As if the four-plus months of waiting to see who may be the next superstar in Green Bay is not long enough, the drawn-out process of the first day of the two-day draft seems to take another eternity. There are 15 minutes between picks in the first round and 10 minutes between picks in the second round, before finally moving to a more efficient five minutes between picks the rest of the way.
For the lengthy process on the first day and many other reasons, the second day of the draft (Rounds 4-7) is much better to watch and can be just as fruitful. When the so-called big names come off the board, the selections start to move along and the efforts of each team's scouting department really shine.
Take for instance the Packers, who have found comparable success building their team with second-day picks versus first-day ones. Since the NFL Draft went to seven rounds in 1994, the team has not seen a big disparity in talent from the top of the draft to the bottom. Twenty-five players selected by the Packers in Rounds 4-7 have gone on to become regular starters or contributors (some with other teams). By comparison, Rounds 1-3 is just a shade better producing 28 such players for the Packers. The difference, though, is negligible and that should raise some questions as to the hype of the initial rounds.
While the Packers selected nearly double the total number of players on Day Two as opposed to Day One, the significance is in those who have helped the team. That number is nearly equal, thus making the later picks just as, if not more, critical to a team's success.
The Packers hit on fourth-rounder Na'il Diggs (2000), fifth-rounders Dorsey Levens (1994), Travis Jervey (1995), Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (2000), and Aaron Kampman (2002), sixth-rounders Marco Rivera (1996) and Corey Williams (2004), and seventh-rounders Donald Driver (1999), Mark Tauscher (2000), and Scott Wells (2004) on the second day. Six of those players – Levens, Jervey, Gbaja-Biamila, Kampman, Rivera, and Driver - have gone on to the Pro Bowl.
The same number of players selected by the Packers in Rounds 1-3 since '94 has gone to the Pro Bowl – William Henderson, Antonio Freeman, Mike Flanagan, Darren Sharper, Bubba Franks, and Javon Walker.
The effort and attention put into first-round picks almost seems to set them up for failure. The Packers would have been better off most years to trade down for more picks and might just take that approach this year.
Since '94, there have only been four excellent picks by the Packers in the first round – Aaron Taylor (1994), Walker (2002), Nick Barnett (2003), and A.J. Hawk (2006). Four others – Craig Newsome (1995), Ross Verba (1997), Vonnie Holliday (1998), and Bubba Franks (2000) - have been decent, while four more – John Michels (1996), Antuan Edwards (1999), Jamal Reynolds (2001) and Ahmad Carroll (2004) - have not worked out. One pick, Aaron Rodgers (2005), has a status yet to be determined.
History also shows the Packers are no better off in finding quality players in rounds two and three, either. Without listing all the names and getting into scientific analysis, the percentage of good picks in those rounds (43%) is lower than it is in Rounds 4-7 (44%).
So why not look forward to Day Two? It is quicker, produces more intriguing players and stories, and based on the above analysis, gives the Packers a similar level of player at a lower initial cost.
Few would argue that Ron Wolf was a bad general manager or that Mike Sherman was a good one, but with the measure being somewhere in between, Ted Thompson and Co. would be wise to focus its attention on lesser-known players figuring to go in later rounds. That is where the money will be earned and the team is made. Sure, the chances of a superstar emerging from round one is greater than round seven, but the type of player picked in later rounds has much more to prove and to gain. Thus, their selection could mean the difference between mediocrity and a consistent winner.
Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.