The Saints have had good luck with undrafted rookie free agents (UDFA’s) in recent years, guys like Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Khiry Robinson, Junior Galette, Jonathan Casilias, JoLonn Dunbar, and Willie Snead, just to name a few.  So, the Saints have clearly done well with UDFA’s, but how do they compare with the rest of the league?  That’s the question I decided to tackle in this study.

As usual, all data is from my goto site for NFL stats: pfref.com.   It’s a terrific reference site for doing stuff like I do on this blog.  I’m discovering new stuff all the time on there.  All data is from 2006-2016 seasons.

What I did was query the database for player seasons in which an undrafted player had pfref’s AV metric of 6 or more for that season.  I then copied the information into a spreasheet, taking these player seasons, sorting them by team name, and then secondarily by AV score for that season.  Thus, it is possible for some players to appear multiple times in the list, since this is being done by the season.  Also note, it doesn’t matter if the player is on the team that “discovered” him or if he moved there in free agency, via trade, or whatever.  I would like to have only looked at the players on their original team, but there was no easy way to sort them as such.  Plus, it often happens the team that discovered the player really didn’t know what they had at the time, so it’s usually appropriate to credit the team that finally did get the most out of the player anyway.

Without further ado, here is the table of results I came up with, sorted by AV SUM:

Team # UDFA’s AV Sum AVERAGE
NE 36 330 9.17
SD 35 302 8.63
SEA 32 252 7.88
PIT 28 249 8.89
IND 30 247 8.23
PHI 26 228 8.77
NO 28 211 7.54
DAL 20 204 10.20
NYG 22 195 8.86
DEN 21 173 8.24
TB 23 168 7.30
MIA 17 159 9.35
CIN 21 158 7.52
WAS 19 154 8.11
KC 22 153 6.95
ARI 19 153 8.05
ATL 17 141 8.29
CLE 20 140 7.00
BUF 18 140 7.78
CAR 19 136 7.16
GB 16 132 8.25
NYJ 16 131 8.19
TEN 19 130 6.84
RAMS 18 124 6.89
CHI 15 111 7.40
MIN 13 103 7.92
OAK 14 100 7.14
HOU 10 94 9.40
DET 10 81 8.10
SF 10 71 7.10
JAX 9 68 7.56

If you’re not familiar with the AV metric that pfref.com has come up with, check out their site and look at their glossary for a better description than the one I will briefly give here.  Essentially, the AV score is the “approximate value” that the player had that year, the higher the better.  The number is something you can compare among different position groups, e.g. a tight end to a defensive tackle, or whatever.  The top AV score in this group of 643 players was Arian Foster’s score of 20 for his 2010 season in Houston.   The average AV was 8.08 for this group, bearing in mind it only includes those with 6+ AV scores in a season between 2006 and 2016.

The Saints came out all right, scoring 7th place with an AV SUM (the sum of all player season AV numbers) of 211.  The Saints had 28 player seasons, tying them for 5th best with Pittsburgh.  New England was tops with 36 player seasons and 330 AV SUM.  And since these charts seem to be popular:

undrafted AV sums 2006-2016

 

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