Just like scouting players for the draft is an inexact science, evaluating drafts is a tricky business as well.
It's impossible to put a grade with any kind of substance on a draft right after it's been concluded. The Houston Texans were roundly criticized for taking defensive end Mario Williams No. 1 overall in 2006. Looks like they made the right move in passing on Reggie Bush and Vince Young now, doesn't it.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Tuesday that the hope is the team will get three starters out of this draft even though the team lacks first- and third-round picks. They feel like they have some good grades on players that will be available in the middle and late rounds, and the belief is three could eventually become starters.
"When we put a final grade on a player, that grade reflects what that player's going to be, in all likelihood in year two and three,'' Angelo said. "I remember when I was with the Cowboys, coach [Tom] Landry always would say if a player hasn't reached what we graded him at in year three, then obviously that in all likelihood was not going to happen.
"When we get a player graded, I want to take the onus off the scouts, to say: When you give that player that final grade, don't think that player has to come in and do that his rookie year. That's what is going to happen over a period of time and we really are looking at the second year, but the third year is when it has to happen."
How do you evaluate what a successful strike ratio is? That's another difficult question to answer. For one man's idea, we turn to former Texans general manager Charley Casserly, the man who signed off on Williams before he left the organization. Casserly has put together a 10-year study on drafts, evaluating each one after four years had passed. We found this in Mike Reiss' terrific blog over at the Boston Globe.
Here are the percentages Casserly outlined for finding a starting player in each round:
1st round: 75 percent
2nd round: 50 percent
3rd round: 30 percent
4th round: 25 percent
5th round: 20 percent
6th round: 9 percent
7th round: 9 percent
So, Landry said drafts could be evaluated after three years and Casserly says four years is best for a measure. More on that in a little bit.
We've compiled some numbers over Angelo's seven drafts with the Bears, which total 63 picks, 27 of which remain on the roster (nine on offense, 18 on defense).
Here is a round-by-round breakdown with projected 2009 Bears' starters in bold:
1st round--7 total picks (Marc Colombo, Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Tommie Harris, Cedric Benson, Greg Olsen, Chris Williams)
Projected Bears starters: 2 for 7, 29 percent
Projected total starters: 4 for 7, 57 percent (Colombo in Dallas, Benson in Cincinnati)
2nd round--7 total picks (Charles Tillman, Tank Johnson, Mark Bradley, Danieal Manning, Devin Hester, Dan Bazuin, Matt Forte)
Projected Bears starters: 3 for 7, 43 percent
Projected total starters: 3 for 7, 43 percent
3rd round--9 total picks (Roosevelt Williams, Terrence Metcalf, Lance Briggs, Bernard Berrian, Dusty Dvoracek, Garrett Wolfe, Mike Okwo, Earl Bennett, Marcus Harrison)
Projected Bears starters: 2 for 9, 22 percent
Projected total starters: 3 for 9, 33 percent (Berrian in Minnesota)
4th round--9 total picks (Alex Brown, Todd Johnson, Ian Scott, Nathan Vasher*, Leon Joe, Kyle Orton, Jamar Williams, Josh Beekman, Craig Steltz)
Projected Bears starters: 2 for 9, 22 percent*
Projected total starters: 3 for 9, 33 percent (Orton in Denver)
5th round--13 total picks (Bobby Gray, Bryan Knight, Bobby Wade, Justin Gage, Tron LaFavor, Claude Harriott, Craig Krenzel, Airese Currie, Mark Anderson, Kevin Payne, Corey Graham*, Zack Bowman, Kellen Davis)
Projected Bears starters: 2 for 13, 15 percent
Projected total starters: 3 for 13, 23 percent (Gage in Tennessee)
6th round--8 total picks (Adrian Peterson, Jamin Elliott, Bryan Fletcher, Joe Odom, Brock Forsey, Chris Harris, J.D. Runnels, Tyler Reed)
Projected Bears starters: 0 for 8, 0 percent
Projected total starters: 1 for 8, 13 percent (Harris in Carolina)
7th round--10 total picks (Bryan Anderson, Alfredo Marshall, Rod Wilson, Trumaine McBride, Aaron Brant, Ervin Baldwin, Chester Adams, Joey LaRocque, Marcus Monk, Kirk Barton)
Projected Bears starters: 0 for 10, 0 percent
Projected total starters: 0 for 10, 0 percent
* Vasher and Graham are both projected as starters as it's unknown at this point who will claim that job.
That chart doesn't allow for draft picks from 2007 and 2008 to be fully evaluated, although some have already been cut loose from the team.
Here are players from those two drafts who are not projected as starters for 2009 and could eventually impact the success ratios above (players listed as projected starters above from those drafts are not on this list):
1st round--Greg Olsen. When Olsen reaches the starting lineup, it will improve Angelo's first-round statistics. Desmond Clark is expected to remain atop the depth chart because of his blocking ability in 2009.
2nd round--Dan Bazuin. No help coming here.
3rd round--Marcus Harrison, Garrett Wolfe, Mike Okwo. If Harrison continues to develop he should eventually crack the lineup.
4th round--Josh Beekman, Craig Steltz. Beekman started all 16 games last season but it's unlikely he will be in the lineup this year. He could eventually return as a starter.
5th round--Corey Graham, Kellen Davis. As we outlined above, if Graham isn't a starter this year, he could be before it's done.
6th round--No picks last two years.
7th round--Trumaine McBride, Aaron Brant, Ervin Baldwin, Chester Adams, Joey LaRocque, Marcus Monk, Kirk Barton. Doesn't look like help is on the way.
Again, the difficult thing to do is to come up with what is an accepted strike ratio leaguewide. If you use Casserly's numbers, the Bears are below the mark. What cannot be debated is that the draft-driven Bears' organization has not built its 2009 team through the draft.
*** The most glaring part of the charts is the first-round success, or lack of success. That is where you find "blues," the elite players that clubs are built around. Trading the first-round pick this year and next landed the Bears a player they might be able to term a blue very soon--quarterback Jay Cutler.
*** Angelo has drafted four Pro Bowl players in seven drafts--three of them position players: Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris and Nathan Vasher. Devin Hester went as a returner.
*** Players selected in Angelo's first four drafts--2002 to 2005--should form the backbone of the team. Six of the 35 players drafted in that span remain. Five are on defense. One explanation is that Lovie Smith took over in 2004 and that changed what type of players the front office targeted.
*** From 2006 to 2008, 21 of the 28 players selected remain on the roster. Six are projected to be starters this season if you count Corey Graham and Earl Bennett.
Coming soon: A chat with another draft prospect. Later, Four Down Territory.