Monthly Archives: March, 2014

NFL teams that benefitted from undrafted rookies

Bartu

(Atlanta undrafted rookie LB Joplo Bartu started 13 games for the Falcons in 2013)

NFL teams usually go into a new season with a roster that is filled with veterans, vets they may have acquired via trade, vets they may have acquired via free agency, and first-year players they selected in the college draft. Another group of players, albeit ones that normally don’t get a lot of attention, are the first-year undrafted players that teams invite to their training camp.

In most cases, undrafted first-year players fill a role by taking a roster spot during training, but many are not expected to make the final roster. There have been, however, cases where an undrafted rookie not only makes a team, but gets significant playing time during the regular season.

Last season 20 different undrafted rookies played in all 16 of his team’s games (a total of 82 rookies played in all 16 of its teams games last season). Five teams, Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, New England and Tampa Bay, each had two undrafted rookies play in all 16 of their games. For the Atlanta Falcons, their two undrafted rookies, linebackers Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow, not only played in all 16 games, but Bartu started 13 games while Worrilow started 12 for the team.

In looking at the past 10 seasons, it appears some teams have placed a higher value on these first-year undrafted players than others. The Packers and Colts have each had 10 different undrafted rookies play in all 16 games in a season since 2004. At the other end of the list are the Detroit Lions who have had only one undrafted rookie play in all 16 games in a season in the last 10 years. That player was tight end Joseph Fauria, who played in all of the Lions 16 games last season.

Following is a look at how many undrafted rookies have played all 16 games in a season for each of the NFL teams in the past 10 years (2004-2013).

10: Green Bay, Indianapolis
8: Denver, Miami
7: Cincinnati, Dallas
6: Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
5: Arizona, Baltimore, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New Orleans, NY Jets, Seattle, St. Louis
4: Kansas City, New England, NY Giants, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Washington
3: Chicago, Houston, San Francisco
2: Carolina, San Diego, Tennessee
1: Detroit

Note: The St. Louis Rams are the only NFL team to have had at least one undrafted rookie play in all 16 games in a season in each of the last four seasons.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

How important is a strong April to MLB teams?

Boston WS

In about two weeks we will start the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Usually all 30 teams have their eyes on the World Series when spring training ends and the real season begins. Reality, however, is that some teams quickly fall right out of the gate and the season becomes a long trek to the end of September.

How important is a strong April to MLB teams? Last season the Boston Red Sox ended April with the best record in the majors, 18-8. They went on to win the World Series. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves had the best record at the end of the first month with a 17-9 record. They made the playoffs, but did not make the World Series.

Let’s take a look at the last 14 MLB seasons… back to 2000. Did having the best record in the league equate to success in October?

* Only six teams that had the best record (or tied for the best record) in their league at the end of April made it to the World Series.

* Five of the last 10 World Series champs had or tied for the best April record in their league.

* Of the 31 teams that either had or tied for their best record in April in the A.L. or N.L. since 2000, 17 made the playoffs. In the AL, 11 of the 14 teams with the best record in April made the playoffs that season; in the N.L., of the 17 teams that had or tied for the best April record, only six made the playoffs.

* Five of the last 11 A.L. teams with the best record in April went on to play in the World Series.

* Only one N.L. team that had or tied for the best record in April went on to play in the World Series (the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals who tied with the Cincinnati Reds with the best April record at 17-8).

* Five of the 28 teams that played in the World Series since 2000 were under .500 at the end of April. The last team was the 2010 Texas Rangers who were 11-12 at the end of April but played in the World Series that season.

* The 14 teams that played in the World Series from the A.L. since 2000 were a combined 204-139 (.595 winning percentage) in April that year. The 14 teams that played in the World Series from the N.L. since 2000 were a combined 192-154 (.555 winning percentage) in April that year.

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2013 the best year for rookies in NFL history

250px-Geno_Smith_at_Jets_training_camp

(QB Geno Smith was one of five first-year players with the Jets to start eight or more games)

How does an NFL team know if they’ve had a good draft? How does an NFL team know after the season ends if their draft that year was successful? Is there a way to evaluate if a team made good decisions regarding undrafted free agent signings?

Interesting questions. Are the answers to these questions based on how many first-year make the team? How many rookies start games? How many rookies end the season with the team? How many first-year contribute in key stats, i.e., TDs, yards, sacks, etc.?

Let me throw out a premise to ponder. Let’s look at how many teams had first-year players (drafted players and free agents) who started eight or more games for their team. My hypothesis is that the teams that had more rookies start eight or more games in their first year on the team the better the draft (and free agent signings).

Based on this stat, the New York Jets had the best draft in 2013. Led by second-round QB Geno Smith, who started all 16 games, the Jets had five first-year players who started eight or more games for the Jets, most in the NFL. In addition to Smith, Tommy Bohanon, Dee Milliner, Sheldon Richardson and Brian Winters, all drafted players, started eight or more games for the Jets in 2013.

Taking a look at all 32 NFL teams last season, we can make a more profound statement regarding the first-year player pool in the NFL in 2013. Last season 64 first-year players started eight or more games for their team. That’s the most in NFL history. Sixty-three first-year players started eight or more games in 2011, The third highest total in this stat was in 1986 when 60 first-year players started eight or more games for their teams.

In addition to the Jets having five players with eight or more starts, the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Bucs each had four players in this category. For the Bucs, they have had the most first-year players start eight or more games in a rookie season in the last five years with 16.

Following is a look at how many first-year players started eight or more games in their rookie season for each team since 2009 (the last five seasons).

First-year players with eight or more starts since 2009, teams

16: Tampa Bay

15: Indianapolis

14: Buffalo, Cleveland

13: Detroit, Jacksonville

12: New England, Seattle

11: Carolina, Philadelphia

10: Oakland

9: Houston, Miami, New York Jets, San Diego, St. Louis

8: Denver, Kansas City, Washington

7: Chicago, Cincinnati

6: Atlanta, Baltimore, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee

5: Arizona, Dallas, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Francisco

1: New York Giants

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Having the worst record in the NBA

MBucks

With a record of 12-48, the Milwaukee Bucks have the worst record in the NBA this season. If we go back to the 1976-77 season when the NBA and ABA merged, 20 of the 30 current NBA franchises have in one or more seasons had the worst record in the NBA. For the Bucks, if they end the season with the worst record, it will be the first time as the league’s worst since the merger.

Before you go any further reading this blog, how about a quick trivia question: Can you name the 10 current NBA franchises (including the Bucks) that have not had the NBA’s worst record in a season since the NBA-ABA merger? Give it a minute before you continue reading… I’ll wait.

Right behind the Bucks this season are the Philadelphia 76ers who have a 15-46 record. Like the Bucks, the 76ers have never finished the season with the worst record since the merger.

Ready for the answer? Here are the 10 franchises that have not had the worst record in the NBA in a season since 1976-77: Boston, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, Toronto and Washington.

The Orlando Magic had the league’s worst record last season. It was the second time since 2004. Three franchises, Brooklyn, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis, have each had the worst record in four seasons since 1976-77, most in the league.

Following is a look at the franchises that have had the most “worst record seasons” in the NBA and the last year they “accomplished” this feat.

Most seasons with NBA worst record, team (last season)

4: Brooklyn (2009-10); L.A. Clippers (1999-2000); Memphis (2006-07)

3: Dallas (1993-94); Denver (2002-03*)

2: Chicago (2001-01*); Cleveland (2002-03*); Golden State (2001-02*); Indiana (1984-85*); Miami (2007-08); Minnesota (2010-11); Orlando (2012-13)

1: Atlanta (2004-05); Charlotte (2011-12); Detroit (1979-80); Houston (1982-83); N.Y. Knicks (1985-86); Portland (2005-06); Sacramento (2008-09); Utah (1978-79)

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp