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NFL Rookie Roster Survival Rates in the NFC East

Cowboys kicker David Buehler is a late round pick that has already made quite an impression.
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
Cowboys Eagles Giants Redskins
No. of picks 19 21 16 13
Average round
4.8 4.6 3.8 4.9

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
Cowboys Eagles Giants Redskins
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.

Year Round Player Status
2010 1 Dez Bryant 53-roster
2010 2 Sean Lee 53-roster
2010 4 AOA 53-roster
2010 6 Sam Young 53-roster
2010 6 Jamar Wall Texans
2010 7 Sean Lissemore 53-roster
2010 7 Josh Brent* 53-roster
2009 3 Jason Williams 53-roster
2009 3 Robert Brewster 53-roster
2009 4 Stephen McGee
2009 4 Victor Butler 53-roster
2009 4 Brandon Williams 53-roster
2009 5 DeAngelo Smith Free Agent
2009 5 Mike Hamlin 53-roster
2009 5 David Buehler 53-roster
2009 6 Stephen Hodge 53-roster
2009 6 John Phillips IR
2009 7 Mike Mickens Out of NFL
2009 7 Manuel Johnson Practice Squad




Year Round Player Status
2010 1 Brandon Graham 53-roster
2010 2 Nate Allen 53-roster
2010 3 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 53-roster
2010 4 Trevard Lindley 53-roster
2010 4 Keenan Clayton 53-roster
2010 4 Mike Kafka 53-roster
2010 4 Clay Harbor 53-roster
2010 5 Ricky Sapp IR
2010 5 Riley Cooper 53-roster
2010 6 Charles Scott
Giants PS
2010 7 Jamar Chaney 53-roster
2010 7 Jeff Owens Practice Squad
2010 7 Kurt Coleman 53-roster
2009 1 Jeremy Maclin 53-roster
2009 2 LeSean McCoy 53-roster
2009 5 Cornelius Ingram Free Agent
2009 5 Victor Harris Free Agent
2009 5 Fenuki Tupou Free Agent
2009 6 Brandon Gibson Rams (traded**)
2009 7 Paul Fanaika Free Agent
2009 7 Moise Fokou 53-roster
Year Round Player Status
2010 1 Jason Pierre-Paul 53-roster
2010 2 Linval Joseph 53-roster
2010 3 Chad Jones IR
2010 4 Phillip Dillard 53-roster
2010 5 Mitch Petrus 53-roster
2010 6 Adrian Tracy IR
2010 7 Matt Dodge 53-roster
2009 1 Hakeem Nicks 53-roster
2009 2 Clint Sintim 53-roster
2009 2 William Beatty
2009 3 Ramses Barden 53-roster
2009 3 Travis Beckum 53-roster
2009 4 Andre Brown Broncos
2009 5 Rhett Bomar Practice Squad
2009 6 DeAndre Wright Free Agent
2009 7 Stoney Woodson Free Agent
Year Round Player Status
2010 1 Trent Williams 53-roster
2010 4 Perry Riley 53-roster
2010 6 Dennis Morris Practice Squad
2010 7 Terrence Austin Practice Squad
2010 7 Erik Cook Practice Squad
2010 7 Selvish Capers 53-roster
2009 1 Brian Orakpo
2009 3 Kevin Barnes 53-roster
2009 3 Jeremy Jarmon* 53-roster
2009 5 Cody Glenn
2009 6 Robert Henson Free Agent
2009 7 Eddie Williams Free Agent
2009 7 Marko Mitchell Free Agent


* supplemental draft picks, ** Traded for LB Witherspoon - counted as a 53-roster player

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