As part of the study, WPI researchers developed a football metric called Appearance Score, a weighted combination of games played, games started and recognition as a top player. Highlighting the value of non-first-round picks, two of the top three players in Appearance Score last season were sixth-round draft picks in 2012: Washington running back Alfred Morris and Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh.
Third was Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, who went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In addition to team rankings, researchers focused on positions, and found that safeties provide the greatest value to teams.
CHARACTER ISSUES: Every general manager and personnel director in the NFL can’t look solely at a player’s on-field achievements. His performances away from the stadium are significant, particularly when there have been problems.
Several players in this draft have had such troubles, including Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Tennessee Tech receiver Da’Rick Rogers.
“Well, I think they’re 21, 22-year-old kids, so none of them are going to be perfect,” Broncos boss John Elway said. “It comes down to what you feel like and what’s the best package.
“My philosophy has always been as long as that core group in our locker room is strong enough, everyone else is going to have to fall in line. It’s when you have a divided locker room that you have issues with different guys that may have maturity issues or that type of thing down the line. It’s real important for us to have a real good core group of guys in that locker room, which is to say that we look at everybody and evaluate everybody as a player and also their personal character and see where they’d fit in.”
Colts GM Ryan Grigson said his staff considers every possible draftee, then does a thorough evaluation that goes beyond the physical talents.
“We take into account if a guy has mental issues, mental concerns, if those are going to be concerns for us,” Grigson said. “Can we get him the right help and support system that will get him to be where he can function on this team and be a good teammate and a player? So we take all those things into account.”