Data Points: Jags make the most out of draft

If you watched the 2011 NFL Draft, and we know you did, then you’ve surely heard the mantra that drafting well leads to team success. The club most often mentioned as a sterling example is the New England Patriots.

But how to truly grade an organization’s draft and scouting record has always been a fluid proposition.

Some analysts feel that hitting it big on the top picks, i.e. the first two rounds, is indicative of organizational success. The Ravens have struck gold on many a high pick in GM Ozzie Newsome’s tenure. Terrell Suggs, Michael Oher and Joe Flacco come to mind.

To others, drafting effectively is best represented by how many starters came as a result of a team’s recent drafts. It’s generally accepted that the more a team relies on free agency, the lower its propensity for success.

With this criteria in mind, here’s a look at where the Patriots and their AFC counterparts stack up. The Jaguars, who have hovered around mediocrity the past couple of years, have the highest percentage of 10-game starters who came organically through the draft. That’s a surprise.

What’s not a shocker are the next two highest-ranked teams: the Colts and Steelers, who have been perennial contenders during the past decade.

As for the Patriots, while their 63.2 percent figure might not seem extraordinarily high, they have drafted several players who started … just not the minimum 10 games for this ranking. Teams – in theory – usually aim to draft players who don’t platoon but rather start a full slate of games. Thus, New England fell below Pittsburgh and Indianapolis on this list. Still, the Patriots are proof positive that there’s not one definitive way to completely grade a club’s draft.

— Elliot Harrison

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