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Thursday, February 9, 2012
First rounds first: Cruising toward Canton

By Mike Sando

Andy from Des Moines, Iowa asks whether Pro Football Hall of Famers were disproportionately early draft choices.


Mike Sando: Yes, that is definitely the case. The Hall of Fame lists them by round. I also track this information. By my count, 143 of 188 drafted Hall of Famers were chosen in the first three rounds. That is 76.1 percent. That includes 94 first-round selections, 29 second-rounders and 20 third-rounders.

No players drafted after 1995 have been enshrined to this point.

Curtis Martin, named as part of the 2012 class, was a third-round choice in 1995. The previous six drafts have produced eight Hall of Famers, and all eight were first-round choices: Marshall Faulk, Willie Roaf, Cortez Kennedy, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.

Later-round picks fared better long ago, when the draft had many more rounds. The NFL went from 17 to 12 rounds in 1977, then to eight in 1993 and seven the following year.

The chart below shows round-by-round distribution for drafted Hall of Famers since the 1983 class produced six Hall of Famers in the first round, the most for any first round.

Players drafted in first rounds tend to have more talent. They also tend to get every opportunity to succeed. The combination of those factors explains why more of them have found their way to Canton, in my view.