On April 25, the Washington Redskins will exercise their right to claim the 13th selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Should they opt to use the pick on a player (as opposed to trading it away), what kind of player can they reasonably be expected to get?Thirteen is an interesting spot after all. On the one hand, it doesn't carry with it the white-hot pressure of, say, a top five pick ... the kind of pick that, when missed badly, can set a franchise back for years. On the other hand, it is hardly a throwaway either. Maybe at pick 28 you can write a bust off to bad luck, but at 13, you better hope the guy you tap isn't a whiff. No, there isn't a set formula for judging the merits of career after-the-fact–injuries, regime-changes and other X factors can sometimes overtake the most promising of careers—but at the very least, you do want to be able to look back five or 10 years down the road and say, "Yeah, but he could play."
With pre-draft hype building to a crescendo (you can't swing a dead cat around the Internet these days without hitting draft analysis and prediction), this week we're taking a look at the history of the 13th pick.As one might expect, over the course of 73 years (as far back as NFL.com keeps draft records), the success/failure spectrum has run the gamut. On one extreme you'll find all-time greats and Hall-of-Famers, like RB Jim Brown (arguably the greatest player in league history), RB Franco Harris, DE Carl Eller and TE Tony Gonzalez. On the other you'll find afterthoughts and asterisks, like OT James Fitzpatrick, WR Lindsay Scott, DT Troy Archer, LB Jim Files. You'll even find tragedy, like that of RB David Overstreet.This research is not offered as prediction or analysis of what the Washington Redskins will do with the 13th pick in the 2009 draft. Instead, it is offered as context and a chance to consider flesh-and-blood examples of the kind of player the pick has brought through NFL history. My original intent was to look at a representative sample of thirteenth picks, and I set out using a 30-year window as a base line. Before I knew it, however, I had gone back 40 years, to 1969, (what can I say, the internet connection was cooking).
Here for your consideration is what I found.Since 1969, players chosen at #13:
• Fourteen have played 10 years or more (not counting active players at less than 10).
• Nine have played 5 years or less (not counting active players).
• Longest career: 17 yrs (OT Mike Kenn, ATL)
• Shortest career: one year (RB David Overstreet (MIA) deceased; two years RB Leon Burns (SD))
• Average career length (retired players): 8.1 yrs
• Drafted By Position:
8 - Defensive Line7 - Linebacker6 - Offensive Line6 - Running Back3 - Tight End2 - Defensive Back1 - Quarterback• One positive trend that bears mention is recent success rate. A quick look at the last ten years shows a very solid list of players, including DT's Adam Carriker, Marcus Stroud and Ty Warren, DE/LB John Abraham, and OT Jammal Brown. The Redskins should be so lucky.
Since 1936, players chosen at #13:
• Hall of Famers: 5 - RB Jim Brown, DE Carl Eller, RB Franco Harris, TE Kellen Winslow, TE Tony Gonzalez (book it)• There's a certain symmetry at play. As noted above, NFL.com's official draft history goes back to 1936. The 13th pick that year was used to select RB Bernie Scherer, by a team called the Boston Redskins. One year later, that team would leave Beantown and head south to its new home in Washington, DC. In the 73 years since, the Redskins have had the 13th selection one other time, and selected...RB Ray McDonald in 1967. Redskins fans jonesing for RB Knowshon Moreno should take note. Could be karma.
Let's get to the matter at hand. The list below is broken into three sections:
1. The NFL started tracking games started in 1980, so for the 29-year period between 1980-2008, each player is listed by career length (retired players only), number of years in which he started at least half of games he played in ("strt"), and teams with which he spent his career.2. Pre-1980, players are listed by career length and teams played for. 3. Pre-1969 (my artificial 40-year cut-off; the internet connection wasn't that fast), players are listed only by name, position and team drafted by.You are invited to make your own observations, offer additional breakdowns and, if you wish, draw your own conclusions. And, as I have found myself doing the last couple of days, you may take a second or two reflecting on your own job, and whether or not it hangs on something as tenuous telling a Jim Brown from a Chet Hanulak before the fact.Hail, and enjoy ...
Since 1969, players chosen at #13: