Redskins’ Drafting Among Worst in the NFL

A recap of the Redskins recent draft history.

By Stephan Harutunian

*Note: Hogs Haven long time member StephanHart, or better known as Stephan Harutunian is the sole writer and researcher of this post and this series. I'm just helping him promote it and get it out there for everyone to see. As you will see this is very well researched and shows a variety of perspectives. Enjoy! (Side note: this is not for the faint of heart).

I conducted a study of the of the past 10 years of the NFL Draft, 2004-2013, in large part to satisfy my curiosity and answer a question – how successful have the Washington Redskins been in the NFL Draft? I first wrote on the general draft stats and trends of the NFL at large, but then focused on the Redskins’ most recent draft decade to see how the team’s results compare to the rest of the league. The answer was loud and clear: The Redskins, over the past 10 years, have been among the worst drafting teams in the National Football League.

This fact would probably fail to surprise many Redskins fans, most of which likely have a general collective sense that their team has, in recent memory, traded away too many of its draft picks, missed out on too many of the great young stars, and too often failed to draft players who would have lasting and meaningful careers in Washington. But a breakdown of the numbers and rankings erases any general notions and gives the DC football fan a set of clear-cut facts about their team’s draft performance. And the Redskins’ performance over the past 10 drafts has been, unfortunately but notably, poor.

There are many metrics to be obtained from the data surrounding the NFL draft, but not all are directly relevant to draft performance. Does the following fact – that since 2004 the Redskins have drafted 7 wide receivers, who have played an average of 2.5 seasons per player for the team – provide any clear indication of how much success Washington has had in the draft? No. To measure performance, you must define the parameters of success and then find the corresponding metrics that indicate performance success or failure. To measure the level of success of a team’s draft performance, the following questions need to be answered:

  1. Has the team drafted players that contribute and have lasting careers in the NFL?

  1. Has the team drafted players that at least contribute and have lasting careers for the team that drafted them?

  1. Has the team consistently restocked its roster with young, cheap, and talented players leaving college and turning pro?

  1. Has the team consistently added the very best and most talented former college players?

The draft performance of the Washington Redskins over the past 10 years can be measured by answering these questions.

1. Have the Redskins drafted players that contribute and have lasting careers in the NFL?

Compared to the rest of the league: No. The Redskins have drafted 70 players since 2004; those players have averaged 3.14 seasons in the NFL. This is significantly less than the average NFL draft pick, which has played 3.88 NFL seasons. The 3.14 NFL seasons mark for Redskins’ draft picks ranks dead last, 32nd in the league.

When you look at other teams for comparison, the Redskins are last by a wide margin in this category. One spot ahead on the list, the St. Louis Rams (ranked 31st) have averaged 3.41 NFL seasons played per draft pick.

The 10 best teams in this category are listed below:

Rank

Team

NFL Seasons Played Per Draft Pick

1

Carolina Panthers

4.47

2

New York Jets

4.36

3

San Diego Chargers

4.26

4

Dallas Cowboys

4.24

5

New Orleans Saints

4.19

6

Atlanta Falcons

4.18

7

New York Giants

4.13

8

Jacksonville Jaguars

4.12

9

Green Bay Packers

4.08

10

San Fransisco 49ers

4.02

32

Washington Redskins

3.14

Translation: The Redskins, compared to the rest of the NFL, have done a poor job of drafting NFL-caliber players.

2. Have the Redskins drafted players that contribute and have lasting careers here in Washington?

Compared to the rest of the league: No. Redskins draft picks have played an average of 2.59 seasons in Washington. This is slightly less than the average NFL draft pick, which has played 2.85 seasons for their team. The 2.59 team seasons mark for Redskins draft picks ranks 28th in the league.

The 10 best teams in this category are listed below for comparison:

Rank

Team

Team Seasons Per Draft Pick

1

San Diego Chargers

3.32

2

New York Giants

3.30

3

Atlanta Falcons

3.30

4

New Orleans Saints

3.25

5

Carolina Panthers

3.24

6

San Fransisco 49ers

3.07

7

New York Jets

3.06

8

Jacksonville Jaguars

3.04

9

Green Bay Packers

3.03

10

Tennessee Titans

3.03

28

Washington Redskins

2.59

Translation: The Redskins, compared to the rest of the NFL, have done a poor job of drafting players who contribute to the team and have lasting careers in Washington.

3. Have the Redskins consistently restocked their roster with young, cheap, and talented players leaving college and turning pro?

Compared to the rest of the league: No. As noted above, the Redskins have drafted only 70 players since 2004, which ranks 29th in the NFL, tied with the New York Giants. The same number of picks means the same level of success in the draft, right? Wrong, for several reasons. Consider the fact that the Giants have averaged 3.30 team seasons per draft pick (compared to the Redskins’ 2.59) and 4.13 total NFL seasons per draft pick (compared to the Redskins’ 3.14). So each Giants draft pick has played nearly a full season more for their team and nearly a full season more in the NFL than those drafted by the Redskins. Moreover, of the Giants’ 70 draft picks, 41 have come in rounds 1-4 (the top half) of the draft. Of the Redskins’ 70 picks, only 27 were in the first four rounds of the draft (more on this below).

The Redskins’ 70 draft picks since 2004 is a significantly smaller total than that of the average NFL team, which has drafted around 79 players (79.41).

The 10 best teams in this category are listed below for comparison:

Rank

Team

Draft Picks Since 2004

1

Philadelphia Eagles

96

2

Tennessee Titans

95

3

Green Bay Packers

93

4

Cincinatti Bengals

92

5

San Fransisco 49ers

88

6

New England Patriots

88

7

St. Louis Rams

87

8

Pittsburgh Steelers

84

9

Seattle Seahawks

83

10

Indianapolis Colts

82

29

Washington Redskins

70

Translation: The Redskins, compared to the rest of the NFL, have not consistently restocked their roster with young, cheap talent coming from college to the NFL.

4. Have the Redskins consistently added the very best and most talented former college players to their roster?

Compared to the rest of the league: No. The Redskins have 70 players since 2004. The number of Redskins draft picks by round is listed below:

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8

6

6

7

10

15

18

At the risk of sounding painfully obvious: as a general rule, the very best players are taken earlier in the draft. Pick by pick, round by round, the talent level of available players decreases; therefore, picking players earlier, rather than later, in the draft offers a higher chance of success. The chart above shows that the Redskins have picked a mere 27 of their players in the first half (rounds 1-4) of the draft. That figure represents 39% of their 70 picks. Conversely, 43 of the Redskins’ draft picks (61%) have fallen in the latter half (rounds 5-7) of the draft.

The following chart shows where the Redskins rank in terms of the cumulative number of picks in multiple rounds:

Round:

1st-2nd

1st-3rd

1st-4th

1st-5th

1st-6th

1st-7th

Picks:

14

20

27

37

52

70

Rank:

32nd

32nd

32nd

32nd

31st

30th

These numbers require little explanation. The Redskins are dead-last in the NFL in the number of draft picks in top half of the draft. Washington drafted 27 players in rounds 1-4 while the average NFL team drafted 41.84 players. In fact, no other team drafted less than 32 players in rounds 1-4 (the Saints drafted 32 players).

The 10 best teams in this category are listed below:

Rank

Team

No. of Draft Picks, Rounds 1-4

1

Tennessee Titans

53

2

Cincinatti Bengals

51

3

New England Patriots

49

4

Philadelphia Eagles

48

5

Green Bay Packers

47

6

Denver Broncos

47

7

St. Louis Rams

46

8

San Fransisco 49ers

44

9

Baltimore Ravens

44

10

Buffalo Bills

44

32

Washington Redskins

27

Translation: The Redskins, compared to the rest of the NFL, have not consistently restocked their roster with the very best young, cheap talent coming from college to the NFL.

Conclusion: Over the past 10 seasons, the Washington Redskins’ draft results have been among the worst in the NFL. This is not intended to be a pessimistic viewpoint, but a realistic observation of the facts. Compared to the rest of the league, the Redskins have drafted fewer players (70) and drafted a small percentage of their picks (39%) in the top half of the draft. Their draft picks have played shorter careers both in Washington and in the NFL. My next post will note and comment on some other interesting Redskins draft stats, and the final draft post will show how the Redskins have drafted in more recent years and how the team in trending in the NFL.

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