What is the value of a Round 1 draft pick?

So much football orthodoxy has been built on generations of assumptions.

Don’t just blindly accept that the assumptions that are in place in the circles of the 32 teams are correct.  Billy Beane turned the baseball world upside down and essentially took a wrecking ball to generations of accepted practices.

That draft value chart that is considered to be the commonplace reference of so many front offices is WRONG.  Even if it’s bigger picture numbers were correct, it is still computing the difference between picks incorrectly.  The easiest way to understand what I am talking about is to look at picks 8 through 17 in Round 1.  They have the difference between 8 and 9 as 50 points.  They have the difference between 9 and 10 as the same.  That is impossible.  And to show how ridiculous it is, they still have the same difference (50 points) being the price of moving from 16 to 17.  It simply does not work that way.  Anyone with any common sense will know intuitively that it will cost more to trade from 9 to 8 as it does to trade from 17 to 16.  Or by extension, to trade from 12 to 8 will cost more than trading from 16 to 12. 

But back to the bigger picture, how could it be that I could take the top pick in the draft for 3000 points and trade him down for ~ 6 or 7 picks in Round 2?  The former could be John Elway (forget if it actually was someone like Courtney Brown or Kijana Carter, because the Elway comes around once or twice per decade) and I’d still crush you with my eyes closed with the bevy of Round 2 picks that the chart implies I would get from the tradedown value.

How do we value the contributions of a player in his NFL career?  A combination of starts, pro bowls, playoff appearances, championship titles?  How much do you weight each?  What about Asomugha, who is relegated to the lowly Raiders?  Or Calvin Johnson of the Lions?  Do those two great players get penalized too much if we weight the postseason too much?  Come up with a fair mechanism to value the career of a player.  Assume each start is worth 1 point as baseline.  Offer us a suggestion of how to quantify what the ‘output’ of a player is. 

The goal would be to see how much production we get out of each round.  Considering how many first rounders do end up making their teams and playing for them, they will still clearly demonstrate a lot of production just for their starts.  A fifth rounder will likely be out of the league pretty quickly, or just holding a job as a specials somewhere.  So that contribution would be far lower.  Starting should be significantly more valued, since the team’s 22 starters are the ones in a position to make an impact.

The thinking here is that Round 2 is not worth only ~ 35% of Round 1.  My guess would be that it is worth anywhere from 50% to 75% of Round 1.  Yet the draft value chart has Round 1 worth 36166 points and Round 2 is worth 12912 points.  35%.  I do not buy that ratio of production.  I am sure that Strahan, Toomer, Sehorn, Snee, Smith, Umenyiora, Webster or Barber wouldn’t buy that either.

DRAFT PROJECT UPDATE: today we graded out the Offensive Linemen.. going long Trent Williams and Maurkice Pouncey, short Anthony Davis.  

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