The first round of the draft remains a total crapshoot

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Next Thursday, 31 players will be drafted by the NFL teams that have first-round draft picks. We’ll hear a lot about all of the great things the 31 players picked did in college, and a lot about all the great things they’ll do in the NFL.

And then, starting in September, roughly half of them will never do anything noteworthy in the NFL.

During Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, I asked Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff whether the success rate at picking quarterbacks at the top of the draft. Dimitroff offered a more general observation that underscores the uncertainty of the first round, at any position.

“That’s always an interesting discussion and we talk about it all the time,” Dimitroff said. “What’s funny is we talk about that with quarterbacks but then when we start looking at positions that we’re interested in. We can look at interior D-lineman over the years or [pass] rushers or whoever they may be, and we all want to come up with this stat that says, ‘Wow, this is an easy pick.’ It’s not an easy pick in the first round.”

It’s not easy because it remains, at best, a flip-of-the-coin proposition.

“According to our most recent statistics that we drew on the first round, it’s less than 60 percent of those players that are starting,” Dimitroff said. “I think it may have come in at 56 percent. So point being it’s not an exact science, we know that. There are so many other things that are involved in it. The first step is finding out whether that player has the adept skills on the field, of course. Many other areas that we’re looking into to make sure they’re fits in the organization. [Do] they have the mental capacity, they have the character capacity, and the team element that a team is looking for? Again, you’d better have a plan for the guys who are a little bit wayward in their approach. That’s alway been a big discussion point as well.”

Still, during the first round of the draft on Thursday night, it likely won’t be a discussion point that roughly one out of every two guys picked will never amount to anything in the NFL. It never is.

It’s not a surprise. The draft is about selling hope. And it’s hard to sell hope when reality gets in the way.

22 responses to “The first round of the draft remains a total crapshoot

  1. Yet teams still mortgage the future and several drafts to move up in order to draft a coin flip.

    Every GM who makes the decision to move up is one that has very little job security. They figure they won’t be around long enough anyway so may as well take the risk.

  2. I wonder if they have statistics about whether some teams are consistently better or worse and have these numbers by draft round. That would be an interesting case study. I suspect that teams that are consistent bottom feeders are also really good at always picking busts, especially in early rounds.

  3. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says:
    Apr 22, 2016 5:50 PM
    “And it’s hard to sell hope when reality gets in the way.”

    Not to worry, for the fans of the also ran teams in the league it seldom does. Otherwise we wouldn’t have fans of last place teams or franchises that have never once won it it all trolling perennial winners.

  4. I counter with this: There’s not always 32 great players in any draft. 32 starters sure, but not always 32 great players. Then throw in injuries. Let’s pretend injuries don’t count. Then discount the dumb teams who can’t pick good players because they are idiots. Then I bet the percentage of players drafted in first round that end up starting goes up. There are ways to legitimately grade 1st round talent in my opinion.

  5. All I know is that according to USA Today most draft BUSTS come out of FSU and UF. The fewest draft busts come out of Miami. So think about that before you pick a player.

  6. famundacheese says:
    Apr 22, 2016 5:45 PM

    I know who the Pats are taking in the first round.


    ….and I know who will be whining about cheating come next February when your team is eliminated.

  7. I feel like I woke up in bizarro world. Prince is no longer with us and the Browns made a really good pre-draft decision.

  8. Cheap QB with enormous potential, Chris Hackenberger. The kid has what it takes to make it in the NFL. Only needs a chance to prove it .

  9. I believe the much maligned Chip Kelly said this a while back. Good thing he didn’t just trade a boat load of picks for a Division 2 QB out there in San Fran. What would the Philly press be calling him for that hair brained idea?

  10. “Ted Thompson loves 1st round draft busts! As a big time packer stock holder chiming in I know!”
    Every GM in the NFL picks busts in the first round although TTs picks of Rodgers, Matthews,Lacy and Clinton Dix were home runs.TTs success comes after the first round where he has hit many home runs.

  11. Trade down for at least 3 picks in the first three rounds, draft three QBs, and Bob’s your uncle ! Maybe you’ll hit the jackpot with Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick (the early years) in the 2nd Round, Russell Wilson (Third Round), Matt Hasselbeck, Tom Brady (Sixth), or Tony Romo (Undrafted).

    Or you could stay up high or trade up and take Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, RG III, Cade McNown, Michael Vick, or Alex Smith (serviceable, but not worth an overall top pick).

    Considering the success/fail percentages running 50/50 and injury potential (RG3, Vick), it sure makes sense to draft MORE quarterbacks than to selectively target a “highly rated” QB.

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