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Draft economics: Marginal additional benefit

Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire

NFL Draft

Draft economics: Marginal additional benefit

Many of the themes you see play out throughout the course of the NFL Draft revolve around a singular concept: economics. The Draft is a talent acquisition affair but many of the subliminal themes and trends center around economic theories.

Supply and demand/surplus, cost/benefit analysis (of each respective prospect) and then of course today’s central focus: Marginal Benefit. The economic definition of marginal benefit is as follows (courtesy of Investopedia): the additional satisfaction or utility…received from consuming an additional unit of a good or service.

So how does this apply to the NFL Draft? Think of it for a player’s individual traits: John Ross’ speed is a great example and it’s something I discussed for a time in today’s episode of the Draft Dudes podcast with Joe Marino.

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 31: Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) trips up Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) during the Semi-Final Peach Bowl game between the Washington Huskies and the Alabama Crimson Tide on December 31, 2016 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Alabama defeated Washington 24-7.(Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire)

To further elaborate: John Ross’ 4.22 official 40 time is a full tenth of a second quicker than Will Fuller’s 2016 time of 4.32. The difference in the percentiles? Ross ran in the 99th percentile of WR forty times; while Fuller ran in the 96th percentile. Speed is speed. Ross’ extra tenth at that fast of a pace is a whole 3 percent separation. Add another tenth to Will Fuller’s 4.32? The 4.42 ran by Ohio State’s Devin Smith in 2015 equates to the 83rd percentile of WR 40 times.

4.42 – 83rd percentile

4.32 – 96th percentile

4.22 – 99th percentile

The concept of marginal additional benefit is alive and well in football and the draft. There’s further situations in which marginal benefit is present with deciding if and when to invest in a player; particularly later in the draft when alternatives may include a higher draft selection in the previous season.

The point is this: If you want to study and understand thought processes involved in the draft, economics is a great place to start.

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Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.



  1. Craig Varsa

    April 18, 2017 at 7:26 am

    What if I told you that Ross’s speed was a standard deviation better than Fuller’s? Would that change your assessment?

    • Kyle Crabbs

      Kyle Crabbs

      April 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

      While this is a notable statistical difference, I look at it from another angle: CB speed. How many more CBs can Ross outrun if he runs 4.22 vs. if he was a closer to the mean?

      Jalen Myrick ran a 4.28 and is over 2 full SD away from the CB mean (99th percentile for others reading); so Ross’ extra 0.06 in velocity over Myrick renders zero additional benefit to his ability to separate in straight lines.

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