How Champions Draft

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 going back to 2012 (note that in the event a pick was traded for a player, I used the player’s position in the chart below, as this indicates what positions those teams valued with their most prized draft capital):

  • 9 Defensive Linemen
  • 8 Edge / Outside Linebacker
  • 8 Trade Downs (out of the first round)
  • 5 Offensive Linemen
  • 4 Cornerbacks
  • 4 Quarterbacks
  • 1 Safety
  • 1 Running Back
  • 1 Wide Receiver
  • 0 Inside Linebackers
  • 0 Tight Ends

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Conclusions

  • It’s a passing league, but championship teams didn’t use their most valuable draft capital on wide receivers or tight ends
  • Defending the pass is a much bigger priority, with box attackers and defensive backs accounting for over 2/3rds of the players chosen 
  • 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 running back chosen in the 1st round for this time frame was Sony Michel – when he went to the Super Bowl, he scored the only touchdown in the game

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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Don’t just watch the draft – understand it and learn why GMs make the moves they do.

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Check out Packers Draft Central 2020 for all our 2020 NFL Draft coverage!

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