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NFL Draft - Behind the Numbers

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For only the second time in their seven year history, the Houston Texans will be drafting a player with a pick that is not in the top ten.  Most would agree that the sooner that a team picks, the better their chances are of drafting a good player.  By that rationale, a Texans fan should be satisfied with picking 18th because, well, at least they're not picking 19th, right?  Well, after watching a recent documentary on Sabermetrics, I felt compelled to take a deeper look at the draft seeding.  What I found is nothing short of astonishing.

With the 18th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected defensive end Will Smith.  Despite sharing a name with the self-anointed prince of Bel-Air, Smith has done enough to establish his own identity as one of the league's best defensive ends.  A fierce competitor, his pass rushing ability earned him Pro Bowl honors in 2006.  So, what's with all this love for the fresh prince of the pass rush?  Well, I guess you can say he's sorta one of a kind.  

Will Smith is a perfect example of the talent to be had in the middle of the first round.   So I wanted to see what other players have made the Pro Bowl roster as an 18th overall pick.  I took a stroll down draft day lane and found that Will Smith stands alone as the only 18th pick to make the Pro Bowl in the past 25 years.  

Now, here's the real kicker; over the same 25 year time span, going back to the 1983 draft, there have been ten players selected 19th who have been voted to the Pro Bowl.  Compare that to Smith's one Pro Bowl, and your looking at an unbelievable ten to one ratio (40% to 4%).  Below is a chart that shows that illustrates the disparity.

The Philadelphia Eagles are perched one spot behind us at 19.  So am I implying that we should lobby Rick Smith to work a deal with the Eagles?   No, but humor me anyway.  

Over the past three years, Donovan McNabb has averaged only eleven starts (33/48), while the Eagles posted a mediocre 24-24 record.  We could package Sage and the 18th pick for Lito Sheppard and the 19th pick.  Philly wants to deal Lito, and they could use a quality back-up QB.  We need experienced help in the backfield, and we have a couple of solid back-up QBs.   Maybe I'm just drunk off of sunflower seeds and diet coke, but I'm thinking it would be a win-win.  Okay, you can stop humoring me.

I know it's pretty far-fetched.  Philly allegedly wants compensation similar to the DeAngelo Hall deal and there is no way we mortgage the future for Lito Sheppard... no matter how many Pro Bowls he's been to (2 by the way).  But a man can dream, can't he?

They often say that numbers don't lie, and I'm not about to start doubting them.  As I see it, we're left with three options: trade up, trade back, and if all else fails, wait out the clock and turn in our pick after the Eagles.  Knowing what you know now, what do you think the Texans should do with the unlucky number 18?