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***
Corners have been selected more than anyone else in this portion of the NFL draft, 45% of which are becoming consistent enough NFL players. The reward is definitely not there as nobody has yet to develop into a perennial pro bowler and only 23% are proving to be good NFL players, better than only two other positions. If the goal is to find the dominant corner that is going to change games the odds are against a team finding it in this portion of the draft. About 35% of those drafted are finding their way into the playoffs and a much smaller portion would be considered big pieces of those teams. The one saving grace is that corners are often athletic enough to contribute as backups and on special teams if they donít work out as a starter.
The safety valve of the top 10 Offensive Tackle pretty much vanishes outside the top 10. Only 2 out of 18 players have proven to be good players at their position, close to the bottom for the first round and a far cry from the 45% proving to be good tackles when selected in the top 10. 50% of the players are proving to have little or no merit as a tackle in the NFL while less than 40% are helping put their teams into the playoffs. Itís been much more likely to find a flop than a good player. Players are able to last for a long time playing this position and if they can be shifted elsewhere on the line they may remain in the NFL for longer than 7 years just based on potential, but the safer selection are later in the draft that this.
The riskiest position remains the wide receiver position, even though it remains one of the most popular picks accounting for over 12% of these selections outside the top 10. Itís been rare to find good players here in the draft. Only 2 players between 97 and 06 have turned into perennial pro bowlers- Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne- and most are proving to be little more than ok starters battling injuries and statistically down years. 64% have busted and in most cases a bust at this position means out of the NFL within 2 or 3 years. Realistically the best scenario a team can hope for is to find a number 2 or 3 WR in this draft spot, with a short shelf life. Most decent players are leaving the team after 4 seasons trying to find a new home where they can move up the depth chart, a move that typically doesnít work.
The draft strategy for a team here would look to be pretty straightforward. If you need an interior lineman odds are you wont go wrong with the selection and will add a valuable piece to the puzzle for years to come. If you donít need the help on the line you should be able to find an outstanding linebacker every year that will help solidify the defense. What if you need a playmaker of some sort? Offensively its proving to better to take the chance on the highly touted tight end than wide receiver or running back. While the TE may not turn into option number 1 he probably stands a good chance of being target number 2 which can open things up for your other players on offense. If you need the defensive playmaker look no further than the safety position where stars are being found. If you want to take a risk on one of the other spots the defensive end is the one place to take a chance. All of the other positions have better value elsewhere unless the need of the team at that position drastically outweighs the potential for a player at any of the other positions and the team is good enough to deal with a wasted first round draft selection.