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Tony Gonzalez To the Falcons: How Valuable is a Second-Round Draft Pick?

GoBears 2008Analyst IApril 23, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 21:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs downfield during the game against the Miami Dolphins on December 21, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Perennial Pro-Bowler and presumptive Hall-of-Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons earlier today for a 2010 second-round draft pick. The move comes about a month after the Chiefs spent their own 2009 second-rounder on Patriots Quarterback Matt Cassel and Linebacker Mike Vrabel.

In the NBA, second-round picks (with a few exceptions, such as the Marcus Camby salary dump) are often treated as if they aren't valuable at all, and are sometimes sold outright on draft day.

Some teams, like the Portland Trailblazers, seem to collect them. But despite the emergence of several second-round picks as good players (such as Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili), a second-round pick won't usually bring a decent veteran in an NBA trade.

Assuming one pick per round, an ideal NBA draft will fill forty percent of a future starting lineup, comparable to thirty-two percent for an NFL team's draft (twenty-nine percent if kickers and punters are included).

According to the NFL draft pick value chart, the first pick of the second round is worth 580 points, making it roughly half as valuable as the ninth overall pick (1350), and one fifth as valuable as the first overall pick (3000 points). The sixty-fourth overall pick (the last of the second round) is worth 270 points, making a pick in the fifty range worth about 400.

The Falcons draft twenty-third in the second round this year (fifty-fifth overall). Assuming the Falcons draft at a similar position next year (for example, twenty-seventh in each of the first two rounds - adding a playoff win for the addition of Gonzalez and improvements in Matt Ryan's game), here are some of the recent picks in this range:

2008: RB Ray Rice (Ravens: fifty-fifth overall): One 150+ yard game in 2008.
QB Brian Brohm (Packers: fifty-sixth overall)
QB Chad Henne (Dolphins: fifty-seventh overall)
WR Dexter Jackson (Bucs: fifty-eighth overall)
G Mike Pollak (Colts: fifty-ninth overall): Started thirteen games in 2008.
CB Patrick Lee (Packers: sixtieth overall)

Best Second-Rounder (so far): WR DeSean Jackson (Eagles: forty-ninth overall)


2007: DB Josh Wilson (Seahawks: fifty-fifth overall): Four Int's (one for TD) in 2008.
DE Tim Crowder (Broncos: fifty-sixth overall)
DE Victor Abiamiri (Eagles: fifty-seventh overall)
DE Ikaika Alama-Francis (Lions: fifty-eighth overall)
C Ryan Kalil (Panthers: fifty-ninth overall): Started twelve games in 2008.
CB Samson Satele (Dolphins: sixtieth overall): Started sixteen games in both 2007 and 2008.

Best Second-Rounder (so far): LB LaMarr Woodley (Steelers: forty-sixth overall)


2006: T Andrew Whitworth (Bengals: fifty-fifth overall): Thirty-eight starts in three years.
C Chris Chester (Ravens: fifty-sixth overall)
ATH Devin Hester (Bears: fifty-seventh overall): Eleven career special teams touchdowns. Returned opening kick for TD in Super Bowl XLI.
DB Richard Marshall (Panthers: fifty-eighth overall)
T Jeremy Trueblood (Bucs: fifty-ninth overall)
RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jags: sixtieth overall): Averages 4.7 yards per rush. Thirty-four career rush TD's.

Best Second-Rounders (so far): Jones-Drew, Hester, LB DeMeco Ryans (Texans: thirty-third overall)


2005: WR Roscoe Parrish (Bills: fifty-fifth overall)
DB Darrent Williams (Broncos: fifty-sixth overall): R.I.P.
DB Justin Miller (Jets: fifty-seventh overall)
WR Terrence Murphy (Packers: fifty-eighth overall)
DT Jonathan Babineaux (Falcons: fifty-ninth overall)
CB Kelvin Hayden (Colts: sixtieth overall): Critical fifty-six yard INT return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI.

Best Second-Rounders (so far): LB Lofa Tatupu (Seahawks: forty-fifth overall), DB Nick Collins (Packers: fifty-first overall)

In 2009, the late second round pick could've brought bring Kansas City a decent but not top-flight tackle like Phil Loadholt, a safety like Victor Harris, or a player who hurt his stock prior to draft day.

However, the high-second-round pick (thirty-fourth overall) that the Patriots received for Matt Cassell has a higher probablity of picking up a good player (such as Alex Mack) that somehow slid out of the first round due to team needs or other factors.

Atlanta drafted Bert Emmanuel and Brett Favre in the second round. The Chiefs acquired several of their Super Bowl IV winning team, including Willie Lanier, and in 1987, drafted The Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye.

Both the Raiders and 49ers have historically drafted well, especially in the 1970's and 1980's, and the second round is no exception.

Oakland acquired legends Ken Stabler (1968 - fifty-second overall), Dave Casper (1974 - forty-fifth overall), and Howie Long (1981 - forty-eighth overall).

The Niners stocked their five championship teams with Randy Cross (1976 - forty-second overall), Keena Turner (1980 - thirty-ninth overall), Eric Wright (1981 - fortieth overall), Bubba Paris (1982 - twenty-ninth overall), and Roger Craig (1983 - forty-ninth overall). Other picks included Eric Davis (1990 - fifty-third overall) and Ricky Waters (1990 - forty-fifth overall), both of whom played key roles in the last championship the franchise won.

Important second-round picks for other franchises include (* indicates won Super Bowl or starred for team other than drafting team):

Arizona: Dan Dierdorf, Tim McDonald*, Jake Plummer, Anquan Boldin
Baltimore: Jamie Sharper
Buffalo: Thurman Thomas
Carolina: Muhsin Muhammad, Kris Jenkins
Chicago: Mike Singletary, Devin Hester
Cincinnati: Bill Bergey, Chris Collinsworth, Ickey Woods, Chad Ocho Cinco (Ne Johnson)
Cleveland: Greg Pruitt, Webster Slaughter
Dallas: Todd Christensen*, Ken Norton Jr, Daryl Johnston, Darren Woodson
Denver: Curley Culp*, Clinton Portis
Detroit: Lem Barney, Doug English, Chris Spielman, Jason Hanson
Green Bay: LeRoy Butler, Darren Sharper, Greg Jennings
Houston: DeMeco Ryans
Indianapolis: Ted Hendricks, Bob Sanders
Jacksonville: Tony Brackens, Maurice Jones-Drew
Miami: Dwight Stephenson, John Offerdahl, Sam Madison
Minnesota: Ed White, Sammy White
New England: Andre Tippett, Ted Johnson, Lawyer Milloy
New Orleans: Rickey Jackson, Dalton Hilliard
Giants: Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, Osi Umenyiora
Jets: Mark Gastineau
Philadelphia: Wes Hopkins, Randall Cunningham, Eric Allen, Brian Dawkins, DeSean Jackson
Pittsburgh: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert
San Diego: Fred Dean, Natrone Means, Drew Brees
Seattle: Kevin Mawae*, Michael Boulware, Lofa Tatupu
St. Louis: Nolan Cromwell, Isaac Bruce
Tampa Bay: Mike Alstott
Tennessee: Steve Largent* (Houston Oilers), Samari Rolle (Tennessee Oilers)
Washington: Chip Lohmiller, Fred Smoot

In general, the most successful franchises seem to have extracted the most talent from their second-round picks. Of course, this is true for the first round as well. It's very unlikely that a Hall-Of-Fame talent will fall past the first round. But second-round picks are often important pieces of a contending team, and another option at guard or second wide receiver could help build a young offense like the Gonzalez-less Chiefs.

Is a second-round pick enough for Tony Gonzalez? Considering that Gonzalez is thirty-three years old, and that the Chiefs apparently negotiated the price up from a third-rounder, probably.

Yes, the Falcons won the trade in the short-term, but that's the nature of veterans-for-picks trades. If the Chiefs draft the next Tony Gonzalez in 2010, great. But if not, they still shed payroll (and an unhappy player) from an obviously rebuilding team, and allowed Gonzalez to go to an up-and-coming contender.