Necessary Condition for Success at Football

“Coyote blog” posts:

You hear a lot of debate about what wins NFL Championships – is it offense, defense, the running game, the quarterback?

Well, if we look beyond what is probably the most important determination of success — don’t have any injuries — I think the last few games have really proven the importance of having a great offensive and defensive line. The Indianapolis Colts, the team that supposedly had everything, lost because the Steelers penetrated their O-line at will. Both the winning teams yesterday won in large part because their lines pushed the other team’s around the field.

Having great offensive and defensive lines is an important ingredient to championship football at any level (Peyton Manning said as much after the Steel Curtain part deux spent much of the afternoon a week ago setting up shop in the Colts’ backfield). But looking at the NFL draft since 1994, it’s not clear that team draft choices seem to bear that out. I got draft data from and did a little manipulating (grouping all linebackers together (inside, outside, and middle) and calling them “linebackers” and lumping all cornerbacks and safeties together and called them “defensive backs”). Here’s the entire period counted by position:

Draftbyposition 705289

Just looking at the offensive side of the ball (and ignoring the free agent market), there were more tackles and guards drafted from 1994-2004, but since there are two guards, two tackles, and one QB on the field for offensive plays, there were only 104 tackles, 78 guards, and 87 centers for each position and 130 QB’s. Does this mean that teams find QB’s, on average, more valuable to draft? If so and if we take teams to be profit maximizers, then where does the additional value of QB’s come in: from the output side and/or fan willingness-to-pay side?

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Author: Phil Miller

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