The NFL draft just concluded with two ASU players being drafted, however, neither of those two players actually committed to ASU out of high school, as they were both transfers into the program. To get a more detailed picture of how ASU-recruited players have been fared in the draft over the years, the ASU Devils Den went back and analyzed the draft results over the last several years to compile the following results.
From 2001 to the most recent draft, a total of 41 ASU players have been selected in the NFL draft. That is an average of roughly 2.5 players per year. In the previous 16 years, a total of 62 ASU players were selected in the NFL draft (this number does not include the seven players selected in drafts from other professional leagues). That is over a one-third drop in the number of ASU players drafted by the NFL. Additionally, up until the mid-to-late 1990’s, there were only 28 NFL teams drafting players where there have been 32 teams since that time.
Over the past 16 draft years, there have only been three years where more than three ASU players have been drafted; 2002, 2008, 2015. In the eight years 2001 through 2008, 24 ASU players were drafted, whereas is the most recent eight years, (2009 through 2016), 17 have been drafted, which is a roughly 30-percent drop. Additionally, of the players drafted between 2001 and 2008, only nine-percent came from the junior college ranks, whereas in the most recent eight years, that total has ballooned to nearly 30-percent.
Surely ASU has been declining in its ability to put high school-recruited players into the draft. Which is not a good sign, but it may be one in which the current trend may not continue. Many of the players drafted were ones that were recruited four or five years earlier, as is the case with high school recruits. For that reason, we looked at the drafting record of the two prior Sun Devil head coaches before Todd Graham in Dirk Koetter and Dennis Erickson to see how each fared in getting recruited players drafted. Graham is not included, since almost all of his high school recruits have yet to be NFL-draft eligible.
Notice Koetter averaged putting roughly one out of every ten high school players he signed into the NFL draft, while Dennis Erickson only averaged one out of every fifteen high school recruits. It’s also interesting that when Erickson was hired back in December of 2006, many speculated that he would be able to bring in decent junior college players based on his past experience, but none of the 20 junior college players he signed during his tenure ended up drafted. Compare that with Graham who has had 22 junior college players eligible to be drafted so far, and has gotten four of them to be drafted; roughly 18-percent.
It appears that you can pin the current declining trend in the number of ASU players being drafted on Dennis Erickson’s tenure. The ASU players going in the future NFL drafts will be Todd Graham recruits. Will he be able to reverse the current lackluster trend? ASU fans sure hope so. Based on his ability to recruit and develop from the junior college ranks (most recently signing the top junior college class of recruits during the 2016 cycle), ASU fans can only hope that ability will also be reflected with his high school recruits when they become NFL draft eligible. That would mean they had productive years with the Devils.