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The 5 O’Clock Club: Looking back on 5 years of drafts for the Washington Redskins

SB Nation logo SB Nation 6 days ago Bill-in-Bangkok
© Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

I decided to troll through the Redskins drafts for the past five seasons to get a feel for what has happened to the players selected by the ‘Skins front office. This is a macro view — just the raw numbers summarized, without any player-by-player analysis, though I have listed the names of the players from each offseason, along with the round in which they were drafted down below.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.

My first takeaway from this analysis is that right around 60.8% of players drafted (across all seven rounds) are currently on the Redskins roster, IR or NFI lists, while another 17.4% are still playing somewhere in pro-football - but not for the Redskins. That results in a “hit rate” of about 78.2% - in other words, nearly 4 out of 5 players drafted in the past 5 Redskins drafts appear to be professional-grade football players, based on these raw numbers.

Of course, we can probably put an asterisk next to Kyshoen Jarrett, who looked like a legit player before an injury late in his rookie season ended his playing career. He is currently working with the Redskins in a coaching capacity.

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Nine players drafted by the Redskins are out of pro football already. Not surprisingly, the bulk of them are from the earliest draft — 2015 — while 28 out of 29 players drafted in the past three years (Joshua Holsey is the sole exception) are still earning a paycheck to play football.

A somewhat sophisticated analysis of this type was carried out by OverTheCap about a year ago, and — surprisingly — rated the Redskins as having the highest success rate in the NFL. That analysis covered four years (2015-18), and the median “hit rate” in that analysis was around 77.5%, indicating that the Redskins, at 78.2%, are probably doing okay with drafting young players.

At the moment, based on my 5-year numbers, of the 36 Redskins players still playing pro-football, 28 of them are on the Redskins team, which is 77.8%. The comparable 4-year number for the Redskins in the OTC analysis was 66.7%, and the median percentage for the league in that 4-year analysis was about 65.5%. This would indicate (unsurprisingly, since 100% of the Redskins’ ten 2019 draft picks made the roster) that the Washington roster is getting younger, and the team is having success in identifying and selecting young players in the draft.

Many Hogs Haven readers and Redskins fans have long hoped for the Redskins to shift the focus away from free agency and towards the draft. It appears from the behavior of the front office that this is exactly what has happened recently. The team has traded down to accumulate picks; they have actively worked to secure compensatory picks; the profile of free agents signed has clearly shifted to players under 28 years old.

The “problem” is that draft picks take time to pay off. It also takes time to evaluate a draft class. What looks good at first blush, or in the first year, may ultimately prove to be a weak group.

There are statistical indications, like the OTC analysis last year, and anecdotal indications, like the post-draft commentary this off-season, to indicate that the Redskins drafting is improving. Unfortunately, we may need to get ten years into the future to have enough perspective to evaluate with any certainty the trend of the Redskins drafts in the post-Shanahan era.

The list of Redskins draft picks (2015-2019)

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.
a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.
a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.
a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.
a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Vox Media, Inc.
Source: Wikipedia

I read an article once that gave what I felt was a strong statistical argument that teams that exceed an average of 8.5 draft picks per year are more likely to have better winning percentages than teams that averaged less. The analysis showed that the further you got from that 8.5 tipping point (either above or below) the more pronounced the relative increase (or decrease) in winning percentage would be.

I tried, but unfortunately couldn’t find the article, so I am relying on my often faulty memory, but I believe that the Redskins average of 9.2 picks per year for the past five years would put them among the teams with the highest number of picks in that period. How long does that kind of statistical “success” have to be maintained for the correlation to work its magic and result in improved win-loss records?

It all leaves me wondering if the Redskins are on the verge of breaking out of the 7 to 9 wins per year bog they’ve been mired in for most of Jay Gruden’s tenure, or if any optimism just a matter of me being victimized by “lies, damned lies, and statistics”?

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