September 1st

(Note unless otherwise noted only roster deadline deals are included)

It's hardly science, but how many players from a particular draft actually make their respective team's opening day roster gives some indication of just how strong that draft may have been. And if this is in any way a reasonably accurate measure, then the early returns from the 2014 draft suggest that this year was a relatively strong one for selecting players, although, at least in this regard, wasn't exactly the super draft it had been cracked up to be. In fact, in many regards, this year's draft wasn't as productive as the 2013 draft. Once all the cutting had been completed on Saturday, for example, 30 players selected at last May's draft were outright released. That was actually two more than in 2013 when just 28 draftees did not make their team's opening day roster. This year's figure was also pretty comparable to those in 2008 (32), 2011 (30) and 2012 (33). In other years since the middle of the lase decade, though, the number of draft picks released prior to the start of the season, ranged between 35 and 40 and was as high as 45 in 2007.
At the same time, another 22 of this year's rookie draftees this year were placed on either injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list. Again, this figure is about the same as that in 2013 when 21 drafted rookies were listed, although both figures were  somewhat higher than in the past decade when an average of around 15-18 drafted players were placed on a reserve list.

Not surprisingly, most of the players taken at the this year's draft who were released this weekend were late- round selections. Indeed, 26 of the 30 draftees who were released this past week were taken in either the 6th or 7th rounds. If there was one thing that sets this year's draft apart from earlier years is that for some odd reason, more players selected in the 6th round (14) were released than the comparative figure of 12 in the final round. At the same time, 4 players selected in the 5th round were cut this weekend. In contrast, no player taken in the opening four rounds was released prior to the roster deadline. In fact, every player selected in this year's first two rounds made their team's opening roster, while three players selected in the third round were placed on injured reserve.  Overall, the highest drafted player this year to be released was Atlanta CB Ricardo Allen, an early 5th round pick who was the 147nd player selected this past May. For the record, that's the lastest the first draft pick to be cut has been released since we've been tracking such things.

The comparative strength of this year's draft is also reflected in the fact that 8 teams - Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Kansas City, Oakland and Arizona - neither released nor IRed any of their players taken at the 2014 draft, (although Arizona did release 6th round WR Walt Powell on Sunday). Again, that was the same number as in 2013, whereas that was just the case for half that number of teams the previous year. At the same time, three other teams - Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit - didn't release any of their draft picks this year, but did place one pick on a reserve list, while Green Bay listed a pair. It was also an eventful series of days for San Francisco's draft class as the 49ers put 5 of their 11 picks on an injury, although that is hardly a new trend for the team. On the other hand, St. Louis released 4 of its draft picks and listed another, while Seattle released 3 and put another on an injury list. Meanwhile, Washington and New England also released three picks each, while Dallas, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Atlanta each cut two 2014 draft picks.

The 2014 draft also offered more hope to players overlooked at the draft as a total of 66 undrafted rookie free agents survived last week's cuts and made a 53-man roster at the deadline, although that number is literally in constant flux as teams tinker with their rosters heading into this week's season openers. That number, though, is again less that the previous year when 73 undrafted rookies made an opening day roster, but significantly higher than earlier in the decade as just 45 undrafted rookies made a roster in 2012, while the figure was around 55 the two previous years. In fact, 26 of the 32 NFL teams had at least one undrafted rookie free agent on the roster after the 53-man opening day roster deadline had passed on Saturday. Cleveland led the way with 6 undrafted  rookies making the Browns' roster, while both Indianapolis and Miami each kept 5 and Dallas 4.

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