by NFL Gimpy
I had a theory recently so I decided to explore it a little. The theory is that high first round players are going to “bust” at lower rates than they have in the past. I believe this is because the learning curve isn’t anywhere near as steep as it has been in the past as college offenses and defenses become more complex like NFL schemes. Even better, NFL teams are taking ideas from college playbooks. Finally, with the new rookie wage scale, a team doesn’t feel obligated to spend a top 10 pick on a premium position like LT, QB, or a pass rusher. Add all of those things together and it could mean it’s easier to spot players who won’t pan out in the NFL because you’re translating skill a lot less.
To do this, I want to compare the 2007 and 2011 NFL Drafts and what they looked like 2 years later. Obviously this is a small sample size, but you’ll see how drastically different these two classes look. I’ll put the players into 4 categories: Stud, Solid, Questionable, and Bust. I’ll use the top 16 players as my sample size. Keep in mind this is how they looked after 2 seasons because it’s the only fair way to compare them.
Stud: Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis
Solid: LaRon Landry, Marshawn Lynch, Gaines Adams
Questionable: Lawrence Timmons, Amobi Okoye, Levi Brown, Ted Ginn Jr.
Bust: JaMarcus Russell, Jamaal Anderson, Adam Carriker, Justin Harrell
The only debate I can see is I may overrate Gaines Adams (RIP) because he was traded during his 3rd season to the Bears, but he had back to back 6 sack seasons to start his career. If you would like to argue Adam Carriker wasn’t a bust at that point, I suggest you look at what the Redskins traded for him after his 2nd season: swapping a few late picks. Timmons was still technically a backup his 2nd season but has obviously turned himself into a solid or better starter.
Stud: Von Miller, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, JJ Watt, Ryan Kerrigan
Solid: Cam Newton, Mike Pouncey, Marcel Dareus, Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn
Questionable: Jake Locker, Tyron Smith, Christian Ponder
Bust: Blaine Gabbert
I don’t see how anyone can argue with the 7 studs; all of them have already made the Pro Bowl. You could argue Cam Newton and Robert Quinn belong up top (Quinn quietly had a 10.5 sack season for a very underrated defense). Blaine Gabbert is the only player I cannot foresee with a chance to start for the team who drafted him in 2014. Jake Locker has a ton of potential, but I doubt he makes it. Tyron Smith could possibly belong in the Solid category right now and Ponder was the QB of a playoff team.
Only 4 players in the 2011 top 16 may not be considered a solid starter or better during their career. There were 8 players after 2 years in 2007. Adam Carricker did remove the bust label and Lawrence Timmons stepped up big time in year 3. That’s still 6 outright busts in the top 16 and if you look at other drafts that’s not a bad number, it’s about average.
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For fun, let’s look at the 2012 draft purely from a stud and solid starter angle. 1 season is way too early to declare a player a bust, but it’s safe to say there are some bona fide studs.
Stud: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, and Luke Kuechly
Solid: Morris Claiborne, Mark Barron, Ryan Tannehill, Fletcher Cox, Stephen Gilmore, Bruce Irvin, and Michael Brockers
See what I mean? 12 of 16 players are safely and confidently listed as starters headed into the 2013 season and all of them give their teams a lot of confidence they’ll be consistent performers. I could probably put Quinton Coples under solid as well, but he’s changing positions and required a little motivation from Rex Ryan to show up to voluntary workouts. That makes me a little hesitant.
-While digging through the info for this column, I realize that the Rams defense needs its own column. They’ve made some very good decisions on that side of the ball as of late and they’re going to need a dominant defense if they want to keep up with the Seahawks and 49ers.
-Tough break for the Chargers and Melvin Ingram. Ingram has an ACL tear and his availability for the 2013 season is in doubt. This led the Chargers to sign Dwight Freeney to fill the pass rushing void.
-If Josh Freeman leaves the Bucs after this season and he goes to a team with good QB coaching I firmly believe he can regain his form from 2 years ago. In 2010 Freeman had 25 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. Cleveland could be a great spot if they move on from Brandon Weeden.
-The PFT “saga” on UDFA and former Eagles RB Miguel Maysonet was just another low for Mike Florio. Florio was strongly pushing that the Eagles cut Maysonet because of a “disconnect” between new head coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman. That or they signed free agent Felix Jones and Maysonet was way down on the depth chart and had virtually no chance at making the roster. I won’t link it because the story doesn’t deserve more page views.
-The NHL playoffs have been incredible. Once they’re over, I go nuts with boredom. My wife goes nuts too because she can’t handle me when I have free time. I constantly need to be doing something. Any hobbies beyond writing I should take up in a month or so?
-If any Redskins fans want to buy RGIII wedding gifts, here’s a story with the details.
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