Gallant: There is math to back up why Hawks usually trade out of 1st round

Apr 23, 2020, 10:51 AM

Seahawks GM John Schneider...

Will Seahawks GM John Schneider keep the team's first-round pick? (AP)


History tells us that the Seahawks will likely trade out of the first round of tonight’s NFL Draft.

Wassell: Clowney, Ngakuoe likely have a lot on their minds for different reasons

I don’t blame them. The draft is a game of chance with long odds that would make C-3PO whine. It’s a game of cards featuring 31 other opponents playing with a deck of 1,000.

Think you’re skilled at the game? That’s neat. But a franchise with the league’s best GM, an incredible scouting department, and an all-time head coach will be lucky if HALF of a draft class develops into contributors. And along the way, they will miss out on undervalued players who’ll make them second guess themselves for eternity. Say, a sixth-round draft pick that wins six Super Bowls. Or an undersized third rounder that develops into one of the game’s best quarterbacks. With all that in mind, when you’re 27th in line, how much of an advantage do you really have on the people standing right behind you?

The Seahawks – and other teams that regularly find themselves picking later in the draft – will tell you the answer is “not much.” They’d rather trade back a few spots in line, collect a few extra picks, and take as many swings at landing a contributor as they possibly can.

I’ve long thought that first round picks are dramatically overvalued. It’s just a fancy lottery ticket. If it pays out, great! But if you have the opportunity to trade it for a proven commodity – like the Colts did, trading a first-round pick for stud defensive lineman DeForest Buckner – you’ve got to take it.

Why are they overvalued? I think it’s due to the expectation attached to each pick. To many, a first-round pick represents a 10-year starter. A Pro Bowler. An All-Pro. A franchise cornerstone. Maybe even a Hall of Famer. It’s unfair to expect the first 32 players in a draft to live up to those over-optimistic hopes. But it’s something we talking heads – including myself – often do.

Don’t get me wrong. Busts still happen. A first-round draft pick can easily flame out if he can’t meet the minimum expectations, like understanding what’s expected of him or simply being a mature, responsible professional.

But players don’t have complete control over the expectations put on their shoulders. They might have been taken too early because a scout misevaluated them. They could be selected into a scheme that doesn’t take advantage of their best traits. Add bad coaches and football “politics” to the equation, and a guy’s career trajectory can be completely changed.

So what should the expectation be for an NFL first-round pick?

Don’t worry. I’ve got it for you.

When the NFL and NFLPA agreed on a Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, they changed the NFL’s rookie wage scale to limit spending on first-round picks. Players stopped getting contracts that trumped most veterans despite never having played in a professional game. And starting after the 2012 NFL Draft, rookies signed four-year deals with a team option for a fifth year.

Since we’ve seen the entirety of every contract given to first round picks from 2012-2015, I used those players to create a standard. Here’s what I found:

• The average first-round pick started in 80.3% of the games they played.
• 13.28% earned at least one First Team All-Pro honor.
• 15.6% earned at least one Second Team All-Pro honor.
• 39.06% earned at least one Pro Bowl selection.
• 61.72% had their fifth-year option picked up.
• 40.63% eventually got a contract extension.
• 21.88% were traded.

If you’re curious, click here for my work.

What I researched confirms what I thought I’d find: we attach too many expectations to the average first-round pick. Realistically, you’re going to end up with a five-year starter. There’s a solid chance that you might extend him. And there’s a solid chance that he might make it to a Pro Bowl. But if you expect much more, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

So don’t be too frustrated if the Seahawks trade out of the first round tonight. Because whoever they’d have selected would have been hard pressed to impress you.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Paul Gallant on Twitter.

Moore: Seahawks should trade up to improve chance of getting playmaker

Danny and Gallant

Seahawks Alex Collins...

Brent Stecker

Huard: What do Seahawks do at No. 2 RB with Alex Collins, Rashaad Penny?

Alex Collins was impressive this preseason, but was it enough to earn the job as the Seahawks' backup to Chris Carson over Rashaad Penny?

2 years ago

Seahawks Darrell Taylor...

Paul Gallant

Gallant: 4 takeaways after Seahawks wrap up preseason with win

Paul Gallant takes stock of the Seahawks after they wrapped up the preseason with a 27-0 win over the Chargers on Saturday night.

2 years ago

Seahawks TE Gerald Everett...

Brandon Gustafson

Bumpus: Why TE Gerald Everett will be Seahawks’ most impactful offseason addition

When it comes to every new player the Seahawks added this offseason, Michael Bumpus is counting on TE Gerald Everett to stand out the most.

2 years ago

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...

Paul Gallant

Gallant: Will Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, a pioneer of mobile QBs, adapt into his 30s?

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has been a mobile QB for his whole career, but Paul Gallant hopes he'll consider a few things as he loses a step.

2 years ago

Mariners OF Kyle Lewis...

Brandon Gustafson

Jerry Dipoto Show: His future with the Mariners, Flexen’s consistency, Lewis’ return

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto joined Danny & Gallant to talk about the playoff race, his future in Seattle, and the close return of a key player.

2 years ago

Seahawks John Reid...

Brandon Gustafson

Bumpus: What the addition of John Reid means for Seahawks’ CB room

The Seahawks traded for second-year CB John Reid this week. Michael Bumpus breaks down what that means for Seattle's CB competition.

2 years ago

Gallant: There is math to back up why Hawks usually trade out of 1st round