Since Sunday’s story on the Washington Redskins’ recurring problem — many needs, limited draft picks — I’ve heard from readers asking: “Hey, the Redskins have eight picks, that sounds like a lot to me. What gives?” or something along those lines.
The Redskins do indeed have eight picks – one first-rounder, a second-rounder, two fifth-rounders, a sixth-rounder and three seventh-rounders. But because they don’t have picks in the third and fourth rounds, the Redskins basically have only two picks of real quality.
Yes, every pick is important, and there’s always a chance of finding an overlooked jewel in the later rounds, but the percentages aren’t great at all.
Former Redskins and Texans general manager/NFL analyst Charley Casserly conducted a 10-year study that revealed round-by-round percentages of draft picks developing into successful players. Casserly defined “successful” as a player developing into a starter within four years of being drafted.
First-round draft picks have a 75 percent chance of success, Casserly found. Second-rounders: 50 percent. Third-rounders: 30 percent. Fourth-rounders: 25 percent. Fifth-rounders: 20 percent. Sixth-rounders: 9 percent. Seventh-rounders: 9 percent.
“The higher the player is drafted, the more chance for success. . . . You can always pick one of those 9-percenters, but there’s a lot more high up over the long run,” Casserly said.
Makes sense that there’s a significantly higher chance for success in the first round than seventh round. That’s why they’re first-round draft picks.
Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said not having third- and fourth-round picks “doesn’t hurt right now at all,” and said if the Redskins draft well late, they will make up for it. But for a team hoping to acquire more picks or needing to move here or there in the draft, not having those picks can indeed hurt. Because in addition to carrying a low success rate, those fifth- through seventh-round picks also carry very little trade value.
“The late-round picks, they’re not worth much in a trade situation, so you can’t even factor them into this,” Casserly says.
Say the Redskins use the 10th pick and wanted to try to move back into the first round because they were worried a Jake Locker, Andy Dalton or Phil Taylor wouldn’t be left by the time their second-round pick came around. Well, that 41st pick with a collection of fifth-, sixth- or seventh-rounders aren’t very attractive. Third- and fourth-rounders are a different story.
So the Redskins’ best hope for acquiring more picks is to use the 10th overall pick as a bargaining chip, not dangling a collection of fifth-, sixth -or seventh-rounders.
“Certainly, not having a third and a fourth hurt them, which is why it would seem with the 10th pick they would try to trade down,” Casserly says. “There may be some value in that pick so they can get back some picks in the middle round. The tough thing about this is, the third-round pick has about a 30 percent chance of being a starter, the fourth-round pick about a 25 percent chance. Those aren’t great odds, but we all can point to players that were taken in those rounds that went on to be great players. Chris Cooley was a third-rounder and he’s been a very productive player.”
Of course, then the question of, ‘Why draft fifth- through seventh-rounders at all then?’ could always be raised. You never know what diamonds in the rough, or valuable backups, a team might find. But you don’t want to count on those rounds to lay the foundation of your team.