Got my Draftmetrics book in the mail over the weekend and in browsing through it, I cringed at the Chapter Three conclusions because it shows why drafting wide receivers is often a risky proposition.
The folks at Draftmetrics studied NFL drafts from 1990-2009, and in those 20 years the return on so-called skill position players was bad and the return on wide receivers was, well, horrible.
Of the 677 wide receivers selected in the 20 years only 32 percent of them have enjoyed careers of five years or more. Obviously the percentage is driven down because those picked the past five years have not yet had the opportunity to play five years or more. But when you consider the same variables applied to other postions -- defensive linemen (40 percent), linebackers (41 percent), defensive backs (40 percent) and even punishing positions like RB (38 percent) -- they still yield a higher chance the player will play five years for you and the investment on a wide receiver begins to look prohibitive.
And the statistics aren't that much greater for wide receivers picked from 1990-99 who already had the opportunity for extended careers. Only 39 percent of them lasted five years or more while percentages at other positions soared into the 40s -- linebacker 46 percent, defensive lineman 50 percent, defensive back 49 percent.
Now here's the part that should scream buyer beware: A depressing 36 percent of wide receivers managed even a modest career length of two years with 25 percent not making NFL rosters at all. Only 10 percent started as rookies.
Wide receivers, Draftmetrics concludes, have the lowest percentage of players who last three years or more in te NFL.
Conversely, defensive linemen and offensive linemen are the least risky positions to draft. Fifty percent of defensive linemen selected from 1990-99 had careers of five years or more and 11 percent started as rookies while 49 percent started at least one season.
For offensive linemen, 49 percent selected from 1990-99 had careers of five years or more and 15 percent started as rookies while 51 percent started at least one season.
Said another way, if a team picked an offensive lineman he was more likely than not to be a starter for at least one year.
[NOTE: Draftmetrics is available to the public. Go to the website if you're interested.]