Analysis of Defensive Ends taken in the first round of the Draft 2000-2009

Get ready to cover your eyes, it ain’t pretty.  It was not what we expected, but the numbers are what they are…

When we started this analysis of all of the players taken in the first round of the draft, the hypothesis was that Defensive Tackle was a poor position to select because so many ended up generating mediocre returns on investment.  We graded them out and on a scale of 1 to 7 they had an average score of 4.1.  In essence, they averaged being a replaceable starter. We knew right there that that was an unacceptable outcome for your first rounder.

As we kept going through subsequent positions, all had a better average grade than DT.  Until now.  Defensive End came in with another 4.1, another woof.  Another ground out.  While I personally admit to being surprised, I am also heartened at the continued objectivity that this analysis is delivering.  We do not have an agenda.  The numbers are what they are.  

 

Year Player Pick Starts Sack Pro Bowls Wonder’s Grade
2000 Courtney Brown 1 63 19   7
  Shaun Eliis 6 155 68 2 2
  Erik Flowers 26 6 5   6
2001 Justin Smith 4 139 57   4
  Andre Carter 7 128 64   3
  Jamal Reynolds  10 0 3   7
2002 Julius Peppers 2 120 81 5 1
  Dwight Freeney  11 98 84 5 1
  Bryan Thomas 22 79 25   3
  Charles Grant 25 106 47   3
2003 Kevin Williams* 9 110 49 4 1
  Ty Warren 13 92 21   2
  Michael Haynes 14 4 6   7
  Jerome McDougle 15 0 3   6
  Calvin Pace 18 66 29   3
  Tyler Brayton 32 78 16   4
2004 Will Smith  18 75 50   3
  Kenechi Udeze 20 47 11    
2005 Erasmus James 18 12 5   7
  Marcus Spears 20 71 8   5
  Luis Castillo  28 62 17   5
2006 Mario Williams 1 64 40 2 1
  Tamba Hali 20 63 27   4
  M Kiwanuka 32 40 20   4
2007 Gaines Adams 4 29 14   7
  J Anderson 8 41 3   5
  Jarvis Moss  17 1 4   6
2008 Chris Long 2 20 9   4
  Derrick Harvey  8 25 6   4
  L Jackson 28 24 7   5
  Kentwan Balmer 29 0 0   5
2009 Tyson Jackson 3 14 0   4
  Aaron Maybin 11 0 0   4
  Brian Orakpo 13 16 11   3
  Larry English  16 2 2   4
          0.5 4.1
*Drafted as DE but voted to pro bowl as DT
Balmer is a NT.
Note 2008-9 grades are preliminary.

Wonder has been a tough grader for every position, but there is no arguing that so many of these first rounders ended up being no-names who many of you could not even tell me which team they play/ed for, let alone that they are worth more than they were graded at.  We did not even grade Udeze because he had cancer.  I raised one grade that Wonder gave as a 6 to a 5 just because statistically it was unfair.  There are some studs in here who got 1′s, namely Peppers, Freeney, Kevin Williams and Mario Williams.  Yet despite all of that, there are just too many trainwrecks.  Eight players with 6′s or 7′s.  You could give all the 6′s a 7 and it would be justified, considering they were drafted in Round 1.  Jerome McDougle, picked up as fringe player… yep, a 6 is being kind.  Not a single start in his career.

 

Position PBowls Rating
G/C 1.6 3.0
LB 0.9 3.2
CB 0.5 3.3
RB 0.9 3.4
OT 0.5 3.7
S 1.4 3.8
DT 0.6 4.1
DE 0.5 4.1

So what is the conclusion?  Stay away from this position in round 1.  35 players have been drafted in 10 years.  3.5 per draft.  The NFL teams en masse are drafting too many of these guys in Round 1.  They are not paying off.  It certainly suits us fine that the grade of 4.1 matches that of DT.  And the # of pro bowls per player (0.5) is another ringer for that of DT.  Welcome to the basement.

Oh, and one more thing… OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING, what does it say about the Defensive End Class of 2010? Alualu, Pierre-Paul, Morgan…  Statistically, one of these three will be a hit (1-3) and two of these three will be a miss (4-7).

            

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