Analyzing The Performance of the Selections 11-32 in the NFL Draft from 1997 thru 2006
***This is the second in a series of articles looking at the odds of finding productive talent in the NFL draft based on position and round of selection***
While the commitment financially is typically not as extreme between a top 10 player and the remainder of the first round selections, you still are making at least a 3 to 4 year financial commitment to a first round player and are going to do everything in your power to get that player onto the field and have him contribute right away. Like in the top 10 there are a handful of positions which stand out as safe picks for a team. Centers and Guards, Tight Ends, Linebackers, Safeties, and Defensive Ends have produced more useful players than busts from picks 11 thru the end of the first round.
The interior offensive linemen have produced the best results, though they only account for less than 6 percent of the selections. When these players are being given a high mark on the draft boards they are living up to the expectations as the projections from college seem to translate into NFL ability. Guards have done particularly well as nearly 43% of those taken have gone on to be considered all pro level players. While the centers have yet to produce at that level they also have not produced a first round bust either and well over 50% of guards and centers are going on to be considered good NFL talent. 7 of the 8 guards have played in a Super Bowl and 2 of the 4 centers have done the same making this a strong position for good teams to upgrade to in the mid to late 1st round.
Like the interior linemen, not many teams spend their first rounder on a Tight End, but those selections have proven to work in some capacity as only 17% have busted in the NFL, one of whom has started in the NFL for 7 seasons but never became a receiving threat. Unlike the interior linemen, very few of the TE’s have gone on to all pro careers as only 3 of the players have gone to be consistent players in that regard. Teams are certainly not being hurt by these choices as all 12 have been a part of a playoff club and 7 have been part of a Super Bowl team.
Teams can expect their drafted tight ends to remain with their club for a minimum of 5 years and likely 8-10 years if they are a productive player, such as a Todd Heap or Jeremy Shockey, but its unlikely they will ever be the main focal point of any offense as some may anticipate when the selection is made.
Safeties are another small group of players selected in round 1, but they are proving to at least be decent NFL players as 5 of the 8 selected outside the top 10 are going on to at least be decent NFL players. So far almost just as many players have proven to be pro bowl quality players as have busted so the good potential for finding a star safety in round 1 is there.