What General Manager Trends Might Tell Us About The 2024 NFL Draft

by Tej Seth|April 13, 2024

Share

Howie Roseman has a clear vision in mind when building the Philadelphia Eagles. Build through the trenches. He even addressed this after his 2021 draft in which he spent five of his nine picks on linemen. “If we have an offensive lineman or defensive lineman sticking out on our board and they’re the highest guy, I promise you we’re going to take them. You saw that in the last couple of days,” Roseman told the media. 

Since becoming the General Manager of the Eagles in 2010, Roseman has spent SEVEN first-round picks on defensive linemen and another three on offensive linemen. This has played a big role in the Eagles going to two Super Bowls and winning one under his watch. While there is no guarantee the Eagles will take a lineman in the first round this year, there is probably a higher chance they will take one than the average team because of the past tendency to do so. 

There has been a lot of good public work on GM trends in the draft and this will take some of those concepts and use it to help inform us on what teams might do in the draft. 

Check out Arjun Menon’s NFL Draft Athletic Testing Team Averages

Positional Investment 

Using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger chart, we can see what percent of total draft capital a GM has spent on each position. Sample size matters here. GM’s like Ran Carthon, Omar Khan, and Monti Ossenfort probably don’t have enough of a sample to glean information from. There are other GM’s that could provide enough of a signal though. The NFL Average at the bottom has some survivorship bias as the GMs that take more premium positions have a higher likelihood of keeping their job. 

GMs like Howie Roseman and Brett Veach have shown a tendency to allocate a high amount of their draft capital to premium positions such as wide receiver, defensive line, and defensive back. With both the need and precedent being there, there is a good chance that both walk out with at least two of those three positions after day two of the draft. 

John Schneider is also a longer tenured GM that has put a lot of resources into defensive line with players like Bruce Irvin and L.J. Collier. There is a high likelihood we could see him do that again in this year’s draft as Seattle looks to revamp their defense with Mike MacDonald. 

Even further, John Schneider has preferred to invest in EDGE over DT, so that might be a signal to what Seattle’s draft plans are.  

Age 

Since Andrew Berry has taken over as the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, there has been a theme on prioritizing age. Of the 12 players taken in the first three rounds, only one – Cedric Tillman – was above 22 years old. Every player he’s taken in the first or second round has been 21 years old. It makes some sense as in the situation where there were two players with the same grade that were multiple years apart, age curves would say the younger player still has more room to grow. 

Andrew Berry is the only active GM to have an average age of his draft picks under 22 years old. New Raiders GM Tom Telesco comes close while Brett Veach, Brandon Beane, and Will McClay have all placed an emphasis on this. 

This could mean that if the Chiefs or Bills take a receiver in the first round, it is more likely to be Xavier Worthy (21.1) or Keon Coleman (21.0). The same applies to the Browns in round two with Troy Franklin (21.1) or Ja’Lynn Polk (22.0).  

Ryan Poles has been a GM who has had an average age of 22.9 overall and 22.2 in the first two rounds, which might make him more comfortable taking Rome Odunze (22.0), who is the oldest among the top five wide receivers in this class. If Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is looking to take a defensive lineman, he might be inclined to take Laiatu Latu (23.3) or Jared Verse (23.4).  

Athleticism 

Entering the 2023 draft, the Packers were going through a retooling period in which they had shipped off Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers in back-to-back offseasons and were looking ahead to the Jordan Love era. According to GrindingTheMocks, wide receiver and tight end were the two most mocked positions to Green Bay as the majority of analysts assumed they’d want to get their new starting quarterback a pass catcher like Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Dalton Kincaid. The Packers took EDGE Lukas Van Ness, which came as a surprise to some but wasn’t shocking when considering the Packers are keen on taking highly athletic players, especially early in the draft. 

Brian Gutekunst has had the fifth highest average athleticism score in his draft picks among active GMs. The Packers might be more inclined to take someone like Cooper DeJean over someone like Kool-Aid McKinstry because DeJean tested well at his pro day while McKinstry didn’t do any events. 

Will McClay’s strategy with the Cowboys has been interesting as he ranks fourth in average athleticism score of first and second round picks but 23rd when including all picks. He has spent premium draft capital on highly athletic players like Micah Parsons, Tyler Smith, Chidobe Awuzie, Mazi Smith, and Taco Charlton to varying results. Offensive tackles like Amarius Mims, Tyler Guyton, and Graham Barton all testing well should help him feel more comfortable if he decides to take a tackle in the 1st round. 

Chris Ballard, Howie Roseman, Mickey Loomis and Eric DeCosta are also long tenured GMs who have shown that they’ve valued athleticism more than the average active GM.  

What This Means 

Overall, the actual NFL draft is littered with randomness and variance that makes it such a good product for NFL fans. While GMs might have certain small tells, there is no saying what they will actually do until the card is turned in. However, looking at past data to derive tendencies might give us a better idea of the types of players they will be looking for, especially with the longer tenured GMs. 

Share

Related Posts

Pigskin Principia, Vol. II: Evidence and Expertise in Football

May 20, 2024

The Class Play – Breaking Down the Schedule Release

May 17, 2024

Deriving the Top 10 Matchups of the 2024 NFL Season 

May 16, 2024

UFL Week 7: Updated Projections

May 7, 2024
Download our FREE 2024 NFL Rookie Guide with advanced analytics and future projections.
FREE 2024 NFL Rookie Guide