FanPost

NFL teams consistenly fail to indetify first round defensive line talent

For the last few weeks, Khaled Elsayed at Pro Football Focus has been steadily grading all draft picks from the 2008-2010 NFL seasons. I was interested in how well NFL teams have managed to judge first round talent during this time. Therefore, I looked at how Elsayed had judged all the first round picks during this time. Elsayed basically used the following criteria.

+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round (not going to be any of these with first round picks)

+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!

+1.0: The scouts nailed it!

+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor

0.0: It could have been worse

-0.5: That pick was not put to good use

-1.0: What a waste!

-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!

-2.0: You just drafted the love child of Jamarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!

Whilst you might disagree with Elsayed with certain players, in most cases he is roughly accurate. I sorted players by position, both on the field and in the draft. The idea was too look for any significant trends that might indicate whether NFL teams know what they are doing when they draft first round talent. Here is the list, with my opinions on the trends afterwards.

QB:

Matthew Stafford (1, 09) - +1.0

Sam Bradford (1, 10) – 0.0

Matt Ryan (3, 08) - +1.5

Mark Sanchez (5, 09) - 1.0

Josh Freeman (17, 09) – 0.0

Joe Flacco (18, 08) - +1.0

Tim Tebow (25, 10) - +0.5

RB:

Darren McFadden (4, 08) – 0.0

CJ Spiller (9, 10) - +0.5

Knowshon Moreno (12, 09) - 0.5

Ryan Matthews (12, 10) - +0.5

Jonathan Stewart (13, 08) - +0.5

Gosder Cherilus (17, 08) - 0.5

Felix Jones (22, 08) 0.0

Rashard Mendenhall (23, 08) - +0.5

Chris Johnson (24, 08) - +1.0

Donald Brown (27, 09) - 0.5

Jahvid Best (30, 10) – 0.0

Chris Wells (31, 09) – 0.0

WR:

Darrius Heyward-Bey (7, 09) - 0.5

Michael Crabtree (10, 09) – 0.0

Jeremy Maclin (19, 09) - +0.5

Percy Harvin (22, 09) - +1.0

Demaryius Thomas (22, 10) - +0.5

Dez Bryant (24, 10) - +1.0

Hakeem Nicks (29, 09) - +1.5

Kenny Britt (30, 09) - +0.5

TE:

Jermaine Gresham (21, 10) – 0.0

Brandon Pettigrew (20, 09) – 0.0

Dustin Keller (30, 08) - - 0.5

C:

Maurkice Pouncey (18, 10) – 0.0

Alex Mack (21, 09) - +1.0

Eric Wood (28, 09) - +0.5

G:

Mike Iupati (17, 10) - +1.0

OT:

Jake Long (1, 08) - +1.0

Jason Smith (2, 09) - 1.5

Trent Williams (4, 10) - +1.0

Andre Smith (6, 09) - 0.5

Russel Okung (6, 10) – 0.0

Eugene Monroe (8, 09) - +0.5

Anthony Davis (11, 10) - – 1.0

Ryan Clady (12, 08) - +1.0

Chris Williams (14, 08) - - 1.5

Brandon Albert (15, 08) - +0.5

Gosder Cherilus (17, 08) - 0.5

Jeff Otah (19, 08)0.0

Sam Baker (21, 08) - 1.0

Michael Oher (22, 09) - 0.5

Bryan Bulaga (23, 10) - +1.0

Duane Brown (26, 08) - +1.0

DT:

Ndamukong Suh (2, 10) - +1.0

Gerald McCoy (3, 10) - +0.5

BJ Raji (9, 09) – 0.0

Tyson Alualu (10, 10) – 0.0

Sedrick Ellis (7, 08) - 0.5

Peria Jerry (24, 09) - 0.5

Dan Williams (26, 10) – 0.0

Jared Odrick (28, 10) – 0.0

Kentwan Balmer (29, 08) - 1.5

Evander Hood (32, 09) - 1.0

DE:

Chris Long (2, 08) - +1.0

Tyson Jackson (3, 10) - 0.5

Glen Dorsey (5, 08) - 0.5

Derrick Harvey (8, 08) - 1.5

Vernon Gholston (6, 08) - 2.0

Aaron Maybin (11, 09) - 2.0

Bryan Orapko (13, 09) - +1.0

Brandon Graham (13, 10) – 0.0

Jason Pierre-Paul (15, 10) - +1.5

Larry English (16, 09) - 1.0

Derrick Morgan (16, 10) – 0.0

Robert Ayers (18, 09) – 0.0

Lawrence Jackson (28, 08) - 1.0

Jerry Hughes (31, 10) - 1.5

LB:

Aaron Curry (4, 09) - 1.0

Rolando McClain (8, 10) - +0.5

Keith Rivers (9, 08) - 0.5

Jerod Mayo (10, 08) - +0.5

Bryan Cushing (15, 09) - +1.0

Sean Weatherspoon (19, 10) - +1.0

Clay Matthews (26, 09) - +1.5

CB:

Joe Haden (7, 10) - +1.5

Leodis McKelvin (11, 08) - 0.5

Malcolm Jenkins (14, 09) - 0.5

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (16, 08) - 1.0

Aqib Talib (20, 08) - +0.5

Kareem Jackson (20, 10) - 0.5

Mike Jenkins (25, 08) - +0.5

Vontae Davis (26, 09) - +0.5

Antoine Cason (27, 08) - +0.5

Devin McCourty (27, 10) - +0.5

Kyle Wilson (29, 10) - 0.5

Patrick Robinson (32, 10) - +0.5

S:

Eric Berry (5, 10) - +0.5

Earl Thomas (14, 10) - +1.0

Kenny Phillips (31, 10) - +1.0

So, accepted wisdom is that the Cowboys will draft DeCastro, or otherwise they will pick someone up on the defensive side. OK, the thing that absolutely jumps out at me is how stupendously bad teams are at drafting first round talent across the defensive line. If you ignore top three picks, then out of 20 first round picks, only two players are given a positive grade. Teams are slightly more reliable at linebacker and cornerback, but the likelihood of drafting a star is pretty small. Very little evidence to consider regarding Guards and Safeties, but it seems when they are drafted in the first round they are usually pretty successful. Based on the above, I think I would feel a lot better drafting DeCastro or Barron than any of the other defensive options.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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