View Full Version : 2009 Impact NFL Rookies--What if Ranks how they will do

SoDak Bronco
04-30-2009, 03:57 PM

2009 Impact NFL Rookies

Sadly for NFL fans, the draft does not even signify the midway point between the Super Bowl and the start of the next regular season. For two days packed with incessant speculation and unmatched optimism, every football fan gets a fix. And for fans of every team, hope springs that maybe these few new players can make the difference. Then, we wait for four months until kickoffs count.

At WhatIfSports.com, it's a little different. Draft day signifies the beginning of one of our busiest times of the year as we work on our comprehensive, full-season preview. For the preview, we project stats for every single player and team in the league by simulating each game on the schedule 10,000 times. Coming up with statistical inputs is relatively easy for veteran players as most tend to play to a predictable performance trend as they age and take on different roles.

Rookies present the biggest challenge. To come up with statistical inputs for rookies, we run a very complex set of algorithms that factors collegiate performance, role in college, strength of collegiate competition, "measurables," likely NFL role, previous performance of a similar player in that NFL role for this coaching staff and trends of similar rookies in the past. This gives us the player's projected ratio stats (expected yards per carry, completion percentage, etc.), as well as his forecasted usage for the upcoming season. From there, we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact for his new NFL team in his first year. The Top 100 from this ranking are listed below.

We have done pretty well with this approach. Leading into the 2008 season. Last season's ranking is located here. As you can see, not only did this methodology correctly rank first round draft choices like Jonathan Stewart, Jerod Mayo, Jake Long and Sedrick Ellis among the top ten, it helped to point out some steals like Steve Slaton, Charles Godfrey, Matt Forte, Trevor Scott, Jamaal Charles and Cliff Avril.

Clearly, it is easier for some players at some positions to come in and make a positive impact in the first year. Typically, these positions include wide receiver and inside linebacker, where the stats rack up with playing time. For 2009, we are ranking 12 wide receivers among the Top 100 impact rookies. Four of them are in the top ten. Six of the eight inside linebackers drafted also appear on this list.

Based on these rankings, with six Top 100 rookies each, Detroit and Buffalo will get the most positive impact from their rookies in 2009. With just one player each in our Top 100 - both first round quarterbacks - Tampa Bay and the New York Jets have the draft classes with the least depth.

83. Seth Olsen, OL, Denver
66. Robert Ayers, DE, Denver
16. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver
11. Alphonso Smith, CB, Denver

04-30-2009, 04:10 PM
Meh. I followed the link to last year's ratings -- Clady #30, Royal #74.

No great psychic powers on display here.

04-30-2009, 04:41 PM
Yeah, these computers can't factor in close to half of what real life situations can occur within an NFL season. That would be the same thing as saying "on paper, this team looks good". We all know how that can turn out.

Bottom line is, nobody knows how any rookie will be able to contribute or how stellar or poor their performance will be. If anybody had even the slightest track on that, I'm sure the drafts would look alot different.

SoDak Bronco
04-30-2009, 08:22 PM
I do find it interesting they thought Alphonso is #11...I would think Moreno would find his way in the top 10