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 #1 Overall Pick. Position salary concerns myth or reality? 
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Walk On

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Post #1 Overall Pick. Position salary concerns myth or reality?
This is a general observation about the notion that we have to take QB/LT/DE/etc... with the first pick in order to justify the contract. I have tried in vain to find compelling evidence supporting this notion, and have largely failed. This is partially in response to suggestions that we cannot financially justify a LB pick at 1a. Any position we draft will make the draftee one of the top paid at his position, even quarterback. Let me break down the numbers:

Baseline: 1st overall pick- 2008- Jake long. Signed a 5 year, 57.5 million dollar deal.

2007- Jamarcus Russell- Signed a 6 year, 61 million dollar deal.

So, our average over the last two years is 10.77 million/year for the top player selected.

We'll start with the obvious one- quarterback. Top tier QBs make between 10 and 14 million per year. Roethlisberger and Palmer recently signed deals respectively worth 8 years/102 million and 9 years/118. Franchise #: 14.65 million. Verdict: Worth the money.

WRs- Franchise #: 9.884 million. Randy Moss plays for 3 year/27 million dollars. Verdict: Worth the money.

OT- This one is easy. Using Long's contract as an example, top OTs can make enough to justify the pick. Franchise #: 8.45 million. Note that there is no separate franchise number for different offensive line positions.
Quote:
The New York Jets and Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca agreed to terms on a five-year, $40 million contract Saturday, making the former Pittsburgh player the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
Since then, Long has overtaken him as the highest paid lineman. This should end the poplar notion among Lions fans that the LT has more inherent value than guards. It follows that guards are logically worth the pick also. Verdict: Worth the pick.

Linebacker- Time to bust this myth right now. Start with the franchise #: 8.304 million dollars. It is within 150 thousand of being equivalent to the OT franchise number. Add to this the headline:
Quote:
Brian Urlacher Gets One-Year, $18 Million Extension
Quote:
The new deal for Brian Urlacher, an $18 million, one-year extension, puts him in position to earn $40.6 million over the next five seasons
That is Alan Faneca money- and he could get more on the open market. Chicago didn't have to offer that deal. Top LBs are virtually equivalent to top lineman. The numbers back that up. So, despite this common 'knowledge' about LB value... Verdict: Worth the pick.

DT- Franchise #: 6.058 million. WOW, that's low. I expect this to rise significantly next year after Haynesworth signs a new deal. He expects to be the highest paid defensive player, who already makes 12 million per year. We'll wait and see.
Quote:
On Thursday, the Raiders signed defensive tackle Tommy Kelly to a seven-year, $50.5 million contract that includes $18.125 million in guarantees, making him the league's highest-paid player at his position.
This one is a little shaky. Verdict: Might be worth the pick, only if Haynesworth-esque.

DE- Franchise #: 8.991 million. Dwight Freeney at 12 million/year. Enough said. Verdict: Worth the pick.

CB- Franchise #: 9.957 million. In 2007, Nate Clements signed an 8 year, 80 million dollar deal. Verdict: Worth the pick.

Safety- Franchise #: 6.342 million.
Quote:
Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu signed a four-year contract extension Monday worth $30.19 million
Verdict: Not worth the pick.

TE- Franchise #: 4.462 million. Verdict: Not even close.

RB- Franchise #: 6.62 million. LT plays for 8 year/60 million dollars. Verdict: Short of Barry Sanders 2.0, not worth the pick.

K/P/KR/etc... Verdict: Um, no.

I hope this helps us all to look at the potential #1 picks more objectively. There are several positions at which the pick is justifiable, provided the prospect projects as a top tier player at their respective position. There is no substantial difference in contract value that would make Aaron Curry any less valuable than Smith, Oher, Monroe. The top level players at those positions make similar amounts of money. To recap: QB, WR, OT, OG, LB, DE, and CB can all make contracts worthy of a #1 pick. DT is borderline, but will soon eclipse the requisite numbers.

Thoughts? If you still think LB is not worth the money/pick, please explain why. I could make an argument that since Long is the only LT making over 10 million/year, we shouldn't pick that position either. At the end of the day, the distance between 8.304 and 8.45 million is of no consequence, and one large contract (Ray Lewis at 10 million, maybe?) could swing the balance in favor of LB over LT. I know, I know. Logic is a real b*tch.

-ILMP


February 13th, 2009, 1:29 am
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First off, good work putting this together. We have to remember as well that with the number one pick, we have time to work out contract deals with these guys. Number 1 doesn't have to be the highest paid (ala Long/Ryan).

With that being said, if we can get the prices right, I want Curry or Raji at 1.


February 13th, 2009, 7:23 am
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My thoughts are... IF that player ends up performing like those top of the line position guys then yes it is worth it. But we'd still be paying unproven talent just under top contract figures, which IMO is a problem.

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February 13th, 2009, 10:08 am
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good info MasterPimp,

I think it all depends on what we could get in negotiations, which is a big uncertainty since there hasn't been a Non-QB Non-LT Non-DE #1 overall pick since 1996.

Obviously the odds are against the top college player at his position in any given year playing as well as the top NFL player at his position, so we'll likely overpay no matter what.

I wonder, though, if we decide to go for a LB or DT #1 overall whether he'll demand a contract more commensurate with his position or his draft slot.


February 13th, 2009, 10:31 am
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For me, the bottom line is that if the player comes in and becomes a top player, a star, then they are worth it. That's my only criteria. Obviously I wouldn't take a kicker or punter #1, but any one of LT, QB, RB, WR, DT, DE, LB, CB can work. Obviously for certain positions the player would need to be something special, but the point is that as long as the player is a star, then they are worth the #1 pick.

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February 13th, 2009, 12:57 pm
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I have no facts to back this up, but would Curry be able to step right in and play at a high level? Long made the pro bowl this year and was a reason why Miami was able to turn it around this year. Obviously Russell has struggled. Mario Williams played decently his rookie year and has become a hell of a player. QB's are usually a crapshoot. I just don't want to end up paying Curry big bucks and then becoming a Boss Bailey type of player.

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February 14th, 2009, 2:00 pm
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Aaron Curry would automatically be the best player on the Lions defense (not saying anything but..)


February 14th, 2009, 3:32 pm
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To be honest I don't know how franchise #s are generated but remember there are 2 kinds of LB in the NFL because of the 4-3 and the 3-4. A rush LB is basically a DE and would get paid more money to rush the QB.

Quote:
The Denver Broncos locked up their most important free agent, reaching a five-year, $32 million deal with linebacker D.J Williams.
The deal includes $13 million in guarantees. The contract, which will be signed Sunday, is significant because Williams isn't considered a pass-rusher.

In fact, Williams received, according to a source, the fourth-best contract given to a linebacker who is not known for pass rushing. He ranks with the likes of Lofa Tatupu (6-year/$42 million) of the Seattle Seahawks and Keith Bullock (4-years/$30 million) of the Tennessee Titans among the highest-paid non-pass rushing linebackers.


A couple more are Lance Briggs (6-year/$36 million), Brian Urlacher 6/$43 million). Which means the average for non rushing LB is about $7 million a season for the top 5 guys in the league. Of course that number will go up when Ray Lewis signs expected to be the 8-10 million range. Still a far cry for the 12 million the number one pick is expected to get.

Aaron Curry is not considered to be a 'freak' and doesn't have a very high upside to him. He's a safe pick and he's going to be a good or very good player but he's just not worth the #1 pick overall.

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February 14th, 2009, 3:58 pm
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A couple of points Leo, and I'm not trying to take away from your argument here, but we have to look at it objectively. First, you can pull lineman, linebackers, receivers, etc... from all across the league who are solid players and only making 6 to 7 million per year. It is only at the level of the top player, or top couple of players, that any of these positions make over 10 million per year.

The 12 million dollar/year number is IMO excessive. The number, if Lewand is any good, could well be 10 to 11 million/year. You are singling out the linebackers making less than top pick money. If you look beyond Long's contract last year, you will find plenty of Alan Fanecas making far less than top pick money.

The franchise # is directly relevant because it is supposed to represent the average of the top five players at any given position. It is what elite players make in the NFL at their respective position. So, if the lineman are franchised at 8.45 million, there can only be a couple of lineman above that level. Jake Long is one of them. At LB, the top five players are making about 150K less than that currently. There is no single LB yet making quite Jake Long money AFAIK, but pay is constantly escalating, and we may be just one contract away. Ray Lewis and Dansby, for example would certainly increase this franchise number if resigned (Dansby may be franchised, postponing his payday). Aaron Curry would likely command this type of contract.

The point of the whole deal is this: Whether you take Smith, Oher, Monroe or Curry, you are going to make him likely the highest paid at their respective position. To sign Curry, you will be paying him roughly 150K more per year over franchise money than one of the LTs. In a league where the cap is 123 million dollars, that 150K is not remotely significant. It does not constitute reason to pass on a superior player due to position vs salary concerns.

Short of QB, almost ANY unproven player is a hard sell at these salaries. You are talking about Pro-Bowl contracts to players who've yet to play a single down. I'm merely trying to bring down the myth of the alleged contract discrepancies between certain positions. They are most certainly not as big as some perceive them.

-ILMP


February 16th, 2009, 4:54 am
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I posted this in another thread and it is directly relevant to the topic here. It is a list of the highest paid lineman in the NFL, but prior to Long's roughly 11 million/year deal. The conventional wisdom has been that left tackles have such great value that they make a good #1 pick because they make money worthy of the pick. Prior to Miami overpaying Jake Long, there was no precedent for paying anything close to 11 million/year to an offensive lineman. Here are the numbers:

1. LT- Joe Thomas: Salary: Five years, $43 million ($8.6M/year average)
2. LG- Alan Faneca: Salary: Five years, $40 million ($8M/year average)
3. LT- Walter Jones: Salary: Seven years, $52.5 million ($7.5M average)
4. LG/LT- Leonard Davis: Salary: Seven years, $49.6 million ($7.1M/year average)
5. LG- Eric Steinbach: Salary: Seven years, $49.5 million ($7.1M/year average)
6. LG- Steve Hutchinson: Salary: Seven years, $49 million ($7M/year average)
7. LG- Derrick Dockery: Salary: Seven years, $49 million ($7M/year average)
8. LT- Chris Samuels: Salary: Seven years, $47 million ($6.9M/year average)
9. RT- Jordan Gross: Salary: One year, $7.455 million (Franchise tag)
10. LT- Flozell Adams: Salary: Six years, $43 million ($7.2M/year average)

Long is the only O-lineman over 10 million, and judging by that list, his first pick selection made him moderately to severely overpaid relative to other top tackles.

I can make a better argument for DT. The Bears recently signed DT Tommie Harris to a 4 year/40 million dollar extension. Albert Haynesworth will make more than 10 million easily IMO. That will make defensive tackles, in terms of actual contracts, worth more than top offensive tackles. That is somewhat dependent on the first pick of the upcoming draft. If LT gets picked again, that will make 2 overpaid first overall picks. No non-rookie contract has yet to approach this. I'd suggest that would make #1 DT less over payed vs established NFL talent when compared to LT.

Opinions? I cast my vote for DT instead of LT.

-ILMP


February 18th, 2009, 7:12 pm
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Quote:
Short of QB, almost ANY unproven player is a hard sell at these salaries.


That's kind of been my point all along that QB is the only position you can draft number one without giving him way too much money for his position.

How is overpaying a LB or LT a safe pick? I don't believe Aaron Curry is ever going to be a 60 million dollar player. If Lewand can sign him for less than that than he's going to accomplish something that has never been done before and that's getting the #1 overall pick to take less yearly the previous year pick.

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February 21st, 2009, 5:55 pm
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