Predicting 62 NFL rookies outperform vets in 2012 NFL season

Rookies Who Will Outperform  the Average Vet


By Position, Projecting Which 62 Will Excel in 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012

By Joe Landers
SPECIAL TO THEFOOTBALLEDUCATOR.COM

NFL rookies don’t have to win the offensive or defensive rookie of the year to have a successful first season. If they perform over veteran average, their rookie year should be deemed a success. They’re cheaper, younger, and possess a whole lot more long-term promise than a seven-year vet who merely performs average. Which NFL rookies will excel and beat out the average vet? Will Quentin Coples prove his worth right out of the gate? What about LaMichael James? Ronald Leary? 90 days from now, we’ll be midway through the preseason and teams will be on the cusp of making their first cuts. Depth charts will show who’s excelled and who hasn’t. On-the-field performance from August through January will illustrate who’s been prematurely thrust into a role based on draft position and who’s earned it. The road to predicting rookie success (and failure) is chock-full of potholes.

The NFL has provided us a starting point by rostering 746 rookies over the last three weeks for the coming 2012 NFL season. The below tables shows the average number of NFL rookies that have produced at a level above veteran average, by position, on an annual basis, from the 2006 to 2011 NFL seasons.

Pos

WR

OT

OG

C

TE

QB

FB

RB

Tot Off

#Rooks

9

5

2

1

3

2

2

6

30

Pos

DE

DT

LB

CB

SS

FS

P

K

Tot D/St

#Rooks

4

5

8

8

3

2

1

1

32

Population size: 746

Number that will produce over veteran average in 2012: 62

Mission: Identify the 62

The Filters

The three models below were used in developing the list of 62.

Filter 1: Sudden Impact

An NFL rookie is considered to have sudden impact if their performance comes in Over Veteran Average (OVA). The model computes an average point value for each position based on a comprehensive list of veterans who were active on a roster during the season. The collective groupthink around the league might be that there are five defensive ends that are going to be lights out this fall. The hard truth of the past is that, since the 2006 NFL season, four defensive ends perform Over Veteran Average each year. The maximum has been 7 (2006 and 2011) and the minimum has been 1 (2007). There’s a chance that five could come in OVA, but considering that we just had a windfall of 7 last year (2011 NFL season) and the average is four, odds are low that five would come in OVA in 2012 NFL season.

Filter 2: Production Analysis By Round

On-field productivity doesn’t necessarily decline from the 1st round through undrafted free agency. When were the 746 candidates taken? What rounds produce at the highest levels? What rounds produce at the lowest? What rounds did OVA rookies from 2006-2011 come from?

Filter 3: Relevance of the Combine – EPA Analysis

Lastly, while EPA (Exceeds Peer Average) analysis is not conclusive enough at all positions to provide a starting point for assessing NFL rookie success, it is a fantastic third filter to see who will excel. There are certain positions where certain attributes point toward success. For example, 90% of the starting RBs in the 2011 NFL season, EPA’d in the 3-cone. It’s fair to say that any RB who didn’t EPA in the 3-cone has long odds to OVA in 2012 NFL season.

COMING IN OVA – THE 62

A full table of positions, names, teams, and rounds, will be provided in my final post on the subject. For more detail, see the write-ups below, by position:


Wide Receivers

On average, nine NFL rookie wide receivers perform over veteran average each NFL season. Two are first rounders, two are second rounders, two come between the third and fourth rounds, two more come between four and five, and the last one comes between the 7th round and undrafted free agency. Furthermore, 83% of 2011 starters EPA’d in the 40-yard dash. 80% EPA’d in the vert. The ideal EPA value for a wide receiver is 4. The below players represent a blend of the specified rounds and all met a high majority of the requisite EPA categories. Whoever is not on the below list of nine is being projected to come in below these nine in terms of 2012 productivity. (Team, name, school, and draft round are shown.)

  1. ARI, Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, 1st
  2. TEN, Kendall Wright, Baylor, 1st
  3. CHI, Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina, 2nd
  4. DET, Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, 2nd
  5. HOU, Devier Posey, Ohio State, 3rd
  6. BUF, T.J. Graham, N.C. State, 3rd
  7. KC, Devon Wylie, Fresno State, 4th
  8. DAL, Danny Coale, Virginia Tech, 5th
  9. BAL, Deonte Thompson, Florida, udfa
** All depth chart data is courtesy of OurLads.com, the premier source for NFL roster and depth chart information.
Next up by Joe Landers – The rest of the Offense

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