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Archive for the 'NFL Draft' Category

2011 NFL Draft Preview – Pro-Football-Reference.com

Posted by Sean on April 21, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Preview - Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Just the facts, no 40 times or wonderlic here.

Our 2011 draft preview breaks out the picks as they currently stand and provides links to everyone selected at that pick along with lists of a representative player selected at that slot and the top five players selected at that slot. Personally, I find the fact that the Eagles can only expect Joe Andruzzi-like production at the 18th pick of the first round a bit depressing.

2 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Draft stories: 1968

Posted by Doug on January 13, 2011

This is a sequel to Draft stories: 1967 and possibly a precursor to Draft stories 1969 through whenever.

11 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

Draft stories: 1967

Posted by Doug on January 9, 2011

I've really been enjoying perusing old newspaper articles in the google news archives lately, so I figured I may as well put that time to good use by blogging some interesting tidbits. This post contains a random assortment of details and stories from the 1967 draft, along with some offshoots.

6 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

2010 NFL Draft Recap, Part II

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 27, 2010

Part I

Miami Dolphins

1.28 (28) Jared Odrick (DT-Penn State) 6'5"-304
2.8 (40) Koa Misi (DE-Utah) 6'3"-251
3.9 (73) John Jerry (OT-Mississippi) 6'5"-328
4.21 (119) A.J. Edds (LB-Iowa) 6'4"-246
5.14 (145) Nolan Carroll (CB-Maryland) 5'11"-204
5.32 (163) Reshad Jones (SS-Georgia) 6'1"-214
7.5 (212) Chris McCoy (DL-Middle Tennessee State) 6'4"-244
7.45 (252) Austin Spitler (LB-Ohio State) 6'3"-234

Odrick was a perfect fit of need meets value: he was considered the best 3-4 defensive end in the draft and was projected to go in the early-to-mid twenties. After trading down with the Chargers, Miami was fortunate to get a player like Odrick at the end of the first. Miami lost Joey Porter and Jason Taylor in the off-season, and had an obvious need at outside linebacker: Misi may have been a reach at #40, but he could be an immediate starter as a 3-4 OLB for the Dolphins. He's a pass rusher with solid coverage skills, although he didn't rack up big sack totals at Utah. Jerry was an All-SEC first team and uses his huge frame to punish defenders in the running game. Jerry was a four-year starter at guard and tackle, and is a natural fit for a power running team like the Dolphins. His brother, Peria, was the Falcons first round pick in 2009. Edds was a strong pick in the 4th round; he was considered by some as the top strongside linebacker in the draft. He'll likely play SILB across from Karlos Dansby (WILB) in Miami's 3-4 defense. He could develop into one of the faster and better coverage 3-4 inside linebackers in the league. Jones was one of the better safeties in the draft; he came out as a junior and performed well at the combine. He surprisingly slid to the fifth, and might start immediately for Miami after they cut last year's starting free safety, Gibril Wilson.

Minnesota Vikings

2.2 (34) Chris Cook (CB-Virginia) 6'2"-212
2.19 (51) Toby Gerhart (RB-Stanford) 6'0"-231
4.2 (100) Everson Griffen (DE-Southern Cal) 6'3"-273
5.30 (161) Chris Degeare (OT-Wake Forest) 6'4"-325
5.36 (167) Nathan Triplett (LB-Minnesota) 6'3"-250
6.30 (199) Joe Webb (WR-UAB) 6'3"-223
7.7 (214) Mickey Shuler (TE-Penn State) 6'4"-251
7.30 (237) Ryan D'Imperio (LB-Rutgers) 6'2"-230

The Vikings surprised everyone by not "pulling an Aaron Rodgers" and drafting the heir apparent for Brett Favre: Jimmy Clausen seemed like a steal for Minnesota at 34, but the Vikings went in another direction with Chris Cook. With the Saints, Packers and Cowboys loaded at wide receiver -- Minnesota's three biggest competitors -- you can understand the need for more cornerbacks. Cook elevated his stock at the combine after running a 4.43; cornerbacks with his height and speed aren't easy to find, even if Cook's play wasn't always elite with the Cavaliers. If Minnesota surprised people by not taking Clausen, they shocked people by drafting Gerhart. But with Chestor Taylor now in Chicago, Gerhart makes sense for Minnesota. In some ways, Peterson is going to replace Taylor and Gerhart will replace Peterson; before, Taylor was the third-down back but now that should be Peterson. As a result, the Vikings may give him more breathers on earlier downs and short-yardage situations, which is where Gerhart excels. For fantasy football players, Adrian Peterson owners won't like that Minnesota just drafted a guy who scored 27 touchdowns last season. But he should extend Peterson's career and give the Vikings another option if ADP develops another case of the fumbles. Griffen was viewed by some as a first round pick, and his slide in the draft was one of the more intriguing topics. He has elite talent as a pass rusher but was plagued by inconsistency and a reputation for taking plays off; with Ray Edwards and Jared Allen in front of him, Griffen is a high upside luxury pick the Vikings could afford. He may also replace Pat Williams on passing downs to improve the Vikings' interior pass rush. Joe Webb was one of the intriguing prospects in this year's class; the former QB at UAB will play receiver in the NFL. He's got great size and played well at the Senior Bowl after the position switch; he'll probably see some time as a Wildcat QB, as well. In his only game of his career against the Vikings, Mickey Shuler caught three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in 1982; in the 7th round, the Vikings selected his son, Mickey Shuler, Jr. The younger Shuler followed his father at Penn State, and is mostly a blocking tight end.

For Vikings fans longing for a QB of the future, Minnesota may have addressed that situation after the draft with the signing of Ryan Perrilloux. For those unfamiliar with his background, Perriloux was the all-world recruit who came to LSU as the heir apparent to JaMarcus Russell. Perrilloux was named the 2004 USA Today High School Player of the Year and won the 2004 Hall Trophy, the Heisman Trophy award for High School players (Adrian Peterson had won the award in 2003). Perrilloux's career in Baton Rouge was roughly comparable to Russell's career... in Oakland. But as Cecil Lammey notes, after resurrecting his career at Jacksonville State, Perriloux still has the enormous potential that college scouts fell in love with. He'll have to compete with Tarvaris Jackson to make the roster, another quarterback from an FCS school in Alabama.

10 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

2010 NFL Draft Recap, Part I

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 25, 2010

Didn't have time to follow all three rounds of the draft? Want to know whom your team selected and how their draft plans fit into their overall philosophy? Today and tomorrow, we'll take a look at what each team did in the draft. First, the Arizona Cardinals through the Kansas City Chiefs; tomorrow, the Miami Dolphins to the Washington Redskins.


Arizona Cardinals

1.26 (26) Dan Williams (DT-Tennessee) 6'2"-327
2.15 (47) Daryl Washington (LB-TCU) 6'2"-230
3.24 (88) Andre Roberts (WR-Citadel) 5'11"-195
4.32 (130) O'Brien Schofield (DE-Wisconsin) 6'2"-221
5.24 (155) John Skelton (QB-Fordham) 6'5"-243
6.32 (201) Jorrick Calvin (DB-Troy) 5'11"-184
7.26 (233) Jim Dray (TE-Stanford) 6'5"-246

Arizona was fortunate to land the draft's best nose tackle with the 26th pick. The Cardinals play a hybrid 3-4 defense but always lacked that big body in the middle; Williams could help the defense remain solid despite losing Antrel Rolle to the Giants and Karlos Dansby to the Dolphins. TCU's Washington was considered better than his pass rushing teammate Jerry Hughes (Colts) by some scouts, and he was projected as a first rounder in more than a few mocks. Andre Roberts was a favorite of internet scouts and had been rapidly moving up draft boards. He may have only played at the Citadel but scouts love his potential. Some fantasy football players were disapointed to see a potential sleeper pick like Roberts land in WR-heavy Arizona. John Skelton was considered a poor man's Joe Flacco by most draft observers; he's got great size and a rocket arm, but his small school status means he's a project quarterback. Skelton became the first Fordham player drafted in over 40 years. The Cards passed on Clausen with the 47th pick, so we can assume they are content with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson at the QB position; Skelton may be a long-term answer but he's not going to compete for the starting job in 2010. Arizona also signed Max Hall (QB, BYU) and Alphonso Smith (RB, Kentucky) after the draft.

Atlanta Falcons

1.19 (19) Sean Weatherspoon (LB-Missouri) 6'1"-239
3.19 (83) Corey Peters (DT-Kentucky) 6'3"-300
3.34 (98) Mike Johnson (OG-Alabama) 6'5"-312
4.19 (117) Joe Hawley (OG-UNLV) 6'3"-297
5.4 (135) Dominique Franks (CB-Oklahoma) 5'11"-194
5.34 (165) Kerry Meier (WR-Kansas) 6'2"-224
6.2 (171) Shann Schillinger (S-Montana) 6'0"-199

Weatherspoon filled a need for the Falcons and looks like one of the safer (if not flashier) picks of the first round. The Falcons added a lot of bulk to their team in the middle rounds, selecting over 900 pounds of beef for their lines with three straight picks. Last year's first round pick, Peria Jerry, missed nearly the entire '09 season with a knee injury, so grabbing Peters provides insurance against Jerry failing to succeed. Johnson and Hawley could be interior starters for the Falcons soon, as C Todd McClure is 33 and neither starting guard has a long-term contract. Atlanta signed Dunta Robinson from Houston in the off-season, but traded up for Franks in the fifth round. As a Sooner, you know he's got great athleticism, although some question his dedication to tackling. Atlanta did not do much at the skill positions in this draft, taking only Kerry Meier, a former QB who caught 102 passes last season. He'll be a WR/TE/H-Back in the NFL.

8 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Analysis of the first round trades

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 23, 2010

See Also: PFR Draft Tools

After one round of the 2010 draft, it's way, way, way too early to make any conclusions. Taylor Mays, Jimmy Clausen and Sergio Kindle haven't even been selected yet. No one knows how Tim Tebow will turn out. And whether or not that additional 4th round pick turns out to be Jared Allen or Ryne Robinson remains to be seen. But caution doesn't stop anyone else from analyzing the NFL draft, so why should it stop me? Let's take a look at the seven trades made tonight.

1) San Francisco moves up from #13 to #11, and gives up the 113th pick in the draft.

Historical: #13 and #113 for #11

For Denver, this was a no brainer; the Broncos' (as we later saw) draft board differed from that of most teams, and a trade down came with no risk; the players they wanted would be there later. According to the Jimmy Johnson pick value chart (JJ PVC), moving up from #13 to #11 is worth about 100 points, or the 100th pick in the draft. According to the PFR pick value chart (PFR PVC), trading up from #13 to #11 should only cost around a 7th round pick. The Broncos got a steal by risking nothing and picking up a free fourth rounder. For the 49ers, they probably paid market value (but in my view, overpaid); the bigger question is, 'why?' The 49ers traded up to take LT Anthony Davis from Rutgers, but it doesn't look like either Denver or Miami at #12 were targeting Davis. Miami was almost certainly going defense or wide receiver, and even if the Dolphins unexpectedly took Davis, Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) appeared to have been a more than suitable replacement. This is especially true for a team with Joe Staley on the left side, as some view Bulaga as only capable of playing on the right side. Great move by Denver, but a very questionable move by the 49ers, who paid a heavy price for the right to choose.

2) San Diego moves up from #28 by trading linebacker Tim Dobbins and the 40th pick to get to #12; they also get the #173 pick (6th round), and a 16 spot bump (from #126 to #110) in the 4th round.

Historical: #28, #40, and #126 for #12, #110, and #173

6 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Two More PFR Draft-Related Tools

Posted by Neil Paine on April 20, 2010

I know I said yesterday's post would be the last in our series on PFR Draft Tools, but I remembered that there are two more features you should be aware of:

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Massey-Thaler discussion...

2 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

Reviving fallen franchises

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 20, 2010

There are six franchises in the NFL that have met the following criteria in each of the past two seasons:

  • Five or fewer wins; and
  • An SRS grade of -4.0 or worse

You can probably guess those teams: the Rams, the Lions, the Chiefs, the Raiders, the Seahawks and the Browns. In this year's draft, they hold the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 6th, and 7th picks, respectively. These teams, unsurprisingly, have almost all undergone a regime change: the Rams (Steve Spagnuolo), Lions (Jim Schwartz), Chiefs (Todd Haley) and Browns (Eric Mangini) brought in new coaches last season; this off-season, the Browns also brought in Mike Holmgren to be the team's President and the Seahawks picked Pete Carroll up from USC to be the head coach and executive vice-president. Only the Raiders haven't made a regime change, and well, they're the Raiders.

The other spot where bad teams usually overhaul is the quarterback; true to form, the Rams (Sam Bradford this week, by nearly all accounts), the Lions (Matthew Stafford last season), the Chiefs (Matt Cassel last year), the Seahawks (Charlie Whitehurst last month) and the Browns (for better or worse, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace aren't Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn) have chosen to make big changes at the highest profile position. Only the Raiders haven't changed QBs, and well, they're the Raiders. Even in Oakland, though, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye or Kyle Boller (again, for better or worse) at least have a chance to unseat JaMarcus Russell atop the depth chart.

5 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

Draft Tools: Draft Querier

Posted by Neil Paine on April 19, 2010

For the final post in the series on PFR's NFL Draft tools, I wanted to save the best for last... Combining elements of all 3 tools we looked at previously, the Draft Querier Tool is perhaps the ultimate resource when it comes to Draft history. Functioning in a manner similar to our Play Index tools, the Draft Querier allows you to search through the results of every draft with optional criteria for: Draft year, draft team, player position, round #, overall pick #, the player's college conference, draft league, and draft type.

This means that if you wanted to see every player drafted from the Big 12 since 1996, we have it -- as well as every first-round "skill position" player taken in the 60s, every QB ever picked by the Cleveland Browns, 1-3 rounders since 1990 who never played a down in the NFL, defensive players taken with the 1st overall pick, and more.

So go ahead and check it out, be sure to take a look at Sean's 2010 Draft Preview, and enjoy the festivities Thursday night.

Comments Off | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

The Best Player Available

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 19, 2010

If you spend any time listening or reading about the draft, you will no doubt be sick of the phrase "best player available". Writers and teams debate drafting for need versus taking the best player regardless of need. General Managers have vague press conferences where they avow to take the best player available. Part of me wants to know exactly who does not want to take the best player available--it's just identifying that player when you are comparing 22 positions that often have different skill sets that is hard. So I decided to take a look at how often teams actually do draft the best available player.

Lots of things can affect the outcome and make the best talent appear like a bad pick, from injuries to scheme to the input of the other teammates in what is a team game where individual statistics reflect more than the individual. Still, the only way I know to objectively test it is to look at the career value, and this seems like a decent exercise for applying Approximate Value.

8 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, NFL Draft

Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and the Right to Choose

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 16, 2010

A couple of years ago, we asked how valuable was owning the right to choose between Matt Ryan and Brian Brohm. This year, it's almost certain that the Rams will select Sam Bradford with the first overall pick. After that, the Lions will choose among the consensus three best non-QBs in the draft: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Gerald McCoy and LT Russell Okung. Many observers, myself included, think Suh and McCoy are the two best players in the draft. A few talent evaluators think McCoy is better than Suh, but the majority view Suh as a transcendental, once-in-a-generation player. The Lions get to choose between Suh and McCoy (and Okung) -- how valuable is owning the right to make that decision? The Bucs, it is believed, desperately want Suh and will have to "settle" for McCoy, since Suh appears to be a better fit for Tampa Bay's system (in addition to being the better player). But how likely is it, independent of system, that Suh (if he goes first) ends up being the better pro? The Lions could certainly trade down with the Bucs, enabling Tampa Bay to grab Suh; how cautious should Detroit be in giving up the right to choose?

I looked at all drafts from 1967 (the first common draft between the AFL and NFL) and 2009, and noted how many times two players at the same position were selected within the first four picks. It's happened twenty-two times:

2005, RB: Ronnie Brown (2); Cedric Benson (4)

This case is probably still too close to call. Along with Cadillac Williams, the 5th pick in the draft, these three RBs were supposed to be the next great generation of runners in the NFL. Instead, all of them suffered with injuries, and Benson completely wore out his welcome with off-the-field issues in Chicago. A year ago, all three looked like busts, with Brown probably being the de facto winner. But last year, Williams had a rebirth (1,040 yards from scrimmage) and is healthy entering 2010. Meanwhile, Benson had a career season, building on a strong second half in 2008 by ranking second in the league last season in rushing yards per game (96.2). Brown has probably still been the best of this trio -- he has the highest career YPC, the most career rushing yards, yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. But he's suffered with injuries his whole career, and at this rate, Benson may surpass him before their careers end.

Edge: Incomplete.

16 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

2010 NFL Draft Preview — It may reduce your enthusiasm

Posted by Sean on April 13, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Preview

We aren't going to scout Suh, Okung, and Bradford for you, but we can show you how the careers of NFL draft picks have played out.

The preview above shows:
*The top six players taken since 1970 at each draft slot along with their Career Approximate Value,
*The average AV at each draft slot for all players,
*The average AV of every retired player taken at that slot and a recent retiree whose AV matches this number,
*Links to a full listing of each team's 1st, 2nd, ... rounders, and
*Links to all of the players selected with the 1st, 2nd, 203rd... picks in the draft.

To be honest, I find the Recent Retiree listing to be a bit depressing. For instance, the Eagles with their haul of picks would expect: Artrell Hawkins, Shaun Williams, Ryan Nece, Kalimba Edwards, Anthony Wright, Tutan Reyes, Milford Brown, Derrick Gibson, Glenn Earl, Rex Tucker and Anthony Maddox in return. I need to watch more football because I haven't heard of one of those guys before now. You can click on the column headers to sort the team column to find your team.

Enjoy and tell your friends if you think they might enjoy this feature.

Please check out our full list of draft features and tutorials.

8 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, History, NFL Draft

Draft Tools: Search by Position

Posted by Neil Paine on April 13, 2010

As part of our ongoing series on PFR's NFL Draft features, here's another draft tool you may not have seen -- you can also sort all-time draftees by the position they eventually played in the pros. Since the list of drafted players at any given position is pretty huge, we've decided to break up the history of the Draft into 3 eras: 1936-1959, 1960-1979, and 1980-2009. For each of these eras, you can select a position and see every drafted player whose primary NFL position is a match. Let's take an example: say you want to see every wide receiver selected in the Draft since 1980. At the corresponding page, you'll find the full list, alongside their pick #, college, and career stats like All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, starts, Approximate Value, & traditional Passing/Rushing/Receiving totals. (Note: we apologize that 2009 starts & AV numbers have not been updated yet - we'll try to fix that soon.)

You can see all of the Drafted Players broken down by position here:

Comments Off | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

Checkdowns: Median draft position vs. 2009 AV

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 8, 2010

Just a quick data dump here; I looked at the 2009 AV numbers (to hit the site soon, I promise) and noted how much AV all players at each position accumulated. I then sorted all of the players by draft position, and noted at what draft spot the median AV was hit. So, for example, roughly half of the AV by all QBs last season came by QBs drafted at #24 or earlier. That is to say, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Vince Young, Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers produced about as much value as every other QB in the league last season. Below shows the draft pick # where half of that position's AV was accumulated during the 2009 season:

pos     pick
QB      24
ILB     40
CB      45
T       50
WR      54
RB      55
DE      57
TE      69
OLB     71
DT      77
S       84
G      108
C      173

If there's any surprise here, it's (at least to me) at inside linebacker. But with superstars like Patrick Willis, Jon Beason and Ray Lewis, along with DeMeco Ryans, Jonathan Vilma, A.J Hawk, James Farrior, Jerod Mayo, Takeo Spikes, D.J. Williams and Karlos Dansby, a large number of star inside linebackers were high picks. Only three ILB/MLBs selected outside of the top 40 had 10 points of AV last year or more -- the Bengals' Dhani Jones and the Jets pair of inside 'backers, Bart Scott and David Harris.

10 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, NFL Draft

Draft Tools: Search by Year

Posted by Neil Paine on April 6, 2010

Continuing our series on PFR's NFL Draft toolbox, today I wanted to show you our section of year-by-year draft listings. These pages include a list of every player taken in the draft for a given year, along with their career stats (including career Approximate Value and Pro Bowl/All-Pro selections). You can sort each column by clicking on the column header, so if you wanted to know who has the most career passing yards among the players taken in the vaunted Class of 1983, just click "Yds" under "Passing", and marvel at the way Todd Blackledge was outpassed by 4 QBs taken beneath him, two of whom ended up as Hall of Famers. Way to go Chiefs!

You can see all of the Drafts broken down by year here:

6 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

Do star safeties have shorter careers than players at other defensive positions?

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 5, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at Peter King's comment on Eric Berry to examine whether safeties were risks at the top of the draft. In that post, I determined that safeties were not risky in the sense that they didn't pan out. In fact, compared to other positions, a higher percentage of safeties panned out in that they made at least one pro bowl and were at least good starters (career AV > 49).

However, King did raise a point about safeties being less likely to stay healthy, citing recent injuries to star safeties Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, and Ed Reed. Today, I try to take a stab at looking at that issue. The best way we have of doing that is to look at games played data, though games played is also susceptible to talent and ability as well as health. In an attempt to deal with that fact (though I am sure I fail in limited specific cases), I decided to look at players who already proved to be good players at a young age (age 25 and under) and see how many games they played from ages 26 to 29, how frequently they retired before age 30, and how old they were during the last season they were able to play 10 or more games for an NFL team. The hope here is that if a player has played well through age 25, he should continue to play in games through age 29, unless he missed those games due to injury, or was benched or forced to retire due to injury-related decline.

5 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, History, NFL Draft

Peter King on Eric Berry: are safeties really a risk at the top of the draft?

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 25, 2010

Among his many thoughts in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback article, Peter King shared some on Eric Berry, the star safety from the University at Tennessee, who is projected as a top ten pick, and on many boards a top five pick, in this year's draft:

If I were an NFL team drafting high, I'd be very careful evaluating Eric Berry.

The Tennessee safety, obviously, is a rare prospect. But the history of safeties in terms of longevity and greatness at the top of the draft is very shaky.

The nature of the position is smallish people throwing themselves around like linebackers, and that doesn't lend itself to long careers. The three best safeties to be drafted in the past decade -- Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders -- have missed 78 games due to injury in their 21 combined NFL seasons.

Berry looks like a top-10 pick, but the team that takes him is going to be picking against history. Of the five top-10 safeties this decade, none has had franchise-player impact: Roy Williams (Dallas, eighth overall, 2002), Sean Taylor (Washington, fifth overall, 2004), Michael Huff (Oakland, seventh, 2006), Donte Whitner (Buffalo, eighth, 2006), LaRon Landry (Washington, sixth, 2007). Taylor might have had franchise-player impact if he had not been gunned down three-and-a-half years into his career. But overall, the position justifies the caution lots of teams are taking with it.

. . .

I'm not saying Berry won't be a great player. Maybe he'll be Ed Reed. Maybe he'll know when to dish out the big hit and when to steer a player instead of seek and destroy. But the odds of him being great for a long time -- as opposed to the physical longevity of a tackle or defensive lineman or quarterback not subject to as many high-speed collisions -- are pretty long, based on history.

I had several instant reactions to that segment, including:

1) Well, if someone is talking about history, we might just be able to look into that;

2) It would suck if Eric Berry had a career like Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders . . . I mean, who would want 9 pro bowls, 5 first team all-pros, and 3 second team all-pros, and numerous playoff appearances during the combined first five years of their respective careers. Seriously, who would want to settle for that while they were still playing under their rookie contracts? If God gave you some insider info that Eric Berry's first five years were going to be a cross between Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders, but he was unfortunately mum on everyone else, and you were a team sitting with pick number five for a team that had horrendous safety play the year before, don't you jump at that opportunity? I don't know how Eric Berry's career will turn out, but I would be primarily concerned with how he will do while he is playing under the initial contract, and not what might happen eight years later.

3) Even just looking at the five recent top ten safeties cited, it is clearly a case of lack of comparison to how other positions perform and selective memory. Roy Williams is a liability now, but he made 6 pro bowls and 1 first team all-pro. As we will see, that's pretty good for an early first round pick. Sean Taylor made two pro bowls in his first four seasons and looked like a star; I don't think we should anticipate the tragic end to his life and project that as impacting how highly drafted safeties turn out. Whitner, Landry and Huff have each started three seasons. Others can chime on Whitner, Landry and Huff, but I wouldn't rule out Whitner or Landry making a pro bowl at some point; Huff looks like the most disappointing but he could turn it around. Those three guys are young and have been starters and we certainly shouldn't make a historical comparison to other guys who are still quite active and potentially entering their primes.

4) On the injury thing, how different is that from other positions? I think it is an interesting question--though one that should be more of an issue when evaluating contract extensions and second contracts. Do star safeties tend to fall apart more frequently than other positions, once they hit the mid to late twenties?

I'll try to take a look at that last injury issue in the future. For now, I want to get back to the history of drafting safeties in the first round. We can always have a recency versus relevancy debate, but I'm not going to look at guys who have played for three seasons and are still active. I used the draft database to find all players in the 1978-2002 drafts--this coincides on the front end with the changes in passing rules and the sixteen game schedule, and ends with a draft where players, if active, should be at age 30 or older. I then sorted each position by number of players who made a pro bowl, and number of players who had a career AV of 50 or greater. Here are the results for all first round picks during that span, sorted by position, and percentage of pro bowlers.

Position PB selection Total PB Pct AV50 TOTAL AV50 Pct
Defensive Tackle 20 45 0.444 21 45 0.467
Safety 14 32 0.438 13 32 0.406
Running Back 41 98 0.418 32 98 0.327
Quarterback 19 47 0.404 22 47 0.468
Tight End 10 25 0.400 6 25 0.240
Offensive Tackle 31 79 0.392 36 79 0.456
Offensive Guard 14 36 0.389 13 36 0.361
Linebacker 31 81 0.383 33 81 0.407
Wide Receiver 30 80 0.375 31 80 0.388
Cornerback 24 74 0.324 23 74 0.311
Center 3 10 0.300 3 10 0.300
Defensive End 27 95 0.284 37 95 0.389

Okay, so this is just a quick look, and is not sorted by draft position within the first round, pro bowls are not a perfect measure of value, etc., etc. We see, though, that safeties grade out pretty well. What about early first round picks, though? Berry is going to go high in the draft, not just in the first round. Here is the same chart, except for top ten picks only, during the same time period.

Position PB selection Total PB Pct AV50 TOTAL AV50 Pct
Safety 7 9 0.778 6 9 0.667
Defensive Tackle 11 16 0.688 9 16 0.563
Running Back 22 35 0.629 20 35 0.571
Offensive Tackle 17 30 0.567 18 30 0.600
Wide Receiver 14 26 0.538 13 26 0.500
Linebacker 16 33 0.485 16 33 0.485
Cornerback 10 21 0.476 11 21 0.524
Quarterback 13 28 0.464 14 28 0.500
Defensive End 14 38 0.368 18 38 0.474
Offensive Guard 3 9 0.333 3 9 0.333
Tight End 1 4 0.250 0 4 0.000

So, yes, you're reading that correctly. The history of safeties in terms of longevity and greatness the top of the draft is, in fact, not very shaky at all compared to other positions--it is the opposite of shaky. Seven of the nine safeties drafted in the top ten between 1978 and 2002 made a pro bowl. Six of the nine had a career AV higher than 50 (and Bennie Blades finished at 49). The median top ten safety had a career like Eric Turner. Rickey Dixon is the only one who started less than three seasons and could be considered a true bust.

Only nine were drafted in this time period, so we have a small sample size. GM's don't want to draft safeties early. They want to take the next Bruce Smith at defensive end, which is why we see that position rank second-highest in terms of most picks in the first round, but lowest in terms of pro bowl percentage. That's the position where they are willing to reach and to view with rose-colored glasses. They don't reach for safeties. You have to be elite to overcome the bias at safety against using the early pick, much like what we may be seeing with Berry. Contrary to King, I think history (granted, a very small number from history) shows that Berry is a relatively safe pick at the top of the draft to turn out to be at least a pretty good starter during his rookie contract.

17 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Rod Martin, John Mobley and Andre Wadsworth

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 19, 2010

Which colleges lead the way when it comes to quantity and quality of NFL draft picks? That's the question I set out to answer today. Here's what I did:

  • I started in 1967, when the AFL and NFL began holding a common draft. I looked at every NFL draft from 1967 to 2009.
  • I then gave each player the value that his draft slot was worth; I used the pick value chart I derived two years ago, which closely resembles the famous NFL draft chart that many sources cite (but I chose to use my values since the reasons why the two charts diverge are precisely why, for this sort of study, my values are preferred).
  • I then gave each school, in each season, the sum of all of the draft values of all of its players drafted. This gives each school a season grade. To come up with a program grade, I used the draft values in the three years before and after the year in question (along with that season). So the 2000 Oklahoma State Cowboys' program value would be the sum of the OSU seasonal grades from '97 to '03. Because of this, I only have program grades from '70 to '06.

Which college-seasons come out on top?

5 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft, Statgeekery

Checkdowns: Brady Quinn

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 16, 2010

The Browns traded Brady Quinn to the Broncos for Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth round pick and a 2012 conditional pick. Quinn was selected in the first round of the 2007 draft and was expected to be the Cleveland quarterback of the future. As it turns out, Quinn returned practically nothing on Cleveland's investment. He leaves Cleveland with just 12 career starts and only three wins on his resume, along with commensurately ugly individual stats.

How poorly does the Cleveland-Quinn relationship rank? I looked at all QBs selected in the first round since 1950, and noted how they performed for the team that drafted them. The table below shows the number of starts, wins, seasons as main starter, total passing yards and seasons with an AY/A index of over 80, 90, 100 and 110 (with enough attempts to qualify for the league passing title) each quarterback had for his drafting team. (Note: For players selected in both the NFL and AFL drafts, I'm choosing to list the player's draft status by the team he selected to play for. An asterisk indicates the player's team in the table was not the team that drafted him, but traded for his rights before he ever played for the team that selected him; a + indicates the player went to the CFL or chose to play baseball. QBs selected in the supplemental draft were not included.)

10 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

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