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Where NFL Starters Were Drafted

Where NFL Starters Were Drafted

A percentage based look at the how the current NFL starting lineups came into the league positionally. For matters of this piece (and the depth charts we track on Spotrac), a starting lineup consists of: QB (1), RB (2), WR (4), TE (2), OT (2), OG (2), OC (1), CB (2), S (2), K (1), P (1), LS (1). Defensive Lines and Linebackers are selected based on 3-4/4-3 schemes and vary by team.

Related: NFL Financial Depth Charts on Spotrac

 

Notable Notes

  • 62.5% of current starting QBs were selected in the first round, by far the largest percentage of position to round in the game. Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA) was a 7th round selection, while Case Keenum (WAS) went undrafted.
  • The running back is quickly becoming a middle round acqusition, as more and more teams find value in rounds 2-4 on an annual basis. A few teams (Seattle, Christopher Carson, 7th round) (San Francisco, Matt Breida, UDFA) (Chargers, Austin Ekeler, UDFA) are getting incredible bang for their buck.
  • Across a pool of 128 WRs (4 per team), 24% were undrafted free agents. However, MOST of those players are a WR3/WR4 on their respective team currently, with the exception of Tyrell Williams (OAK), Adam Thielen (MIN), Robby Anderson (NYJ).
  • Tight Ends offer maybe the most balanced acquisition resume, with fairly equal draws across the first three rounds. Notable late round studs include George Kittle (SF, 5th), Delanie Walker (TEN, 6th), Cameron Brate (TB, UDFA)
  • 15 of the current starting left tackles were drafted in the first round. While recently extended Dallas Right Tackle La'el Collins was a UDFA back in 2015, as was future Hall of Famer Jason Peters (PHI). Among guards, Jacksonville made UDFA Andrew Norwell one of the highest paid in history 18 months ago, while 7th round pick Austin Reiter just took over the reigns from Mitch Morse as Patrick Mahomes' center in Kansas City.
  • 64% of the starting defensive tackles in football were selected in the first three rounds, while recently extended Damon Harrison (DET) went undrafted back in 2012.
  • 70% of the starting defensive ends in football were selected in the first three rounds, but the fourth rounders might be the best bang for buck right now (Everson Griffen, Trey Flowers, DaQuan Jones). Michael Bennett, now in New England, remains the most potent UDFA at this position group.
  • There's been a bit of a recent shift in how linebackers have been selected, with many teams placing a premium on grabbing a versatie middle man higher than ever. The second round has been loaded with talent of late (Deion Jones, Myles Jack, Bobby Wagner, Eric Kendricks).
  • While 61% of the starting CBs came out of the first two rounds, a good portion (notably slot defenders) came into the league undrafted, including A.J. Bouye, Bryce Callahan, Malcolm Butler, Chris Harris, & Kenny Moore.
  • Teams have been finding safety production fairly evenly across the first four rounds, while a few notables Jordan Poyer (BUF, 7th) & Tony Jefferson (BAL, UDFA) were found much later in the game.
  • There's only one special teamer in the league who was selected in the first three rounds of the draft (Dustin Colquitt, P, KC). 62 of the 96 starters went UDFA, and that trend won't be changing anytime soon.
 1234567UDFA
QB 62.5% 12.5% 6.3% 6.3% 0.0% 6.3% 3.1% 3.1%
RB 15.6% 18.8% 14.1% 18.8% 9.4% 1.6% 3.1% 18.8%
WR 15.6% 21.9% 10.9% 10.2% 7.0% 5.5% 4.7% 24.2%
TE 15.6% 15.6% 17.2% 12.5% 10.9% 6.3% 4.7% 17.2%
OT 39.1% 15.6% 4.7% 7.8% 6.3% 1.6% 7.8% 17.2%
OG 21.9% 14.1% 29.7% 7.8% 1.6% 6.3% 4.7% 14.1%
OC 18.8% 25.0% 3.1% 9.4% 9.4% 21.9% 6.3% 6.3%
DT 27.8% 16.7% 20.4% 7.4% 7.4% 1.9% 5.6% 13.0%
DE 37.7% 14.8% 18.0% 19.7% 3.3% 1.6% 0.0% 4.9%
OLB 28.6% 12.5% 16.1% 12.5% 10.7% 1.8% 3.6% 14.3%
ILB 17.1% 24.4% 7.3% 12.2% 7.3% 9.8% 2.4% 19.5%
CB 37.5% 23.4% 9.4% 3.1% 4.7% 3.1% 1.6% 17.2%
S 25.0% 18.8% 17.2% 10.9% 7.8% 4.7% 1.6% 14.1%
K 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.1% 15.6% 9.4% 9.4% 62.5%
P 0.0% 0.0% 3.1% 3.1% 21.9% 12.5% 9.4% 50.0%
LS 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.1% 9.4% 81.3%