A Realistic Look at the Draft and Rookie Production

As we are all too painfully aware, the Jets are looking at a lot of holes next year, and have a very short supply of available cap space to deal with it. So that means many of the holes have to come from the 2013 draft. There have already been a sizable number of mock drafts posted here, and there will be countless number on the internet, that have the Jets drafting through 7 rounds according to their needs. All, sounds good, right?

Not so fast. The facts are that rookies don't give nearly the production that fans hope for, and even when they do get signifiant playing time, they usually stink. Players like Demario Davis, Antonio Allen, Josh Bush and Jordan White didn't play much this year, but the overriding reason is not that the Jets had a bad draft - it was actually a very average draft - or because Ryan is an idiot and only plays his favorites, its because these rookies would have likely cost their team and may well have cost themselves by playing significantly more time. Even Coples' playing time was perfectly normal for a first round draft pick.

The college game is a world away from the NFL. Pro players are a lot stronger, and have much more knowledge and experience. For a college player to become great, or even good, in his rookie year, It takes a phenomenal athlete put in the right situation. Take a look at the following table from the 2012 draft:

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Total % of Good Great
Picks Snaps Players Players
Round 1 32 57% 8 7
Round 2 31 52% 5 4
Round 3 32 28% 3 3
Round 4 40 20% 3 1
Round 5 35 10% 1 0
Round 6 37 9% 0 1
Round 7 46 8% 1 0
Total 253 24% 21 16

Rookies drafted in the first 2 rounds only played in a little more than half of their unit's plays, and after the 2nd round the percentage drops off dramatically. Even in the first round, teams have less than a 50/50 chance of getting a good player in his rookie year, and after Rd 4, it is really a needle in the haystack (A "Good" player is defined here as a player who plays in at least 250 plays and has a PFF rating of over zero - a very low bar, and a "Great" player has a PFF rating over 10. Btw, this is a macro-analysis, and disagreements on PFF ratings for any particular player should have a negligible affect on the analysis).

So enjoy the mock draft season. I'm a draft geek myself. But please be realistic about what you can expect from the draft in terms of it improving the 2013 Jets. The Jets should consider trading down from the no. 9 spot in order to acquire more picks in the late 1st Rd - 2nd Rd area so that they can get as much production as they can from this draft. But this draft alone will not fill all that many holes. After Rd 2, or Rd 3 at the latest, it makes less sense to consider short term needs much at all, because the likelihood is that the player won't play much anyway. Improving the Jets will take more than one offseason.

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