Analysis of 2000-2009 LBers taken in Round 1

 Andy took the time to review the history of defensive tackles taken in the 1st round going back to 2000 and it was pathetic.  Now let’s look at linebacker.

 

Year Player Pick Starts Tackles Sacks Pro Bowls Wonder’s Grade
2000 Lavar Arrington 2 62 357 23.5 2 2
  Brian Urlacher 9 136 934 37 4 1
  Julian Peterson 16 133 673 50.5 4 2
  Rob Morris 28 68 471 7 0 5
  Keith Bulluck 30 130 1,038 18 0 1
2001 Dan Morgan 11 59 386 7 2 4 injury
2002 Napoleon Harris 23 58 481 8.5 0 4
  Robert Thomas 31 50 304 2 0 4
2003 Terrell Suggs 10 93 427 57.5 4 1
  Nick Barnett 29 103 763 15.5 0 3
2004 Jonathan Vilma 12 84 674 5.5 1 2
  D.J. Williams 17 86 601 10 0 3
  Jason Babin 27 26 172 17.5 0 4
2005 DeMarcus Ware 11 60 354 64.5 4 1
  Shawne Merriman 12 52 225 43.5 3 1
  Derrick Johnson 15 51 386 13 0 3
  David Pollack 17 16 29 4.5 0 7
2006 A.J. Hawk 5 62 399 8.5 0 2
  Ernie Sims 9 56 420 2.5 0 4
  Kamerion Wimbley 13 62 248 26.5 0 4
  Chad Greenway 17 47 319 5.5 0 5
  Bobby Carpenter 18 3 96 3 0 7
  Manny Lawson 22 40 181 0 0 5
2007 Patrick Willis 11 48 467 9 2 1
  Lawrence Timmons 15 15 156 12 0 2
  Jon Beason 25 48 419 3 2 2
  Anthony Spencer 26 22 137 10.5 0 2
2008 Vernon Gholston 6 3 30 0 0 7
  Keith Rivers 9 20 109 1 0 4
  Jerod Mayo 10 28 231 1.5 0 3
2009 Aaron Curry 4 12 61 2 0 4*
  Brian Cushing 15 16 133 4 0 1*
  Robert Ayers 18 1 19 0 0 6*
  Clay Matthews 26 13 51 10 1 2*
  Average         0.9 3.2

Note: 2005, 14th pick, Thomas Davis (4) left out, was drafted as defensive back, plays Linebacker.

*jury is still out

 Let’s review the rating system we are using in the Draft Project (1=Star/Multiple Pro Bowls, 2= Pro Bowl player, 3=Solid starter, 4= starter who is replaceable, 5= second string, 6= fringe, 7= bust).   An average of 3.2 for 1st round linebackers equates to an average of a solid starter!  This compares with an average of a 4.1 for DT.  That is a full grade lower.  

Isn’t a solid starter (at least) what is expected of a first round pick?  Out of the above rated first round pro bowlers the only other notable and multiple pro bowl linebackers not picked in the first round are: Demeco Ryans who was picked in 2006 as the first pick in the 2nd round, Lance Briggs who was picked in the 3rd round of the 2003 draft and Tatupu who was pick number 45 in 2005.

Compare Pro Bowls. LBers: 29 from 34 players.  DTs: 19 from 31. 

Let’s look at the last 2 years and those that have made immediate impacts.  Matthews- the defensive rookie of the year and pro bowler, Cushing- who racked up 133 tackles in year one, and Jerrod Mayo- with 231 tackles with an injury plagued 2009.  How many pro bowls can we expect from the numbers put up by these players, given their immediate impact?!  Wonder graded Maualuga a 3 right now a guy many of us on this blog shouted for the Gmen to pick in the first round last year.  The bottom line is historically taking a LBer in round 1 equates to a solid starter.  Perhaps the higher success rate of drafting immediate impact LBers is due to the nature of the position, which requires athletic instincts that are more quickly applied on the field.  DT needs physical and mental maturity which require more time than (rookie) pedigree.

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