Later rounds teeming with All-Pro talent

Posted: May 08, 2014

THE FIRST round of the NFL draft is both sexy and important. But overlook the remaining six rounds at your own peril.

Check out the list of first-team All-Pros last season, where about half were former first-round picks.

The other half, of course, were not.

The numbers are interesting, though not unique to 2013. Of the 24 players on the first-team All-Pro, 11 were selected in the first round.

Just three of the offensive players were first-rounders, and none of the three Eagles - LeSean McCoy (second round), Evan Mathis (third round) and Jason Peters (undrafted).

Defensively, where the Birds are being encouraged by many to make their first pick tomorrow night, eight of last year's 12 All-Pros (four linemen, linebackers and backs) were picked in the first round. Two out of three.

Among the exceptions:

* Seattle's Richard Sherman, arguably the best cornerback in the league and a playoff hero for the champs, lasted until the fifth round in 2011.

Nine of the Seahawks' defensive starters in last year's Super Bowl - you remember, where Peyton Manning looked like a rookie - were drafted beyond the first round. Game MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-rounder in 2011 and lineman Michael Bennett wasn't selected at all.

Seattle's 10 defensive starters that were drafted went, on average, in the fourth round - a calculation that includes first-round safety Earl Thomas.

Thomas went with the 14th pick in 2010, famously right after the Eagles took Brandon Graham.

* The second (Calvin Johnson) and third (Joe Thomas) overall picks from the 2007 draft were All-Pros last year, while the first pick that year (JaMarcus Russell) was out of football.

* LeSean McCoy watched fellow running backs Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown and Beanie Wells go in the first round in 2009. The Eagles scooped up McCoy with the 53rd pick, right after Cleveland picked David Veikune, a linebacker out of Hawaii whose career lasted 14 NFL games.

* Two-time All-Pro, and six-time Pro Bowler, Jason Peters was undrafted in 2004 when the Bills signed him as a free agent. Ditto for Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert, when he signed with San Diego in 2008.

* The Jaguars generally show the other 31 teams what not to do, including the 2012 draft when they picked a punter while Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was still on the board.

While hindsight is impeccable, it is never acceptable to take a punter in the third round. The guy the Jags picked, University of California's Bryan Anger, had the same net putting yards last year (40.5) as the Eagles' Donnie Jones, a free agent signed by the Birds last March.

Instead of getting a punter in the third round of the 2012 draft, the Eagles selected Nick Foles - 18 spots after Jacksonville selected Anger, a rather appropriate name for fans of the beleaguered Jaguars.

The first round is like the PGA player who can drive it 380 yards. It's nice, but success in the rest of the draft is what puts you in position for championships.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 2012 second-round pick Bobby Wagner was the MVP of Super Bowl 48. It was actually 2011 seventh-rounder Malcolm Smith.


On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|