Draft class snap counts in NFC North

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
8:00
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For the second Saturday morning, I want to pass along some raw data collected during research for the Inside Slant podcast . To illustrate how the Cleveland Browns have taken a long-term approach to rebuilding, partner Mike Sando collected the combined snap counts for all 32 teams' draft picks through six weeks this season.

The numbers are a bit skewed by the variance of total draft picks per team. It's also true that some teams have played five games and other six because of bye weeks. Still, it wasn't surprising to see that the Browns, at 1-5, have a higher total of snaps for their draft class than any NFL team.

You might be surprised to know, however, that before Thursday night's game in San Francisco, the team with the second-highest total snaps from draft picks was the Minnesota Vikings. (And that didn't include rookie place-kicker Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick). Left tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith were Week 1 starters, cornerback Josh Robinson is now in the nickel rotation, and tight end Rhett Ellison has played as a reserve in all six games.

The chart shows the gross totals for all four NFC North teams and their respective NFL rankings.

I guess there are several ways to interpret this data. Using draft picks from the start can be a compliment to the decisions made or an indictment of the preceding talent base. Generally speaking, however, I think the Vikings should feel good about starting 4-2 with rookies playing so many prominent roles.

The same goes for the Green Bay Packers, whose defense has benefited from all 983 snaps their draft class has played. The Chicago Bears' draft class, meanwhile, took a hit this month when receiver Alshon Jeffery fractured his hand. And the Detroit Lions took a well-chronicled long-term view with their first two draft picks, offensive lineman Riley Reiff and receiver Ryan Broyles. Reiff has played 34 snaps in the Lions' "jumbo" offensive set, while Broyles has 28 snaps (and one targeted pass) as their No. 4 receiver.

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