Thursday, March 7, 2013
How NFC West rates in past three drafts
By Mike Sando
There's more than one way to build an NFL team, but most general managers would point to the draft as the most important component.
With that in mind, I've gone through the past three drafts for an initial look at impact.
Seattle ranks among the NFL leaders in games started by players drafted since 2010. The Seahawks are tied for the lead in most Pro Bowl players drafted over that period.
The first chart shows choices by round for NFC West teams since 2010.
Philadelphia (33), St. Louis (29), Seattle (28), New England (28) and Minnesota (28) have used the most total selections over the past three drafts. Chicago (16), New Orleans (17) and Jacksonvile (17) have used the fewest.
All choices are not valued the same, of course. Having choices doesn't mean using them wisely.
The second chart shows how many starts each NFC West team's last three draft classes have made. Seattle leads the way with 282, the third-highest total in the NFL behind Cleveland (328) and New England (291). The New York Giants (93) and Jets (99) are at the bottom.
Players heading to weaker teams have an easier time working their way into the lineup. That influences the number of starts without necessarily saying much about the quality of the players drafted. Better teams pick later in each round, another factor. But the Seahawks' willingness to play young players and their ability to find good ones in the draft accounts for their strong showings in these areas.
The totals in that second chart include starts made for other teams.
For example, Michael Hoomanawanui has made 17 starts since the Rams chose him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. That figure shows up in the chart. Note that Hoomanawanui made six of those starts for New England in 2012.
The third chart shows how many NFC West teams' draft choices since 2010 have earned Pro Bowl honors to this point. Seattle and Cincinnati lead the NFL with four apiece. San Francisco, Washington, Denver and Minnesota have three apiece.
The Rams are among 11 teams with zero. Cleveland, Jacksonville, Oakland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Green Bay, Miami and the Jets are the others.
Pro Bowl selections can be arbitrary. Some players are named to the game as replacements for reasons beyond their control, including injuries or when a player named to the game originally reaches the Super Bowl.
Still, going to the Pro Bowl by any means reflects well on a draft choice.
Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have represented Seattle in the Pro Bowl as draft choices since 2010. Mike Iupati, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith have represented San Francisco. Patrick Peterson and Daryl Washington have represented Arizona.