The “High Hit Rate” Position

April 17th, 2024

Draft fans might be surprised by some comments from Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian.

It’s that time of year when nobody wants to hear that 14 or so players snagged in the Round 1 of the NFL Draft next week will be busts.

With all the many millions each team dumps into its front office each year, and all the film and data available, the overall first-round success rate in the NFL Draft is worse than it was 15 years ago.

That was the case Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian was laying out astutely on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week.

Round 1 picks used to thrive about 60 percent of the time, Polian explained, but now it’s around 56 percent. He said the dip is tied to the rookie wage scale that cut salaries for draft picks starting in 2011. That’s made teams collectively more willing to take chances in Round 1, hence the higher fail rate.

Polian noted only about 35 percent of first-round picks help their original team into a second contract. Ouch!

Sometimes “need” rules the day in a team’s draft and failure comes when teams con themselves into believing a guy can fill a hole when he can’t, Polian lectured. “If you manufacture a player because you have a need, you’re going to fail 90 percent of the time,”

Bucs fans drooling for a center in Round 1 will love what Polian had to say. It was almost as if he was sending Bucs general manager Jason Licht a signal.

“People are now recognizing that center is a critical position and it has a very high hit rate [in the draft], meaning that the players do succeed,” Polian said, referring to a statistical study.

Polian even said he potentially would draft a center with a top-10 pick (not this year) if the guy had great feet and could pass block extremely well.

The Bucs have been widely suggested to be targeting one of several center prospects with their No. 26 overall pick.

Ironically, Polian’s center for more than a decade in Indianapolis was Jeff Saturday, who was undrafted. Saturday was cut by the Ravens in 1998 before Polian signed him off the street in 1999.

36 Responses to “The “High Hit Rate” Position”

  1. Buc4evr Says:

    Well 26 is closer to the second round , so why not draft a center. Especially if JPJ or Frazier is available.

  2. HC Grover Says:

    Another Plan 9 may be available.

  3. Cobraboy Says:

    Just more evidence that the NFL Draft is, and always has been, a crap shoot where the house almost always wins, top to bottom.

  4. Ko Kiefer Says:

    Cobra boy,

    You know I had the opposite takeaway. Yes, there is a degree of uncertainty but much of that can be mitigated by good scouting, acquiring better picks, and selecting positions with high hit rates. Offensive line seems to be a good spot for Licht.

  5. Usfbuc Says:

    There’s no way to really know these players until you see them every day. Also no way to predict injuries. Then combine that with teams trying to win right away instead of developing players and of course the draft is a crap shoot.

  6. Esteban85 Says:

    I did not know that about Saturday. Thanks Joes for the deep dives and the plethora of articles on everything Buccaneers.
    It does seem that offensive line draft picks seem to work out at a higher rate, moreover; there seems to be a higher rate of undrafted talent on the offensive line. Why is this not the case with the defensive line? Would love some insight on why that is the case in the NFL.
    Yes there is more talent in later rounds in the draft but I do think that we should spend a premium pick on a center 1,2, or 3. I think there is skill at all of those rounds. I mean Hainsey has been “serviceable” as a round 3 pick, however; I do believe he is a natural guard. A pure center would be great at round 2. Maybe Frazier? Gotta love the Scots for people moving

  7. Capt Ahab Says:

    There is something to be said for trading back and have another bite or two at the apple.

  8. Bucs Guy Says:

    Read a study over 10 years showing 80% of OLine drafted in the first rd become starters for 8-10 years.

  9. SlyPirate Says:

    I’m convinced the Bucs will draft DeJean or Latu in the 1st (unless a stud WR drops) and C Van Pran in the 2nd. This leaves the 3rd for G and MLB.

    Don’t be surprised if the Bucs trade down because a QB (Nix or Penix) is on the board.

  10. Tony marks Says:

    Capt Ahab Says:
    April 17th, 2024 at 6:17 pm
    There is something to be said for trading back and have another bite or two at the apple.


    if its a team with a position like Washington I’d be for it. The people who say don’t draft a center in the first round seem to forget we have no high icks in the second either.

  11. Scott Says:

    If we hit on a center that would be great. We just need to hit on something. It feels like there has been too many misses in the first round. Another all pro lineman would be nice. Then find a developmental guard later on.

  12. Bojim Says:

    Have a feeling some team will grab him first. Bucs may have to move up a couple picks. Or, I don’t know.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    @Ko Keifer & Cobraboy,

    If you haven’t read the article from today’s MCoJ about draft success and data from the Athletic, you should check it out now.

    Really good insight into how competing self-interests, self-preservation, stubbornness, desperation, and ownership all cause teams to fail at drafting properly. Thanks for posting that Joe.

    (Also thanks for the article about Pete Schraeger a couple of days ago too. VERY easy to see why he’s a closet Bucs fan after reading about his early days covering the NFL)

  14. A Bucs Fan Says:

    At this point I’m ok with whoever they draft as long as it isn’t a QB or Chop Robinson.

  15. Scott Says:

    I think passing on Chop might be a huge mistake. Time will tell.

  16. SB Says:

    I like what Capt. Ahab said.

  17. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HC Grover Says:
    April 17th, 2024 at 5:49 pm
    Another Plan 9 may be available.
    Your “jokes” are actually worse than a JTS pass rush. Worse than Devin White trying to tackle Gardner Minshew at the goal line.

  18. Capt Ahab Says:

    Tony, I am suggesting that if at 26 the Bucs have several prospects rated the same. Then perhaps trade back a few spots get one of those guys and pickup an extra pick, maybe a 3rd rounder. This is why I suggest at more bites at the apple. There is always a lot of talent in the 3rd round. The Bucs have two late 3rd rounders, 3 picks would be good along with your early 2nd or very late 1st.
    I’m of the opinion the Bucs can draft a talented running back in the third round with the extra pick, maybe the tight end Sinnot. Deep draft this year.

  19. BigMacAttack Says:

    Don’t discount the Tom Moore and Bill Polian connection. You know they talk. Btw, Tom Moore is a football genius and used to run the Offense/Defense camp in Orlando for a lot of our you athletes including my son when he played. This is Mfn Florida. Our seasons are Spring, Summer and Football Season 💥

  20. BigMacAttack Says:

    OD camp with Peyton Manning lol. Sorry Peyton haha

  21. MadMax Says:

    Saw a mock from a buc site today where we traded down with KC for the last pick in the first plus picked up their 3rd and still landed Powers…..that would be phenomenal!

  22. MadMax Says:

    I have to burn through vacation time for 3 hrs thurs and friday next week so I wont miss the draft…..cant wait!

  23. MadMax Says:

    Alright, ive changed up my mock a little….

    1st Powers or Barton
    2nd CB Javon Bullard
    3rd RB Estime / DE Moh Kamara (both spots on either one)
    4th Trotter Jr
    and if DT Sweat is still there, trade back into the 4th for him.

  24. MadMax Says:

    My bad, Bullard is a Safety who can also play nickel….I like this kid, he’s like another Winfield out there.

  25. Booger Says:

    Just take a look for yourself, at what the ‘“hit rate” is on Centers taken in the 1st Round since the Cowboys took their stud back in 2013, I believe it was. It’s pretty much CAN’T MISS on EVERY. SINGLE. ONE OF THEM. Minus only one or two of them… And it took a pretty major injury to one of those, & then the other one, eventually, ended up signing a damm big contract later on down the road. I’m talikin’ pretty much EVERY ONE of the others, were ALL Pro-Bowl, and/or ALL FRICKING PRO, multiples, in just a matter of a only a YEAR, or two. From 2013 Cowboys to Linderbaum… Look it up.

  26. Booger Says:

    A month ago, I looked up every draft since 2013 since that was the first year I really took notice after that Cowboys Pick… Because, that was the pick that ended up changing their entire OL and a complete reversal with how they approached future drafts compared to their past. Also, I was curious after reading article after article, then comment after comment on here, talking about all of these “second contracts” to third day picks and beyond, while NEVER even a mention of all the 1st Rounders, when I couldn’t even remember a one being a “BUST.” Then, I came across several other articles about it and it was exactly what I thought and had remembered. BEST “Hit-Rate” For 1st Rounders, BY FAR.

  27. Tony marks Says:

    Capt Ahab Says:
    April 17th, 2024 at 10:40 pm
    Tony, I am suggesting that if at 26 the Bucs have several prospects rated the same. Then perhaps trade back a few spots get one of those guys and pickup an extra pick


    I hear you and its a good strategy. I am just saying if you are willing to trade down to high second then you can possibly get a high 3rd from the same team because thats the draft order. I suggested washington ( if they have someone they really want at 26) because they seem to have 2 2nd rounders close together and High three and a mid three

    With Kc you are going to get lower picks in the 3rd almost to the point of a fourth

    But its all good.

  28. Tony marks Says:

    Booger Says:
    April 18th, 2024 at 1:03 am
    I’m talikin’ pretty much EVERY ONE of the others, were ALL Pro-Bowl, and/or ALL FRICKING PRO,

    You are missing one key ingredient. The articles you are referring to and debunking (rather effectively) is written by a Joe that claims (falsely) that Centers do not make plays that win games.

    To him its of no consequence that they are pro bowlers if they still are centers. Best available player at a position of need be damned.

  29. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    You know the Bucs have had pretty good success rate at picking in the 3rd round it seems to me. I wonder how many #3’s they could get with a #1 and a #2?
    Just sayin….

  30. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    John Lynch, ronde barber, yaya diaby, Chris Godwin to name a few were all 3rd round picks…

  31. heyjude Says:

    Trade up for an edge rusher or center. Verse, and/or JPJ, Frazier… Or wait and get someone like Bralen Trice farther back, and get a center first. Licht probably has all the scenarios down to science now.

    Yesterday Bill Belichick was on McAfee’s show. He said near the draft there begins to be a lot of leaks, and most of them end up being correct. The wait begins!

  32. Beeej Says:

    Whatever happens, we need upgrade at center, unless 33 pressures, 26 hurries and five sacks out of that position is considered acceptable

  33. D Cone Says:

    With just 1.5% of college players making it to the next level all the kids in the draft have been Big Fish with the Confidence that goes along with it from playing against Boys. Sometimes it’s hard to handle going to Aint Shat after Mommy has been telling them how great they are since Pop Warner.

    Based on past history I am sure there will be plenty going Home and Cuddling with their Puppy or Crying in their Mothers Arm when Life suddenly gets Real.

    Guys coming in with 20 TD’s their Senior season thinking they are a Big Fish and their is a guy next to him that had 25 TD’s and 200 more yards.

    Once they are in the building and lining up against men you really can’t assess them.

    Any team that is drafting to fill starting roles is at a disadvantage right off the bat.

    Drafting on what a player might look like his second year is a better way to go than what he looked like his final year of middle school.

    Roll the Dice and hope you get all Men.

  34. BucsFan55 Says:

    Chop = BUST

  35. Booger Says:

    What about Godwin, YaYa, (and going back 30 YEARS with Lynch and Barber), all being 3rd Rounders, Lawn Chair? This article is about drafting Centers and was talking about their “hit rate” in the 1ST ROUND. On top of that, the “hit rate” in the 1st Round overall (regardless of position), is going to be significantly higher than what the “hit rate” would be versus the Third Round.

  36. BillyBucco Says:

    All of them came before pick 26.
    The guy you mentioned Frederick seemed like a reach according to experts.
    Even at 31.
    Good for the Cowboys but how do any of the other 7 centers selected since, before the Bucs pick, have anything to do with this?