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Data Crunch: Draft Class Impact

In the 10th of our weekly ventures into data visualization, we look at how Tampa Bay's 38 draft classes have panned out in terms of games played and started for the team


Every week, we football fans consume the NFL through live game action, replays and highlight shows. And then we consume it again through the numbers. Whether it's via fantasy football, statistical analysis or simply the league standings, numbers help us understand and digest the game we love.

This season, wants to help you see what the numbers are saying.

Welcome back to Data Crunch, our weekly foray into data visualization that will help tell the story of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football and the 2013 NFL season as a whole. Here, we will not only dive deep into the statistics generated each week by the Buccaneers but we'll present it to you in graphical form to better convey what the numbers are telling us. These interactive graphs allow the user to identify trends, gaining a better understanding of how wins and losses are generated and where the team and individual players are headed.

Our 10th data visualization exercise of the season focuses on the team's 38 draft classes and how much impact each one has had on the club through the years. Though it is certainly not the only way to measure the success of a draft class, tracking games played and games started can certainly provide insight into how much lasting value has been found each draft weekend. There have been enormous differences through the years on how much impact the Buccaneers have gotten from their drafts. For instance, the 1977 class produced just 65 games started for the team, period, most of that contributed by RB Ricky Bell. The 2002 class had a similarly small impact, though it should be remembered that the team had no first or second-round pick that year due to the trade to acquire the rights to Head Coach Jon Gruden. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the huge 1987 draft (20 players taken over 12 rounds) produced roughly 700 games played and 450 starts for the team over the years. The 1997 class, led by cornerback Ronde Barber, is next on that list.

The most recent draft classes obviously won't show up among the most productive classes yet, as they have had only a season or two to rack up the starts and games played. However, with Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Lavonte David, Johnthan Banks, Mike Glennon and Akeem Spence already logging a high number of starts and room to grow for the likes of William Gholston, Steven Means, Mike James and Keith Tandy, the 2012 and 2013 classes could eventually see the sort of long-term impact enjoyed by the aforementioned classes.

To make the most use of this data visualization, use the buttons in the upper left to toggle between two charts and two forms of data in each chart. The first chart shows the draft classes through the years and the starts and games played they produced in total. The second offers a visualization as to how the impact of a class stretched throughout the seasons. For instance, if you hover the 1997 class, you'll see in red how many starts or games played that class produced from season to season. Thanks to Barber, that 1997 class remains in the red all the way through 2012. Players like Lee Roy Selmon, John Lynch and Derrick Brooks led to the long-term impact of such classes as 1976, 1993 and 1995, as well.

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