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It Is Amazing How Bad Our Drafts Have Been Overall Since 1966


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I have been a passionate, die hard Falcons fan since I watched them sitting in my dads lap as a 4 year old in 1966.

I just spent a few minutes looking over the names of every single player we have ever drafted in the history of the franchise. Overall, the list is amazingly underwhelming. It is truly eye opening how bad our drafts have been for the most part. There have been some good picks and a few gems found in later rounds but overall it's been awful. I am a die hard fan and there are MANY names that I honestly have no memory of whatsoever.

Truly great franchises become truly great by drafting better than the other teams consistently over the years. Everybody screws up once in awhile and misses on a pick or even on most of a draft but we have done it more often than not. I think if you could narrow it down to one thing that made us go 40 years without back to back winning seasons, our poor drafting is it. Free agents can help, but you build top tier franchises by having better drafts than other teams consistently over time. I truly hope our new regime can change our historically bad drafting. If they can do that, then I am confident that better days are ahead. But if our drafts continue to be below average, we will continually, on average, get consistently bad results. I hope the times are finally starting to change in this area. Free agents are important, but GIVE ME CONSISTENTLY EXCELLENT DRAFTS YEAR AFTER YEAR.

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I have been a passionate, die hard Falcons fan since I watched them sitting in my dads lap as a 4 year old in 1966.

I just spent a few minutes looking over the names of every single player we have ever drafted in the history of the franchise. Overall, the list is amazingly underwhelming. It is truly eye opening how bad our drafts have been for the most part. There have been some good picks and a few gems found in later rounds but overall it's been awful. I am a die hard fan and there are MANY names that I honestly have no memory of whatsoever.

Truly great franchises become truly great by drafting better than the other teams consistently over the years. Everybody screws up once in awhile and misses on a pick or even on most of a draft but we have done it more often than not. I think if you could narrow it down to one thing that made us go 40 years without back to back winning seasons, our poor drafting is it. Free agents can help, but you build top tier franchises by having better drafts than other teams consistently over time. I truly hope our new regime can change our historically bad drafting. If they can do that, then I am confident that better days are ahead. But if our drafts continue to be below average, we will continually, on average, get consistently bad results. I hope the times are finally starting to change in this area. Free agents are important, but GIVE ME CONSISTENTLY EXCELLENT DRAFTS YEAR AFTER YEAR.

Well said!!!

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I don't really care too much about our drafts over the last 30-40 years because we have the best draft pick we have probably ever made as a franchise with Matt Ryan. And i trust our HC and FO. Maybe i'm just a homer.

Matt is easily the best pick we've ever made. What's crazy is what luck had to happen for him to be here. We had to rely on winning a coin flip, and then it took the ineptitude of two teams ahead of us. Could be another 40 years before that happens again.

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Our drafts certainly have been substandard. But bad drafting is only part of the reason for this franchises' failures. Even when we -did- do well with draft picks, our ownership FO and coaches have seriously fumbled the ball. Whenever we did get good players our Falcons have lost them, mainly because the team did not want to pay our best players, RC Thielemann Buddy Curry and Deion Sanders quickly come to mind. And not many teams go from having two HOFers on their team, then losing them -both- within a couple of years (Sanders and Favre). Lack of consistency (H-back, Run N Shoot, 3-4, 46 defense, 4-3, ZBS, then conventional power, back to ZBS) means constant roster re-does. And don't even get me started on the bad trades (Jeff George anyone?)... This Falcons franchise has been a ship without a rudder forever. I was -HOPING- AB would be the one to fix it...is he?

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Our fans overreact and have totally unrealistic expectations when it comes to the draft. This regime gets slaughtered because according to many on here our Gm "can't evaluate talent", yet there have been numerous articles that have compared TD's hit/miss rate and the playing time he gets from his draftees to his leekes, and every one has him grading our as one of the better GM's.

Only last year, there was an article which said we'd been the best drafting team in the NFL in the first round of the draft ove the last decade, were were something like 6th or 7th best team when they look at rounds 1-3, and middle of the pack over the whole draft.

Take any position and look at the all of the players drafted to play that position in rounds 3-5 from say 2008-2013. Look how many of them evere became full time starters, how many became top10-12 players in the league in their positions, and how many were just role players or career backups. The odds are stacked heavily against you, especially if you are expecting/demanding to find players who are amongst the best in their positions - and when we find guys who are servcieable starters in that part of the draft those players get slammed on here because they are only mediocre starters and not amongst the very best in the NFL.

This regime has made mistakes for sure, but they have primarily been about our team building and drafting philosophy rather than an inability to evaluate talent: trading away far too many picks from 2011-13, doubling up on positions in the draft at the expense of other needs, grossly over investing in the WR position (for the last 15 years), hugely underinvesting in the OL (for the last 15 years). I also think that we've had some bad luck with injuries to high pciks guys like Spoon, Moore and Jerry, Baker, Julio and now Matthews - although I don't know how we compare to other teams In that respect.

There Is an argument for saying that we place too much emphasis on high motor,leadership types, at the expense of better players and/or we emphasise it too early in the draft. There is also an argument for saying that that we overvalue ST's contributors in the last 3 rounds. Arguably, that gives us a lot of high floor, low ceiling types who are good enough and have the work ethic to make the roster and contribute, but lack the physical tools to become really good players for us.

A lot of people on here want to take more risk in the draft, black dotting fewer players based on character. That means more risk of guys busting, or drafting players who become disruptive nuisances. It it better to find a lot of solid contributes, or a smaller number of slightly better players?The problem is, most fans want to have their cake and eat it. They call for the GM to take more risk, and when one of these risks blows up on our faces you can guarantee that the same fans will be blasting the GM for it - in the same way that 99% of the board were ecstatic with the decison to use 5 picks on a WR that we didn't need, but then had the gall to criticise the GM for not investing properly in the trenches and not finding above average starters with the picks we had left.

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yet there have been numerous articles that have compared TD's hit/miss rate and the playing time he gets from his draftees to his leekes, and every one has him grading our as one of the better GM's.

I don't think you see any articles like that which are up-to-date. If you include the 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts, and you also update the perspective based on how picks from earlier drafts (like Decoud) are doing now, TD looks (and is) horrible. (If there is such an article, I'd love to see it).

Only last year, there was an article which said we'd been the best drafting team in the NFL in the first round of the draft ove the last decade, were were something like 6th or 7th best team when they look at rounds 1-3, and middle of the pack over the whole draft.

If you can find that, I'd love to see it.

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I don't think you see any articles like that which are up-to-date. If you include the 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts, and you also update the perspective based on how picks from earlier drafts (like Decoud) are doing now, TD looks (and is) horrible. (If there is such an article, I'd love to see it).

If you can find that, I'd love to see it.

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2013/3/18/4098882/2010-2012-nfl-drafts-team-by-team-draft-success-in-first-three-rounds

i already know the response oh that guy is full of it.

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Full article text below -- but first, a quick summary.

It says Atlanta had 7 total picks in rounds 1-3 for 2010-2012. Out of those 7 picks, Atlanta got 5 "primary starters", and percentage-wise, that ranks Atlanta 9th in the league.

The article was written in March of 2013.

Here's the article text:

When John Phillips signed with the Chargers early last week, multiple reports announced with great fanfare and quite a bit of glee that the "Dreadful Dozen" Cowboys draft class of 2009 was done in Dallas. While not totally accurate - Victor Butler still hasn't signed with another team yet - it's just a matter of time before it becomes a fact.

With the 2009 draft thus firmly in the rear-view mirror, perhaps we can move on and look at what has happened since then. Today, I'd like to look at the last three drafts - specifically, the first three rounds of the last three drafts - and see how well the Cowboys have drafted compared to their NFL peers.

The first three rounds are where teams should be expecting to draft immediate or eventual starters. Going by NFL.com's definition, a first-round player is expected to "start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter)." With their second-round picks, most teams should also reasonably expect to draft starters. And with a little luck, the third-round pick is "a quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter."

Starting in the fourth round, teams look to add a backup/role player, and if they are really lucky, these players eventually develop into starters. But that doesn't happen all that often. And that's why getting it right in the first three rounds is so critical: When teams fail to get starters with their Top 100 picks, they usually end up having to fill those voids with expensive free agents.

But "getting it right" is far from easy, even in the top three rounds. Here's an overview showing how many prospects from each round of the last three drafts ended up becoming primary starters in the NFL. A "primary starter" is a player who has started at least eight games in at least one of the last three seasons:

Primary Starters by round, 2010-2012 Drafts

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Total

No. of Players 96 95 100 107 107 113 146 762

Primary Starters 75 56 36 24 16 12 11 229

In % 78% 59% 36% 22% 15% 11% 8% 30%

Only 78% of the first-round picks over the last three draft classes have become primary starters so far (which means that to date, one out of five first-round picks has failed to become a starter). As is to be expected, the overall percentages decrease the further back in the draft a player is selected. Granted, because we're looking only at a three-year window, these percentages could still improve, but the overall picture won't: The top three rounds are where you can reasonably expect to get your starters; after that it's largely a matter of luck.

Cowboys fans hold their recent top-round draft picks in fairly high regard and believe the Cowboys have done quite well in the top three rounds of the last three drafts:

2010 - 1st: Dez Bryant, 2nd: Sean Lee, 3rd: - -

2011 - 1st: Tyron Smith, 2nd: Bruce Carter, 3rd: DeMarco Murray

2012 - 1st: Morris Claiborne, 2nd: - -, 3rd: Tyrone Crawford

Of the Cowboys' seven picks above, six are primary starters. If a team's objective is to collect future starters in the first three rounds, the Cowboys look to have done a pretty good job. Some might argue that Lee, Carter and Murray have all missed significant playing time with injuries. Others might point to the fact that the Cowboys have only drafted seven players in the top three rounds of the last three drafts, and had they not moved up, the Cowboys would have had nine such picks (and possibly more had they chosen to trade down). But overall, that feels like a solid haul for the Cowboys - and there certainly isn't an outright bust in that group, something many other teams have struggled with over the last three years.

To get a better feel for how this compares to other NFL teams, the table below looks at the top three rounds of the last three drafts for all NFL teams, and shows how successful each team was in getting primary starters out of their picks.

Draft Success Rounds 1-3, 2010-12 (click column header to sort)

Team Picks in Rds 1-3 Primary Starters Success rate

Carolina 8 7 88%

Seattle 8 7 88%

Dallas 7 6 86%

Cleveland 12 10 83%

Tampa Bay

10 8 80%

Buffalo 9 7 78%

Denver 12 9 75%

Kansas City

12 9 75%

Atlanta 7 5 71%

Minnesota 7 5 71%

Miami 9 6 67%

Tennessee 9 6 67%

Washington 6 4 67%

New England

14 8 57%

Chicago 7 4 57%

Oakland 7 4 57%

Baltimore 9 5 56%

Detroit 9 5 56%

St. Louis

11 6 55%

Indianapolis 10 5 50%

Philadelphia 10 5 50%

Arizona 8 4 50%

San Francisco

9 4 44%

New York Jets

7 3 43%

Jacksonville 7 3 43%

New Orleans

8 3 38%

Cincinnati 12 4 33%

Houston 9 3 33%

New York Giants

9 3 33%

Green Bay

9 3 33%

San Diego

10 3 30%

Pittsburgh 9 2 22%

Note that a success rate of 57% is the average value in this analysis. Note also that for the purposes of this analysis, "primary starter" is a hard cutoff. It doesn't matter whether a player did not start eight games in a season because he was injured or for any other reason. If you're Seattle's Bruce Irvin and played in 16 games but didn't start once, tough luck; if you're Pittsburgh's David DeCastro and only started three games due to injury, you're out; if you're the 49er's A.J. Jenkins and only played 37 offensive snaps, got targeted with a pass just once and dropped it, you're not making the list.

Finally, note that this list will probably look different in two or three years, as more players eventually get a primary starter season under their belt. But for now, it is what it is.

762 players were selected in the last three drafts (including two players taken in the supplemental draft). Of those, 229 have been primary starters in at least one season. That means that, on average, every NFL teams has drafted 2.4 primary starters per draft over the last three years. That's not a particularly high number, and it follows that a team's overall objective must be to collect as many quality starters as possible. The above table suggests there are two basic ways of going about this, either by going after quantity of quality. Very few teams manage to do both, some manage to do neither.

The table above is sorted by success rate, or the percentage of draft picks from the first three rounds that have become primary starters. By that measure, the Panthers, Seahawks and Cowboys have been the most successful at selecting prospects that turned into primary starters. For the Panthers, only 2010 third-round WR Armanti Edwards hasn't become a primary starter, for the Seahawks it's 2012 first-rounder Bruce Irvin (how scary is it that the Seahawks hit on basically every pick?), for the Cowboys it's Tyrone Crawford.

At the other end of the scale, the Steelers only have two primary starters (OC Maurkice Pouncey, RT Marcus Gilbert) to show for the last three years of drafts in the first three rounds. The Packers have two first rounders (DE Nick Perry and OL Derek Sherrod) and three second rounders (DB Casey Hayward, DT Jerel Worthy and DE Mike Neal) who they fervently hope will turn into primary starters at some point. And before you think this is just the result of a deep roster with limited opportunities for rookies, look at some of the teams in the top half of the table: Seattle, Denver, Atlanta and New England all manage above average success rates despite already having solid rosters.

If success rate is a sign of quality, then accumulating a lot of picks in the first three rounds is a sign of an approach that values quantity. Underlying that approach is some pretty simple math: The more players you draft, the better your odds of landing good players. The Patriots in particular have made this a big part of their drafting philosophy, but they are not the only ones. In total, there are ten teams who for various reasons have ended up with more than nine picks in the top three rounds over the last three years. Of those ten teams, the Patriots have a league average success rate of 57%, four teams (CLE, TB, DEN KC) have an above average success rate, five have a below average success rate.

Ultimately though, whether you go for quality or quantity (or both), what matters in the end is that you get quality players for your roster. In football, players are going to get hurt, so the more depth you have, and the more good players you have, the better your chances are of winning. Over the last three drafts, NFL teams have averaged 5.2 primary starters in the first three rounds of the draft. If you get more than that, you're doing something right. If not, you'd better ask yourself some pretty tough questions.

Edited by iocompletion
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