One For The History Books
Analytics Study: Data Indicates Likeliest Draft Success For Birds
On Thursday, the 88th annual NFL Draft kicks off with the first round selections.
The Eagles are scheduled to pick 10th overall for the fourth time in franchise history and also have the 30th overall pick.
This story takes an analytical look at the team’s history of picking 10th overall, the overall success of NFL players drafted 10th overall, and the success or failures of specific positions drafted at 1oth overall crossed with prospects the Eagles would be likely to select at No. 1o given their draft philosophy and recent historical tendencies.
The data here should help predict the success rate of any specific prospect the Eagles take 10th overall based on the statistical precent.
Eagles Picking 10th Overall History
The Eagles have picked 10th overall three times in team history and as recently as 2021. When they’ve picked 10th, they’ve historically focused on offense:
There’s little information available about McCauley, selected by the Eagles in the inaugural NFL draft. Byars was a solid NFL player from 1986-1992.
Byars was selected to his only Pro Bowl after leaving Philadelphia in 1993. Smith, who went over 1,000 receiving yards last year in his second season, appears to be a star on the rise.
The Eagles will look to add another Pro Bowl-caliber prospect to make another Super Bowl run. Some of the prospects they’re likely to consider are: running back Bijan Robinson, offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, defensive tackle Jalen Carter, defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness, or another prospect.
10th Overall Pick In Super Bowl Era
The 10th pick is historically 54.4% offense and usually someone who succeeds at a nearly 42-percent clip.
This chart breaks down the frequency of offensive positions taken at 10th overall, with wide receiver leading the way and tight end tied with fullback for least-selected position.
Probability Of Success For Eagles 10th Pick-Offense
In the Super Bowl Era, three running backs were selected 1oth overeall: Marcus Allen (1982), Jerome Bettis (1993), and Todd Gurley (2013). None can be considered a poor pick, as two of the three are in the Hall of Fame.
History suggests – even as the game has moved away from early running back selections – that taking an elite running back at 10 would result very favorably.
Possible Eagles Selection: Bijan Robinson, Texas
In the Super Bowl Era, eight tackles were selected 1oth: Francis Peay (1966), Mike Taylor (1968), Gordon King (1978), Keith Dorney (1979), Ray Roberts (1992), Willie Anderson (1996), Levi Jones (2002), Jedrick Wills Jr. (2020).
Just two of those eight tackles didn’t pan out. Jedrick Wills Jr. is only entering his fourth season but has started every game of his career.
If the Eagles select Northwestern product Peter Skoronski, they’d would most likely move him to guard with Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata entrenched at tackle positions.
However, history looks somewhat favorably at a tackle selected at 10th.
Possible Selection: Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State)
Although unlikely, the Eagles taking a tight end 10th overall has surfaced on some mock, which would definitely surprise those familiar with the team’s draft philosophy. But the concept is worth exploring.
Only one tight end in the Super Bowl Era was taken 10th, Eric Ebron, by the Lions in 2014. He certainly wasn’t as successful as the Lions had hoped.
Ebron didn’t fulfill expectations, and the Eagles likely won’t select a tight end at 10.
Possible Selection: Dalton Kincaid (Utah) or Michael Mayer (Notre Dame).
Also unlikely, especially at 10, but it’s possible the Eagles take the top receiver.
In the Super Bowl Era, 11 wide receivers were drafted 10th overall: Jim Seymour (1969), Ken Burrough (1970), David Verser (1981), Al Toon (1985), Herman Moore (1991), J.J. Stokes (1995), Travis Taylor (2000), Mike Williams (2005), Michael Crabtree (2009), Devonta Smith (2021), and Garrett Wilson (2022).
None of these receivers from 1969 to 2009 made the Hall of Fame. Six of them — more than half — were poor picks that didn’t pan out. Smith and Wilson are both trending towards being excellent selections.
The reality: selecting a receiver at 10 has mixed results, and history suggests another position is usually better.
Possible Selection: Jaxon Smith-Ngjiba (Ohio State)
The 10th pick has historically been 45.6% defense, but with just a 50-percent success clip.
The chart below breaks down the frequency of defensive positions taken 10th overall, with defensive linemen leading the way and safety as the least-selected position.
Probability Of Success For Eagles 10th Pick-Defense
In the Super Bowl Era, only three safeties were taken: Terry Kincaid (1983), Russell Carter (1984), and Rod Woodson (1987). Only Carter didn’t pan out, making a 66-percent hit rate, with Woodson being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
If the Eagles select Brian Branch at 10, history appears to support the selection. It doesn’t hurt that Branch is viewed by some as a top-10 talent.
Possible Selection: Brian Branch (Alabama)
In the Super Bowl Era, seven cornerbacks were taken: James Hunt (1976), Gary Green (1977), Duane Starks (1998), Chris McAlister (1999), Dunta Robinson (2004), Stephon Gilmore (2012), and Eli Apple (2016).
Out of these seven, only three are considered success stories.
The Eagles have plenty of options at 10, but history isn’t incredibly favorable for cornerbacks selected at 10.
Possible Selection: Christian Gonzalez (Oregon), Devon Witherspoon (Illinois), Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
In the Super Bowl Era, five defensive ends have been selected 10th overall: Lloyd Phillips (1967), Jacob Green (1980), Ray Agnew (1990), Jamal Reynolds (2001), and Terrell Suggs (2003).
Of those five, three didn’t pan out — not great precedent. But the two success stories, Green and Suggs, were both multiple-time Pro Bowlers with more 100 career sacks apiece.
Possible Selection: Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama), Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), Lukas Van Ness (Iowa), Nolan Smith (Georgia), Myles Murphy (Clemson)
In the Super Bowl Era, five defensive tackles have been selected 10th overall: Joe Ehrmann (1973), Bill Sandifer (1974), Jimmy Webb (1975), Amobi Okoye (2007), and Tyson Alualu (2010).
Out of these five, only one is considered a success. This isn’t a great track record, but if Jalen Carter is available, the Eagles should still select him as he’s widely considered the top overall player in the draft, which can’t be said about all of the aforementioned five.
Possible Selection: Jalen Cater (Georgia), Calijah Kancey (Pitt)
Should Eagles Trade Down?
The Eagles could also trade the pick. Out of the 87 selections, 21 of the selections involved a trade (24.14%).
If history is a guide, if the Eagles keep the pick they have a 52.6% chance of selecting a player who won’t fulfill his promise.
In the Super Bowl Era, the Eagles decide to trade the pick, the selecting team has a 52.9% of missing on the pick.
What the Eagles Should Do?
The data suggests the Eagles should take Bijan Robinson and add another dynamic playmaker to a stacked offense. However, if the Eagles think they can get Robinson later, they should trade back if possible, acquire more picks and take Robinson later.
The Eagles M.O. has been bolstering the trenches. The data isn’t favorable for going defensive tackle at 10, but if Carter is available the Eagles should ignore the data and pounce on the Georgia product.
If not, the data suggests the Eagles should strongly consider Skoronski, a versatile offensive lineman who would be set up to align for the success rate of offensive linemen taken 10th overall.
– Sam Finkel is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com who focuses on analytics.
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