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***
Much like how they rank in the top 10, the remainder of the 1st round Linebackers are proving to be good pickups in the NFL. Slightly over 11% of the selections past 10 are linebackers and 28% of those players are going on to pro bowl careers. About 30% of the players are busting and 50% are going on to be good NFL players so the reward definitely outweighs the risk. About 80% of these players have been on a playoff team with their original club so the negative impact is minimal even if the player doesnít work out as hoped for. Players who work out very well could be kept as long as a decade by their drafting team and most are having long careers after moving on after 4 or 5 years from their original franchise.
Defensive Ends carry much more risk than the other positions considered safer picks with about 44% of the selections not working out as NFL players. Teams are certainly taking chances on them as they rank second only to cornerbacks selected in this portion of the draft, so teams are putting a premium on finding pass rushers in round 1. There is a good chance of finding good players at this position as nearly 35% of these selections are turning into good NFL players, tops amongst all positions with a significant amount of draftees. Over half of the DE's have participated in the playoffs for their original teams proving to be solid additions for them. However, finding the pro bowl players has been harder as only 4 have turned into perennial probowlers, near the bottom of all positions. To make matters worse many of these studs are injury prone as John Abraham, Javon Kearse, and Dwight Freeney have only played 16 games 7 times in 23 seasons amongst the three of them. Predicting how long a player will remain with a team is difficult to do. Because there is such a premium cost associated with pass rushers some pretty good players are being allowed to walk after 5 or 6 seasons, even though they should be productive for close to a decade.
Their linemates, the Defensive Tackles, have not been nearly as productive as the ends. There is an even 50/50 split between busts and productive players, but only 25% of those selected are turning into good players in the NFL. Around 50% of the DTs selected are contributing to a playoff run and most players will find a new home after 5 years. Teams are electing to not carry poor players for very long, often pulling the plug after 3 years making it important to limit the guaranteed money promised to a defensive tackle, making this a position smarter to take a chance on later rather than earlier in round 1.
Almost 9% of first rounders are running backs and they are proving to be a mixed bag. The odds of finding a perennial pro bowler outside the top 10 in round 1 is extremely hard, though the jury is still out on players such as Steven Jackson and Joseph Addai who could break into that elite group. 33% of those selected are turning into good NFL runners, but thatís about all that are actually contributing to a run in the playoffs. Teams are definitely reaching in the first for this position as 61% have flopped in the NFL, the 3rd highest bust rate in this round. There is about as good of a chance of finding just as valuable a player and for a much lower cost at this position in round 2 of the draft making this a position to think very hard about before selecting at this stage of the draft.
The QB position is the only position where more players are actually drafted in the top 10 then throughout the rest of the first round, which solidifies the fact that teams always push Qbs up their draft boards because of the potential reward if they find a star. Only 28% are proving to be good players and 14% are becoming perennial pro bowlers and only 4 Qbs have been in the playoffs with two having played in a Super Bowl. With Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, and Daunte Culpepper all being selected number 11 its probably safer to stay away from this spot outside of a top pick in the draft if your team is hoping to find a good replacement for a veteran in a year or two. Its unlikely to find your QB of the next decade when drafting in this position.