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Wade Geraci
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A Layman's NFL Draft Study

04/24/2014 5:58pm
Replayed from 2014 NFL Draft
Wade Geraci

Tom and I looked at the NFL production of every player drafted from 1994-2003. We chose these dates because 1994 was the year the draft went to 7 rounds and too many players drafted after 2003 are still active. Don't worry, we employed very basic math and instead focused on what kind of career you can expect based on where a player is drafted. Here are some nuggets from our spreadsheets:

The cream is at the top

Despite a recent study which boasts that second round picks have more "value", first round draft picks have by far the most NFL success. First rounders accumulate 38.5 more starts than second round selections during their careers. There's an even greater disparity between early and late first rounders, as top-10 picks start about 50 more games in their career and make at least one Pro Bowl. 

First round QBs are not franchise QBs

Peyton Manning, the first overall pick the 1998 NFL Draft, is the most accomplished player (starts, awards, stats) in our study, but he is not representative of first round quarterbacks. The most likely (median) scenario for a first round quarterback from our sample was 76 starts, 14,452 passing yards, 65 TDs and 67 INTs or, roughly, David Carr.

The NFL Draft is won in the trenches

Offensive lineman and tight ends are the safest first round picks. Both positions produce 100+ NFL starts and top-10 offensive lineman make 3 Pro Bowls and 1 first-team All-Pro (more than any other position).

Casual draft fan? No need to watch after round 2

There are only 60-70 starters per draft and the difference between second and third rounders is 38 career starts. Mid-to-late third round picks only make about a dozen starts during their NFL careers. 

Trade down in the mid-third round

Believe it or not, the production of picks 75 (mid-third) through 119 (mid-fourth) is nearly identical! Expect all of these players to play in 55 games over five seasons and make 12-13 starts. 

Tom Brady is awesome

A late sixth-rounder is expected to appear in 16 games over 2 seasons without making a start yet Brady has started 191 games, been to 9 Pro Bowls, won 2 MVPs and 3 Super Bowls. He is easily the best pick relative to draft slot and it's not even close.


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