What does the average draft follower expect from his/her favorite team’s 2nd round draft pick? For most fans, 2nd round picks represent long-term starters and franchise cornerstones. The building blocks of a successful team. After all, they are the 33rd-64th best college players available. You’d think you’d get a guy who could be a high level contributor for years to come. Or even just a guy who can contribute for a reasonable period of time. However, that’s not usually the case.
Most 2nd rounders these days sign 4 year contracts. Therefore, a 2007 draftee would have been signed for the 2007-2010 seasons and eligible for free agency last summer. A look back at the 2007 2nd round gives some much needed (this time of year, especially) perspective on 2nd rounders. Take a look at how the 2007 class looked in their first year after their rookie contracts expired:
1. Of the 32 draftees, only 7 were on their original drafting team’s roster: Eric Weddle (37th, San Diego), Justin Blalock (39th, Atlanta), Drew Stanton (43rd, Detroit), Lamarr Woodley (46th, Pittsburgh), David Harris (47th, New York Jets), Victor Abiamiri (Philadelphia, 57th) and Ryan Kalil (59th, Carolina). Those 7 accounted for 73 games started in 2011. Neither Stanton (backup QB) nor Abiamiri (on Injured Reserve) got into a regular season game. So only 5 guys were still contributing to their original team
2. 5 of the 2nd rounders failed to make a roster in 2011: Arron Sears (35th, Tampa Bay), Dwayne Jarrett (45th, Carolina) Kenny Irons (49th, Cincinnati), Chris J. Henry (Tennessee, 50th), Dan Bazuin (62nd, Chicago). Neither Irons not Bazuin ever played a regular season game in the NFL
3. 15 of the 2007 2nd rounders started more than 8 games in 2011. 12 started 0 games. 5 others started between 1-3 games. Only Paul Posluszny (34th, Buffalo), Blalock, Harris, Eric Wright (53rd, Cleveland), Josh Wilson (55th, Seattle) and Kalil started all 16 games for his team last year.
4. Only 1, Weddle, has been named to an All Pro team. Only Kalil has been named to multiple Pro Bowl teams (3). 5 other players have made the Pro Bowl once: Weddle, Zach Miller (38th, Oakland), Sidney Rice (44th, Minnesota), Woodley and Steve Smith (51st, New York Giants).
It’s safe to say that if you are expecting your team to come up with a long term starter or an impact player in the 2nd round you are setting your expectations too high. While every draft class is different (and 2007 was a weak crop), the results are pretty similar most years: 2nd round picks do not produce long-term starters and high-end players. There are plenty of quality players who are 2nd round picks – Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice and Rob Gronkowski immediately come to mind. But there are also tons of 2nd rounders you quickly forget if they were not your team’s selection. Guys like James Hardy (2008), Cody Brown (2009), Joe Klopfenstein (2006).
In the 2 months between now and the draft, many hours on TV/radio and thousands of words on the internet will be spent discussing the fringe 1st round players and the “solid crop of guys” in the 2nd round. Just remember: in 5 years, you probably won’t remember that a third of these guys were drafted as highly as they were – despite being “borderline 1st rounders” and “high floor” prospects. Guys who would at least “be great special teamers” or “contribute on 3rd down”.
Yesterday, I posted my final Offensice Efficiency (O-SCORE) rankings for 1970-2010 (you can find them here: 1970-2010 Rankings). Here are the 2011 scores, along with their all-time rank:
|1||3||Green Bay Packers||52.46|
|2||18||New Orleans Saints||39.56|
|3||38||New England Patriots||33.02|
|8||354||San Francisco 49ers||9.07|
|9||385||New York Giants||7.69|
|18||582||San Diego Chargers||0.52|
|22||814||New York Jets||-7.70|
|26||1042||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-17.60|
|31||1193||Kansas City Chiefs||-33.77|
|32||1209||St. Louis Rams||-37.79|
Through 11 weeks, the Packers have the 3rd most efficient offense since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger. They still trail the 2007 Patriots significantly in most variables, so I doubt they will get to #1. It’s possible that they overtake the 1984 Dolphins (52.64) though, given Green Bay’s fairly soft schedule the last 5 weeks.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 2011 Rams have the 13th worst offense since 1970. It’s possible (especially if A.J. Feeley gets more starts) that they drop into the bottom 10 but even a total collapse probably wouldn’t get them in the bottom 3. St. Louis’ 2009 offense was 5th worst since 1970. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976, 1977) are the only other team to have two appearances in the bottom 20 within 5 years of each other. The 1977 and 1985 Buffalo Bills and 1972 and 1998 Eagles are the other repeat offenders.
The big surprise for me here is the Minnesota Vikings being a little better than the Steelers. This is mostly due to turnover % (the Steelers have had 5% more offensive drives end in a turnover than Minnesota) and Yards Per Point (the Steelers are 23rd best, the Vikings are 16th).
(Originally posted by me at Mocking The Draft)
The 2012 NFL Draft looks to be absolutely loaded with quality receiving prospects. Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd, Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles, Jeff Fuller and Juron Criner are all 1st round possibilities at this point and a few other guys should earn Day One consideration by the time April rolls around. While it’s unlikely that all the top underclassmen will declare, there should be enough to make 2012 one of the deepest WR groups in history. With that in mind, it’s useful to look back at the last 10 years of 1st round WR’s to get an idea of what to expect from the Class of 2012.
Earlier this week, we looked at the 1st round WR’s drafted in the first half of last decade (2000-2004). Those five years produced 24 WR’s, most of whom have been disappointments to some degree. The five years which followed have resulted in (thus far) a stronger crop of players, including producing two of the top five receivers in the league (Calvin Johnson and Roddy White).
The big difference we see between the first half of the decade group and the second group is that the later receivers (2005-09) have been more productive in terms of both receptions per game as well as yards per game. The first group (2000-04) only included 4 WR’s (out of 24) who have averaged 4+ catches per year: Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss. The second half of the decade has produced 6 such receivers (out of 19):
Even some of the guys at the bottom of the list have shown some signs of life. Meachem has turned into a 40-50 catch per year guy opposite Marques Colston in New Orleans. Mike Williams had a brief revival last year after being an epic flop for his first 3 seasons in the league and drifting out of the league for two years. He’s off to a slow and injury-hampered start to this season, so it remains to be seen whether or not he can capitalize on his fresh start with the Seahawks. Ted Ginn Jr.’s not utilized much as a receiver by the 49ers, but is a useful (and sometimes spectacular) return man. Heyward-Bey has shown flashes (albeit against poor pass defenses) and could be on the road to shedding his “bust” label. Anthony Gonzalez has been riddled with injuries (6 total games played since opening day 2009) and is in danger of washing out of the league. Williamson, Jones and Davis are out of the league.
Another, perhaps better, way to measure the impact of a receiver is by looking at the percentage of his team’s total pass offense that he accounts for. In that regard, Roddy White (aided by good health and a lack of other targets in Atlanta) has put up the most impressive numbers. In 2008, he accounted for over a third of the Falcons‘ total catches (the 21st best season since 1980) and 40% (19th best since 1980) of their yards. He’s also hauled in 24%+ of Atlanta’s passes in each of the last 4 seasons. Here are the 25 best performances thus far for the 2005-2009 1st round WR group:
Here are how the WR classes of the 2000’s stack up against each other:
One thing that is apparent from looking at these classes next to each other is that the 2009 1st round class could be historically good if Kenny Britt can rebound from his knee injury next year (and stay out of trouble) and Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to progress.
All that said, the 1st round is only a piece of the puzzle. Which year in the decade produced the best overall WR group from the 1st selection all the way through the 256th pick? Next week I’ll take a look at the best and worst of the non-1st round receivers of the 2000’s.