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RZL Multiple First Rounders -- Blessing or Curse?
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to rzl-football.com

Iíve been thinking recently about multiple first round draft picks and what they mean for actual results in the win/loss column. The multiple first round pick draft is so seductive almost by nature. Thereís that sense of putting yourself in a position for great things down the road. But is that the case?

To examine this question, I looked all every teamís draft class from the leagueís first draft in 2007 through 2018. I stopped there because I felt that the true measure of success from a first round pick needed to be felt in the first 5 seasons, otherwise it didn't mean as much. I cataloged every team that had multiple picks and then measured their total wins over the next five years. The idea being that over 5 years the average team should win 40 games (5 years x 8 wins, which is playing .500 ball). That way, I could see whether or not having multiple picks meant more victories than the Ďaverageí team, or fewer. In theory, a team with multiple picks should see some bump in total victories. Keep in mind these multiple picks capture both teams that are picking high in the draft or low in the draft. Sometimes these picks represented two Top 10 picks, sometimes two or more picks in the bottom of the first round. This, along with many other variables, are something that I couldn't, and didn't want to, control for.

Hereís what I found:

First things first, there were 89 times in the 12 drafts that I looked at in which teams had two or more first round picks. The most number of teams with multiple picks in any one season was 10, in 2007, 2009, and in 2011. The fewest number of teams with such picks was 5, in both 2014 and 2017. On 17 different occasions, teams have had three or more first rounders. Of those, 13 times a team has had 3 first round picks, 3 teams have had 4 first round picks, and 1 team, the 2010 Patriots had an astonishing 5 first rounders. Iíll break down these differences below.

For the record, the most wins following a multiple pick draft came after the Steelers picked two first rounders in 2007. They had an amazing 72 wins during a 5 year span, though this success maybe had little to do with DT Alan Branch and CB Marcus McCauley, compared to how great a GM Brian Brown was. The fewest wins after a multiple pick draft were the 18 wins by the Bengals after they had two first rounders in 2018. And just for anyone wondering out there, 31 of the 32 teams had at least one multiple first round pick season between 2007 and 2018. The only holdout? The Buffalo Bills.

My research found that when a team had multiple first round picks, the average number of victories over a 5 year period was 39.7. This is a little surprising as the average for any team should be 40. It appears that multiple first round picks does not provide much benefit. Whatís even more interesting when you break it down further. Teams with only 2 first round picks, did slightly better, coming in at 39.8 wins total over 5 years. But thatís still somewhat counterintuitive. Itís not necessarily a case of only bad teams getting multiple picks, though it certainly happened. There are also teams like the Bucs, run by AF, one of the best GMs in league history, who has ended up with multiple picks 3 times. His average wins over 5 seasons for those 3 drafts? 52.7. So thereís more at play here.

What if a team has 3 or more first rounders? Does that eventually translate into dominance? It turns out, no. In fact, it suggests it is less likely. As mentioned above, 17 times a team has had 3 or more first rounders Ė but these instances equate to an average of 39.7 wins over 5 seasons. And what of those 4 times a team has had 4 or more first round picks? The numbers suggest this is a sure fire way to cripple your team over the next half-decade. The result? An average of a mere 32 wins over 5 seasons. And how many Super Bowls did the Patriots win after their 5 first round picks season? Zero. And they only won a total of 33 games over the course of the next 5 seasons.

All of this seems to suggest that in wishing you had more first rounders, be careful what you wish for.

One last big of trivia. Eight teams have had multiple first round picks on 4 or more occasions. The Vikings have had 4 such drafts (with an avg of 34 wins after each), the Saints have had 4 (49.8 avg wins), the Giants have had 4 (50.2 avg wins), Seattle has had 4 (40 avg wins), and Tampa Bay has had 4 (48.8 avg wins). Jacksonville has had 5 seasons with multiple picks (38.7 avg wins) and the Jets and Redskins both lead the way with 6 seasons where they had multiple picks. You couldnít ask for more difference in the results. The Jets have won an average of 48.5 wins per 5 seasons, while the Skins have managed only 32.8.

I guess it just goes to show, you never know.
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