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Recent history of the 27th pick in the NFL Draft

We know the odds of landing a “superstar” late in the 1st round is less likely than when the Saints picked 15th a year ago. At least, we think we know. When looking at the recent history of the 27th pick since 1990, though, more specific conclusions on the percentages can be drawn. The reality is the 27th pick has been quite successful, especially recently. Part of that, I would think, is that good teams draft 27th and they tend to evaluate talent well if they want to stay good. Like when I did this exercise last year, I gave each pick a grade to get a sense for what the aggregate would be. The Saints have only drafted 27th one time in their history and they took Robert Meachem with that pick in 2007. Here is the 27th pick from 1990-2013 to consider for comparison.

2013: Texans selected DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. As a starter he had 52 catches for 802 yards and 2 TDs last year. B- (I’m giving this pick a B- for now but a lot can change over time with that evaluation)

2012: Bengals selected Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin. Has been a plus starter the past two years. A good pick, though he battled ankle problems last year. B

2011: Ravens selected Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Has 4 ints in 3 seasons. Was a 16 game starter last year for first time. Decent player, Super Bowl champion. B-

2010: Patriots selected Devin McCourty, FS, Rutgers. Has 15 interceptions in 4 years, a 4 year starter and a Pro Bowler in 2010. A

2009: Colts selected Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut. Decent role player, rushed for 2,377 yards in 5 seasons at 4.3 per carry. C+

2008: Chargers selected Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona. Was a started for 3 seasons, now a reserve guy. 14 career interceptions. Decent career so far B-

2007: Saints selected Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee. Still in the league and back with Saints. Never lived up to draft status, maybe, but has been an explosive big play guy. Super Bowl champion. 27 career TDs. C+

2006: Panthers selected DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis. Two time 1000 yard rusher. Career 4.8 ypc. One time Pro Bowler. Maybe not a superstar, but a very good career that is still going. A-

2005: Falcons selected Roddy White, WR, UAB. I hate to admit it but this was a home run. 6 time 1000 yard receiver, 4 time pro bowler. A

2004: Texans selected Jason Babin, OLB, Western Michigan. Still in league, two time Pro Bowler, 62.5 career sacks including 18 in 2011. A

2003: Chiefs selected Larry Johnson, RB, Penn State. In 2005 and 2006 was arguably the best back in the league, then faded fast due to injuries. 2 Time Pro Bowler. B+

2002: 49ers selected Mike Rumph, DB, Miami. 3 INTS in 5 seasons. Never amounted to much. D+

2001: Vikings selected Michael Bennett, RB, Wisconsin. 3703 career yards at 4.4 yards per carry. One time Pro Bowler in 10 year career. B

2000: Jets selected Anthony Becht, TE, West Virginia. Journeyman player with an 11 year career. 21 career touchdowns. C+

1999: Lions selected Aaron Gibson, T, Wisconsin. Started 34 games in 6 years, largely a disappointment. D+

1998: Chiefs selected Victor Riley, T, Auburn. Started 93 games in 8 seasons, including 3 years with Saints. Decent player. C+

1997: Panthers selected Rae Carruth, WR, Colorado. Played 3 years before getting in serious legal trouble. Currently spending life in jail for murder. F

1996: Packers selected John Michels, T, USC. Started just 14 games in 4 seasons. Bust. D-

1995: Steelers selected Mark Bruener, TE, Washington. 14 year journeyman career, 18 career touchdowns. Good blocker. C+

1994: Bills selected Jeff Burris, DB, Notre Dame. 10 year career with 19 career interceptions. Decent player. B-

1993: 49ers selected Todd Kelly, OLB, Tennessee. 5.5 sacks in 5 years. Bust. D-

1992: Bills selected John Fina, T, Arizona. 11 year career starting 131 games. Pretty good player. B

1991: Giants selected Jarrod Bunch, FB, Michigan. Lasted only 4 years due to a major knee injury, but was good in 1992. C-

1990: Falcons selected Darion Conner, LB, Jackson State. 33 sacks in 8 year career. Best year was 10.5 sack season with Saints in 94. B-

So some interesting take aways from all of this:

  • The cumulative GPA for these picks is 2.21. You may think that’s not very good, but I consider C or 2.00 as “average”. So the odds are you’re getting a better than average player. When I did this last year for the 15th pick, the GPA  was only slightly better at 2.28. So it seems like at least historically speaking, there’s not a huge drop off between the success in the NFL a 27th pick has versus a 15th pick. You would think the difference would be more significant, but it’s not.
  • Since 1990, the 27th pick has yielded just 8 defensive players and 16 offensive players. Clearly the talent leans offense this late in the 1st round. Interesting to note that 5 of the 8 defensive players taken were defensive backs. On offensive it was more spread out as four were receivers, five were linemen, five were running backs and two were tight ends.
  • When I did this last year there were only two Pro Bowl trips combined between the entire run of players since 1990 for the 15th pick. With the 27th pick since 1990, there’s been 11 Pro Bowl trips.
  • The best 27th picks since 1990 are Devin McCourty, DeAngelo Williams, Roddy White and Jason Babin. If the Saints could get a player that’s had a career like those guys, I’d be ecstatic.
  • Interesting to note that the 27th pick has been really good since 2003. You could argue that Robert Meachem is the worst 27th pick from 2003 to 2013, and he’s by no means a bad player.
  • Since 1990 I consider 5 players of the 24 drafted 27th overall as “busts”. That’s just under 21%. I also had 6 players between C- and C+, so we’ll say that yields a 25% chance of landing an “average” player. That leaves just better than a 54% chance, based on history since 1990, of landing a player that’s “pretty good to very good”. I like those odds.

I have to say, based on all this information, I feel good about the Saints chances of getting a pretty solid player even picking this low in the 1st round. If you look at the stats I ran last year for the 15th pick, there’s actually very little difference between the two historically.

So are you feeling better or worse about the 27th pick now than you felt before reading this?