On Now
Coming Up
  • There are no Events to display in this category.

News

Print
RSS

Lucky Seven: Ranking the #7 Picks, Part 1

Posted Apr 26, 2018

There have been 48 players picked in the seventh-overall draft spot since the 1970 merger and, unsurprisingly, some have been far more successful than others

There is no "safe" spot in the NFL Draft; even the first-overall pick can go bust. Two words: JaMarcus Russell. Thus, a review of the results at any specific draft slot is going to be a mix of wildly successful selections, solid outcomes and complete whiffs. Higher picks are going to return a greater number of good players, but the overall results will have plenty of variance.

And so it is for the seventh-overall selection, which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will execute on Thursday night, barring a trade. No player picked at #7 in the first round has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to this point, but that could change in the relatively near future. There's a 12-time Pro Bowler in this club, as well as one of the most dynamic running backs in league history. There are a couple of stud pass-rushers, a quarterback or two and even a quartet of Buccaneers. And there are some enormous busts.

The NFL draft began in 1936 but became a much deeper affair after the merger of the NFL and the AFL in 1970. That merger was actually forged in 1966 and the two leagues began drafting together in 1967, but for the sake of making a clear start, I'm going to start this analysis in 1970, when the modern NFL was born. That gives us a total of 48 drafts so far, and 48 players selected at #7 overall. My task: rank them all, from 1 to 48.

My method was a mixture of objective and subjective reasoning. Borrowing from the record-keeping and analysis provided by Pro Football Reference, I've recorded the career "AV" for each of the 48 players. AV stands for "Approximate Value" and it is an attempt to quantify the overall contributions of every player, for the sake of comparison. Like WAR in baseball, it is a cumulative statistic; players compile a certain AV figure each year and those add up from season to season. It's a complicated form of analysis, and by no means the final word on the evaluation of any player, but it's a useful tool for comparison. To read up on the AV methodology, click here. Suffice it to say, higher numbers are better.

READ: Early Mocks Have Bucs in the Trenches

I've also noted the average AV each player had per season he played. This is an effort to help distinguish between players who had higher peaks and shorter careers and those who played longer and eventually racked up more AV. There's value in both; the best players had high AV totals and good per-season averages. I've also recorded the number of Pro Bowl invites and first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections for each player. All of those factors were taken into account in what at the end was a subjective ranking.

Obviously, the most recent #7 picks haven't had as much time to pile up statistics and honors. That was taken into account. A young player with a brief track record but much remaining promise might rank higher than an average performer who had a five or six-year career.

The Buccaneers have accounted for four of those 48 picks at #7. We've split our rankings into three groups, with numbers 48 to 33 found below. Click here for the players ranked 32 to 17 and click here for the top 16. There is at least one Buccaneer in each of those three groups, as Tampa Bay has had a very typical variance of results in that spot.

Ranking Every Post-Merger #7 Pick, Part 1: Picks 48-33

48. Reggie Rogers, DE, Detroit, 1987

Career AV: 1

AV Per Season: 0.25

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: Two career sacks

The Lions have had a lot of first-round draft busts (Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Aaron Gibson and one who appears later on this list, to name a few) but Rogers' Detroit tenure was particularly bad. After two seasons, he spent 16 months in prison after killing three in a DUI accident. Rogers attempted a comeback in 1991 but played just four more games, two for Buffalo and two for Tampa Bay. Rogers is tied for last on this list in overall AV and holds the last spot in AV per season.

47. Brian Jozwiak, OL, Kansas City, 1986

Career AV: 3

AV Per Season: 1.00

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: Three career starts

Considered one of the top 10 busts in Chiefs history, Jozwiak started exactly one game in each of his three NFL seasons. A hip injury in 1988 ended his career. His overall AV total is better than that of Kevin White and Mike Williams, but those two receivers are still young and active and can add to their totals.

46. Joe Profit, RB, Atlanta, 1971

Career AV: 5

AV Per Season: 1.67

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 471 career rushing yards

Profit went one pick after the Jets took John Riggins, who went on to become a star in Washington. Profit lasted just 2.5 years in Atlanta and had 169 of his 471 career yards in a single game. He was traded to New Orleans in 1973 and later spent two years in the World Football League.

45. Kevin White, WR, Chicago, 2015

Career AV: 1

AV Per Season: 0.33

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 193 career receiving yards

White has had unbelievably bad injury luck, appearing in just five total games and spending most of his first three seasons on injured reserve. As a rookie, he was hurt before ever appearing in a regular-season game. White has time to get his career on track and move well up this list, but his injury track record is daunting.

44. Ken MacAfee, TE, San Francisco, 1978

Career AV: 5

AV Per Season: 2.50

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 471 career receiving yards

MacAfee's first two seasons in the NFL weren't terrible, as he started 25 games and scored five touchdowns. But the 49ers wanted him to move to guard in 1980 and he wasn't enjoying the process. Thus, MacAfee chose to leave football and follow (and achieve!) his long-held dream of becoming a dentist and oral surgery. MacAfee has the best AV per year of the bottom nine players on this list but his career was just too short to push him higher.

43. Andre Ware, QB, Detroit, 1990

Career AV: 5

AV Per Season: 1.25

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: Six career starts

Ware won the Heisman running the run-and-shoot at Houston but never wrested the Lions' starting job away from Rodney Peete and Erik Kramer. Fun fact: In a particularly bad year for drafting quarterbacks (Jeff George was #1, Ware was #7 and no other passers went in the first two rounds), the Dolphins took Scott Mitchell in the fourth round. Detroit later signed Mitchell to a big free agent contract in 1994.

42. Troy Williamson, WR, Minnesota, 2005

Career AV: 8

AV Per Season: 1.60

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: Four touchdowns in five years

Williamson's legacy suffers from circumstance – the Vikings got the seventh pick in the 2005 draft in their trade of Randy Moss to Oakland, then used that pick on a direct replacement at wide receiver. The problem was that Williamson, while quite fast, was not Randy Moss and had a particular problem with dropped balls. Minnesota eventually traded Williamson, too…for a sixth-round pick.

41. Larry Burton, WR, New Orleans, 1975

Career AV: 7

AV Per Season: 1.40

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 804 receiving yards in five seasons

The grandfather of current Eagles tight end Trey Burton, Larry Burton was an Olympic sprinter, and his speed resulted in an average of 18.3 yards per catch in the NFL. But he never had more than 305 yards in any season and scored just seven times.

40. Paul Seymour, TE, Buffalo, 1973

Career AV: 12

AV Per Season: 2.40

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 818 receiving yards in five seasons

Seymour converted from tight end to offensive tackle at Michigan but the Bills moved him back to his original position. He did start 68 of his 69 career games but he was never particularly productive as a pass-catcher.

39. Mike Williams, WR, San Diego, 2017

Career AV: 1

AV Per Season: 1.00

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 95 yards as a rookie in 2017

Williams is a good bet to move well up this list, but he hasn't done enough yet to merit a higher finish. He missed time due to injury this past fall and ended up playing in just 10 games, catching 11 passes for 95 yards and no touchdowns.

38. Joe Campbell, DE, New Orleans, 1977

Career AV: 12

AV Per Season: 1.71

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 2 career fumble recoveries

Campbell's hot-headed tendencies frequently got him into hot water and he was only a starter for two years in New Orleans. The Saints eventually traded him out of frustration and he finished career with brief stops in Oakland and Tampa Bay.

37. Jonathan Cooper, G, Arizona, 2013

Career AV: 13

AV Per Season: 2.60

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 27 starts in five years

The highest-drafted guard in nearly 20 years, Cooper broke his leg and missed his rookie season. Arizona traded Cooper to the Patriots in 2016 but New England released him after four games and he ended up in Cleveland. Cooper signed with the Cowboys this past season and ended up starting 13 games at left guard, so he could move quickly up this list.

36. Charles McRae, T, Tampa Bay, 1991

Career AV: 19

AV Per Season: 3.17

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 39 starts in six NFL seasons

The Buccaneers drafted McRae out of Tennessee hoping to get a bookend tackle for standout Paul Gruber. McRae struggled to hold onto a starting spot and was moved around the line in search of his best spot. He started 10 or more games only twice in his career.

35. J.V. Cain, TE, St. Louis, 1974

Career AV: 13

AV Per Season: 3.25

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 9 touchdowns in four seasons

Cain wasn't a bad player for the Cardinals but his career was short. He did crack 1,000 career receiving yards and scored five touchdowns in 1976. Cain died of heart failure while working out in 1979.

34. Todd Blackledge, QB, Kansas City, 1983

Career AV: 13

AV Per Season: 1.86

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: Single-season career high in starts was 8

Part of the most famous class of first-round quarterbacks in league history, Blackledge didn't come close to matching the exploits of John Elway, Dan Marino or Jim Kelly…or even Ken O'Brien and Tony Eason. Blackledge finished his career with a 29-38 TD-INT ratio and a 60.2 passer rating.

33. Tim Worley, RB, Pittsburgh, 1989

Career AV: 14

AV Per Season: 2.33

Pro Bowls: 0

All-Pro Selections: 0

Key Stat: 1,792 career rushing yards

The first running back drafted in 1989 was Barry Sanders. The second was Tim Worley. Fumble problems, a drug test-related season-long suspension and off-field issues kept Worley from building upon a somewhat promising 770-yard rookie campaign.