Chances of Drafting a 5-Year Starter at QB & RB

A fellow Sports Writer over at the Miami Herald (Armando Salguero) recently wrote an article arguing that the Dolphins should trade up in this year’s draft to select a QB.  Alternatively, I have been arguing that the Dolphins should trade down in this year’s draft to select an OL later in the first round and a RB in the second round.  I thought I would take a look at the chances of drafting a 5-year starter at QB & RB along with the associated consequences of moving from the Dolphins 15th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Armando used an excellent reference in his article to make his argument.  The folks at draftmetrics.com have examined the statistical chance of drafting a 5-year starter at each position in football studying the NFL drafts from 1991 thru 2010.  So, I would like to use these same NFL statistics combined with the trade value chart found draftcountdown.com to further examine the alternatives and consequences of trading up or down.

NFL statistics show 68.2% of 5-year starters at the QB position come from draft pick’s 1 thru 13.  The Dolphins could really use a franchise QB – I think even a consistent 5-year starter would be great.  So, Armando and others have argued the Dolphins should trade up from the 15th pick to get Blaine Gabbert – you know, like the Jets did to take Mark Sanchez.  Several Mock NFL Drafts have Gabbert available at the 7th or 8th pick.  So, what would it take for the Dolphins to trade up from the 15th pick to the 7th or 8th pick?

It needs to be first noted that the Dolphins do not have a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft which was traded last year to Denver in the Brandon Marshall deal.  So, using the trade value chart, the Dolphins would have to give up their 15th pick in this year’s draft plus, at least, their 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks in this year’s draft – and, that may not even be enough.  In other words, the Dolphins would basically have to give up almost this year’s entire draft in order to move up to get Gabbert, if he is available at the 7th or 8th pick.  How does that grab you?  They never mentioned that, did they?  Or, maybe the Dolphins could mortgage some of next year’s draft to get Gabbert – like this year’s first and next year’s first round picks?  Would you do this?  Please consider that you have a 31.8% chance of getting a bust according to NFL statistics.  Personally, I would not take the risk.

Alternatively, the consensus wisdom is that there is not RB worth draft pick’s 1 thru 13.  NFL statistics show that there is only a 29.2% chance of drafting a 5-year starter at RB with draft picks 14 thru 28.  The Dolphins have the 15th pick and could take Mark Ingram like many Mock Drafts are suggesting.  This would come with a 70.8% risk of Ingram not being a 5-year starter.  However, I suggested in my last article that the Dolphins trade down from the 15th pick to get a late first round pick to take an OL and to also get a late second round pick to take a RB like Mikel Leshoure or Daniel Thomas.  NFL statistics show that there is a 66.7% chance of drafting a 5-year starter at OL with draft picks in the late first round and there is a 20% chance of drafting a 5-year starter at RB with draft picks in the late second round.  It is worth repeating that the difference in the chance of drafting a 5-year starter at RB in the late first round is 29.2% and in the late second round is 20% — makes sense given my close comparative analysis between Ingram, Leshoure, and Thomas.  There is not much of a risk difference between the two.  However, in the latter case you also get an OL to boot (something the Dolphins need) with a 66.7% chance of being a 5-year starter — now, that makes it a big difference. 

I rest my case, your Honor about trading down!

So, I ask the question – do you think the Dolphins should trade up for Gabbert, stay at the 15th pick taking Ingram, or trade down and get an OL (Carimi or Castanzo) plus a RB like either Leshoure or Thomas?

Look, I believe drafting is all about risk management because drafting is far from being an exact science.  My college degrees are in Physics and Mathematics – both heavily use statistics.  But, I am not a geek as I also played football in college.  If you are going to talk statistics, you also must talk about need and risk analysis which includes consequences of action.  I am sure the Dolphins take a look at these kinds of things with equivalent expertise.  And, if they don’t, I am available – Messrs Ireland and Sparano, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Tags: Armando Salguero Blaine Gabbert Brandon Marshall Daniel Thomas Jeff Ireland Mark Ingram Miami Dolphins Mikel Leshoure NFL NFL Draft Tony Sparano Trade Down Trade Up

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