Cowboys kicker David Buehler is a late round pick that has already made quite an impression.
In most cases, being taken in the early rounds of the NFL draft is a pretty good indicator that you'll make a team's 53-man roster. It gets a little trickier in later rounds as the talent begins to thin out.
But there are teams like the Cowboys who have had success in drafting in the later rounds (All Pro Jay Ratliff was a 7th-round pick in 2005) as well as with undrafted free agent pickups like Tony Romo and Miles Austin. How well a team's late round draft picks fare in the NFL is one indicator of how good the front office is at evaluating talent.
The Cowboys have drafted 19 players in the last two years. 16 are still with the Cowboys. After the break we look at how this compares to other NFC East teams.
Where are they now?
16 of the Cowboys 19 drafted rookies are still with the team, with John Phillips on IR and Manny Johnson on the practice squad. Three players are not with the team anymore:
2010 6th-rounder Jamar Wall was snapped up off waivers by the Texans. 2009 5th-rounder DeAngelo Smith, after stints with the Lions, Bengals and Browns, was waived on Saturday. 2009 7th-rounder Mike Mickens is now making his living with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.
Rookie survival rates in the NFC East
Comparing draft classes between teams is never easy, and there's bound to be tons of people crying 'foul' at any type of comparison. And yes, it usually takes three years, sometime even more, to judge a rookie class, but that's not what I'll do here. But before getting into the details, a couple of figures up front.
|NFC East 2009 & 2010 draft picks|
|No. of picks||19||21||16||13|
The Eagles had the most picks of all teams in the last two years. The Cowboys and Redskins had the lowest average draft picks of the four teams, while the Giants appear to have favored fewer but earlier picks. So does any one approach impact the rookie survival rate, and how are we going to measure it?
The success criteria I've chosen are fairly simple: Did the drafted rookies make the team? My assumption going in is that you do not draft for the practice squad. So I'll count all the rookies as a draft success that were drafted in 2009 and 2010 and made the 53-man roster this weekend. I'll include the rookies on IR in that figure, but not the players on the practice squad.
I'll also include another measure of success: Are the rookies still in the employ of an NFL team? The fact that you were not able to get a player onto your 53-man roster is not necessarily and indictment of your scouting ability, it might just be that your roster is already loaded with talent.
Without much further ado, here are the numbers:
|NFC East 2009 & 2010 draft pick survival rate
|No. of picks||19||21||16||13|
|On 53-man roster
||79%(15)||67% (14)||75% (12)||38% (5)|
|Employed by an NFL team
||89% (17)||81% (17)||88% (14)||69% (9)|
Despite a 2009 draft that was widely billed as a special teams draft of quantity over quality, the Cowboys have the highest retention rate of drafted rookies on their 53-man roster. Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants, although drafting nearly one full round higher on average, have not turned those picks into a roster advantage.
The Redskins this year had only two of their six draft picks make the 53-man roster. The four cuts were all 6th and 7th round picks, but still: Where the Redskins are 0-for-4, the Cowboys are 3-for-4 on 6th and 7th rounders, the Eagles are 2-for-4 and the Giants 2-for-2 if you count Adrian Tracy (on IR) as part of the 53-man roster.
There may still be roster cuts and -changes ahead for every team, but for now it looks like the Cowboys have a slight quantitative advantage over the Eagles and Giants. What the Redskins are doing is anybody's guess.
Below are the full rookie classes for each team. Let me know if I've made a mistake somewhere, or if the status of a player has changed since I wrote this.
|* supplemental draft picks, ** Traded for LB Witherspoon - counted as a 53-roster player