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Where teams draft players by position

Greg Johns' item with Rob Rang suggesting the Seahawks might select a defensive lineman sixth overall changed my life -- for an hour or two, anyway.

The first thing I wanted to know was how many defensive linemen teams had drafted in that range relative to players at other positions.

The second thing I wanted to know was how many players at each position teams had drafted in the spots where the other NFC West teams hold first-round picks.

The third thing I wanted to know was how many players at each position teams had drafted in the spots now comprising the first round, one through 32.

The fourth thing I wanted to know was whether the resulting chart would be difficult to read.

Too late.

The original premise -- that the Seahawks might take a defensive lineman sixth overall -- has significant precedent. Seven of the last 15 players drafted sixth overall were defensive linemen. Of course, teams draft lots of defensive linemen early.

The chart shows how many players at each position teams have selected first through 32nd over the last 15 drafts (1995 through 1999). Red lettering identifies picks NFC West teams hold or could hold (a coin toss will determine whether the 49ers choose 16th or 17th). The row showing the 17th overall pick adds up to only 14 because I didn't want to create a separate column for Sebastian Janikowski, the only special-teams player drafted among the first 32 choices during the period in question.

Among the trends:

  • Fourteen of the 37 quarterbacks in the chart went first or third.

  • Nearly 23 percent of the choices -- 106 of the 479 -- were defensive linemen. Defensive backs were next at 16.5 percent.

  • Sixteen of the 65 receivers taken went seventh through 10th (and a lot of these were busts).

  • Lots of defensive backs came off the board in the fifth through 11th spots and again in the 20s.

The positions generally reflect where players lined up in college. A few defensive ends became outside linebackers in the NFL.

1995-2009 NFL Draft Choice Distribution