First-Round Picks Need to Be Game-Changers

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Todd Gurley and Nate Palmer

Between now and April 27, this site will be talking frequently about the 2017 NFL Draft. Here’s a good starting premise: if you don’t draft well in the first round, you’ve probably had a bad draft year.

Oh, and by the way, let’s debunk the most basic of Green Bay Packers’ draft tenets: take the best player available. This is nonsense. Do you think Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins were the two best available players when it came the Packers’ turn to pick in the first two rounds in 2015?

No, each was thought to be the best available defensive back at that point in time — a major team need.

Moving on, here’s all you need to know about how to make a wise first-round draft pick. Round 1 draft picks should only be used for players who play game-changing positions.

The Game-Changing Positions

My list of game-changing positions is quarterback, receiver and cornerback, or an extraordinary left tackle, running back or pass rusher. Except for these extraordinary exceptions, do not — repeat, DO NOT — pick a defensive lineman, offensive lineman, linebacker, running back, safety, tight end or specialist in the first round.

Let’s go to the evidence. Here’s a breakdown of the 94 first-round selections made during the last three NFL drafts:

  • 17 Defensive Linemen
  • 15 Wide Receivers
  • 15 Tackles
  • 14 Cornerbacks
  • 11 Linebackers
  • 8 Quarterbacks
  • 6 Safeties
  • 3 Running Backs
  • 3 Guards
  • 1 Center
  • 1 Tight End
  • 0 Specialists

On my do-not-pick-in-the-first-round list are: 19 offensive linemen, 17 defensive linemen, 11 linebackers, 6 safeties, 3 running backs and a tight end. That adds up to 57.

This is disturbing.

Now let’s remove the arguably “extraordinary” players from the list:

  • Pass rusher – DE Joey Bosa (LAC), 3rd pick in 2016
  • Pass rusher – OLB Vic Beasley (ATL), 8th pick in 2015
  • Pass rusher – DT DeForest Buckner (SF), 7th pick in 2016
  • Pass rusher – DT Aaron Donald (LAR), 13th pick in 2014
  • Pass Rusher – DE Kahlil Mack (OAK), 5th pick in 2014
  • Tackle – Jack Conklin (TEN), 8th pick in 2016
  • Running Back – Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), 4th pick in 2016
  • Running Back – Todd Gurley (LA), 10th pick in 2015

I found eight extraordinary pass rushers, tackles or running backs, and I figure there will be about three such extraordinary picks per year. Let’s go ahead and remove 10 players from the initial 57. That leaves 47 of 94 players or 50%, who according to my theory, should not have been first-round selections.

Yes, friends, I strongly believe one-half of the first-round picks chosen by NFL teams from 2014-16 were poor (i.e., stupid) choices. They were not potential game-changers and first-round selections are too valuable to waste on anyone else.

Tomorrow, I’ll apply my theory to Ted Thompson’s picks from 2005 to the present.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

3 Comments on "First-Round Picks Need to Be Game-Changers"

  1. Yolo7

    You are penning some good stuff Mr Born
    your ladt 2 articles ive read this one along
    with your Drafting in the 1st Round were both unigue perspectives
    and i need to turn spell check back on

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