by Tony Villiotti
March 10, 02014
When NFL draft flops are discussed, the conversation usually centers around the first round and the names Ryan Leaf, Mike Mamula (whether deserved or not) and JaMarcus Russell are popular conversation topics. Teams also have high expectations, though, for players selected in the second and third rounds of the draft. In the second round, for example, the general expectation is that the average draftee will start over 40 games in his NFL career and over 90% of drafted players will start at least one game. These expectations will be covered in more detail in a future article.
So flops in the second and third rounds do hurt. Teams are expecting help in those rounds, not buying a lottery ticket as they are largely doing later in the draft. In this article, I identify some of the recent second and third round flops. The composition of the list and the order of the flops is largely a matter of opinion but I have tried to base my opinion on facts to the extent possible.
Players drafted between 2004 and 2011 were reviewed and considered for my “flop list”. Draftees from 2012 and 2013 were excluded because there are still opportunities for those players to be at least somewhat successful.
First, some facts about the less successful members of the 2004 through 2011 draft classes:
• 63 players of the players drafted did not start a single NFL game
-83 players started five games or fewer
• 10 players did not play in a single NFL game
• Of the 53 players who did play in at least one game
-20 played only one NFL season
-15 played only two NFL seasons
-11 played only three NFL seasons
-Six played only four NFL seasons
-One played five NFL seasons
There is no question that injury plays a role with many of the players who end up being disappointments. For simplicity sake, no players were disqualified from my list due to injury. The assumption made was that injury is part of the game and it is not feasible to separate a career-impeding injury from one that does not stop a player from taking the field.
The following table lists my top 25 flops and includes the team that drafted the player, his playing position, the year he was drafted, the number of years in the NFL (only years in which the player was on the field for one or more games count) and number of starts.
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