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Mr. Laz
12-20-2006, 01:22 PM
PRO BOWL ROSTER REPORT

Anyone wondering what all the fuss about the NFL draft is only has to take a look at players named to this year's Pro Bowl teams. Granted, the Pro Bowl voting isn't 100% science with players reputations sometimes counting as much, if not more, that actual on-field production. Still, the Pro Bowl is a reasonably accurate barometer of who the best players in the league are at this time. And what that barometer tells us is that just about all the top players in the league were indeed drafted and that most came to their teams as premium picks.

In fact, a full 92% of all positional players selected to this year's Pro Bowl teams, were drafted. Overall, 70 of the 76 players named to the Pro Bowl this year at regular positions were drafted. In fact, over half of this year's AFC and NFC Pro Bowl positional players - 40 of 76 or 53% - were first round picks and 83% of all positional players named to this year's Pro Bowl, were first day picks selected in the first three rounds.

Breakdown of 2006 Pro Bowl positional players, by draft status

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And this year's Pro Bowl roster was remarkably similar to last year's when the same number of former undrafted free agents were named to either the AFC or NFC Pro Bowl teams. Indeed, the number of undrafted free agents going to this year's Pro Bowl is around totals earlier in the decade. In 2001, for example, 7 undrafted position players made the Pro Bowl that year. Also note, for the second straight year, that all of this year's undrafted Pro Bowlers play offense, while every defensive player selected was drafted coming out of college. In fact, 31 of this year's 34 Pro Bowl defensive players (91%) were selected on the first day of the draft with more than half (19) being taken on the first round.

And if recent Pro Bowl teams are any indication, teams looking for a quality OT in the near future shouldn't wait much past the first round to grab one. This year, for example, all 6 Pro Bowl OTs were first round selections, a trend that has persisted in recent years. On the other hand, OG and C look more like the lunch-bucket type positions they are with just 3 Pro Bowlers coming to the league as first-round picks.

Three other positions including DT, CB and OLB each had 4 of 6 Pro Bowl position players who were former opening round selections. In contrast, only two of 6 Pro Bowlers at DE were first-round selections, while half of the QBs, RBs, WRs and safeties going to the Pro Bowl this year are former first-round picks.

As has often been the case in recent years, the QB lineup headed to the Pro Bowl is something of a mixed bag. Three of this year's 6 Pro Bowl QBs, for example, are former 1st round picks (Peyton Manning of Indianapolis, Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and Philip Rivers of San Diego), while a 4th (Drew Brees of New Orleans) is a second rounder. The other two Pro Bowl QBs this year, though, include a 6th rounders - Marc Bulger of St. Louis - and former undrafted free agent Dallas QB Tony Romo. Ironically, all three first round QBs represent the AFC.