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Building Through The Draft: An unofficial case study, part two

I wanted to continue on today with our unscientific look at past drafts. Again, this analysis is for nothing more than providing food for thought. There will be a point to this at the end. But for now, just read over the results and share your initial reactions.

And again, if you missed it, the idea behind this series of posts was explained yesterday in part one. In a nut shell, though, I'm hoping to create some discussion on the idea that it is best to build through the draft rather than dealing away early draft picks (for the purpose of this study, rounds one and two are being considered "early draft picks") in exchange for proven (but potentially troublesome) veterans.

The basis of this discussion centers around how successful every NFL team has been since 2000 in "hitting" on their draft picks in the first two rounds of the draft. You will find my "defined categories" below, as well as the results for the next two drafts, the 2002 and 2003 drafts.

The categories for these next two drafts are defined as follows:

Superstar - Player named as 1st team All-Pro more than once and who has multiple Pro Bowl appearances.
Star - Named 1st team All-Pro one time or has more than one Pro Bowl appearance.
Starter - At least four years as a primary starter and has not appeared in more than one Pro Bowl.
Disappointment - Not at least a four year starter but has appeared in at least 64 games (equivalent to four 16 game seasons).
Bust - Played in fewer than 64 career games.

If you'd like to see the players selected in each draft, you can click here for the 2002 draft or here for the 2003 draft.

The 2002 NFL Draft 1st and 2nd Round Results:

Category # of Players % of Draft Picks
Superstar 4 6.2%
Star 7 10.8%
Starter 24 36.9%
Disappointment 19 29.2%
Bust 11 16.9%


It's interesting to note how over 46% of the players selected in the first two rounds of 2002 were not NFL starters for at least four seasons. On the flip side, 17% were either named an All-Pro at least once or went to more than one Pro Bowl. Some "busts" from this class include Mike Williams, (the OT, not the WR, taken 4th overall), Wendell Bryant (12th overall), and William Green (16th overall). But there were four "superstars" - Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth, and Ed Reed, all of which play on the defensive side of the ball.

Of the first round alone, 10 of the 32 picks were either "disappointments" or "busts" while 8 were "stars" or "superstars."

The 2003 NFL Draft 1st and 2nd Round Results:

Category # of Players % of Draft Picks
Superstar 3 4.7%
Star 6 9.4%
Starter 23 35.9%
Disappointment 15 23.4%
Bust 17 26.6%


The '03 class had a whopping six more "busts" than the '02 class while producing two fewer "stars" or "superstars." Some of the notable "busts" include Charles Rogers (2nd overall), Johnathan Sullivan (6th overall), Byron Leftwich (7th overall) and Jerome McDougle (15th overall). The three "superstars" were all first round picks - Andre Johnson, Kevin Williams, and Troy Polamalu.

The first round of 2003 saw 13 players chosen who ended up in the bottom two categories while only 7 were in the top two.

We'll continue on with three more drafts before tallying up the results of this very unscientific but rather interesting look at past drafts.