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 last few weeks, "What to Expect" has examined 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 have tried to 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.
As we come towards the end of "What to Expect", we find the Titans, Colts and Jaguars all spending seventh round picks on defensive linemen. What can they expect to get out of Scott Solomon, Tim Fugger, and Jaris Pendleton?
Not much, but there are hidden gems to be found.
Since 2005, there have been 49 defensive linemen taken in the seventh round.
- Eleven never made an NFL roster (22%). Eighteen more played four or fewer games in year one. Twelve appeared in 10 or more games and six played in all 16 games.
- Only three started more than two games, and only one started more than four. Rodrique Wright of Miami started nine games in 2007.
- Thirteen picked up at least one sack. Stylez G. White had an amazing eight sacks his rookie year.
- Only eight had more than 10 tackles.
- Since 1990, only 122 seventh-round lineman have made NFL teams. Only about a quarter of them made it to five years in the NFL. Five of them became Pro Bowlers. Jay Ratliff and Leon Lett are among the most memorable.
- Michael McCrary and Raheem Brock posted nice careers in this range with several big sack totals.
- Roughly half of those who make the NFL play for two seasons or less.
Recently, Indianapolis has gotten production from the seventh round through Ricardo Matthews, Josh Mallard and Keyunta Dawson. The aforementioned Brock was also a seventh-round pick for Philly, but played first for the Colts.
The Jags have taken many seventh-round linemen like Bobby McCray, Rob Meier and James Wyche.
Tennessee traded up to get Solomon, but they don't have much history to go on here. Zach Clayton was taken in the seventh round last year, and played just three games in 2011.
At this step of the draft, teams are taking flyers on guys they hope might turn out to be special. Many of them won't even make the team. The odds are good that one of these three players won't play in 2012 at all.
A good baseline for a player taken in this slot is four games played and a tackle or two. Anything more than that has to be considered excellent production.
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