Loyalty, continuity and draft-pick retention

The Green Bay Packers drafted 30 of their current players since Mike McCarthy became head coach, a high number. The other Super Bowl team, Pittsburgh, has 23 players drafted under coach Mike Tomlin even though Tomlin inherited a championship team with fewer roster spots up for grabs.

The home-grown continuity those organizations enjoy became a reliable storyline during Super Bowl week.

Both teams got the quarterback position right, of course, and that makes everyone else look smarter. In general, however, the teams with organizational continuity should enjoy more solid footing during a potentially rocky offseason.

The chart shows draft-choice retention rates for NFC West teams. For example, the Arizona Cardinals feature 21 draft choices selected under coach Ken Whisehunt. They have four selected under previous coach Dennis Green and two -- Adrian Wilson and Gerald Hayes -- remaining from the Dave McGinnis era.

The numbers favor Arizona in part because every other team has changed head coaches since the Cardinals hired Ken Whisenhunt in 2007. But Whisenhunt says he isn't necessarily loyal to draft choices. The record proves he's right.

Last offseason, the Cardnials preferred gambling on less experienced quarterbacks to sticking with Matt Leinart on the basis of Leinart's status as a recent first-round draft choice. Whisenhunt has said he would rather admit failure than compromise principles when putting together a roster.

"It's great to keep your draft picks, but only if they are your best players," Whisenhunt told reporters recently at the NFL scouting combine. "We released our third-round pick (Buster Davis) our first year. ... We cut a (former) second-round pick (Cody Brown) last year because we felt we had better players."

I'll be back in a bit with a look at four recent NFC West draft choices, one per team and each highly drafted, facing questions heading toward the 2011 season.


NFC West Draft Choice Retention