Hope from the Draft?
Imagine that your favorite football team that happens to be in Chicago is 4-6 and that your hometown team is 3-7? Should you start hoping that your team will cruise into the draft in great position for turning its fortunes around? Earlier this week I highlighted the weakness of recent Bills first round picks, so it seems the draft isn’t a cure-all. But sometimes the problems are just talent evaluation problems. Sometimes the problem is a lack of talent. Let me quickly contrast two drafts, 1957 and 1959, to show this point.
1957 was one of the strongest drafts in NFL history. Hall of Famer Jim Parker went with the 8th overall pick, and he was the fourth future Hall of Famer to be selected. Paul Hornung went #1, Len Dawson went at #5, and Jim Brown slipped to #6. Meanwhile, 3 future Pro Bowlers, Jon Arnett, John Brodie, and Ron Kramer, went 2-4. Only two first round picks, #7 and 13, did not make a Pro Bowl. 5 other future Hall of Famers were picked in later rounds. It took work not to get an excellent player in this draft. The same was not true a mere 2 years later.
The 1959 draft was one of only two in NFL history not to produce a Hall of Famer. 7 of the 360 picks would make a Pro Bowl. If you picked in 1959, you could not get a great player. That year, those players did not exist.
Organizations matter, but they are not the cure for a lack of talent. Sometimes, great players are not available. The benefit of a good organization, then, cannot be seen in a single draft. A good organization should maximize the skill from that draft, but the level of maximization will vary from year to year. The best organizations will over a period of time excel in the draft. Does that offer hope to Bills and Bears fans? We will see.