Sometimes you come across an article that changes your thinking. This type of knowledge leaves a permanent impression on your sensibilities. Chad Reuter, a senior analyst from NFLDraftScout.com wrote such an article entitled "Can you avoid a Bust?" In the article, Chad set forth a metric to measure draft success. Simply put, if a draft selection makes 56 starts in their first five years, they were a good pick. A perfect metric?, No. Maurice Jones Drew would not qualify since he didn't start games. Is it a useful metric? Yes. A useful metric points us in the right direction, and this does just that.
With that metric, he analyzed ten years of draft selection position and the football position to show odds of success. Here is what he found.
Draft picks 1 - 10 have a 70% chance of starting 56 games in 5 years. Left Tackles have a 92% chance of starting, the highest. Quarterbacks have a 57% chance of starting and running backs have a 45% of starting. In short, draft a QB or RB early, it is 50/50. Draft a left tackle, it is virtually assured.
Draft picks 11 - 20 have a 50% chance of starting 56 games in 5 years. Offensive guards or centers have an 80% chance of starting, the highest. QB have a 25% chance, WR have a 30% chance. Once again, at the top of the draft, offensive linemen are locks, QB's or WR's are risky.
Draft picks 21 - 50 have a 35% chance of starting 56 games in 5 years. Offensive linesmen and Linebackers have the greatest chance at 55% and 48% respectively. Running backs and defensive tackles have the lowest chance at 6% and 26% respectively.
Draft picks 51-80 have a 23% chance of starting. After pick number 80, the odds drop to less than 10%. In other words, starters come in from the top of round three and above. Developmental players come from the middle of round three and below.
What is the safest draft to get long term starters? At the top of round one take a left tackle, at the top of round two take a linebacker, and at the top of round three take a safety. If you need a QB, WR or RB, roll the dice and go early, but understand you may strike out. You may draft a Byron Leftwich, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams.
I think Gene knows the odds. I hear over and over, we can't afford to miss. If we drafted Andre Smith, Conner Barwin and Chip Vaughn, I would say we had a great draft, along with some jars on the shelf like Ramses Barden. It wouldn't be a needs draft, but it would be a strong draft and one that we had a strong chance to see these guys as regular starters.
You decide, is it better to roll the dice and come up a big winner or stay safe and leave known holes go unfilled in the draft?