(I urge people to skip down to the Basic Thoughts section if you're in hurry, its the most interesting part)
When grading Andy Reid's ability to draft its easy to make an argument either way. If you're trying to support Andy you talk about Brian Westbrook and Trent Cole. If you're an Andy Reid detractor you talk about Jerome McDougle and Freddie Mitchell. With all the disagreement I wanted to see if there was a way to statistically compare the Eagles round by round against other NFL teams since the beginning of Andy Reid's tenure. I googled and some guy on a Cleveland blog did an analysis categorizing players based on talent and then showing the chance of picking a player of this talent pool in each round. Here's a link to his article if you want a full explanation of how he grouped players (recommended):
Its not perfect but he laid out a pretty good system. I then grouped Eagles players into categories due to his guidelines. I only went through 2009 because at least 3 years are needed to properly assess a players potential. Even three years are sketchy because although we know a players potential, its hard to say if they will consistently meet that potential (i.e. DeSean Jackson)
Heres the short version of the categories. The players are ranked largely by WCAV (Weighted Career Approximate Value). Here's a full explanation of that statistic: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?page_id=518
Anyway here's the categories:
-8 GP: Simple, any player who plays in 8 NFL games, 77% of all NFL players drafted between 1999-2006 got this far.
-Just another Guy: Players who stick around for at least a few years but contribute little, 55%.
EAGLES: 58% of Eagles reached this level, once again pretty much on par with the league. Examples: FredEx, Barry Gardner, Doug Brzezinski, Max Jean-Giles
-Depth: Below average starters or solid backups, 28%
EAGLES: This is first significant stat. 41% of Eagles draftees at least contribute. The Eagles are ahead of the league average in just about every round. The biggest difference comes in the 2nd round. 80% of Eagles 2nd round picks reach this stage, whereas the league average is about 58%. Examples: Broderick Bunkley (based on his time here), Todd Pinkston, Jason Avant, Kevin Kolb,Winston Justice, Sean Considine, Omar Gaither.
-Good Starter: Above average starters, 14%
EAGLES: 18% of Eagles draft picks reach this level. However the Eagles are way higher than the league average at picking starters in rounds 1-3, they then fall below in the late rounds. In Round 1 six of Andy's nine first round picks have become solid starters, where the league average is 50%. He has however only gotten three players of at least this level from rounds 4-7 (Celek, Cole, Herremans). Other Examples: Shawn Andrews (a hard guy to place), Lito Sheppard, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Patterson.
-Upper Tier Starters: 6%
EAGLES: 8%. The Eagles are slightly below average in finding this caliber players in the 1st round. The league average is close to 30% and only 2 of 9 first round picks (Corey Simon and Donovan McNabb) reached this level. However the league average for 2nd round picks dips below 10% while the Eagles have had 20% of their 2nd rounders reach this level. Examples: Sheldon Brown and Corey Simon...for the record: Sheldon Brown's WCAV didn't justify this position, I kind of went on opinion. On the other hand Pinkston's WCAV had him as a good starter and I put him in the "Depth" category.
EAGLES: The Eagles have picked 5 stars in 92 picks, putting them slightly above the NFL average. Here they are: Donovan McNabb (say what you want but he went to 5 straight pro bowls at one point), Brian Westbrook, Trent Cole, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy. A little preemptive on McCoy and Jackson I know. They are basically ranked on the average of their first three seasons.
EAGLES: In 92 players Andy has yet to have one emerge as a superstar, although I see no reason LeSean McCoy couldn't be the first based on his improvement levels so far. One of 100 is about league average so you could say were due.
-This research tells me that Andy Reid has unfairly labeled as a poor early round drafter. Reid has consistently gotten starters in the first couple rounds at rates higher than the league average. He has been consistent albeit unexciting. Fans take it for granted when your first round pick becomes a starter even though 50% of first round picks never become consistent starters. I know fans want the first round guy to be a pro-bowler every time, but in reality Mike Patterson is a good pick. Also remember that the Eagles usually draft in the bottom half of the draft. The chance of drafting a starter drops from about 75% for a top 5 pick to about 40% when picking around twentieth.
-On average teams first round picks become stars once every seven years. Reid is 1 for 9, it just so happened it was his first draft and this is very much a "what have you done for me lately" business
-The chance of drafting a star in the 2nd round is about 5% (1 in 20 years). The chance of doing it back to back years is about 0.25%. (LeSean McCoy (2008) and DeSean Jackson (2009) both qualify)
-Hearing about stories like Tom Brady or Brian Westbrook and Trent Cole sometimes skews our vision of just how hard it is to hit on late round picks. The chance of drafting even a modiocre starter/quality backup in rounds 6 and 7 is about 5%. Kurt Coleman=GREAT PICK. Jamar Chaney=GREAT PICK (Even if they never improve). Moises Fokou=pretty good pick (its true). Jason Kelce and Brian Rolle=potentially PHENOMENAL picks
-If Casey Matthews can maintain his role as a nickle linebacker hes better than about 75% of players picked in this round
-A lot of people bash Andy Reid based on his last two drafts but we really don't know how good Brandon Graham and Nate Allen will be yet. Considering Reid's history we should at least give his players a chance before ripping him.
-Lastly, 14% of NFL players drafted become above average starters. That means if a team has one pick in each round and ends up with one starter it is an average draft. I urge Eagles fans to remember these statistics when complaining about every pick we make that doesn't pan out.