Analytics for the Detroit Lions
We are offering a more proactive solution. Good teams draft quarterbacks, develop them and have depth in case of any number of contingencies. They don’t go for entire decades without drafting talent at quarterback.
It’s smart to have more than one guy, especially if you aren’t 100% sure that your guy is THE guy. The quarterback position is too valuable to entrust to “maybe Goff will return to his old form.”
If you want to read the full explanation of wins above replacement (WAR) from PFF, it can be found here but the gist of the metric has a simple premise: To try to measure how negatively a team would be affected should a certain player be lost, causing the franchise to go to the street to find a replacement.
Boyle and Blough are unproven, marginal players and good examples of the kind of talent that Detroit would be forced to play if anything happened to Jared Goff without investing more picks, regardless of whether or not they stay on the roster. The cupboard being bare behind Goff could start the bad cycle of “Have to draft a starter, break the inexperienced starter, repeat” that unsuccessful teams like the Lions have become famous for.
PFF’s WAR metrics compared at each position gives us what they refer to as positional value. You can read about it here. PFF combines some geeky math with their play-by-play ratings that look at the facets of play at each position and grade each player on their ability to make plays that contribute to wins.
Positional value uses the top-10 players at each position versus the replacement player and uses a composite decimal value where quarterbacks scored a 2.513 and the next closest position, wide receiver, scored a .701. Their observation is that it makes Top-10 quarterbacks more than three times more valuable than a comparable Top-10 wide receiver.
A quick rundown after WR sees the positional value dip after safety and cornerback, the next two most valuable positions in their findings (.604 and .517, respectively).
It mostly finds decent equality of value through tight end, interior offensive linemen, offensive tackle, edge players, and linebackers, but running back and defensive linemen do not equate much to wins according to their evaluation.
Taking these numbers into the realm of salary cap cost, good quarterbacks do not cost three times what a top wide receiver does, meaning that a great quarterback can continue to provide value on a second or third contract, too. Quarterbacks are capable of being the biggest bargains in terms of helping a team win.
Some might accuse us of putting too much stock in a system that implies that defensive linemen and running backs are a dime-a-dozen when Aaron Donald and Derrick Henry exist. There are always outliers and exceptions and if you can find an Aaron Donald you would get great value out of his first-round, rookie deal. Ditto, if you drafted Derrick Henry in the second round.