Is Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid as bad as you think he is when it comes to the NFL draft? Since many fans think he, how can I put it…”stinks” in this regard, I decided to look at each of his 13 drafts and compare his results to another long-tenured, successful and respected head coach: Bill Belichick.
Belichick took over in New England in 2000, only one year after Reid became the head man in Philly. The reason I chose Belichick to compare Reid to in terms of drafting prowess is simple: he’s the only other coach in the league right now who’s been with his team just about as long as Reid has.
Plus, Belichick has been the most successful coach over the past 12 years. He’s made five Super Bowl appearances and won three as compared to Reid’s five NFC Championship games with one Super Bowl appearance and no victories.
Furthermore, aside from the whole “spygate” scandal, Belichick is one of the most respected football minds in the league. Surely, a coach with such a keen football acumen would be just as successful in the draft, right?
The draft is the NFL’s version of the old game show “Press Your Luck”. As the draft board spins, you can almost hear every coach and GM saying “No Whammy No Whammy No Whammy!” right before they slam their hand on the red button to make their selection.
After all, the draft really just boils down to a crap-shoot. Even with all of the time and energy invested into scouting players and performing due diligence on each prospect, there is an element of luck involved.
However, teams that have good pro personnel departments and are more adept at the evaluation process have a better success rate with the draft. So, with the annual lottery about three weeks away, let’s take a look at how the Andy Reid regime has fared and compare him to the almighty Bill Belichick.
First, here are the parameters I used when evaluating the drafts:
Draft picks were rated as “hit” or “miss”. I consider rounds one through three to be the rounds in which teams should be able to find either a stud, solid starter, or significant role player. I consider these the “money rounds”, therefore I listed out the players I considered hits and misses.
For players chosen between rounds four and seven, I only considered those who became a starter or made a steady and positive contribution to the team as “hits.” Career backups and situational players who don’t make much, if any impact, were not considered hits.
More is expected of higher picks, less is expected for lower picks. For example, if a first round pick only becomes a role player, that would be considered a miss. But, if you get solid contributions from a seventh round pick, even if only for a couple seasons, that would be considered a hit.
Furthermore, if a drafted player ended up playing well for another team but didn’t pay off for the team that drafted him, he was considered a miss. At the end of the day, if the team that spends the price of a draft pick on a player but doesn’t reap the benefit, it becomes a wasted pick.
So, without further ado, let’s see how Reid and Belichick have done…
Andy Reid’s hits, by round, from 1999 – 2011 (2011 draft picks are rated only on last year and could change over time):
- 1st Round: QB Donovan McNabb (1999), DT Corey Simon (2000), CB Lito Sheppard (2002), OL Shawn Andrews (2004), DT Mike Patterson (2005), WR Jeremy Maclin (2009), OL Danny Watkins (2011)
- 2nd Round: WR Todd Pinkston (2000), SS Michael Lewis (2002), CB Sheldon Brown (2002), OT Winston Justice (2006), QB Kevin Kolb (2007), WR Desean Jackson (2008), RB Lesean McCoy (2009), S Nate Allen (2010)
- 3rd Round: DE Derrick Burgess (2001), RB Brian Westbrook (2002), LB Stewart Bradley (2007)
- 4th Round: G John Welbourn (1999), SS Damon Moore (1999), RB Correll Buckhalter (2001), S J.R. Reed (2004), OL Todd Herremans (2005), WR Jason Avant (2006), Max Jean-Gilles (2006), OL Mike McGlynn (2008), K Alex Henery (2011)
- 5th Round: DE Trent Cole (2005), TE Brent Celek (2007)
- 6th Round: C Jason Kelce (2011), LB Brian Rolle (2011)
- 7th Round: OL King Dunlap (2008), LB Jamar Chaney (2010), S Kurt Coleman (2010)
The Misses, rounds 1 – 3:
- 1st Round: WR Freddie Mitchell (2001), DE Jerome McDougle (2003), DT Brodrick Bunkley (2006), DE Brandon Graham (2010)
- 2nd Round: LB Barry Gardner (1999), LB Quinton Caver (2001), TE LJ Smith (2003), WR Reggie Brown (2005), LB Matt McCoy (2005), DE Victor Abiamiri (2007), DT Trevor Laws (2008), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (2011)
- 3rd Round: WR Billy McMullen (2003), CB Matt Ware (2004), RB Ryan Moats (2005), LB Chris Gocong (2006), RB Tony Hunt (2007), DE Bryan Smith (2008), DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (2010), CB Curtis Marsh (2011)
Explanations for a few players that you may consider not a hit or a miss:
Todd Pinkston – Many fans referred to him as “Stinkston” but he was a 4 year starter and played a role in the offense therefore making him a hit.
Winston Justice – Take away that memorably brutal performance against the Giants, I consider him a hit because he was a starter in 2009 and 2010 and was solid if unspectacular.
King Dunlap – He’s a hit mainly because he was a 7th round pick, but he has shown he’s a serviceable back up. Now, he might be our starting left tackle in 2012!
Freddie Mitchell – Although an entertaining personality and we’ll always have “4th and 26”, he proved that his mouth was bigger than his game. Not a single team wanted him after he left Philly and the man was still in his prime, definite miss here.
Brodrick Bunkley – I had a hard time with Bunkley. Being the No. 14 pick in his draft, he didn’t really live up to expectations in Philly. He wasn’t a “bust”, but did under-perform as compared to his draft status and was ultimately traded away. To this day I wish we could have gotten Haloti Ngata instead.
Brandon Graham – I’m hoping he can recover 100% from his injury and that he flourishes under Jim Washburn in 2012, but his first two seasons have been forgettable.
Results of Reid’s 13 drafts: 116 overall picks, hit on 36 = 31% success rate
By “money” round: First: 11 picks, 7 hits = 64% success rate; Second: 17 picks, 9 hits = 53% success rate; Third: 12 picks, 3 hits = 25% success rate.
Overall rate in rounds one through three: 19 hits out of 40 picks = 47.5% success rate.
4th and 5th rounds combined: 39 picks, 11 hits = 28% success rate
6th and 7th rounds combined: 37 picks, 5 hits = 13.5% success rate
As you can see, Reid’s strongest rounds are one and two, and that’s good because they’re the most important ones to get right. He has only had two picks in the top 10 and nailed both of them with McNabb and Simon. Missing on prospects in the top 10 can really set a franchise back for a number of years.
Reid certainly needs to improve in round three and stop taking “project players.” This is a round where the talent level starts to water down a little bit but you can still glean solid starters if you have good scouts and make sound judgements.
Any contribution you can get from sixth and seventh round picks is really a bonus and Reid seems to have gotten lucky on five occasions so far.
So, how does Reid compare with Bill Belichick? Just as I did for Reid, I’m rating the 2011 picks based on only one year (even though they say it takes three years to truly judge a draft).
Bill Belichick’s hits, by round, from 2000 – 2011:
1st Round: DE Richard Seymour (2001), TE Daniel Graham (2002), DE Ty Warren (2003), NT Vince Wilfork (2004), TE Ben Watson (2004), G Logan Mankins (2005), S Brandon Meriweather (2007), Jerod Mayo (2008), CB Devin McCourty (2010), OL Nate Solder (2011)
2nd Round: T Matt Light (2001), WR Deion Branch, S Eugene Wilson (2003), S Patrick Chung (2009), T Sebastian Vollmer (2009), TE Rob Gronkowski (2010), DE Jermaine Cunningham (2010), LB Brandon Spikes (2010)
3rd Round: CB Ellis Hobbs (2005), T Nick Kaczur (2005), RB Stevan Ridley (2011)
4th Round: T Greg Robinson-Randall (2000), DE Jarvis Green (2002), CB Asante Samuel (2003), S James Sanders (2005), K Stephen Gostkowski (2006), TE Aaron Hernandez (2010)
5th Round: C Dan Koppen (2003), P Zoltan Mesko (2010)
6th Round: QB Tom Brady (2000)
7th Round: FB Patrick Pass (2000), WR David Givens (2002), LB Tully Banta-Cain (2003), QB Matt Cassel (2005), WR Julian Edelman (2009)
Results of Belichick’s 11 Drafts: 110 total picks, hit on 35 = 32% success rate
By money round: First: 11 picks, 10 hits = 91% success rate; Second: 17 picks, 8 hits = 47% success rate; Third: 13 picks, 3 hits = 23% success rate.
Overall rate in rounds one through three: 21 hits out of 41 picks = 51% success rate.
4th and 5th rounds combined: 29 picks, 8 hits = 27.5% success rate
6th and 7th rounds combined: 40 picks, 6 hits = 15% success rate
So, how does Reid compare to Belichick when it comes to the draft? Overall, they’re pretty darn close!
Here are their results listed side by side:
Overall (total draft):
Reid: 116 picks, 36 hits, 31% success; Belichick: 110 picks, 35 hits, 32% success
Rounds one through three:
Reid: 40 picks, 19 hits, 47.5% success; Belichick: 41 picks, 21 hits, 51% success
4th and 5th rounds:
Reid: 39 picks, 11 hits, 28% success; Belichick: 29 picks, 8 hits, 27.5% success
6th and 7th rounds:
Reid: 37 picks, 5 hits, 13.5% success; Belichick: 40 picks, 6 hits, 15% success
Biggest difference was round one:
Reid: 11 picks, 7 hits, 64% success; Belichick: 11 picks, 10 hits, 91% success
The biggest differential between the two coaches is in the first round. Belichick has only missed on one first round pick whereas Reid has missed on four. Obviously, this is the biggest area where Reid needs to improve.
However, perhaps if Jerome McDougle didn’t get shot, Brandon Graham didn’t injure his knee and Brodrick Bunkley had been given a chance in Jim Washburn’s scheme, Reid’s first round results could have been much better.
But nonetheless, Reid simply has to get better with his first round selections.
Both coaches are virtually identical when it comes to finding talent in rounds two through seven. In the second and third rounds, Belichick only had one more hit than Reid (though it was with one less pick in total).
A common knock against Andy Reid during his time as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is that he doesn’t draft well. Well, this goes to show you that maybe he’s not be as bad as you think he is when it comes to the draft.
He’s pretty much neck-and-neck with arguably the best coach in the NFL in terms of draft success.
Now if only he could be that close in the Lombardi trophy category.