It is fair to say that the general consensus around the NFL was that the lockout would have a negative effect on the abilities of rookies to contribute to their NFL teams. This snippet from a column by ESPN's Jason Chadiha was representative of what seemed to be the prevailing opinion:
So the league now is looking at a group of young players who may have little or no impact if the lockout runs into August or later. As one NFC personnel director said, "It's like telling kids to sign up for a college course and then not having a single class before they take the exam. You have to be pretty special and mentally tough to handle that kind of scenario once you start playing. Because if a kid starts to fail without time to grow, things could pile up on him in a hurry."
So now that the season is over for most teams, how did that really work out? The numbers seem to indicate that the lockout did not have the effect many predicted. The total numbers of games started by drafted rookies for the last ten years are as follows:
There were more games started by drafted rookies in 2011 than in any of the past 10 years. It's hard to evaluate this in a vacuum, of course, as the numbers don't tell you anything about the level of injuries and other factors that may contribute to the high number of starts. On the face of it, though, the numbers are pretty compelling.
The teams with the most games started by drafted rookies were the Browns (66), the Broncos (52), the Eagles (46), the Bills (44) and the Panthers (44). The teams with the fewest starts were the Packers (3), the Giants (7), the 49ers (8), the Lions (9) and the Bears (11). It is probably no surprise that the four of the five teams with the fewest rookie starts made the playoffs while only one of the five with the most starts were playoff qualifiers.
Draft Metrics also looked at starts by undrafted first year players and found similar results. Such players accounted for 146 starts in 2011 as compared to the ten-year average of 79 games started per season. The Colts (28) and Seahawks (22) represented about one-third of those 2011 starts.
These results seem to support the view that the cutback in offseason activities is not that big of a deal.
Note: This article was originally published on Tony Villiotti's website, DraftMetrics.com and is being reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Draft Metrics was established in 2010 but its roots were planted long before. Villiotti's obsession with the NFL Draft began in 1969.
Over the years, his interest shifted from predicting draft choices to trying to better understand the draft's importance by examining its eventual outcomes.
Copyright Sideline Scouting, 2009-2012. All rights reserved. This is a fan-operated web site dedicated to the NFL Draft and its fans and is in no way affiliated with
or endorsed by the NFL, NCAA or any of its teams.
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