Since the year of the first NFL draft ever, less than 25,000 prospects have ever been drafted into the NFL. Since that time, both NFL front-office executives and fans alike seem to gauge the success of a draft pick primarily by answering yes/no to whether or not that particular selection turned out to be a good NFL player. If a player is considered serviceable, then the pick is generally deemed successful, regardless of what happened to the other available prospects passed up along the way.
What few consider, however, is that every draft decision also comes with the price of something called opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is defined by Google as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
In other words, a successful draft pick should not be determined just by the isolated contributions of the player picked—but rather—by who they pass up along the way.
For some reason, opportunity cost is rarely factored into the analysis that goes into determining a successful draft. Perhaps it adds a layer of complication to the process people just aren’t willing to focus on.
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