Fascinating facts about draftees

Former University of Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell has a three in four chance of starting for the Green Bay Packers within four years. So does former Vol receiver Robert Meachem with the New Orleans Saints. That's because they were first-round picks in the recent NFL Draft.

Ex-Vol offensive lineman Arron Sears (Tampa Bay Bucs) and former UT defensive lineman Turk McBride (Kansas City Chiefs) are 50/50 to be starting for their pro teams within four years. They were second-round selections.

Cornerback Jonathan Wade has roughly a 30 percent chance to be starting for the St. Louis Rams within four years. He was a third-rounder.

Conversely, former Vol linebacker Marvin Mitchell – pegged in Round 7 – has approximately a one in 11 chance to be starting for the Saints in the next four years.

Those projections are based on research done by Charley Casserly, former general manager of the NFL's Houston Texans.

In a recent article posted on CBS.sportsline.com, Casserly offered some fascinating figures gleaned from a 10-year study of NFL Draft selections. Defining a "successful" draft pick as one who was starting within four years, Casserly found that first-round selections are successful roughly 75 percent of the time. This suggests that (1) teams do a good job identifying elite players or (2) teams invest so much money in first-rounders that they stubbornly start them whether they're deserving or not.

Casserly's study showed that guys picked in Round 2 proved successful 50 percent of the time, while third-rounders succeed 30 percent of the time.

Fourth-rounders (25 percent) and fifth-rounders (20 percent) have a pretty good shot at eventually starting for pro teams but the news is not nearly so encouraging for sixth- and seventh-rounders. Casserly's figures show each group has a mere nine-percent success rate at the NFL level.

Casserly offered no stats on free agents but their success rate can't be a whole lot worse than that of the sixth- and seventh-round draftees.

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