After months of media hype, the NFL draft is over, and fans finally have new members of their team to welcome to town.
Expectations for draft picks are high, but are they too high?
Over the course of the next few weeks, "What to Expect" will examine every draft pick from the AFC South in its historical context. Using past performances from similarly drafted players and by examining the way in which each team develops certain positions, I will create a realistic baseline by which to judge the performance of each pick.
Readers should be aware that rookies historically perform much, much worse than fan expectations.
Also, keep in mind that I am not saying the player will perform to these expectations, but rather anything better than the results should be considered a successful rookie year, and anything worse would be a disappointment.
These are not predictions. They are baselines.
Both the Texans and Colts were lauded for their selections of defensive linemen in the middle rounds. Jared Crick was possibly the best third-day pickup, and Josh Chapman filled a major hole in Indianapolis. What, if anything, can their teams expect to get out of them this year? Many have penciled both in as starters. Is that realistic?
Since 2005, there have been 70 defensive linemen taken in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft.
- Seven of them never played a down. Forty played at least eight games their rookie year. Fourteen played in all 16 games.
- Playing time was plentiful, but starts were few. Only six started half their games. Only 23 got starts at all, and only 14 had more than two starts.
- There were some dynamic diamonds in the rough. Kyle Williams, Justin Tuck, Trent Cole, Elvis Dumervil, Geno Atkins and, in earlier years, Robert Mathis came from this range.
- Production is hard to measure for 3-4 linemen like Crick and Chapman, but the players in this range who played made some impact. Fourteen of them had at least two sacks. Twenty-seven players had at least 10 tackles their rookie year.
There aren't many good comps from within these two teams' recent draft histories. The Colts did hit a home run with Mathis, but Chapman is a totally different kind of player. Perhaps the best historical comparison would be a guy like Tony McCoy. He had a nine-year career, picking up 23 sacks and starting for five years in the mid-'90s.
Linemen in this range can expect to play heavily right away but won't necessarily have a huge impact. Players are more likely to never play a down than they are make a Pro Bowl. There are some great difference-makers who come out of this stage of the draft, however.
For Crick and Chapman, a good baseline would be 10 games played, one start, one sack and 10 tackles. These would represent solid rookie years in the top third of productive linemen taken in this range.
A very good season would be 14 games played, five starts, two sacks and 20 tackles. This would be a top-15 season for this draft range.
Long term, if the teams have done their job well, Chapman and Crick can expect to become dependable starters. The odds of either becoming a star on a Pro Bowl level are very long, but they can be capable players for many years.
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