Crunching the numbers on NFC West rosters, Part Seven

Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Looking at DRAFTED players on NFCW rosters

For those that may have missed (or skipped) Part Six, I’d like to start today’s story by re-sharing this excellent video from NFL Films:

Just for a moment, imagine what that must be like …

—- “With the (##) pick in the NFL Draft, the (city)(team) selects … “ YOU.

Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime event.

And, as I pointed out in the last story, an exceptionally large number of college players never even get that chance.

How large?

In 2019, there were 16,380 draft-eligible college football players.

254 were selected in that year’s draft.

Including this guy …

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we have a general idea of how difficult it is to hear your name called on Draft Day, let’s lay the groundwork for today’s story.

One. The topic is DRAFTED players on NFC West rosters.

Two. The data being used was pulled on June 25th. This means that 2 players who have been released since then are included in the analysis … from a numbers perspective.

Note: Those 2 players are Seahawks WR Tamorrion Terry (2021 UDFA) and 49ers LB Nate Gerry (2017 R5.184).

Three. For today, a pick is a pick is a pick and it doesn’t matter one little bit which team made the initial pick, only that the player picked is now on an NFC West roster.

As an example, Seattle gets “credit” for having an R1.06 since Jamal Adams is on their roster and the Rams get credit for an R1.01, but for Matthew Stafford (2009) instead of Jared Goff (2016).

Make sense?

Great!

Related: Part One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six

Let’s get started by looking at the NFC West roster breakdowns with players grouped by which round they were selected in.

Table 7.1: Roster breakdowns by draft round

Note: For the most part, we will be ignoring the row in this table (and subsequent tables) that is labeled “Undrafted”. UDFAs were the focus in Part Six but they’re sort of tangential today.

What stands out about this table?

For me, it isn’t the fact that the 49ers have 14 first-round picks on their roster. I think we all sort of expected that.

It’s also not the fact that the Rams only have 4 R1s.

No, what stands out to me is each team’s combined total for Rounds 1 and 2 …

AZ: 20 | SF: 19 | SEA: 18 | LAR: 14

Who else is surprised by those numbers?

Especially given how far in front San Francisco is if you only look at the R1 numbers … +4 over Arizona; +5 over us; +10 over the Rams.

The other thing that I would like to draw attention to before moving on is the total number of draft picks on each team’s roster (as of June 25th).

Seahawks: 51

49ers: 56

Cardinals: 52

Rams: 47

As a whole, the number of draftees on each roster is fairly comparable. But once we dig into those totals, some notable differences will appear.

Particularly between the Rams and the other teams in the division.

Player “Eras”

While the total number of players taken in each round is interesting, where I think this analysis really gets FUN is the player “eras” …

The Youngsters – i.e. those drafted from 2018 to 2021

The Aughts – i.e. players drafted prior to 2010

(Everyone Else) – i.e. players drafted from 2010 to 2017

Let’s start with …

The Youngsters

These players are, simply stated, “the future” – of the team(s), and of the league.

But they’re something else as well.

Cheap labor.

I mean, relatively speaking. Personally, I don’t know anyone that considers $660,000 (this year’s minimum NFL salary) … “cheap”.

So let’s phrase this a different way …

The details (and exceptions) are a topic for another day, but ….

Courtesy of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, most players who have been in the league fewer than 4 years play on cost-controlled rookie-scale contracts.

And if they’ve been in the league less than 3 years, ALL of them do.

From the league’s perspective, cost-controlled is obviously a very good thing. As is the rookie-scale.

Unsurprisingly, players from this era make up a significant portion of the NFC West’s expanded (91-man) rosters.

Let’s take a look at the numbers to see just how significant The Youngsters are to the division and the 4 teams within it.

Table 7.2: The Youngsters

Before parsing through and re-presenting the numbers regarding the drafted players, let’s first take a moment to take note of how many TOTAL players each team has from this era.

In order, from most to least …

Los Angeles: 77

Seattle: 63

Arizona: 53

San Francisco: 49

Is it just me or does 77 seem like a heckuva lot?

Note: As I mentioned earlier, today’s analysis highlights some significant differences between the Rams and the rest of the NFC West teams. This is one of them.

Also, the overall total for the division – 242 players – represents just a hair shy of 2/3rds of the 364 players that were on NFC West rosters on June 25th – 66.48%, to be exact.

As a reminder, that means that almost 2/3rds of the division’s players are on cost-controlled rookie-scale contracts (as of 6/25).

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Now that we’ve looked at the total number of players from this era on each roster, let’s subtract the UDFAs to determine how many drafted players from this era are on each roster.

Seahawks: 29

49ers: 29

Cardinals: 26

Rams: 36

Interesting observation that probably doesn’t mean anything:

3 of the 4 NFC West teams have more undrafted players than drafted players from this era: Seattle (+5), Los Angeles (+5), and Arizona (+1).

San Francisco comes in at minus-9.

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Remember how we looked at the combined totals for the first 2 rounds when we were looking at all of the players together?

Let’s do that again.

SF: 8 | SEA: 7 | AZ: 7 | LAR: 5

I’m going to pause here for a moment to note 2 things:

Seattle has the 2nd-most players from this era (63), including 29 who were selected in the NFL Draft, and 7 who were selected in the first 2 rounds.
The Rams have the most players from this era – by a lot, and they have the most drafted players from this era – also by a lot … but they have the fewest number of players from the first 2 rounds.

Number 1 was sort of a reminder to myself (and maybe others) to keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak. We are 12s, after all, and our primary focus tends to be our team.

Number 2 was another illustration of how the Rams are … different.

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Having just grouped the players from Rounds 1 and 2 together, let’s “undo” that and look at the draft picks on each team by the DAY that they were selected on – i.e. Day 1 (Rd. 1), Day 2 (Rds. 2+3), and Day 3 (Rds. 4-7).

Seahawks: Day 1 = 3; Day 2 = 7; Day 3 = 19

49ers: Day 1 = 6; Day 2 = 8; Day 3 = 15

Cardinals: Day 1 = 3; Day 2 = 6; Day 3 = 17

Rams: Day 1 = 0; Day 2 = 12; Day 3 = 24

Maybe it’s just me, but I find this particular breakdown very enlightening.

But I also think it’s a little easier to decipher without some of the “extra” wording and the bolding …

Seahawks: 3-7-19
49ers: 6-8-15
Cardinals: 3-6-17
Rams: 0-12-24

Ignoring Day 1 (where the Niners are way out in front), Seattle, Arizona, and San Francisco seem somewhat interchangeable, numbers-wise. Which makes sense because we already knew that the overall numbers for those 3 teams were pretty comparable (29, 26, and 29, respectively).

The range on the Day 2 picks is from 6 to 8 with each team claiming one of the 3 numbers. The Day 3 range is wider (from 15 to 19) but also equally spaced (15-17-19).

And then there’s the Rams, off by themselves, doing their own thing …

The Rams have ZERO Day 1 players (from this era).

WoW!

They have a dozen Day 2 players – which is 4 more than any other team in the division – and two dozen Day 3 players (5 more than our 19).

But ZERO from Day 1.

Note: As I have worked on this series, part of me has been wondering if we’re witnessing a “stealth rebuild” in L.A. or … ??? These numbers really have the ol’ gears spinning.

The Aughts

The players from this era have been in the league for at least a dozen years at this point.

That’s a long time.

These players are basically the exception to the rule because most NFL players do NOT last this long … for any number of reasons.

Table 7.3: “I’m getting too old for this”

Technically, the aughts run from 2000 to 2009. In the NFC West, The Aughts currently run from 2004 to 2009. As we see from the table, this era contributed 6 drafted players and 2 undrafted players to the current NFC West rosters.

Three of the 6 drafted players were 1st-round picks, 2 were 2nd-round picks, and 1 was a 6th-round pick.

There really isn’t much more to do with these numbers, so let’s look at the players the numbers represent and see what, if anything, we can learn from that.

R1: Alex Mack (2009, #21); Duane Brown (2008, #26); Matthew Stafford (2009, #1)

R2: Andrew Whitworth (2006, #55); DeSean Jackson (2008; #49)

R6: Andy Lee (2004, #188)

And, although they are technically “off topic”, here are the 2 UDFAs that are still (literally) kicking around the league:

Robbie Gould (2005)
Matt Prater (2006)

Positionally, we have 3 offensive linemen, 1 quarterback, 1 wide receiver, and a punter for the 6 draft picks from the Aughts.

And 2 kickers that were UDFAs from that era.

So … 3 O-linemen, 3 specialists, 1 passer, and 1 pass-catcher.

No running backs … and no defensive players – which really isn’t a surprise.

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Since we have moved beyond the numbers with this group and are looking at the players themselves, let’s dig a little deeper …

8 players …

… with 112 accrued seasons (and 113 max seasons) between them.

And all of them are still going strong. Ish.

Of the 8 players from The Aughts, Andrew Whitworth is the only one (that I know of) that has said 2021 might be his last season.

Two of the remaining 7 have at least minor question marks.

Andy Lee, a 17-year vet, is signed through 2021 but faces a camp challenge from 2019 UDFA Tyler Newsome. Given the $650,000 in guaranteed money on Lee’s contract and his low overall cap hit ($1.075M) … my suspicion is that he will soon be an 18-year vet.

….

DeSean Jackson could be looking to call it a career soon, but the Rams gave him bank in March (1/$4.5M, max $6.25M) and despite 2 injury-filled years in Philadelphia, Jackson is a YpC machine, having led the league in that category FOUR TIMES during his 13-year career (2010, 2014, 2016, 2018) and he sports a career mark of 17.4.

As a role player, on a pass-happy team, Jackson may be able to coax a few more years out of his body.

Then we have the 5 Aughts that don’t seem interested in even acknowledging Father Time’s presence in the room.

Duane Brown is the anchor of Seattle’s offensive line and, as we all know, he is looking for an extension that will tie him to the Seahawks for a while longer.

Robbie Gould is under contract with the 49ers through 2022 – and all of the money on his contract is guaranteed at this point. Unless he decides to call it quits, there’s no reason for San Francisco to release him.

Matt Prater signed a 2-year contract with the Cardinals in March ($3.25M APY).

Alex Mack just signed a 3-year contract with the Niners.

And, last but certainly not least …

Matthew Stafford.

Dude has 12 years under his belt and, after playing in one of the league’s least successful environments (Detroit), he was just matched up with Sean McVay and the arsenal of offensive weapons that is the Los Angeles Rams.

Anyone want to suggest that Stafford is just going to ride out his contract and call it a career after the 2022 season?

Les Snead, the Rams’ GM, certainly doesn’t think so. He has confirmed that L.A. has a long-term plan for the cannon-armed quarterback and says the Rams were thinking “five to seven, eight years” when they traded for him in January.

Note: As someone who lists the Lions as his second-favorite team, the idea of Stafford in L.A. frightens me. And the idea that he could be there for the better part of decade … that there is a nightmare!

The Four-One-One

Earlier, I referred to this era as “(Everyone Else)” but … that’s boring.

The Four-One-One is more … memorable.

Admittedly, this means that the group will need to be renamed next year since Four-One-One is my clever-ish way of saying that these players have been in the league for between 4 and 11 years.

– – – It’s okay if you rolled your eyes (my girlfriend did too).

Also, this is the second group chronologically, but it’s the third group today – simply because I’m going to spend the most time on it. And because it would be hard for either of the other groups to follow it.

Let’s start with the table.

Table 7.4: The Four-One-One

We’re going to use much the same process with this era as we did with the The Youngsters – we will compare the total numbers, calculate and compare the numbers of drafted players, look at the numbers for the first 2 rounds, and break the numbers into Draft Days.

In order, from most to least, here are the total number of players each NFC West team has from this era:

San Francisco: 40

Arizona: 36

Seattle: 27

Los Angeles: 11

Not surprisingly, given the small number of players in The Aughts, this list is the polar opposite of the one from the first era (The Youngsters).

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Just so we can see them together, here are each team’s numbers from each era:

San Francisco: 49, 40, 2 (Youngsters, Four-One-One, Aughts)
Arizona: 53, 36, 2

Seattle: 63, 27, 1

Los Angeles: 77, 11, 3

(The gears are still spinning re: the Rams.)

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Alright, let’s subtract the UDFAs to determine how many drafted players from this era are on each roster.

Seahawks: 21

49ers: 26

Cardinals: 25

Rams: 8

As with many of the breakdowns in the The Youngsters era, we find Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona grouped together with Los Angeles acting as an outlier.

__________

Here are the combined totals from Round 1 and Round 2:

AZ: 13 | SEA: 10 | SF: 10 | LAR: 6

….

The trend continues.

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And here are the numbers when we divide the era by Draft Days:

Seahawks: Day 1 = 5; Day 2 = 9; Day 3 = 7

49ers: Day 1 = 7; Day 2 = 7; Day 3 = 12

Cardinals: Day 1 = 7; Day 2 = 11; Day 3 = 7

Rams: Day 1 = 3; Day 2 = 4; Day 3 = 1

We finally have some separation between Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona. But Los Angeles is still off doing their own thing with the lowest number in the division for all 3 days of the draft.

Seahawks: 5-9-7
49ers: 7-7-12
Cardinals: 7-11-7
Rams: 3-4-1

Wrapping things up

As much as I want to keep digging into what it is that is / isn’t / might maybe be going on in L.A., that seems like a rabbit hole that could easily add another 3,000 to 5,000 words to this story.

So I’ll stop here.

For now.

Today’s biggest takeaways:

One. The 49ers have a ton of R1s on their roster; 14 of them, to be exact.

Two. The Cardinals have assembled a sneaky roster; they’re the only team with double digits for both Round 1 players and Round 2 players, with 10 of each.

Three. Seattle seems to be in decent shape from a drafted players standpoint.

Four. They are definitely doing things different down in L.A.

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Until next time, GO HAWKS!

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