And while we all know that drafting a quarterback in the first round is a risky proposition, which position group picked in round one has enjoyed the most long-term success?
Examining a decade's worth of drafts from 1999 to 2008, our high-octane NFL research department charted how many first-round picks by position started at least one or more games in Year Six for the team that selected them.
» A mere 11 of 28 signal-callers made one or more starts with their original squads six seasons in. Yikes. Unfortunately for these newbies, they're often taken high in the draft by talent-poor teams ill-equipped to protect a young quarterback or surround him with weapons. Especially today, those struggling out of the gate are often replaced, along with their coaches. No position in sports separates the wheat from the chaff with such brutality.
» Picking a guard isn't sexy, but four of seven (.571) have stuck around long-term, a success rate on offense matched only by the tight ends. There's never been a better time to play the latter position, with NFL attacks placing a premium on pass-catchers, while still offering a home for blocking tight ends who can blast open holes in the run game.
» A mere 10 of 40 wide receivers made the cut. Young pass-catchers rarely move the earth as rookies and often need multiple seasons to grow into the role. Detroit fans watched the Lions dial up two first-round busts in Charles Rogers (2003) and Mike Williams (2005), while picking a guy they wound up trading in Roy Williams (2004). When they finally hit the jackpot with Calvin Johnson in 2007, Detroit had used four top 10 picks on receivers in just five seasons. Total chaos.
» Strangely enough, whether you picked offense or defense, the results were almost identical. Just 67 of 157 (.427) offensive choices made the cut, compared with 66 of 158 defenders (.418). Either way, total crapshoot.