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 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 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

  • shula knows

    There is another option (provided the new labor contract is in effect by the draft) – trade a player or two and the 1st roubnd pick. Miami is deep on the DL and really does not need Ordrick. He was a head scratcher and with Starks, Langford, Solai, Merling and McDaniel – Miami is very deep. I believe last years 1st round pick Jared Ordick and this year’s 1st round pick would be good bait. Maybe throw in a 2nd teir WR like Bess or Hartline as well.

    • thomas loy

      No, I would be against trading the first round pick for a QB. Experience has shown you are better building thru the draft.

      • corners

        “Maybe throw in a 2nd teir WR like Bess or Hartline as well.”

        Horrible ideal to move up for a possible bust. Id rather wait till next year to move up and hope we are “lucky”.

        People, Bess is an elite WR, you just dont shed him off as trade bait thinking hes only worth a 4th or 5th round pick.

        • massanuttenref

          Yeh, I think “lucky” might be on of those in the 68.2% group.

    • massanuttenref

      This year’s 15th pick (Value = 1,050) plus last year’s 28th pick (Odrick which had Value = 660) is worth this year’s 5th round pick (Value = 1700). I don’t think the Cardinals would bite on that one. But, the Browns (6th), 49ers (7th), or Titans (8th) may be interested. It is an idea.

      However, throwing in a starter like Bess or Hartline is ridiculous. You want to trade two potential starters (Odrick & Hartline or worse yet Odrick and Bess) plus your 15th pick for Blaine Gabbert? This is a horrible idea for Miami and fantastic for even the team with the first pick in the draft. Horrible for Miami because we added another hole to fill and getting a player with only a 70% chance to succeed. If Ireland made this deal, I would be calling for his firing.

    • Tim

      We were deep last year at O-Line and WR and we traded away some guys there. We received basically nothing in return and then those areas were problematic after injuries. Keep the DL intact, and craft a strategy to better utilize the D-Line. If they are all producing during the season, teams will come calling and be much more desperate, hence increasing their value in a trade. There are plenty of good free agents out there that can make a big difference. The evil team in NY utilized free agency with some success.

  • thomas loy

    I think a trade up is a bad idea. It didn’t work for New Orleans in the ricky wiliams trade. Definately trade down for more picks. Draft OL as you say. Incognito has been resigned and Nate Gardner tendered. So drafting a tackle and moving carey to guard would solve the OL problems and solidify the RT position for years. Miami could then draft a QB with the second round pick. Ponder, Kapernick maybe. And maybe McElroy would be available late in the draft.

  • fins4ever1

    I think Armando should keep his thoughts to himself or better yet, go write for William & Mary, home of the fighting asparagus. He might even get the job to be the mascot.

    Sorry, I didn’t read your article. The mention of Armando could not be overcome and for me.

  • Michael Rosenbloom

    I actually read this article you are talking about and was going to use it one of my mine a couple days back.

    The way I look at it is this. Yes, Picks 1-13 have a decently high success rate of working out, but that doesn’t mean Gabbert is one of them. There are way too many question marks on him still for the Dolphins to make that kind of investment to move up and get him. I don’t believe Cam Newton is worthy of them moving up either (don’t forget, some mocks now have Newton going ahead of Gabbert)

    I don’t like the idea of them grabbing Mark Ingram either, as history suggests, running backs will be available in the later rounds for them.

    I like the second tier of quarterbacks better (everyone knows my opinion on Kaepernick), so I think the Dolphins should trade down and grab one of those quarterbacks in the 2nd or 3rd round)

    • massanuttenref

      I agree with you about Newton. I also agree with you than the second tier QBs are a better draft investment, especially in the third round. I think we really need to draft a RB in the second round, if we trade down. Leshoure and Thomas have proven to be real workhorses in college.

  • jake

    Find a trade partner to pick up a number 2. Then pick the best lineman available. Then the best qb. The rb ad wr bast on best value.

  • Rocktosr

    What those statistics show is how well the people that are paid to recognize talent are at doing their job. And it looks like that if it is not obvious, they struggle at the most important positions. The other option is that the coaches fail to effectively know how to best use those talents.
    I think that a better stat would show the coaches or talent evaluators that have done better to have less busts on their portfolio. Stats based on what stupid people do will only lead this team to mediocrity.

    • massanuttenref

      Point well taken. I don’t know of any such statistics.

  • dougdolfan

    I think if the front office believes gabbert or even newton is a franchise qb they should do everything they can to move up a draft them, i don’t care how good your running back is or how good you defence is, without a qb you don’t have a chance. we went through that in the early 2000′s with ricky in his prime and we didn’t even make the playoffs, I’ll even say this pittsburgh didn’t start winning superbowls until they found big ben

  • Jfish

    Trade down with Denver and get Locker Ponder, Kaepernick or Dalton then a deep threat WR Young, Jernigan, Cobb, Smith then a back in the third Thomas, Murray, Rodgers,

    Sleeper late round backs Helu, Powell, Ridley, Bradford, Taiwan Jones, Alex green, Da rel scott

    Take Virgil green in the 4th

  • Rob

    Or you could just take Locker with the 15th pick (or maybe even trade down a little to win back a 2nd round pick, and still get Locker – but he’ll be off the board by the time Seattle pick). This year’s RB class is deep, without having any real standouts (Ingram had a poor combine) and I think the chances of getting a serviceable RB are great. I don’t think the QB class is as deep as anyone thinks, and I think Kaepernick will be a dead-set bust. So unless you can trade down in the 1st and get Ponder in the 2nd round, forget about it and take Locker while you’re ahead. The kid is special.