How do 1st round draft picks compare with 2nd, etc.?

How do I find out, without spending all day on the computer, the success rates of 1st round nfl draft picks over the years, with guys who were taken in the succeeding rounds? Or - what are the chances that a first round guy will be in the league, say, three years later? versus a guy who was picked in later rounds?

I subscribe to the pro-football-reference blog on my RSS feeds (like most - all? - RSS content, it’s free), and recently they’ve had a ton of good information about the NFL draft. The writer there does big statistical analyses of things like whether the NFL coaches’ Draft Value Chart is right or wrong.

For that matter, to specifically answer your question, you might want to look at the Draft Value Chart on its own. If you have a pair of players and you know when they were drafted, you should be able to look at the historical average value of players who were picked at that spot. It may or may not apply, though: an individual player can be much better or much worse than his slot would indicate.

Moving to The Game Room from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Got no cite, but I’ve heard announcers say (yes, I know) that more 2nd and 3rd round picks than 1st-rounders make All-Pro.

They’re cheaper, too.

Say, did this get moved because the moderator figured it will get more readers in The Game Room? I posted it here because I was asking for some straight factual information. Que pasa?

No idea on 2nd rounds and lower, but an ESPN writer did an analysis a couple years ago of the success rate by position of different first rounders (and it was probably quite generous with calling guys not busts, too).

In conclusion:

Magnusblitz, do you know how “bust” was defined?

I haven’t gone through it in detail, but it seems to be what you’re looking for

On each separate position page, it lists the general criteria they used, though they also looked at the “overall picture” (i.e., a Pro Bowl appearance can make up for a failure in another category). Here’s the list:

QB: 80 games started, positive TD:INT ratio
RB: 80 games played, 4.0 yard per carry average, at least one Pro Bowl
WR: 5 years in the league, 40 receptions a year
DE: 80 games played, 4 sacks a season
Everything else: 80 games played, at least one Pro Bowl

I would argue with certain players, though obviously I have the benefit of hindsight in some cases (the last year they did was 2003). Some more lenient, some less. DT is probably at a 50% bust rate by now, given how many recent first-round DTs have flamed out of the NFL.

Of course, the “80 games started” metric is bound to select for first rounders, since they’re pretty much guaranteed to win starting roles pretty quickly, while second-day picks are not.

Also, Joey Harrington has started 76 games and is only six touchdowns shy of having a positive TD:INT ratio, but is one of the poster children for busts at the position.

Now that I consider the running backs, it occurs to me that both Jerome Bettis and Reggie Bush would be considered busts using those criteria.

But a first-round bust isn’t going to make it to 80 games. Conversely, a second-day pick might not become a starter for a year or two, but can still make those 80 games if they turn out to be a quality player.

Joey Harrington is one Drew Brees concussion away from 80 games. I would be shocked if he doesn’t start four more games in his career.

Jerome Bettis played in 192 games, has a 3.9 YPC average and went to 6 Pro Bowls. He barely misses the 4.0 mark, but everything else would make up for it. They’re not absolute criteria by any means, plenty of wiggle room. Just a starting basis.

Reggie Bush has only been in the NFL for 3 seasons so the “80 games” rule wouldn’t apply to him. He’s also a bit different because he’s used so much as a receiver instead of a runner. His first three seasons meet the criteria for a non-bust as WR (40 receptions a year, he’s had 88/73/52) even without factoring in his rushing.

Curious… not much of a statistical analysis if you set hard metrics and then ignore them when they don’t fit your preconceptions.

I see what you mean now that I’m looking at the actual list of players, and there’s a big problem with it: he’s counting Pro Bowl or Super Bowl appearances, plus statistics, with any team, not just the team that drafted the player. This is kind of dumb, IMHO.

He’s got Trent Dilfer as a non-bust, which he certainly is if you go by his Tampa career alone, and arguably is even if you include the Super Bowl run with the Ravens.

He’s also got Rex Grossman as a success. :dubious:

It just occurred to me that there may be a factor we haven’t taken into account. Think about this: quarterbacks drafted in the first round are much more likely to succeed if they’re drafted by good teams- and good teams, on the whole, draft fewer quarterbacks in the first round.

In the period that Kluck covered ('89-'03), the Bengals drafted 4 quarterbacks in Round 1. The Redskins drafted 2, and the Lions and Bears each drafted 2. All four teams were pretty bad during that 15-year period.

Conversely, the Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots and Broncos, which are pretty consistently solid franchises, drafted three quarterbacks between them.

Maybe that’s the big difference: bad teams draft quarterbacks high, because they’re trying to hit a home run. Good teams don’t draft quarterbacks high, because they don’t need to hit a home run.

Ergo, the quarterback bust percentage becomes artificially inflated by the fact that they’re going to the Bengals, who would have drafted a bust at any position.

Matt Hassellbeck was a late round pick the same year that Ryan Leaf was the #2 overall pick.

Hassellbeck has said many times “If I’d been drafted in the # spot and given the starting job in San Diego, I’d have fallen on my face just like he did, and people would be calling me a bust.” Instead, Hassellbeck got to carry a clipboard for a while, and developed as a quarterback gradually. He wasn’t getting a huge paycheck, so nobody worried whether he was productive right away. Eventually, he became a Pro Bowler and took his team to the Super Bowl.

On the other hand, if you’re paying a rookie quarterback top dollar, you can’t afford to keep him around a very long time. Either he produces quickly, or you cut your losses and call him a bust.