Is there really such a thing as positional value when it comes to the NFL Draft? A look at the breakdown of the positions drafted most often since 2000 reveals that there are a few conclusions you can draw about the recent tendencies of NFL teams.
Here are the raw numbers of players drafted in the first round since 2000. This data was gathered using the Pro Football Reference Draft Finder tool.
QB -- 36
RB -- 39
WR -- 52
TE -- 16
OC -- 6
OG -- 10 (None of those earlier than the 15th pick -- Branden Albert, 2008)
OT -- 39
DT -- 41
DE -- 57
LB -- 35
DB -- 60 (This number does not differentiate between cornerback and safety)
What, if any, conclusions can we draw from the data? There are two I can see that impact the New York Giants.
First, look at the number of offensive tackles drafted in the first round (39) vs. the total number of guards and centers (16). During that time Branden Albert was drafted the highest -- 15th in 2008 -- and Albert was converted to tackle. Shaun Andrews went 16th to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, and he also spent some time at tackle. Mike Iupati (17th to the San Francisco 49ers in 2010) is the only pure guard to go in the top 20 during that time.
If you are one of those who thinks guards Chance Warmack of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina could both be chosen in the top 10, or at the very least both be off the board before Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker history is definitely not on your side.
Second, defensively look at the paltry numbers of linebackers chosen in the first round. There were far fewer linebackers drafted in the first round than any other defensive position, meaning the Giants have not been the only NFL team de-valuing the position.
Does this mean the Giants won't grab a linebacker in the first round? No, it doesn't. It just means history tells us that, all other things being equal, NFL teams have tended to shy away from choosing linebackers early in the draft in recent years.