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News » The NFL draft isn't rocket science ... or is it?

The NFL draft isn't rocket science ... or is it?

The NFL draft isn't rocket science ... or is it?
Let's try to put to rest some of talk about the Detroit Lions' No. 1 pick in Saturday's NFL draft.

To Matt Stafford, or not Matt Stafford, that is the question. Simple? I don't think so.

There is more than one way to analyze the draft, and even among those, we must make subjective conclusions or projections on individual players.

For instance, a contributing writer named Appaloosa, a self-described engineer and quot;number-cruncherquot; for bleacherreport.com, studied all first-round draft picks from 1995 and 2004 (giving young players a break because they have not reached quot;full potentialquot;) and graded them from 1 (bust) to 5 (future hall-of-famer).

His analysis showed that, overall, there were 15 percent busts vs. 7 percent future hall-of-famers. The low end of the scale included running backs with an average 2.61 grade, while linebackers were at the top end at 3.14. (Then again, my guess is that injuries to running backs skew even those numbers).

Quarterbacks, which we are looking at, graded 2.70, or nearly as bad as RBs, but also showed a 30 percent shot at being a 4 (Pro Bowler) or 5 (HoF).

Wanting to make some of my own observations, I looked at every first-round quarterback chosen in the last 20 years and did my own number-crunching.

I found that teams drafted 44 quarterbacks in the first round of the last 20 drafts. As for studs in that group (here's some subjectivity), I'd include Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, and even Matt Ryan based on one year.

As for guys I'd like to see in a Lions uniform, how about Drew Bledsoe, Steve McNair, Kerry Collins, Daunte Culpepper (in his prime), Chad Pennington, Carson Palmer or Jay Cutler.

That's 13 guys, out of 44, or 29 percent - right at the 30 percent that Appaloosa projected.

As for busts, the road is littered with them: Andre Ware, Dan McGwire, Todd Marinovich, Dave Klingler, Tommy Maddox, Rick Mirer, Heath Shuler, Jim Druckenmiller, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman, Alex Smith, Matt Leinart, and JaMarcus Russell.

Some of these names might be a little premature, but how about Jeff George, Patrick Ramsey, Vince Young and Brady Quinn, are they busts or not?

Based on our 20-20 vision of history, we're approaching 50 percent of guys who are either busts or just such a large disappointment that we judge them rather harshly anyway.

I'd say the jury remains out on guys such as Vince Young, Brady Quinn, Aaron Rodgers, and Jason Campbell. And Pennington, to me, is a really good quarterback during the rare times when he is healthy - so how do you grade him?

But we see that taking a quarterback is mostly feast or famine, and, in my mind, mostly famine.

Therefore, I'm not inclined to support the drafting of Matt Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick.

However, after looking at draft histories, I'm even more upset that the Lions did not go after Jay Cutler, who will torment Detroit as the QB in Chicago.

NFL teams are notoriously stingy with NFL draft picks, and I don't know why. The Lions' last Pro Bowl quarterback is Greg Landry in 1973. We've all heard this a hundred times.

In search of the next Pro Bowl quarterback since then, the Lions have drafted 15 quarterbacks, including three in the first round, and produced exactly zero Pro Bowls, zero Super Bowls, and the early reports on the only one left, Drew Stanton, are not good.

Not only that, but all three first-round picks - Chuck Long, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington - were busts.

Meanwhile, the Bears traded two first-round draft picks, a third-round choice and Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler, a fourth-year player who already has a Pro Bowl appearance, not to mention the prime of his career coming up.

I'd say the price was pretty cheap, wouldn't you?

If 30 percent of first-round drafted quarterbacks turn into great players, then three first-round picks is the going price in my mind.

That means the Bears have a franchise quarterback, the Broncos have given away the farm, and the Lions missed a prime opportunity.

Don't go throwing another good pick away.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 25, 2009

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Mike Lehan Name: Mike Lehan
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