FanPost

Josh Gordon: an exercise in how valuable that draft pick really is.

Bear with me if you too were curious. A study done by NN's (former) Florida Danny, determined how "valuable" a given pick is using PFR's career approximate value (AV) stat. He made several models but finally had one that determined a formula which gives you an expected AV per year based on draft order. The R-squared value is really good too (~0.93) meaning it is a fairly accurate model. So, can we use this to extrapolate what we should expect of any 2nd round draft pick?

The first issue is that we don't know what pick in the 2nd round we are talking about here, but fortunately (since the formula is a logarithmic decreasing function) the difference in AV from the 33rd pick to the 64th pick isn't tremendously large (decreasing from 3.09AV/yr to 2.31AV/yr). So let's assume for a minute, it looks almost assured that KC gets 8 wins and we get their second to go with our own. We stand at 3-2 this season and even just assuming we replicate these previous 5 over until the end of the season would give us 9.6 wins. And considering FO has our remaining schedule as the second easiest, let's just assume we'll be 10 wins or better. In order to get KC's 2nd they had to win 8 games, but every win thereafter makes the pick later and later within the round. Best case would be they only get to 8 wins and lose the other 8. Looking at last year's draft order, the two 8-8 teams (Dallas and Pittsburgh) held the 47th and 48th picks respectively. So in all likelihood, our earliest 2nd rounder would be the about the 47th pick or later. This decreases the range of AV/yr to 2.68 - 2.31, even less discrepancy. But let's be generous and say it IS the 47th pick, which to be honest seems unlikely now. A player drafted at this position would be expected to produce enough on the field to garner 2.68 AV for each year of their career. And keep in mind that most players produce less at the beginning of their careers and it increases in later years, so in general we wouldn't exactly be expecting 2.68AV/yr on the first year or two anyway. But we'll go with 2.68 for every year anyway.


Now, we look at Josh Gordon. Some people have diminished his productivity last year as not being worth a second round pick. Well, Josh produced an AV score of 6 last year. And he was on the Browns. With a rookie (and not good either) QB. And he himself was a rookie. So not really too bad in my opinion. (FYI, both Crabtree's 09 & 10 seasons were also a 6).


If we traded for Gordon, he'd be here for a little over half of this season and he's under his rookie contract for two additional seasons. Even ignoring the mitigating factors in his rookie year performance, and assuming he makes no improvements or growth from now until the end of his contract he would roughly give us an AV production level of a little over 3.0 (half of his rookie 6 AV). And we'd have 2 more years of 6 AV until the completion of his cost friendly deal. All told, the non-improving Gordon version would be expected to give us ~15 AV.


The average production value for our best case scenario pick would produce 10.72 for the length of his 4 year deal. Gordon (in less time) would be expected to far outpace that. To give a bit more meaning to those numbers here are some comps with their career AV roughly equal to our expectation for the rookie contracts of 2nd rounder and Josh Gordon. The 2nd rounder would be expected to produce in the neighborhood of an Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley, or (interestingly) Greg Little. Josh Gordon for the remainder of his contract would produce roughly equivalent to the careers of a Brandon Lafell, Jared Cook, or Donnie Avery. I can hear it now "those aren't exciting comparisons!" While this is true, you forget that while the average 2nd round draft pick selected 47th will (again on average) give you those first 3 pass catchers, we were fairly harsh in our assumptions for Gordon. For the purposes of comparison we chucked out the window the better offense, better QB, better organization that Gordon would be a part of. We also capped his production at the same level he produced as a rookie, eschewing the possibility of growth and improvement with experience. Crabtree for example went 6-6-9-10.


And yes, Gordon carries with him a significant risk based on his history. But take the example above, and say he does in fact get suspended for a season. That would be terrible to be sure, but he would still produce ~9 AV in the 1.5 years he does play assuming absolutely no improvement (vs 10.72 for your 2nd rounder in 4 years). I know this was long and it used a bunch of generalizations and assumptions, but what I really hoped to point out was that our second round picks are valuable but history shows what one can expect and it's not franchise changing. Sure Baalke could find a WR who far outpaces his expected production based on his draft slot, but those averages are averages for a reason; for every player above the average, there are just as many below. Yes Gordon is a risky bet and I'm pretty sure no one will attempt to contradict that, but selecting a player at #47 or later is a really significant risk too.


So, are you still willing to gamble on those worse odds of drafting a really productive player or gamble on a statistically safer known player on the trading block who is expected to produce significantly more? Are you willing to chance this year rolling the dice on our current WR corp for a gamble on a draft pick who may not actually contribute much until 2015? Is the extra cost control and faith in our Front Office that high? For me, no. No it isn't.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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