ESPN: It helps to have great young players

Young and (better be) ready in the NFL
espn.go.com

The 32 players picked in the first round of the 2011 draft played an average of 13 games in the 2011 NFL season. And that counts those who missed time because of injury, such as Prince Amukamara, and project quarterback Jake Locker, who played sparingly in only five games. Half of those 32 players started at least 14 games as rookies and 10 started all 16.

What this tells you is that now, when you evaluate a player you’re considering taking in the first round, you’re asking yourself all of the normal questions about whether he can play, learn, behave and lead, and you’re also asking whether he can do it right away.

We were originally sharing this for the sake of the quotes at the end from Foxy regarding Von Miller. But upon further review, we have to file this column under Everything We Write Must Unearth a Trend, Even if We Make It Up from the John Clayton School of Football Journalism.

Yeah, amazing that so many first-rounders played last year - and that Cam Newton and Von Miller were so incredible must mean that the times, they are a-changin'. To see how well that holds up, let's randomly go back 20 years to the 1991 Draft and see how much those first-rounders were coddled, because surely that was a different era of pro football.

Hmm, those 27 players averaged 13.1 games played as rookies, despite Dan McGwire and Todd Marinovich being among the worst first-round QBs in NFL history (each of them played in just one game that year). This is totally different from 2011 in that...well, it isn't. We'll grant that last year's rookies did start more games than did the 1991 rookies (only five guys started 14 or more games). But we'd need snaps data to truly know how much everyone played.

Just wait until Andrew Luck and RGIII are struggling come Week 4 of this season, and Clayton & Co. pronounce that the trend of playing rookie QBs is a foolish one.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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