Worst three years ever!
Is that headline sufficiently catchy?
Yesterday I decided to view the past three years -- and more -- through the NFL draft. CBS Sportsline has data back to 1967, so we can look at Elliot through Carr. (None of RichRod's guys have reached the draft stage.) I found that the number of picks for the most recent three-year stretch ('09 to '11, covering the '08 to '10 seasons), seven, is the lowest since the one ending in 1986, when there were six. Only one other interval (interestingly, the one concluding in 1985) is worse (five picks). The one ending in 1970 also had seven.
Considering only high (rounds one to three) draftees, the last three years look even worse. There were two high picks (Graham in 1st round, Mouton in 2nd round). This has never happened in the "modern" (Bo and beyond) era. The other low points, by that measure, were three straight (ones ending in the years '89, '90, and '91) series around the Bo-to-Mo transition and a couple in the '70s.
Here are the details: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AkEbjH02DNzxdG9LN2V...
Next to the first draftee for each year you'll see four columns: * Total number of picks for that year. * Total number of picks for that year and the two prior years. * Total number of "high" picks for that year. * Total number of "high" picks for that year and the two prior years.
Old-timers (and everyone else), be sure to look at the high-pick numbers for the three-year intervals ending from '72 to '74. By the measure of the NFL draft (which, as I'll note later, had fewer spots back then), those were some insanely talented teams. Recruiting was arguably never better. It's worth noting that Bump Elliot should get a good chunk of the credit, since his last class would have finished in '73. Let's hope that Brady can do something similar. He's off to a good start.
Feel free to blame Rodriguez (lousy player development and retention) / Carr (cupboard management) / both for the last three years, depending on your preference. I'll step aside for the moment. :)
Note: Since the draft is currently seven rounds, I ignored all picks past that round in old drafts. I did not account for expansion (Bucs and Seahawks in the mid-'70s, Panthers and Jags sometime after that), so the numbers from (say) the early '70s, which are already impressive, should be considered in that light. (Being drafted in the first round with fewer teams is a rarer achievement.)