On this blog, we’ve tried to highlight an overlooked metric that really correlates with NFL success. That metric is the total number of former draftees still in the league by team, and we’ve totaled up the numbers for three years running now.
This year, we moved our September roster analysis to our Friday Wrap email that chronicles the week in the football business (if you’re interested in receiving it, click here). However, we didn’t take a look at the last three years, so I decided to do that here. I think it gives a good look at which teams are doing things right on draft day, and how they’re being rewarded in the W-L area.
The numbers are below. Here are a few quick observations.
- Most people expected the Vikings to struggle to win more than a handful of games this season after losing first Teddy Bridgewater, then A.P., by mid-September. However, the Vikes have been climbing the ladder when it comes to draftees in the league the last three years, going from No. 15 in 2014 to No. 8 last year and this year. Staying in the top half of the league all three years and in the top ten the last two has to be one reason the team has enjoyed such success.
- The Vikings aren’t the only early-season success story that could have been predicted with the grid below. Check out the Eagles — despite some bumpy years under head coach/GM Chip Kelly the last few years, the team has done pretty well on draft day, and new head coach Doug Pederson has been able to take advantage of that. The consistent play of Carson Wentz so far has given the team just the bounce it needs.
- Of the top ten teams listed below, only one (the Niners) hasn’t made the playoffs at least once in the last three years. Half have been to the playoffs at least twice, and the Packers, Bengals, Seahawks and Patriots have been all three years.
- What’s more, the AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers and Ravens) and AFC South (Texans) are led by teams on this list, while in the NFC, the East and West divisions are led (Eagles) or tied (Seahawks) by teams on the list.
- I know there’s one huge outlier in these numbers that can’t be avoided: the Niners. How can they be so far out in front despite so little on-field success the last three years? My only response is that there’s got to be a two-tiered approach here. The talent level that comes from these numbers must be coupled with consistent QB play. That’s why the Niners have struggled despite the number of winners the scouting department has picked, while the emergence of Kirk Cousins last year got the ‘Skins into the playoffs despite a lousy talent acquisition mark over the last three years. I believe the 49ers would still be at least a playoff contender had the team not been hit so hard by retirements the last few years.
|1||San Francisco 49ers||59||59||54||172|
|2||Green Bay Packers||55||52||51||158|
|9||New England Patriots||50||46||46||142|
|17||Kansas City Chiefs||40||48||45||133|
|19||St. Louis Rams||41||44||44||129|
|20||New York Jets||47||44||37||128|
|25||San Diego Chargers||42||40||37||119|
|27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||36||37||35||108|
|28||New Orleans Saints||31||40||37||108|
|32||New York Giants||39||30||28||97|