There are many variables that could lead to different positions being regarded as more valuable than others. Scheme, contribution to championship teams, leadership could all be reasons to favor one position over another. The NFL game is always evolving and is currently in an unprecedented era of prolific passing.
The best way to evaluate which positions are held in highest regard from the 32 NFL franchises are to see where they invest their most precious assets - first round draft picks and free agency salary cap space. First round draft picks not only represent value with their inherent opportunity cost, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows up to five years of team control during their rookie contract makes them even more valuable.
This investigation will combine two tabulations to find which positions are most valuable. The transitional tag values, which average the ten highest paid players across the league at each position. And first round draft picks at each position over the last five drafts, 2011-2015.
Without further delay, here are the positional rankings:
- $17.989 million transition tag
- 14 selected in the first round over the last five drafts combined
2. Defensive End
- $12.736 million transition tag
- 12.67 drafted per starting spot on the average team (1.5)
- $11.913 million transition tag
- 10 drafted per starting spot on the average team (2)
- $$12.268 million transition tag
- 7.6 drafted per starting spot on the average team (2.75)
5. Offensive line
- $11.902 million transition tag
- drafted per starting spot on the average team (5)
- $11.925 million transition tag
- 6.6 drafted per starting spot on the average team (3.5)
7. Defensive tackle
- $10.875 million transition tag
- 7.5 drafted per starting spot on the average team (2)
8. Running back
- $9.647 million transition tag
-6 drafted in the first round over the last five years combined
- $9.116 million transition tag
- 4.5 drafted per starting spot on the average team (2)
10. Tight End
- $7.713 million transition tag
- 2 drafted in the first round over the last five years combined
Ozzie Newsome has brought two championships to the Baltimore Ravens by using his 'Best Player Available' strategy in the draft. But there are positional limits to this philosophy, Ozzie is not going to take a quarterback in the first round with Joe Flacco on the roster, or a defensive tackle in the first with Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan in the fold or a tight end early on with a solid 3-deep under contract or a kicker before Day 3 of the draft.
Armed with their highest draft pick since 2000, the Ravens should draft an edge rusher or cornerback in the first round. These positions cost more than most others in free agency, are more difficult to find top prospects later in the draft and are arguably two of the teams three biggest needs.
The Ravens should not let the opportunity to draft the elusive elite defenders at corner and edge rusher pass them by to select the presumptive "Best Player Available' at a less valuable position.