The Green Bay Packers hold the 23rd selection in the 2010 NFL Draft and while there are hundreds if not thousands of mock drafts predicting the Packers will select this player or that player, we’re going to completely ignore those and look at the 23rd selection from a different angle.
We’re much more interested in the potential success of the Packers’ first-round draft choice than speculating who that might be, right now. After all, the choice will go a long way towards determining how successful the Packers will be this season, particularly with the gaping holes at cornerback and on the offensive line.
First, let’s look at the Packers history.
The Packers have selected between 21 and 25 six times in the last 40 years.
Those players, position, year selected and draft position are as follows.
Mark Koncar, tackle (1970) No. 23
Barry Smith, wide receiver (1973) No. 21
Ron Hallstrom, guard (1982) No. 22
Antuan Edwards, cornerback (1999) No. 25
Ahmad Carroll, cornerback (2004) No. 25
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback (2005) No. 24
Of the players the Packers selected between 21 and 25, two can be termed hits. Hallstrom played in 174 games in 12 NFL seasons, 11 of which were with the Packers. He was a full-time starter eight of those years. Rodgers is, well, Aaron Rodgers.
Three of the selections can be termed busts. Smith caught only 41 passes for 604 yards in his three-year Packers’ career. Edwards lasted eight NFL seasons, five of which were with the Packers, where he started only 18 games. Carroll was a two-year starter in Green Bay known for giving up the deep ball and committing penalties. He was cut four games into his third season.
Koncar is somewhere in the middle. He played five seasons in Green Bay and started for three of them. While that isn’t terrible, it certainly doesn’t qualify Koncar as a hit.
Overall, the Packers’ history suggests they have a 33 percent chance of landing a long-term starter with the 23rd pick. The Packers have chosen one Pro Bowler between picks 21 and 25 – Aaron Rodgers – which suggests they have a 16% chance to land a Pro Bowler with the 23rd pick.
Now, let’s look at recent history for the 23rd pick.
Here are the players selected at No. 23, position, year selected and team over the past five years.
Michael Oher, tackle (2009) Baltimore
Rashard Mendenhall, running back (2008) Pittsburgh
Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver (2007) Kansas City
Davin Joseph, guard (2006) Tampa Bay
Fabian Washington, cornerback (2005) Oakland
All five players are full-time starters, but that doesn’t mean they were all great draft picks. Oakland gave up on Washington after three seasons. He now starts in Baltimore, but he isn’t what would be considered a top-flight cornerback – he has only six interceptions in five NFL seasons.
Joseph, on the other hand, has started 56 of 57 games since he’s been in the league and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2008. Bowe, when he isn’t getting suspended, has shown flashes as a No. 1 receiver, recording 995 and 1,022 yards in his first two NFL seasons. After doing absolutely nothing during his rookie campaign, Mendenhall overtook Willie Parker as the Steelers’ starting running back in 2009 and gained 1,108 yards. Oher started 16 games during his rookie season and finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
Any of these guys could flame out, but recent history suggests the No. 23 pick has yielded four quality starters in five years – that’s a very solid 80 percent success rate. One of those players has been to a Pro Bowl, suggesting the Packers have a 20 percent chance to obtain a Pro Bowler at No. 23.
Last, let’s take a look at Ted Thompson’s first round history.
Here are the players the Packers have selected in the first round during the Ted Thompson era, position, year selected and pick.
B.J. Raji, nose tackle (2009) No. 9
Clay Matthews, linebacker (2009) No. 26
Justin Harrell, defensive tackle (2007) No. 16
A.J. Hawk, linebacker (2006) No. 5
Of the four players, only two have been full-time starters. One of those players – A.J. Hawk – should be considered a bust. Despite his lofty draft status, Hawk has never been to a Pro Bowl and although he technically retained his status as a starter last season, his role was reduced to that of a part-time player. I could go on about how disappointing Hawk has been as a Packer, but for this exercise, we’re just going to label him a bust.
That’s a status that’s also going to be assigned to Harrell, who’s played in only 13 games in his three years in Green Bay. Harrell has started only two games in his career and missed all of the 2009 season with an injury. Of the remaining players, you can thus far only say Clay Matthews was a good pick. Matthews was a Pro Bowler and recorded 10 sacks in his rookie year. Raji, on the other hand, only started one game in his rookie year and frankly, the jury is still out.
For our purposes, we’re going to throw Raji out of the equation because not enough is known about him. So, of Thompson’s three rateable first-round draft choices only one has been a true impact player, or 33 percent of the players chosen.
Overall, of the four players, one has made a Pro Bowl, so Thompson conceivably has a 25 percent chance of landing a Pro Bowler in the first round.
Overall, the sampling consists of 15 players. Of those, seven appear to be long-term starters at this point – that’s 46 percent. Three of those players have made a Pro Bowl, meaning there is a 20 percent chance of landing a Pro Bowler.
After looking at all three samplings, it appears the Packers have about a 50/50 chance of landing a decent player at No. 23.