The Value Of Draft Picks

May 19th, 2021

Future team-building.

Very, very interesting data about first round draft picks and the value of trading for established stars.

Mike Sando of The Athletic typed a very thoughtful, well-researched piece on a new trend in the NFL, something Bucs fans may be experiencing as early as next spring.

The Bucs picked No. 32 this year, rendering the draft a second-thought after winning the Super Bowl in February. Yes, picking in the bottom half of the first round was an extraterrestrial experience for Bucs fans, let alone at the very bottom.

Once upon a time, NFL teams threw away draft picks like Joe does empty beer bottles after a full weekend of watching football from noon to past midnight.

George Allen once famously traded picks he didn’t even have, he pulled off so many trades. Allen didn’t believe in developing players; he wanted developed players. He is the one who famously coined the phrase, “The future is now.”

With the NFL more often than not in a win-now mentality — coaches are given two or three seasons to get out of a losing ditch and general managers are often only afforded two coaching administrations to get things turned around. NFL folks are under more pressure than ever from owners to get their houses in order — now!

Sando’s research found more often than not since 2015, first-round picks in the bottom of the draft (for non-playoff teams) do not have their fifth-year options picked up. This basically means teams have given up on said players.

In total, just 38 percent of players drafted No. 19-32 in a window from 2015-2018 had their fifth-year options picked up.

(Tight ends, safeties and offensive tackles are the highest hit-rates.)

So just how valuable are late-first-round picks?

Some winning teams have been able to extend their winning windows (Chiefs and Rams) by trading these late-round draft picks for established players the team knows can play at a high level immediately.

What Joe is getting at? Could we see the Bucs jump on the same trend as the Chiefs and Rams when the Bucs begin to lose key starters next offseason? With these paltry league-wide results turned in by late-first round draft picks, might the Bucs start trading those picks for established players?

Hopefully the Bucs for the next handful of years will be picking in the bottom half of the draft.

The only differences Joe can see between the Bucs and the Chiefs and Rams are, the Chiefs and Rams have somewhat young quarterbacks. Additionally, Chiefs coach Andy Reid doesn’t appear to be packing it in any time soon. Rams coach Sean McVay is nowhere near retirement age.

Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady? They will turn 69 and 44, respectively, this year. We have no idea if either returns to the Bucs in 2022 or not.

16 Responses to “The Value Of Draft Picks”

  1. The Red Mirage Says:

    George Allen’s teams never did anything in the playoffs because his old ass rosters always ran out of gas. Of course you need experienced players but you got to have youth on your squad as well.

  2. Beeej Says:

    There’s something to be said for trading them away, this Joe Tryon thing has me remembering Keith McCants

  3. Joe Says:

    George Allen’s teams never did anything in the playoffs because his old ass rosters always ran out of gas.

    And that is the difference between what Allen did and what the Chiefs and Rams are doing. They are buying young players who have proven they can play. Allen was buying dudes in their 30s.

    Allen was pretty good at X’s and O’s and had serious tunnel vision with player personnel.

  4. windbaggery Says:

    Beeej Says:
    May 19th, 2021 at 11:51 am

    There’s something to be said for trading them away, this Joe Tryon thing has me remembering Keith McCants

    McCants had a well-known degenerative knee condition coming out of Alabama and did not play a traditional position there. He had bust alarm bells ringing loudly… Add in that he was not a particularly bright guy…

    There are no reasonable comparisons with Tryon.

  5. Stanglassman Says:

    McCants had more than a knee problem. He was dumb as a box of rocks. See ball get ball kinda player nothing more. That doesn’t cut it in the NFL.

  6. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Joe, You have to factor in that draft picks are generally cheaper than vets. Drafting well helps control the cap. When GMs find good players at high value positions, it leaves cap room for vets at other positions. Say you draft a starting left tackle in the first. He will earn around 5 million per year. A good left tackle will earn 15 million or more on their 2nd contract. That scenario nets 10 million to spend on other positions.

  7. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Thanks for bringing up McCants. I had suppressed the memory, but now it’s back. Thanks a lot.

  8. DrunkInYbor Says:

    Yeah I think Goerge was 2-7 in the playoffs. Where would we be without our drafted players. But the point is now that we are good we will be drafting way later in the first round. The data shows a late first rounder has a huge miss rate. Why wouldn’t you trade a late 1st for a proven vet. This is foreign territory for us Bucs fans. Even having these discussions shows how far we have come.

  9. Mike Says:

    You have to build your core through the draft. No way around it. Once you have a good core of players, then you can get strategic and mix/match free agents, draft picks or trading picks for experienced players to complete your roster.

  10. DrunkInYbor Says:

    @WhattheBuc you made a great point I didn’t consider. That draft picks are much much cheaper then acquiring vets all ready on high paid contracts. I guess the whole G.M. of a team must be hard lol.

  11. Leighroy Says:

    Isn’t the 1st round bust rate 50% to begin with? So 40% for the bottom half doesn’t seem too far off.

    Plus just bc you take up the 5th year option, doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to stick with the team after or not be a bust (cough, Jameis, cough).

  12. ClwJB Says:

    A more effective method may be trade down to the second and third and stockpile similar level talent so your 50% hit rate equates to more overall players

    The Cap is not going to be our friend for a few years

  13. gp Says:

    If the ‘bust rate’ is 50% for the first round, it must be even worse for the second, third, and on.
    From an outside observers point of view (reading stats is boring) it seems that Jason has done about average in the first round and slightly to much better in the later rounds.
    with that in mind, unless a generational talent like Wirfs is available in the first it may be beneficial to trade that pick for more value in later rounds or next year.

  14. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Actually the bust rate in the 2nd round is close to the bust rate in the 1st. Both are close to 50%. The success rate drops drastically towards the end of the 2nd.

  15. MarkR Says:

    Draft picks are always cheaper than buying established vets. If you draft wisely you get three years on the cheap even if it takes two years to develop them. The only question is – do you need a player so that you can win now. Then it’s worth it to buy. Until TB retires that is the situation the Bucs are in.

  16. Buczilla Says:

    If Brady goes down we are f’d unlessTrask can be amazing in his first year. I’m keeping the picks unless I’m getting back a top 3 player under 25 years old. Plus, I’m not so sure I’d want to emulate anything that LA’s foolish gm is doing. Dude has wasted soooo many draft picks, only to end up with broke a$$, never won a thing Stafford.