Tempering Expectations: The Actual Value of Draft Picks (Part One)

Tempering Expectations: The Actual Value of Draft Picks (Part One)

A look at what kinds of quarterbacks teams are getting through the draft.
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We think that we know, but we don’t. For months, we act like we know exactly who these prospects are and what they’ll be in the league. Of course, things never happen that way. Football isn’t played in a vacuum.

Due to the outrageous popularity of the NFL, draft season has taken on a life of its own. We now spend months talking, but all of this talk means little on draft day and even less when the actual games start.

Of course, the draft may be the single most important day in the league for building a team. The teams that are consistently strong year after year, teams like the Packers, Seahawks, Broncos, and Steelers, stay strong because of what they do on draft day. That can’t be emphasized enough.

The ability to come out of draft day with impact players out of round one and finding starters in the back end of the draft is how perennial contenders are made. Yet, the value of these draft picks has ballooned out of proportion, especially with the league's new CBA. Teams are willing to give up star talent for picks that, in all likelihood, won’t lead to players close to that caliber.

In the past years, there have been outrageous trades made in the name of draft picks. Martellus Bennett, one of the Chicago’s few impact players, was shipped off to New England last month for the Bears to move up 77 spots in the draft.

The best third-down running back in the league, Darren Sproles, was sent packing from New Orleans for just a fifth-round pick. The Chiefs acquired their franchise quarterback in Alex Smith for a pair of second-round picks. Perhaps most notably, the Cardinals traded for one of the league's top quarterbacks in Carson Palmer, albeit on the downswing of his career, in exchange for a pair of late-round picks.

Of course, there are factors at play here beyond just the caliber of the player who is being traded when compared to the one drafted with that pick. With a draft pick, a team has their choice of a player in their position of choice. That player is young, on a cheap rookie contract, and can be tailor-made for the team's scheme. Veteran players may obviously come with cap damaging contracts. Even so, the length which teams will go to acquire even low-level draft picks is remarkable.

With this is mind, I decided to look at the true value of a draft pick for each position at each point in the draft. For our purposes here, I’m going to stick to recent examples of players. I’m restricting my look at players drafted before 2014, as most scouts will say that it takes three years to evaluate a player in the league.

The goal here is to take a look at the actual value of players at each point in the draft. Throughout the month leading to the draft, we’ll look at trends for the premium positions in the last five years. This first article will take a more in-depth look at the quarterback position as much of the focus of the draft goes to the game’s most important position.

Due to the of the obvious value of the position, good quarterbacks don’t last long in the draft. It’s rare that a top quarterback prospect lasts outside the top ten picks in the draft, with the exceptions to this in recent years with Aaron Rodgers and Teddy Bridgewater.


Top Ten Picks (From 2009 To 2013)

Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez

This sample paints a mixed picture of what teams are getting with a top ten pick. Luck and Newton have been game-changing talents ever since entering the league and Stafford has been a solid starter for years. Bradford and Tannehill are still question marks and the jury is out on Griffin and Sanchez. Locker is out of the league entirely after failing in Tennessee. What this suggests is that “reaching” for a prospect in the top ten, like Locker or Sanchez, rarely leads to success. The players with more success in this group have had at least some talent around them to help them develop. This appears to be the only area that has a good chance of finding quality starters. Notably, teams in the past two years have had more success in this area, with Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Blake Bortles all looking like franchise options.


First Round

EJ Manuel, Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman

This list reads like a literal “who’s who” of quarterback busts of the past ten years. None of these players have found any level of sustained success in the league and all of them have washed out of their starting jobs within two years. Well-rounded quarterback prospects don’t last this long in the draft. Trying to fix a flawed, toolsy player rarely works out and players drafted in this range tend to be reaches. Manuel, Weeden, and Ponder have stuck around as quality back-up options, but Freeman is struggling to stay in the league and Tebow has already begun a second career in broadcasting.


Second Round

Geno Smith, Brock Osweiler, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jimmy Clausen, Pat White

The list doesn’t get much better for second-round picks, either. Teams taking a quarterback in the second round are typically those with a need who missed out early, or those looking for a long-term development option. Osweiler and Kaepernick represent talented players who needed time to grow into the league. However, neither of them represent viable long-term starters in the league, despite what their salaries might indicate. Dalton has enjoyed the most success in this group, although he has still yet to show that he can win big games. This group shows that players who are taken in this range are either limited passers who can only succeed in the right system, like Dalton, or athletic guys who are a long way away from being franchise players, like Geno Smith. The odds aren’t high that a team is finding a franchise quarterback here.


Middle Rounds (3rd and 4th)

Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, Landry Jones, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Mallet, Colt McCoy, Al Woods, Stephen McGee

It’s a 50-50 proposition of whether or not a player in this range will take meaningful snaps in a regular season game. We don’t have any tangible evidence that guys with names like Ryan Nassib or Al Woods actually exist. Although players like Glennon and Foles have provided hope for short stretches, they haven’t been long term solutions as teams have been able to exploit their more glaring flaws. Russell Wilson is the obvious outlier in this group, as his height caused him to fall further than a player with his skills should have. Teams need to be realistic and realize that they are most likely drafting quality backups or spot starters at this point in the draft. Franchise quarterbacks don’t last this long.


Late Rounds

The late rounds of the draft are a wasteland for quarterback prospects. If someone drafted in this range is even on an NFL roster three years down the road, it can be considered a success. Here are some actual names of actual players who have been taken in this area: Rhett Bomar, Tom Brandstater, Mike Teel, Keith Null, Rusty Smith, Ricky Stanzi, and Greg McElroy. Tyrod Taylor represents a rare success story found in this range. People will always use the anecdote of Tom Brady being drafted in the sixth round, but that is the exception, not the rule. Talented, developmental prospects that last this long almost never succeed. Teams need to be realistic. Players who are drafted in this range are backups in a best case scenario. These are essentially throwaway picks.


Takeaways

If you want to find a franchise quarterback, you have to invest a high first-round pick in finding them. The players who have had success as starters outside of that area are far and few between. Quarterbacks who make it outside the first round are typically flawed players who can have sometimes pan out in an ideal system, like Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick. Outside of the first three rounds, teams should be looking for backups, not solutions. Players taken in the later rounds rarely even see the field.
Cover Image Credit: Washington Times

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

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On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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