- Chris Sprow
The NFL draft is not a crapshoot. Tom Brady (sixth-round pick) can complete a million passes to Wes Welker (undrafted), and it won't change this fact. Brady-to-Welker situations happen because the league turns over players at such a high rate that those not drafted inevitably get their shot. You'll see it again and again, because at just seven rounds, the draft isn't designed to fill rosters completely. This is why roughly 15 percent of the league is made up of undrafted players. But the best players are, on average, drafted high.
The Pro Bowl isn't a perfect measure of greatness, it's not where number-crunchers and scouts sip scotch together and agree, "Yep, these truly are the best guys." But it's not a bad one. And if you took every Pro Bowl player drafted in the last 10 years, 100 were drafted in Round 1, 36 in Round 2. That means 71 percent of the NFL's best players were drafted in the first two rounds.
Go back another 10 years, when the draft extended to 12 rounds in some years, and the percentage dips to 63 percent. Subtract kickers, punters and special-teams aces from the equation -- most of whom were drafted late or not at all -- and the first two rounds are even more dominant. It's already happening this year -- 28 of 29 healthy first-round picks have started or played big roles in the first two games; same with the second round.
So I'll say it again: The draft is not a crapshoot. And that's why by Week 1 of 2014, and perhaps well beyond, no team in the NFL will be more loaded with talent than the St. Louis Rams. And it won't just be because of the draft.
2hBy Ian O'Connor
1dESPN Production Analytics