Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Compilation: By the Numbers: NFL Draft

Perhaps it’s due to my lack of a real rooting allegiance, but I’ll have to admit that I don’t find the NFL draft entertaining or exciting. I’ve never understood why the draft is a two-day televised event like I’ve never understood why we have radio stations dedicated to 1980s popular music. That’s not to suggest that either can’t be interesting under my cynical scrutiny. For me, this year’s NFL Draft will become particularly fascinating in about five years. That’s when we truly discover who the winners and losers were.

Take for example the 2000 NFL draft, we can safely assume now that the six teams who took quarterbacks not named Tom Brady in the first six rounds messed up (Just prior to the Pats taking Brady, the Browns opted for Southwest Texas State QB Spergon Wynn). Or the 1994 draft when nine running backs were selected before Curtis Martin, and 19 (including Martin) were taken before Terrell Davis. The Pats may have gotten Brady right, but with the immediate pick before Davis in 1994 they took running back Dino Philyaw.

Any list of draft-day disasters, first round picks that became busts or late-round picks who became stars could go on forever, which only proves only that the NFL college draft has always been an inexact science. Therefore, rather than handing out a 2005 draft grades, here are some interesting numbers from past drafts.

70 - Number of NFL Drafts and, subsequently, the number of top overall NFL picks
The number of top overall draft picks including those of the AFL (1960-69) is 76. For six years, 1961-1966, the AFL had a separate draft, but both leagues agreed to a combined draft beginning in 1967.

55 - Number of top overall draft picks now eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

11 - Number of top overall draft picks now enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Listed chronologically by year drafted: 1942 Bill Dudley, 1945 Charley Trippi, 1949 Chuck Bednarik, 1957 Paul Hornung, 1963 Buck Buchanan (AFL), 1968 Ron Yary, 1969 OJ Simpson, 1970 Terry Bradshaw, 1976 Lee Roy Selmon, 1978 Earl Campbell, 1983 John Elway.

4 - Number of Hall of Famers taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1974 draft.
Without a doubt, the most productive draft day in NFL history: The Steelers selected Lynn Swann (1st round), Jack Lambert (2nd round), John Stallworth (4th), and Mike Webster (5th).

2 - Number of years between 1936 and 1985 that no Hall of Famer was selected.
With the exceptions of 1943 and 1959, at least one Hall of Famer was selected in every draft until 1985.

2 - Number of top overall draft picks who never played professional football.
The first player ever selected, Jay Berwanger in 1936, opted for a career as a doctor, and the top choice in 1962, Syracuse's Ernie Davis, died of Leukemia before his career began.

14 - Number of top overall draft picks who played, but not for the team which drafted them.
Listed in chronological order with the drafting team in parenthesis: 1937 Sam Francis (Eagles), 1940 George Cafego (Cardinals), 1941 Tom Harmon (Bears), 1944 Angelo Bertelli (Boston Yanks), 1954 Bobby Garrett (Browns), 1959 Randy Duncan (Packers), 1960 Billy Cannon (Rams), 1962 Roman Gabriel (Raiders), 1964 Jack Concannon (Patriots), 1966 Jim Grabowski (Dolphins), 1979 Tom Cousineau (Bills), 1983 John Elway (Colts), 1986 Bo Jackson (Buccaneers), 2004 Eli Manning (Chargers).

6 - Number of top overall picks by the Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts.
The most by any franchise. The Colts went for QBs four times - George Shaw (1955), John Elway (1983), Jeff George (1990), and Peyton Manning (1998) - and defensive linemen twice - Bubba Smith (1967), and Steve Emtman (1992). The Rams and Bills have held the top spot five times each, while the Seahawks and Broncos remain as the only franchises to have never formally had the top pick despite existences of at least 25 years.

4 - Number of Hall of Fame coaches also selected as players in the NFL Draft.
Tom Landry went in the 20th round of the 1947 draft; Bud Grant was the 14th overall selection in 1950; Don Shula was a 9th round pick in 1951; and Chuck Noll was a 20th round pick in 1953.

3 - Number of quarterbacks drafted ahead of Joe Montana in 1979.
Montana was the last pick of the third round (82 overall), but three QBs went in the first round: Washington State's Jack Thompson (3rd, Cincinnati), Morehead State's Phil Sims (7th), and Clemson’s Steve Fuller (23rd, Kansas City).

2 - Number of wide receivers taken ahead of Jerry Rice in 1985.
Rice was selected 16th overall, but behind Wisconsin’s Al Toon (10th Jets) and Miami’s Eddie Brown (13th Bengals).

2 - Number of quarterbacks taken ahead of Brett Favre in 1991.
The Falcons took Favre in the second round (33rd overall), while San Diego State’s (and Mark’s brother) Dan McGwire was taken 16th overall by the Seahawks and Southern Cal’s Todd Marinovich was taken 24th by the Raiders.

5 - Number of quarterbacks taken ahead of Dan Marino in 1983
Marino was the sixth QB of 1983’s first round. Fellow Hall of Famers John Elway and Jim Kelly went with the first and 14th pick that year, while Penn State’s Todd Blackledge was 7th (Chiefs), Tony Eason from Illinois was 15th (Patriots), and Ken O’Brien from Cal-Davis was 24th (Jets).

68 - Overall draft pick used by the Cardinals to select Tom Tupa in 1988 (3rd round).
In the modern history of the draft, this was the latest pick used to select the first QB. Since Tupa was never really a QB, this distinction should go to Chris Chandler, who was taken 76th overall the same year. 1974 also saw its first QB go in the 3rd round (Danny White, 53rd overall).

1 - Number of first round picks who never played collegiate football.
Historically, later rounds of the draft are littered with athletes who didn't have a football pedigree, but only one was taken as a first rounder. The Cardinals selected defensive lineman Eric Swann with the sixth overall pick after scouts found him playing minor league football.

7 - Number of running backs selected in first round of 1987 draft.
Listed in order taken: Alonzo Highsmith (3rd Oilers), Brent Fullwood (4th Packers), D.J. Dozier (14th Vikings), Paul Palmer (19th Chiefs), Roger Vick (21st Jets), Rod Bernstine (24th Chargers), and Terrence Flagler (25th 49ers). This magnificent seven combined for one Pro Bowl invitation and not a single 1,000-yard rushing season. Christian Okoye, on the other hand (the Chiefs second round pick of 1987), was that franchise’s all-time leading rusher at this time last year.

17 - Number of Texas Longhorns selected in the 1984 draft.
Although only one Longhorn went in the first round, this was the most any school produced in a single draft. The draft was reduced from 30 rounds to 20 in 1960, then to 17 rounds in 1967, then to 12 rounds in 1977, and has been seven rounds since 1994. Since the draft was reduced to seven rounds, Ohio State’s 14 picks in 2004 is the most.

6 - Number of Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the 2004 draft.
The most by any school in a single draft. Only two years earlier, in 2002, Miami produced five first round picks, equaling the then-record five USC Trojans who went in the first round in 1968.

4 - Number of Michigan State Spartans taken among the first eight picks in 1967.
Spartans Bubba Smith and Clint Jones went first and second. Nebraska also produced the first two picks in 1984 (Irving Fryar and Dean Steinkuhler), as did Penn State in 2000 (Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington).

3 – Number of Southern Cal Trojans taken among the first five picks in 1977.
Tampa Bay took Ricky Bell with the first pick, Marvin Powell and Gary Jeter went fourth and fifth. Miami, in 1987, produced the first, thrird, and ninth picks (Vinny Testaverde, Alonzo Highsmith, and Jerome Brown), and Penn State, in 1995, produced numbers one, five, and nine (Ki-Jana Carter, Kerry Collins, and Kyle Brady). Auburn joined the list of schools producing three top ten picks on Saturday (Ronnie Brown 2nd, Carnell Williams 5th and Carlos Rogers 9th).

6 - Number of first round NFL Draft picks who played Major League Baseball.
Most recently and notably, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders hold this distinction, but also D.J. Dozier (1987 Vikings) had a short stint with the Mets in 1992. Although their MLB careers were non-distinct, Steve Filipowicz (1943), Don Lund (1945), and Harry Agganis (1952) also played in the big leagues after becoming first round NFL picks.

4 – Number of NBA championship winners who were also selected in the NFL Draft.
K.C Jones (Rams, 1955, 30th), John Havlicek (Browns, 1962, 7th), Pat Riley (Cowboys, 1967, 11th), and Quinn Buckner (Redskins, 1976, 14th) were all selected in the late rounds of the Draft.

4 – Number of kickers selected in first round
The Raiders took Sebastion Janikowski with the 17th overall pick in 2000. Before that, only Russell Erxleben (1979, Saints, 11th), Steve Little (1978, Cardinals, 15th), and Charlie Gogolak (1966, Redskins, 6th) were selected in the first round. Should-be Hall of Famer Ray Guy remains as the only punter ever drafted in round one (23rd overall, 1973).

27 - Round in which Hall of Famer and NFL All-Time Team member Rosey Brown was drafted.
The Giants selected Brown in 1953 (321 overall). This was the lowest draft spot for anyone enshrined in the Hall of Fame. There have been several undrafted Hall of Famers however: Emlen Tunnell, Larry Little, Willie Brown, Willie Wood, Jim Langer, and Dick Lane all went undrafted by NFL teams. Many other Hall of Famers played prior to the NFL Draft, and others opted to play in a rival league before their respective drafts.