Data Points: DE could be popular pick in 2011

With the 76th draft quickly approaching, there has been much speculation over where the value is in the draft.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock foresees as many as nine defensive ends going in the first round. Makes sense, given the premium on pass rushers in this era of pro football, as well as the versatility of the position. At least three defensive ends have been taken in the first round every year since 2000, including such stars as Brian Orakpo (2009), Mario Williams (2006), and DeMarcus Ware (2005).

Some of the high picks, like Tamba Hali (2006) of the Chiefs and Terrell Suggs (2003) of the Ravens, make the position more attractive, given their ability to become stand up linebackers in the 3-4. With guys who fit that scheme, as well as classic 4-3 ends, it’s easy to see why this position group has been hit so hard early in the draft.

Surprisingly, despite having 43 players selected in the first round since 2000, defensive end is not the most heavily drafted position during that time span… at least not when it comes to high draft picks. There have been 45 receivers drafted that high in that same duration (thus increasing the need for pass rush), with cornerback a very close second.

For all of you who are into picking quarterbacks high, you may be slightly shocked at how few have been taken in the first round compared to these other positions. Speaking of being shocked, that is no misprint at the bottom of the chart. One team did take a kicker in the first round. The Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski has that rare distinction, going 17th overall in 2000.

– Elliot Harrison

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