AFC East: Lorenzo Booker
The Bills actually were the AFC East's most efficient club when it came to drafting starters since Modrak came aboard in 2002.
Several factors certainly play into that from team to team. Importance of the position, holes that allow for immediate contributions and reliance on free agents to fill out a roster all make a difference. So do the number of players drafted.
But, in general, I thought it was an interesting snapshot to share. Because the research was done to put Modrak's tenure in perspective, numbers are from 2002 through the present.
First through third rounds: 28 players; 804 starts (15th)
Fourth through seventh rounds: 45 players; 417 starts (eighth)
Analysis: Among AFC East teams, only the New England Patriots generated more starts within the first three rounds. No other division opponent found more starts from the fourth round and beyond. The Bills have whiffed badly on some early picks, as noted in Thursday's story about Modrak. But they have done well in locating solid help in the later rounds, namely 1,000-yard receiver Steve Johnson (seventh round), Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kyle Williams (fifth round) and top cornerback and Pro Bowl kick returner Terrence McGee (fourth round).
First through third rounds: 25 players; 599 starts (31st)
Fourth through seventh rounds: 43 players; 333 starts (16th)
Analysis: The Dolphins have done well with their recent first-round picks. Although receiver Ted Ginn with the ninth pick in 2007 was controversial, they found keepers with tackles Jake Long and Vernon Carey and running back Ronnie Brown. But the second and third rounds have been a wasteland: quarterbacks John Beck and Pat White, running back Lorenzo Booker, receivers Patrick Turner and Derek Hagan, linebacker Eddie Moore. Miami's best later-round pickups since 2002 have been franchise-tagged nose tackle Paul Soliai (fourth round), Pro Bowl safety Yeremiah Bell (sixth round) and tight end Randy McMichael (fourth round).
New England Patriots
First through third rounds: 31 players; 823 starts (12th)
Fourth through seventh rounds: 50 players; 379 starts (11th)
Analysis: The Patriots have found their share of gems in the later rounds, including four eventual Pro Bowlers. They picked up cornerback Asante Samuel and kicker Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round, center Dan Koppen in the fifth and quarterback Matt Cassel in the seventh. They've also done incredibly well with their first-round selections. Five of their past six first-rounders have gone to the Pro Bowl. Where the Patriots have been shaky is in the second and third rounds. They've gotten receiver Deion Branch, tight end Rob Gronkowski, tackle Sebastian Vollmer and safety Patrick Chung there, for instance, but they've also misfired with quarterback Kevin O'Connell, receivers Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson and cornerback Terrence Wheatley.
New York Jets
First through third rounds: 24 players; 766 starts (19th)
Fourth through seventh rounds: 32 players; 314 starts (18th)
Analysis: The Jets' start totals look worse because they haven't drafted as many players as the other AFC East teams. Their early round players average 32 starts, about 5 1/2 more than the Patriots. But the team that accumulated the most starts here -- the Jacksonville Jaguars with 1,172 -- averaged an extraordinary 43 per player. The Jets obviously failed with 2008 sixth overall pick Vernon Gholston and 2003 fourth overall pick Dewayne Robertson, but they've generally identified quality players inside the first three rounds, including All-Pros Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis and franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Just three years later, one keeper is a lousy return.
But consider how the rest of AFC East drafted in 2007.
Only six of 30 AFC East draftees from 2007 still are with the team that drafted them: two New York Jets, two Miami Dolphins, one New England Patriot and one Bill. (See chart below.)
The Patriots were the least efficient on nine picks, but they had only two selections inside the first four rounds. Their lone keeper was Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather in the first round.
The Dolphins made 10 selections in what was the final draft class for general manager Randy Mueller and the only one for rookie head coach Cam Cameron. They famously misfired on ninth overall pick Ted Ginn, who was traded for a fifth-round pick this offseason, and second-round quarterback John Beck. Still around are defensive tackle Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields.
The last man standing from Buffalo's seven-man 2007 draft class is second-round linebacker Paul Posluszny.
So that's a 20 percent retention rate for the AFC East on all draftees and a 40 percent rate for those selected in the top three rounds.
With help from ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins and the Elias Sports Bureau, I wanted to find out how those percentages compared leaguewide.
Poorly, it turns out.
Of the 225 players chosen in other divisions that year, 100 have remained with the teams that drafted them. That's 44.4 percent overall, more than twice the AFC East rate.
When narrowing the field to players taken within the first three rounds, 89 prospects were absorbed into other divisions, and 54 have stuck, a success rate of 60.7 percent.
A few notes turned up by the research:
- The Dolphins are the only team that has gotten rid of their top four picks.
- Twenty-six teams have parted ways with at least one of their picks from the first three rounds.
- Of the 19 teams that had at least one pick in each of the first three rounds, only the Pittsburgh Steelers retained all of them (Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Spaeth).
The Dolphins have given up on a decorated college quarterback the previous front office drafted with the 40th overall selection a mere 24 months ago. Beck was supposed to be the quarterback of the future.
Monday's move underscores what the Dolphins emphasized after they drafted West Virginia's Pat White: They consider him a quarterback who also will play some receiver, not a ballhandler who can throw a little.
But what stands out to me is how abysmal Miami's 2007 draft class turned out to be. Conventional wisdom states a draft class should be evaluated after three years. This one has been gutted after two years.
That was former general manager Randy Mueller's last year and the only draft head coach Cam Cameron participated in before Wayne Huizenga hired Bill Parcells to handle football operations. Parcells fired Mueller and Cameron.
Of the 10 players Miami drafted in 2007, only three remain on the roster: a receiver, a punter and a reserve defensive tackle.
- Ted Ginn, Ohio State receiver: Still on the roster ... A sometimes-flashy receiver and return man but has done little to prove the Dolphins didn't reach by taking him ninth overall.
- John Beck, Brigham Young quarterback: Released on Monday.
- Samson Satele, Hawaii center: Traded to Oakland Raiders in March for a sixth-round draft choice and flopped fourth-round picks.
- Lorenzo Booker, Florida State running back: Traded to Philadelphia Eagles at last year's draft for a fourth-round pick.
- Paul Soliai, Utah defensive tackle: Still on the roster ... Zero career starts ... Dolphins gave him two one-game suspensions for undisclosed reasons.
- Reagan Mauia, Hawaii fullback: Failed to make the team out of training camp last year.
- Drew Mormino, Central Michigan offensive lineman: Failed his physical and was waived in May 2008.