The average number of games NFL players play by draft round

According to a 2022 article written for, when taking into account all players drafted this century, it is surprising how few total games a typical player in the NFL actually ends up playing in their career.

The table below shows the average number of regular season NFL games played by draft pick by round, as well as how many regular seasons’ worth of games that translates to, based on a 17-game regular-season schedule. These numbers reflect both the players that had long careers as well as those who barely played.

1 62.3 3.7
2 56.3 3.3
3 48.1 2.8
4 44.4 2.6
5 40.5 2.4
6 32.5 1.9
7 28.1 1.7

Think about first round guys like JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel who were big busts, but they played at least 20 regular season games before their quick exits. But there are also guys like 2nd round Jets QB Christian Hackenburg, who NEVER played a single Reg season game. It’s a good thing Jerry’s temporary love for Denver 1st rd QB Paxton Lynch didn’t happen because he only played in 5 NFL games!

One reason I point this out is the Cowboys have actually done better than average with their draft picks’ longevity. Think about the Cowboys first round picks the last 7 seasons- only one- Taco Charlton has been a bust.

As we near the NFL draft in a few weeks, it’s interesting to note how short a career is for typical guys that get drafted in this league.

Here’s a link to the article Ibreferenced.…ft-picks-career-games-played-average-position

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