In normal years, our attention at this time of year would be slowly turning to discussions about who may be on the roster bubble, which UDFAs could make the team and similar discussions. This year, not so much.
Which gives us a great opportunity to lay the theoretical groundwork for when those discussions will actually happen. So today, we're going to look rookie survival rates in the NFC East.
A first, high-level glance at the Cowboys rookies remaining on the roster from the 2009 and 2010 drafts seems to confirm some truths that every fan of an NFC East team holds to self-evident: the Cowboys drafted poorly the last two years. Indeed, the Cowboys drafted 19 players in the last two years, only 13 of which are still with the Cowboys.
After the break we look at how this compares to other NFC East teams.
Where are they now?
13 of the 19 players the Cowboys drafted in '09 and '10 are still with the team. Four have found a home with other NFL teams, two are out of the NFL altogether:
2010 6th-rounder Jamar Wall is on the Eagles reserve/future squad. 2009 3rd-rounder Jason Williams now plays for the Panthers, 2009 5th-rounder DeAngelo Smith, after stints with the Browns, Bears, and Lions is now back on the reserve/future squad of the Browns and fellow 5th rounder Michael Hamlin find himself on the Jaguars reserve/future squad.
2009 7th-rounder Mike Mickens is now making his living with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL and 2009 6th-rounder Stephen Hodge is out of football entirely, having been waived injured after two successive micro-fracture surgeries on his knees.
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 NFC East 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.
But instead of getting into a "Dez Bryant is better than Brandon Graham" type argument, we'll make the survival rates a purely quantitative argument. We'll look at how many rookies are still on the 53-man roster, how many on IR and how many are parked on the reserve/future squad or practice squad as it'll be called later in the season. And we'll look at those rookies not with their original team anymore, whether they're still in the NFL or out of the NFL.
Without much further ado, here are the numbers:
|NFC East 2009 & 2010 draft pick survival rate
|No. of picks||19||21||16||13||69|
|On 53-man roster
||47% (9)||52% (11)||50% (8)||46% (6)||49%|
||16% (3)||14% (3)||25% (4)||- -||14%|
||5% (1)||14% (3)||- -||15% (2)||9%|
|With another NFL team
||21% (4)||19% (4)||13% (2)||23% (3)||19%|
|Out of NFL
||11% (2)||- -||13% (2)||15% (2)||9%|
On thing that immediately stands out here is that only half of the '09 and '10 rookie class players are still on the NFC East active rosters, and the percentage is remarkably similar across all four teams. Granted, players on IR should probably be included on that list, but it is what it is.
On the other hand, as a rule, I don't think you draft players to sit on the practice squad, especially after a full year with the team, and in some cases even two. So technically, players still on the practice squad must be viewed as a failure. Just like the 20% of players who are now with other teams, although that strikes me as a surprisingly high figure.
Also surprising for me is just how close the Cowboys are in all categories to the NFC East average, only off by a couple of percentage points. So despite a 2009 draft that is being widely billed as a disaster of quantity over quality, at least in terms of retention rate, the Cowboys are right there at the same level as the NFC average. Obviously, average is not what we aspire to in Dallas, but at least to me, those numbers were quite surprising.
Once the lockout ends, there will be a lot of roster movements and cuts that will quickly make these numbers obsolete, and perhaps we'll revisit this data set once the rosters are set at the beginning of the season. For now, you'll find the full rookie classes for each team below. 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