The loss of star power led me to wonder about what our teams have left in terms of high-ranking draft picks, and how they compare to one another and the rest of the league.
John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information looked at the average draft slot of the top 10 highest-drafted players -- how ever deep that goes beyond the first round -- still on each team.
Obviously, where a team drafts is based on how it finishes. Certainly higher draft picks hardly guarantee successful choices. But if you’ve got higher picks, you’ve got a better chance of hitting.
As the chart at right shows, all four AFC South teams fall below the league average of 35.1: The Texans are at 35.4, the Jaguars 38.1, the Titans 39.3 and the Colts 46.8.
The Texans and Colts clearly suffer from losing Williams and Manning. The Jaguars have only four home-grown first-rounders on their team after a bunch of busts. The Titans' number inflates because Adam Jones and Vince Young didn’t stick around. The Colts have been consistently good, so they’ve consistently drafted late. Their averages are about to rise.
As the chart below shows, the top 10 highest-drafted players still in the AFC South average a draft spot of 11.1. The only division whose top 10 remaining home-grown draft picks were selected at a worse average position is the NFC East (13.9).
It's interesting that first-rounders remaining were drafted, on average, inside the top 12.
Last year, when Bill Polian was still running the Colts, he said he expected a higher hit rate when picking before and after 12th through a draft.
“I think you have to divide it into top 12 and bottom 20," he said. "If you’re in the top 12, it ought to be in the .640 range. That’s about 4.5 guys on average per year out of the seven. You measure that at the end of three years and what you are measuring is whether or not those guys become winning players, guys that contribute to wins. Bottom 20 is .571, that’s four out of seven."
Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Info limited his search to the average draft position of first-rounders remaining with the team that drafted them (chart at right). This seems less telling to me as you eliminate first-rounders who busted, and first-rounders who have left.
Buffalo’s the high at 7.7, the Giants are the low at 25.2.
Jacksonville comes in at 14.0, Houston at 15.0, Tennessee at 19.4 and Indianapolis at 24.2.
Here are the top draft guys in the division now, pending the Colts' pick at No. 1, and the Jaguars' pick at No. 7.
Texans receiver Andre Johnson, third overall
Titans quarterback Jake Locker, eighth
Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe, eighth
Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, 10th
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, 10th
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, 11th
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, 11th
Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing, 15th
Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan, 16th
Titans safety Michael Griffin, 19th