option
- The only two running backs chosen in the 1st round for this timeframe were Sony Michel (who hasn’t been a full-time starter, but played well in the Patriots 2018 Super Bowl run) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who was a bust and was a healthy inactive for the Chiefs playoff run when they won the Super Bowl in 2022).
I’ve written in the past about Why Skill Players Are A Dime A Dozen and this draft pattern reinforces that in practice. Keep it in mind when the Packers are on the clock.
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