The first round of the draft remains a total crapshoot
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.