The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

Day Two Drafting Key

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The NFL draft is a crap shoot for sure but history shows us that the teams that excel at discovering talent on the second day of the draft are usually the teams that play into January each year. One only needs to look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and their core of star players taken on day 2 such as Joey Porter, James Harrison, Aaron Smith etc. to see this is true. Other successful franchises like Patriots and Packers are further examples of this -- Tom Brady being the most obvious example of a second day success.

The draft is the life blood of successful teams not just for the influx of talent but also due to the salary cap and the relative bargain values that second day players provide. It is politically correct to blast the large contracts that the top 3 to 4 players of the draft receive each year when in reality the draft provides bargain basement prices for the remaining 250 so players selected each year.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year drafted Aquib Talib 19th in the first round with a 5 year deal for 11 million dollars. That's a bargain for a starting corner at 2 million dollars per year (really a bargain for a "nickel" corner at that rate). Same as the Titans, who took Chris Johnson in the twenties and signed him to 5 years for 10 million dollars.

The numbers get even better in the second round at 4 years for 3 million dollars ($750,00 per year) and 4 years at 2.4 million dollars for 3rd rounders. The draft makes or breaks teams from both a talent perspective as well as a salary ca perspective. If teams draft starters at 2 million dollars per year or less then they have more money to spend on re-signing their own veteran players or acquiring, via free agency, players at other positions to help their ball clubs.

2008 is no different - the teams that are winning are the teams that have successfully drafted players on day two of the draft. Some solid examples this year include:

Steve Slaton - Texans - 3rd round - RB;
Josh Morgan - Niners -5th round - WR;
Chris Horton - Safety - Redskins - 7th round
Tom Hightower- Cardinals - RB - 5th round
Donnie Avery - Rams - 2nd round - WR
Eddie Royal - Broncos - 2nd round - WR;
Ray Rice - Ravens - 2nd round - RB;
Jermichael Finely - Packers -3rd round - TE.
Alex Hall, CLV - 7th Round, 24th pick (231 overall), Defensive End (St. Augustine's) *playing LB in league*
Dwight Lowery, NYJ - 4th Round, 14th pick (113 overall), Cornerback (San Jose State) *Started every game in rookie season thus far and returns kicks*
Curtis Lofton, ATL - 2nd Round, 6th pick (37 overall), Linebacker (Oklahoma) *playing MLB in league*
Charles Godfrey, CAR - 3rd Round, 4th pick (67 overall), Cornerback (Iowa) *Started every game in rookie season thus far at Free Safety*
Matt Forte, CHI - 2nd round, 13th pick (44 overall), Running Back (Tulane) *Started every game in rookie season thus far*
Eric Foster, IND - undrafted, Defensive Tackle (Rutgers) *Started 6 of 8 games at defensive tackle thus far*
Mike Pollack, IND - 2nd Round, 28th pick (59 overall), Offensive Tackle (Arizona State) *5 games played, 5 games started thus far in rookie season*
Jamey Richards, IND - 7th Round, 29th pick (236 overall), Offensive Lineman (Buffalo) *Started 5 of 8 games at Guard thus far in rookie season*
Brandon Carr, KC - 5th round, 5th pick (140 overall), Cornerback (Grand Valley State) *Started every game in rookie season (2 picks, 5 PBUs) thus far season*
Brandon Flowers, KC - 2nd round, 4th pick (35 overall), Cornerback (Virginia Tech) *Started 7 of 8 (2 picks, 6 PBUs) thus far in rookie season*
Kendall Langford, MIA - 3rd round, 3rd pick (66 overall), Defensive End (Hampton) *Started 7 of 8 games thus far in rookie season*


With the winner at the mid point of the 2008 season of the Rookie Diamond in the Rough award or the Tom Brady Award is Chris Horton of the Redskins.

By Peter Schaffer  |  November 6, 2008; 1:10 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Even with Day Two covering rounds three through seven now, seven of those players were drafted on Day One (round two).

Posted by: Derek | November 6, 2008 11:02 PM

Yep, many of the expert's list were actually first day picks, so maybe Day Two expertise isn't the key to the playoffs, huh?

Last year the pundits were warning us that there wasn't much difference between a first and a third round pick, and the real strength of that year's draft was in its depth at certain positions. Then again, they say that almost every year, don't they?

The contract savings are temporary; Chris Johnson of Tennessee play five years for $10 mil? Not gonna happen.

The best low-round player in this draft is probably someone we haven't heard of yet. Most GMs look for teachable projects in the lower rounds. Example: Two years ago the Skins drafted Anthony Montgomery (5th) and Kedric Gholston (6th), both DTs. Both are now regulars. That's the way the lower rounds are supposed to work.

When a low-round guy excels as a rookie, it's as much a surprise to the coaches as the fans. And it's usually because the team had no choice. Those Indy rookies start because of injuries. Chris Horton starts for exactly the same reason.

Will that hold up next year, or the year after? No way of telling.

Posted by: samson151 | November 7, 2008 7:57 AM

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