Introducing a New Draft Metric, Drafting Proficiency Index (DPI)

Over a series of upcoming posts, I would like to present Drafting Proficiency Index (DPI), a player score that represents his value to his drafting team in the first five years of his career. How does the GM that made that pick think about it, or could, anyway? DPI is the sumproduct of some wonderful ideas that I have been exposed to through nowhere else but BtB, some already-very-good stats available online for free, some curiosity to put a numerical value to a feeling, and Excel tables.



Not shockingly, I’ve found enough time this, until-recently quiet, offseason to be disappointed by the buzzards circling over the NFL careers of 2008 Cowboys first-round picks Mike Jenkins and Felix Jones. They probably will find further employment, and in Felix’s case, he may not even need to Yelp movers, but neither one went into FA with the typical gusto of the former first-rounder crashing the market on his second contract.

As I remember, at the end of the 2007 season, the NFC East laid unassailable claim for the mightiest division in all football. The Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and Iggles finished 13-3, 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8 respectively, and the division ultimately bore the Superbowl winning Giants from its three playoff contenders to bolster its case. With two first round picks, and after a bitter elimination loss to the same such Giants, much was expected from the Cowboys’ draft in order to take that extra step in the playoffs.

But like me, if you’re another Cowboys fan that’s let down by how neither Felix nor Jenkins turned into the franchise cornerstones they were, I’m sure, imagined to be, there’s solace to be found yet: that particular draft was somewhat of a wash for the rest of the division as well. The Giants just lost their injury-tainted first-rounder, Kenny Phillips, to the Iggles, who, speaking of, have only Desean Jackson remaining on their roster that is of any value from that same weekend. And the Skins only just re-signed their most valuable contributor from that class, Fred Davis, to a one-year deal after his Achilles injury in 2012 and drug suspension in 2011.

Okay, so the Cowboys were probably not the worst, but how-not worse were they?

To figure that out, I’m going to use a metric I’ve developed called Drafting Proficiency Index, or DPI. This numerical score is designed to capture the performance-based value of a draft pick to the team that drafted him.

When first thinking of the concept of DPI, these were main criteria I was hoping to meet:

1. Returns an easy-to-understand figure that can be readily used for comparison between individuals or groups

2. Weighs performance against draft position and rewards teams that can identify contributors in the lower rounds of the draft

3. Distinguishes good organizations that draft well and keep their young talent at bargain prices from bad ones that make poor selections and fail to develop their draft picks

As I go through the development of DPI, I hope to show how these tenets are reflected in a player’s score. The upfront liabilities of DPI include the inability to account for supplemental picks and UDFAs, however, in the case of the latter, I would contend that if a player has agency in finding a destination for his talents, it tends to violate the spirit of the draft. I am more optimistic about supplemental picks; I hope to have found a way to include them by next year’s iteration.

In upcoming posts, I am going to review the process by which DPI came to be, as well as show that it can be an interesting, if not powerful tool, when evaluating individual picks or whole draft classes. I will begin with 2008, and examine, for example, how Dallas fared against its divisional brethren, or whether Dallas really whiffed on RB by picking Felix Jones. I can also look at more recent drafts to see how Dallas fares versus the league as a particular draft matures. Hey, can I put a number on how bad that 2009 draft was? Yes.

At this point, DPI is purely a descriptive stat and is probably best suited as such, but I may consider some historical numbers and see if I can extrapolate the careers of our young stars like Bryant and Claiborne in a different post down the line. I hope that as I write more about DPI and discuss it on BtB, I will be able to refine it further and be able to use it in new and interesting ways.

As a preview, here’s some food for thought. The sliding scale of DPI goes as follows:

DPI Value
0 Bust
1 Disappointing
2 Okay
3 Good
4 Great
5+ Home run

And because we drafted two that year, below is a table of the top 17 DBs taken in 2008 as ranked by DPI. Take a look and see if you can comparatively reconcile those DPI scores with the players’ on-field achievements and draft position. And then let me know what you think.

Rank Pick Team Player Stats for Drafting Team DPI
1 7-249 WAS Chris Horton 15 GS, 3 Int, 53 Tkls 8.22
2 5-140 KAN Brandon Carr 80 GS, 8 Int, 1 FF, 6 FR, 211 Tkl 3.88
3 3-98 ATL Thomas DeCoud 62 GS, 3 Sk, 14 Int, 4 FF, 2 FR, 249 Tkl 3.78
4 3-67 CAR Charles Godfrey 72 GS, 2 Sk, 11 Int, 259 Tkl 3.51
5 2-35 KAN Brandon Flowers 74 GS, 1 Sk, 16 Int, 3 TD, 4 FF, 5 FR, 263 Tkl 3.40
6 4-100 OAK Tyvon Branch 61 GS, 6 Sk, 4 Int, 3 FF, 4 FR, 328 Tkl 2.93
7 1-25 DAL Mike Jenkins 48 GS, 8 Int, 1 TD, 146 Tkl 2.53
8 6-194 PIT Ryan Mundy 5 GS, 1 Int, 2 FF, 2 FR, 59 Tkl 2.44
9 1-27 SDG Antoine Cason 49 GS, 12 Int, 1 TD, 4 FF, 245 Tkl 2.33
10 1-20 TAM Aqib Talib 45 GS, 18 Int, 3 TD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 159 Tkl 2.28
11 6-180 WAS Kareem Moore 13 GS, 2 Int, 2 FF, 2 FR, 55 Tkl 2.18
12 1-16 ARI Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie 43 GS, 13 Int, 4 TD, 3 FF, 2 FR, 126 Tkl 2.17
13 2-63 NYG Terrell Thomas 34 GS, 2 Sk, 11 Int, 1 TD, 6 FF, 2 FR, 177 Tkl 1.99
14 1-11 BUF Leodis McKelvin 32 GS, 6 Int, 1 TD, 2 FF, 4 FR, 129 Tkl 1.96
15 5-143 DAL Orlando Scandrick 19 GS, 6.5 Sk, 3 Int, 1 TD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 167 Tkl 1.90
16 1-31 NYG Kenny Phillips 41 GS, 8 Int, 1 FF, 3 FR 1.90
17 2-40 NOR Tracy Porter 39 GS, 1 Sk, 7 Int, 1 TD, 4 FF, 3 FR, 161 Tkl 1.84

Next post, I will delve deeper into the development of DPI.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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