Starving with a First-Pick Famine

Perry (Joe Robbins - Getty Images)

How bad has Green Bay been with its first picks over the past four drafts? Check out the ugly research by our Matt Tevsh ...

Maybe it's bad luck. Maybe it's bad picks. Maybe it's a combination of the two.

Whatever the case, the Green Bay Packers have had a big problem. Over the last four NFL Drafts, their first-round picks have given them seventh-round production. And for a team that relies so heavily on the draft, any deficiency has an impact.

The Packers are slotted to make their first selection in this year's draft at No. 21, which would mark their highest selection since 2009. Having been a playoff participant in each of the past five years, they are certainly accustomed to selecting in the bottom of the first round.

The emphasis and spotlight on the draft and the economics of the NFL have placed pressure on first-round picks to perform quickly. Fair or not, they are judged unlike any other first-year players coming in. The Packers like to see at least one full offseason with their first-year players, regardless of pedigree, before making a full individual evaluation.

"Some of the expectations they put on some of these guys, I sit and watch the first round and personally it makes me sick because the expectations some of these guys come in with," coach Mike McCarthy said during the offseason. "The reality is it's a big step coming into the NFL. That's where the coaching and the training and the environment and the culture of the locker room, the veterans on how they bring those young players in here, that's all part of them growing and shaping them. Then we have to give them that opportunity to make an impact."

Last year's first-round pick, Datone Jones, never was able to display the form he showed in training camp. Though he was the only one of the last four first-round picks for the Packers to play in every game in 2013, he never cracked the starting lineup. Instead, he averaged about 16 plays a game, taking snaps at defensive end, as an interior pass rusher in sub-packages and even at outside linebacker when injuries shorted the position a playoff contest against the 49ers. He finished with 19 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery.

Like Jones, others drafted near his slot for the Packers had their early optimism quelled in 2013.

Bryan Bulaga, the No. 23 overall pick in 2010, was set for a big year after making an offseason move from right tackle to left tackle before tearing his ACL in the Family Night preseason intrasquad scrimmage. That wiped out his entire 2013 season, which was especially difficult to process considering what happened the season before. In 2012, he missed the last nine games (including the playoffs) with a fractured hip suffered against Cardinals.

When the Packers drafted Derek Sherrod No. 32 overall in 2011, they thought — having taken Bulaga the year before — that their tackles of the future were set. However, a gruesome broken leg sustained Dec. 18, 2011, at Kansas City changed the path of Sherrod's career. Sherrod spent essentially the next two years recovering and has played just 121 snaps of offense in his career.

Nick Perry, the No. 28 overall pick in 2012, is working through the transition of going from a 4-3 scheme defensive end at USC to a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Packers. Perry has made some impact plays — his crushing hit of the Colts' Andrew Luck in a 2012 game and three forced fumbles in 2013 — but wrist, knee and foot injuries have limited him to just 17 games (11 starts) in two seasons.

"We've had some bad luck," general manager Ted Thompson said last week. "We need to go back and look at it from a draft standpoint, a medical evaluation standpoint. We haven't stretched what our beliefs are in terms of  what the bottom line is on the medical side. I think it just happens. I'm sure it happens with every team, but we've had our share of injuries."

Add it all up and no team in the NFL has gotten less out of its first picks of the draft over the last four years than the Packers (see sidebar graphic with this story). Jones, Perry, Sherrod and Bulaga have combined to play in just 82 games with 44 starts, which ranks last in the NFL in both categories. None of the four have made a Pro Bowl, either, making the Packers just one of eight teams with that dubious distinction.

Bang for first-pick buck

Regular season games played and starts totals for first draft picks of NFL teams from 2010-13:

Texans:

DeAndre Hopkins (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Whitney Mercilus (2012) – 32 games, 20 starts

J.J. Watt (2011) – 48 games, 48 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Kareem Jackson (2010) – 61 games, 58 starts

Totals – 157 games, 142 starts, 2 Pro Bowls


Jets:

Dee Milliner (2013) – 13 games, 12 starts

Quinton Coples (2012) – 30 games, 15 starts

Muhammad Wilkerson (2011) – 48 games, 47 starts

Kyle Wilson (2010) – 64 games, 28 starts

Totals – 155 games, 102 starts


Patriots:

Jamie Collins (2013, 2nd round) – 16 games, 8 starts

Chandler Jones (2012) – 30 games, 29 starts

Nate Solder (2011) – 47 games, 44 starts

Devin McCourty (2010) – 61 games, 61 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 154 games, 142 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Redskins:

David Amerson (2013, 2nd round) – 16 games, 9 starts

Robert Griffin III (2012) – 28 games, 28 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Ryan Kerrigan (2011) – 48 games, 48 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Trent Williams (2010) – 56 games, 55 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Totals – 148 games, 140 starts, 4 Pro Bowls


Cowboys:

Travis Frederick (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Morris Claiborne (2012) – 25 games, 22 starts

Tyron Smith (2011) – 47 games, 47 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Dez Bryant (2010) – 59 games, 45 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 147 games, 130 starts, 2 Pro Bowls


Lions:

Ezekiel Ansah (2013) – 14 games, 12 starts

Riley Reiff (2012) – 32 games, 24 starts

Nick Fairley (2011) – 38 games, 22 starts

Ndamukong Suh (2010) – 62 games, 62 starts, 3 Pro Bowls

Totals – 146 games, 120 starts, 3 Pro Bowls


Bills:

EJ Manuel (2013) – 10 games, 10 starts

Stephon Gilmore (2012) – 27 games, 22 starts

Marcell Dareus (2011) – 48 games, 45 starts

C.J. Spiller (2010) – 61 games, 29 starts 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 146 games, 106 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Dolphins:

Dion Jordan (2013) – 16 games, 0 starts

Ryan Tannehill (2012) – 32 games, 32 starts

Mike Pouncey (2011) – 46 games, 46 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Jared Odrick (2010) – 49 games, 25 starts

Totals – 143 games, 103 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Bengals:

Tyler Eifert (2013) – 15 games, 15 starts

Dre Kirkpatrick (2012) – 19 games, 3 starts

A.J. Green (2011) – 47 games, 47 starts, 3 Pro Bowls

Jermaine Gresham (2010) – 59 games, 52 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Totals – 140 games, 117 starts, 5 Pro Bowls


Rams:

Tavon Austin (2013) – 13 games, 3 starts

Michael Brockers (2012) – 29 games, 28 starts

Robert Quinn (2011) – 47 games, 31 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Sam Bradford (2010) – 49 games, 49 starts

Totals – 138 games, 111 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Chargers:

D.J. Fluker (2013) – 15 games, 15 starts

Melvin Ingram (2012) – 20 games, 3 starts

Corey Liuget (2011) – 47 games, 45 starts

Ryan Mathews (2010) – 54 games, 47 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 136 games, 110 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Saints:

Kenny Vaccaro (2013) – 14 games, 14 starts

Akiem Hicks (2012, 3rd round) – 30 games, 16 starts

Cameron Jordan (2011) – 48 games, 47 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Patrick Robinson (2010) – 44 games, 27 starts

Totals – 136 games, 104 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Cardinals:

Jonathan Cooper (2013) – 0 games, 0 starts

Michael Floyd (2012) – 32 games, 19 starts

Patrick Peterson (2011) – 48 games, 48 starts, 3 Pro Bowls

Dan Williams (2010) – 54 games, 31 starts

Totals – 134 games, 98 starts, 3 Pro Bowls


Broncos:

Sylvester Williams (2013) – 13 games, 4 starts

Derek Wolfe (2012, 2nd round) – 27 games, 27 starts

Von Miller (2011) – 40 games, 40 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Demaryius Thomas (2010) – 53 games, 39 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Totals – 133 games, 110 starts, 4 Pro Bowls


Buccaneers:

Johnthan Banks (2013, 2nd round) – 16 games, 15 starts

Mark Barron (2012) – 30 games, 30 starts

Adrian Clayborn (2011) – 35 games, 35 starts

Gerald McCoy (2010) – 51 games, 51 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Totals – 132 games, 131 starts, 2 Pro Bowls


Giants:

Justin Pugh (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

David Wilson (2012) – 21 games, 6 starts

Prince Amukamara (2011) – 36 games, 27 starts

Jason Pierre-Paul (2010) – 59 games, 33 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Totals – 132 games, 82 starts, 2 Pro Bowls


Colts:

Bjoern Werner (2013) – 13 games, 1 start

Andrew Luck (2012) – 32 games, 32 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Anthony Castonzo (2011) – 44 games, 44 starts

Jerry Hughes (2010) – 40 games, 7 starts

Totals – 129 games, 84 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Falcons:

Desmond Trufant (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Peter Konz (2012, 2nd round) – 31 games, 24 starts

Julio Jones (2011) – 34 games, 33 starts 1 Pro Bowl

Sean Weatherspoon (2010) – 47 games, 41 starts

Totals – 128 games, 114 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Browns:

Barkevious Mingo (2013) – 15 games, 3 starts

Trent Richardson (2012) – 17 games, 17 starts

Phil Taylor (2011) – 39 games, 37 starts

Joe Haden (2010) – 57 games, 48 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 128 games, 105 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Steelers:

Jarvis Jones (2013) – 14 games, 8 starts

David DeCastro (2012) – 19 games, 18 starts

Cameron Heyward (2011) – 48 games, 13 starts

Maurkice Pouncey (2010) – 46 games, 46 starts, 3 Pro Bowls

Totals – 127 games, 85 starts, 3 Pro Bowls


49ers:

Eric Reid (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

A.J. Jenkins (2012) – 3 games, 0 starts

Aldon Smith (2011) – 43 games, 24 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Anthony Davis (2010) – 64 games, 64 starts

Totals – 126 games, 104 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Titans:

Chance Warmack (2013) – 16 games, 16 games

Kendall Wright (2012) – 31 games, 17 starts

Jake Locker (2011) – 23 games, 18 starts

Derrick Morgan (2010) – 50 games, 40 starts

Totals – 120 games, 91 starts


Chiefs:

Eric Fisher (2013) – 14 games, 13 starts

Dontari Poe (2012) – 31 games, 31 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Johnathan Baldwin (2011) – 26 games, 10 starts

Eric Berry (2010) – 48 games, 48 starts, 3 Pro Bowls

Totals – 119 games, 102 starts, 4 Pro Bowls


Vikings:

Sharrif Floyd (2013) – 16 games, 1 start

Matt Kalil (2012) – 32 games, 32 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Christian Ponder (2011) – 36 games, 35 starts

Chris Cook (2010, 2nd round) – 34 games, 29 starts

Totals – 118 games, 97 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Eagles:

Lane Johnson (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Fletcher Cox (2012) – 31 games, 25 starts

Danny Watkins (2011) – 23 games, 18 starts

Brandon Graham (2010) – 48 games, 12 starts

Totals – 118 games, 71 starts


Jaguars:

Luke Joeckel (2013) – 5 games, 5 starts

Justin Blackmon (2012) – 20 games, 18 starts

Blaine Gabbert (2011) – 28 games, 27 starts

Tyson Alualu (2010) – 64 games, 64 starts

Totals – 117 games, 114 starts


Bears:

Kyle Long (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Shea McClellin (2012) – 27 games, 10 starts

Gabe Carimi (2011) – 18 games, 16 starts

Major Wright (2010, 3rd round) – 54 games, 42 starts

Totals – 115 games, 84 starts


Panthers:

Star Lotulelei (2013) – 16 games, 16 starts

Luke Kuechly (2012) – 32 games, 32 games, 1 Pro Bowl

Cam Newton (2011) – 48 games, 48 starts, 2 Pro Bowls

Jimmy Clausen (2010, 2nd round) – 13 games, 10 starts

Totals – 109 games, 106 starts, 3 Pro Bowls


Seahawks:

Christine Michael (2013, 2nd round) – 3 games, 0 starts

Bruce Irvin (2012) – 28 games, 12 starts

James Carpenter (2011) – 32 games, 26 starts

Russell Okung (2010) – 45 games, 45 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

Totals – 108 games, 83 starts, 1 Pro Bowl


Raiders:

D.J. Hayden (2013) – 8 games, 2 starts

Tony Bergstrom (2012, 3rd round) – 9 games, 1 start

Stefen Wisniewski (2011, 2nd round) – 45 games, 45 starts

Rolando McClain (2010) – 41 games, 38 starts

Totals – 103 games, 86 starts


Ravens:

Matt Elam (2013) – 16 games, 15 starts

Courtney Upshaw (2012, 2nd round) – 32 games, 22 starts

Jimmy Smith (2011) – 40 games, 21 starts

Sergio Kindle (2010, 2nd round) – 3 games, 0 starts

Totals – 91 games, 58 starts


Packers:

Datone Jones (2013) – 16 games, 0 starts

Nick Perry (2012) – 17 games, 11 starts

Derek Sherrod (2011) – 12 games, 0 starts

Bryan Bulaga (2010) – 37 games, 33 starts

Totals – 82 games, 44 starts


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