Of the Redskins’ seven picks in the upcoming draft, five are from the fourth round on. With the team operating under a reduced salary cap number and with its next two first-round picks having been dealt away, it will be important to find players in those late rounds who can become starters and effective role players.
The good news is that Mike Shanahan has a very good track record at doing just that.
You heard that right. Despite a reputation for not being a very effective personnel man, Shanahan’s record when it comes to finding late-round gems stacks up well with the teams considered to be the most effective drafters in the business.
Let’s look at Shanahan’s time in Denver since it is too early to see what the Redskins have in the late-rounders from his two drafts with the Redskins (although his class from last year, with 9 late-round selections all having spent some time on the active roster last year, is off to a good start).
From 1995 through 2008, Shanahan was either in charge of the Broncos’ 14 drafts or he had heavy influence. In that time Denver had 70 picks in rounds 4-7 and 39 of them have played 16 NFL games or more during their careers.
Of those players, 23 were their team’s primary starter for at least one season, four made at least one Pro Bowl. Among the better players Shanahan drafted in the last four rounds are running back Terrell Davis (round 6) and Elvis Dumervil (4). That looks like a fairly solid performance but how does it compare with the rest of the league?
Let’s take a look at how Shanahan’s late-drafting prowess compares to that of four teams considered to be among the very best in the business when it comes to getting great results in the draft—the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, and Giants.
The details are below, but for a quick comparison here is what those four teams have averaged in rounds 4-7 in the 14 drafts from 1997-2010:
Players drafted: 73
Played in 16 games or more: 38
At least one season as starter: 19
Made at least one Pro Bowl: 4
So, Shanahan with close to the same number of late-round players drafted as the four teams who are the gold standard for drafting (70 for Broncos, 73 average), had just about the same number of players who played in at least one season’s worth of games (39 Broncos, 38 average), did better when counting players who were their teams’ primary starters for at least one year (23 Broncos, 20 average) and found the same number of Pro Bowl as the average (4).
The caveat here is that this is just a quick look further study would be needed to thoroughly evaluate how well Shanahan has drafted late compared to the rest of the league. But the surface analysis makes a good case that Shanahan’s performance compares favorably with the best in the business.
Here are the details for the other four teams:
Patriots last 14 drafts 78 picks in rounds 4-7, 41 who played 16 games or more, 17 who were their team’s primary starters for at least one season, six who made at least one Pro Bowl. Best picks Tom Brady (6), Assante Samuel (4)
Packers last 14 drafts 79 picks in rounds 4-7, 47 who played in 16 games or more, 23 who started at least one season, five who made at least one Pro Bowl, five who made at least one Pro Bowl. Best picks Donald Driver (7), Aaron Kampman (5)
Steelers last 14 drafts, 71 picks in rounds 4-7, 29 who played in at least 16 games, 13 who were their teams primary starters for at least one season, two who made at least one Pro Bowl. Best picks Bret Keisel (7), Aaron Smith (4)
Giants last 14 drafts, 63 picks in rounds 4-7, 35 who played in at least 16 games, 21 who were their team’s primary starter for at least one season, three who made at least one Pro Bowl. Best picks Brandon Jacobs (4), David Diehl (5)
You can reach Rich by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.