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    NFL All-Pro
    Research



    Do All-Pro Players make a team?

    An idea percolating in our heads for some time was whether the annual list of all-pro players could provide interesting research fodder for those of us with number crunching inclinations. To that end, we built a database containing the last ten years of All-Pro stars (1993 to 2002 seasons), including the injury replacements. We did not include the specialist Punters and Kickers, as our source Pro-Football-Reference.com did not contain them. At a later date we may add them in to our studies.

    The first question you might ask is whether there is any correlation between the number of all-pro players on a team and the won-lost record of that squad.

    All-Pro
    Players
    Teams
    Wins
    Average
    Wins
    0
    58
    340
    5.8
    1
    42
    241
    5.7
    2
    57
    421
    7.4
    3
    49
    413
    8.4
    4
    40
    352
    8.8
    5
    24
    257
    10.7
    6
    19
    207
    10.9
    7
    8
    96
    12.0
    8
    4
    47
    11.8
    9
    5
    63
    12.6
    10
    2
    23
    11.5
    11
    1
    12
    12.0

    Well, it's safe to say that a team with a lot of All-Pro's is likely to be a very good one. Indeed one might say a team which lands five or more players on the year-end honors list can expect double-digit wins during the regular season. Of course, these All-Pro selections are not objectively based, and so it may well be that the good teams get extra favoritism for their players.

    Nevertheless, it is a worthy question to consider when looking at a team and trying to assess their chances for the year -- how many pro-bowl players could they have? If it's less than five, they're probably not going to the playoffs, if it's five or more then the post-season is in the cards.

    Next up you might wonder, what about all pro players by position? Is it more beneficial to a team to have an All-Pro QB over say an all world Defensive Back?

    Position
    Teams
    Wins
    Avg. Wins
    QB
    76
    804.5
    10.6
    TE
    46
    445
    9.7
    DB
    129
    1242
    9.6
    OL
    168
    1616
    9.6
    WR
    92
    880
    9.6
    RB
    72
    684
    9.5
    LB
    105
    982
    9.4
    DL
    128
    1194.5
    9.3
    FB
    21
    191
    9.1
    KR
    24
    195
    8.1

    Not surprisingly, given that the All Pro roster is in some ways a popularity contest and the quarterback is given undue credit/blame for a team's record, the QB All-Pro spot averages the most wins for a team. There really however is not a tremendous difference beyond that, other than kick returners having minimal correlation with a team's wins.

    How about when a team lands two or more players at a given position? This is not likely to have ever happened at say the Quarterback spot, but certainly is a familiar enough occurrence on the offensive line, or in the defensive backfield.

    Position
    Teams
    Wins
    Avg. Wins
    WR
    5
    58
    11.6
    OL
    30
    317
    10.6
    DB
    22
    229
    10.4
    LB
    9
    93
    10.3
    DL
    17
    173
    10.2

    The answer here is simple -- a team lucky enough to have two All Pro players in a position unit is destined for great things (or if you believe the corollary, a great team in a certain aspect of the game is likely to be rewarded with more All Pro selected players).

    Another point to ponder is that if indeed the All Pro selections are based as much on reputation and team record as on the actual performance in a given season by a player, then what percentage of the time does an All-Pro repeat?

    All-Pro
    Position
    Players
    Prior
    All-Pro
    Prior All-Pro
    Avg. Wins
    New All-Pro
    Avg. Wins
    QB
    67
    59 %
    11.3
    9.8
    RB
    63
    63 %
    9.5
    9.5
    WR
    81
    66 %
    9.5
    9.6
    TE
    41
    65 %
    9.7
    9.6
    OL
    150
    73 %
    9.0
    10.9
    DL
    114
    66 %
    9.3
    9.5
    LB
    94
    58 %
    9.1
    9.9
    DB
    115
    65 %
    9.9
    9.6
    FB
    19
    57 %
    9.5
    8.1
    KR
    21
    47 %
    7.4
    8.5

    We had to exclude the 1993 season from this table, and a player who was a All Pro star in a season earlier than '93 would not be recognized as a prior All Pro when he was next selected. This is though a revealing table -- the position with the least quantifiable data surrounding individual performance, namely the offensive line, is the one which has the highest repeat percentage. Another reason to believe that reputation plays too great an emphasis in the offensive linemen selections is that the average wins for a new All Pro player's team at the OL slot wins almost two games more than a repeat All Pro's team on average!! In other words, if you're a newcomer on the OL front, and you're looking to dislodge one of the established veteran stars of the position for All Pro honors, your team better do fantastically well!

    Excuding the specialist fullback and kick returner slots, the Quarterback and Linebackers are the positions where new blood is most frequently seen. Oddly enough though, the repeat QB All Pro's are often on teams with outstanding records, lending credence to those who believe a superstar Quarterback is one of the keys to success.

    Where to take the investigation from here? In part two of this series, we will review the All Pro selections by where the player was drafted, the physical characteristics of the player, as well as take a look at current 2003 rosters and see how close we can come to projecting this season's All Pro players!


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