Third Pick’s A Charm

By BRIAN KOPERSKI (bwkoperski@gmail.com)

(WECK 1230) – The Buffalo Bills have a little more than three months until they will be on the clock in the 2011 NFL Draft. That leaves us fans plenty of time to analyze, debate, and predict which player they should choose with that third overall selection in the first round. Countless hours can be spent browsing the hundreds of mock draft websites. They’ll give you their “expertise” and tell you why your team will select so-and-so player, but the truth is that nobody knows how much success any of these college players will have in the NFL. Unless maybe your name is Biff Tannen.

One way to perhaps get a better idea on how much success the Bills first pick may have is to look into the past. Prognostications can often mislead you, but statistics will never lie. For the purpose of this study, we will only address the ‘Modern Era’ of the NFL which dates back to 1970. Since then, there have been 41 drafts, and therefore, 41 third overall selections in each draft class. The Bills have never made a pick with the third overall selection, even though they did originally have it in 1977, before trading it to Cincinnati. Here is a neat breakdown of these picks, for your viewing pleasure:

Altogether, 66% of third overall picks have made at least one Pro Bowl in their career and 44% of them have been to multiple Pro Bowls. 12% of players did not last more than five seasons in the NFL. Two of the 41 players are Hall of Famers, and the possibility exists for one or two of the active players to make the Hall as well. The Bills seemingly would be leaning towards a defensive linemen if Nick Fairley or Da’Quan Bowers are available. However, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert has been pegged as a possible Bills target as well. 10 QB’s have been taken at No. 3, with five of them earning Pro Bowl selections, and the other five easily fitting into the bust category. There have been 9 defensive linemen taken at No. 3, with five of them Pro Bowlers. Two of them, however, are Gerald McCoy and Tyson Jackson who have a combined three seasons played in the league.

Gerald McCoy

The jury is still out on Gerald McCoy.

So what do these numbers tell us about the Bills pick in April?

Well, honestly, nothing we probably didn’t already know. Now, obviously Pro Bowl selections don’t define a player’s career, but hopefully this list helps to give you an idea of the history of 3rd overall draft picks and how they have fared. The odds are in our favor that the Bills will select a player who will make it to at least one Pro Bowl, so that’s a little comforting. History shows that maybe defensive linemen are a little safer of a pick as compared to a QB, but then again, the Bills could always select CB Patrick Peterson or WR A.J. Green, as they seem to be the consensus top available prospects after Fairley and Bowers.

In the meantime, let us all enjoy the excitement of having a top three selection. It’s not often the Bills have one. If you are familiar with Buffalo Bills Super Fan Mark Miller, then you would know that he fully believed the third time is the charm. That didn’t work out so well. Perhaps the third overall pick is the charm.

2 Responses to Third Pick’s A Charm

  1. Eric Leon says:

    Well done BKo. AJ Green , Or Patterson Buffalo bound if I had my say …

  2. Olga Tennis says:

    You premised the importance of Pro Bowls, but still. Do not use All-Star games to rate players. They are very very flawed, especially the NFL version. Fans, players, they’ve all been horrible and remain that way in their selections.

    Your tidy graph with the history of the 3rd pick is nice. However, it makes me feel uneasy. 75% of the picks chosen after Cortez Kennedy would not be acceptable to me. Do I expect Buddy Nix to get it right?? :(