NFL Draft 2012: What to Expect from Brandon Marshall's Rookie Year

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 9, 2012

Cato June was a fifth-round linebacker who made the Pro Bowl. There aren't many like him.
Cato June was a fifth-round linebacker who made the Pro Bowl. There aren't many like him.Doug Benc/Getty Images

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 that 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.

The Jaguars used a fifth-round pick to draft Brandon Marshall, a linebacker out of Nevada. Gene Smith has rarely invested draft picks in linebackers before, but he saw something he liked in Marshall. What can the Jaguars hope to get out of him?

Since 2005, 33 linebackers have been taken in the fifth round:

  • Six of them never made an NFL roster. Eleven played five games or fewer. Eleven played 12 games or more.
  • Only two had sacks. The high was 1.5 by Nic Harris of Carolina in 2010.
  • Only eight had as many as eight tackles.
  • Only four started games. Only Michael Boley started as many as six games (11).

Out of 285 linebackers taken in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds since 1990, only six went on to make a Pro Bowl. The ceiling for a player like Brandon Marshall is to be a guy like Boley who has been a multi-year starter in the NFL and effective for several years.

Recent Jaguars drafted in this range include Bryan Smith, Alvin Bowen and Thomas Williams. They played a combined 14 games for the Jags with three tackles. Pat Thomas was taken in the sixth round in 2005. His career with the Jags spanned three seasons, 15 games and 15 tackles.



If Brandon Marshall makes an NFL roster, he has about a 50/50 chance of having a five-year NFL career.

For the Jaguars in 2012, if he plays in 10 games and has tackles, he'll be in the top third of linebackers drafted in this slot recently.

This is most likely a depth/special teams pick. Anything more than a few seasons of coverage duty on kicks would be a great bonus for the Jaguars.