Comparing Draft Pick $ … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

        

The No. 1 draft choices in the four major sports in 2010 – QB Sam Bradford, OF Bryce Harper, PG John Wall and LW Taylor Hall. Each began their pro careers in different fashions because of how the leagues handle their draft selections.

—————

As the NFL and its players continue the process of trying to put together a labor agreement, one of the issues involves draft picks and their compensation. It was a big subject of the conversation between the parties in suburban Boston last week.

The league wants to put the draft picks – especially the first rounders – on a pay schedule similar to what the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have done with their early draft selections. They want to limit the money the rookies receive when joining the league. The players’ side understands the desire of the owners, because it matches what many of the league’s most veteran players believe – that that type of money should go to players who have achieved in the league.

But the contracts signed by the early draft choices do more than make the youngsters rich. It drives spending on veteran players. While it obviously does not make sense for a team to pay strictly on potential – which is what the NFL does with first-round draft choices – it does create a tide that tends to lift all boats across the board.

As the owners and players get together this week in Minneapolis for more negotiations, the wage scale for rookie draft choices continues to be a major element to be discussed and either implemented or forgotten.

Football, basketball, hockey and baseball all have different ways of operating when it comes to the draft. In the NFL and NBA, players tend to participate immediately after they are drafted, especially those picks that got big money contracts at the top of the first round. Hockey and baseball have the most extensive professional pipelines in the form of minor leagues in this country, Canada and even Europe that feed their teams with talent.

Each of the four leagues has different rules and regulations with their drafts. Some contracts are guaranteed upon signing, while others have only a portion that will go to the player no matter what happens. The NFL owners have always been unhappy with training camp holdouts by high draft choices, something that doesn’t happen in the other three leagues.  

There is no question however, that it’s the NFL where a player makes the most money the quickest. Let’s look at the four athletes selected with the fifth picks in all four drafts last year. That group includes Chiefs Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, who in his rookie season was the most effective and productive pick at No. 5, far outdistancing what was produced on the NBA court by C DeMarcus Cousins, on the NHL ice by RW Nino Niederreiter and on the American League field by P Drew Pomeranz.

Here’s the guaranteed money those four players realized after signing their first professional contracts and the percentage of the 2010-11 regular season they spent with the team that drafted them:

  • Berry – $34 million and 100 percent.
  • Cousins – $7 million and 100 percent.
  • Pomeranz – $2.65 million and 0 percent.
  • Niederreiter – $1.925 million and 0 percent.

As far as immediate payoffs in competition, Berry and Cousins provided the only instant returns. Berry was a starter from the first game for the Chiefs and ended up being on the All-Rookie Team and earning a spot on the AFC roster in the Pro Bowl. Cousins was part of the NBA’s All-Rookie Team. Neither Pomeranz nor Niederreiter spent any time at the major league level in the year they were drafted.

The threat of injury is one reason that those representing the players should be careful about giving the owners a rookie wage scale. Contracts can be worded in different ways, but essentially if Berry gets hit by a bus tomorrow and can’t play again, he’ll still receive that $40 million in guaranteed dollars. If there was a rookie scale as the NBA and NHL have, he might have been guaranteed say $10 million, but would also be a free agent after two or three seasons. If he played as well as he did in 2010, then he would see his chance for a big pay day in 2012 or 2013.

But if he got hit by that same bus, he’d have the $10 million and nothing more. Now, that type of money is not something to sneeze at but it’s far less than what he would realize under the current system.

All four sports would love to see the early draft choices participate and make a difference on the field immediately. Among the 20 players taken with the first five picks of last year’s four drafts, a dozen have already contributed to their teams. That’s all five in the NFL and NBA and two NHL picks, first-choice Taylor Hall (Edmonton) and second-selection Tyler Seguin (Boston).

Here’s a look at those 20 draft choices from last season and what they achieved in year No. 1.

#1

MLB – OF Bryce Harper/Washington Nationals

Birthdate

(drafted age)

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

10-16-92

(17) 

6-3

230 

1 

8-16-10 

5y-$9.9 million; $6.25 million signing bonus

Harper earned a high school GED and spent one year in junior college at the College of Southern Nevada. After he signed with the Nationals, he spent time in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .343. This year, he began the season at Hagerstown/Class A. Through Sunday he was hitting .322 in 67 games with 14 HRs and 45 RBIs.

NBA – PG John Wall/Washington Wizards

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 Contract 

9-6-90

(19) 

6-4 

195 

1 

2y-$10,674,360 with $5,530,080 in rookie season. Team picked up 3rd-year option at $5.915 million.

As a freshman at the University of Kentucky, Wall started 37 games, averaging 16.6 points per game, 6.5 assists per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. In his rookie season with the Wizards, Wall played in 69 games with 64 starts and averaged 16.4 points per game, with 8.3 assists per game. In November, he recorded his first triple-double in his sixth game, a feat that only Magic Johnson had done before in the NBA. He finished second in NBA Rookie of the Year balloting and was named to the All-Rookie first team.

NHL – LW Taylor Hall/Edmonton Oilers

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

11-14-1991

(18) 

6-1

194

0 

7-5-2010

3y-$3.75 million, with $2.85 million in signing bonus and $900,000 per.

Hall is a native of Calgary, Alberta who played for the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League and they won two consecutive Ontario Hockey League championships. He spent the 2010-11 season with the Oilers, playing in 65 games with 22 goals and 52 points.

NFL – QB Sam Bradford/St. Louis Rams

Birthdate

(drafted age)

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

11-8-1987

(22) 

6-4

230

3

7-30-2010

6y-$78 million with $50 million in guaranteed money. The deal could max out at $86 million if he meets all incentive bonuses.

Bradford spent 3 seasons at Oklahoma, the last one (2009) cut short by a shoulder injury. He played in 30 games, threw 88 TD passes against 16 INTs and more than 8,200 yards. In his first season with the Rams, Bradford started all 16 games, throwing for 3,512 yards, with 18 TDs and 15 INTs. He completed 60 percent of his passes, in leading the Rams to a 7-9 record, the club’s best performance in almost a decade.

#2

MLB-P Jameson Taillon-Pittsburgh Pirates

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

11-18-1991

(19) 

6-6 

225 

0 

8-16-10

$6.5 million/length unknown

Taillon signed out of The Woodlands High School in Houston, receiving one of the biggest contracts in baseball history for a high school pitching prospect. He is throwing this year at West Virginia/Class A where through Sunday he was 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 games with 38 strikeouts and 4 walks in 42.2 innings.

NBA – G/F Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers

Birthdate

(drafted age)

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 Contract 

10-27-1988

(22) 

6-7 

205 

3 

2y-$3,835,600 in his rookie season, $4,123, million in the second, with a team option for 3rd season.

Turner played 3 seasons at Ohio State where he averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6 assists per game. In his rookie season with the Sixers he played 78 games and averaged 23 minutes per game, with 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

NHL – C Tyler Seguin/Boston Bruins

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

1-31-1992

(18)

6-1

182

0 

8-3-2010

3y-$5,350,000 with a $2.65 million signing bonus and $900,000 per.

Seguin is out of Brampton, Ontario and he was named the Ontario Hockey League’s outstanding player for the 2009-10 season playing in 63 games with 48 goals and 106 points for the Plymouth Whalers. He spent the 2010-11 season with the Bruins, helping them to the Stanley Cup championship with 22 points in 74 games played. In the playoffs he was on and off the active roster.

NFL – DT Ndamukong Suh/Detroit Lions

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

1-6-1987

(23) 

6-4

307

5

8-4-2010

5y-$68 million, with $40 million in guaranteed money.

Suh came out of the University of Nebraska after an All-America career for the Cornhuskers. He played in 54 games with 38 starts and had 214 total tackles and 24 sacks. Selected with the second pick of the NFL Draft, Suh became an immediate starter and contributor for the Lions, contributing 10 sacks and he was picked as a starter for the NFC team in the Pro Bowl. He also earned Rookie of the Year honors and was named NFL All-Pro.

#3

MLB-SS Manny Machado/Baltimore Orioles

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

7-6-1992

(17) 

6-2 

180 

0 

8-16-10 

5y-$5.25 million 

Machado came out of Brito High School in Miami, where as a senior infield he hit .639 with 12 HRs and 56 RBIs. After his signing, he was sent to the rookie league. He was moved to Fredrick/High Class A where through Sunday he was hitting .167 in just 4 games. He started the ’11 season with the Delmarva team/Class A, where he hit .276 in 38 games with 6 HRs, 24 RBIs.

NBA – F Derrick Favors/New Jersey Nets-Utah Jazz

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 Contract 

7-15-1991

(18)

6-10

246

1 

2y-$4,133,280 in rookie season, with $4,443,360 in his second season. Club holds 3rd-year option.

Favors came out of Atlanta and played one season at Georgia Tech when in 36 games he averaged 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. He declared for the NBA Draft and was selected by the Nets. In late February ’11, Favors was traded along with Devin Harris and 2 first-round draft choices to Utah for Deron Williams. Overall with the Jets and Jazz, Favors played in 78 games, averaging 19.7 minutes per game, with 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

NHL – D Erik Gudbranson/Florida Panthers

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

1-7-1992

(18)

6-4

195

0 

NA

He was offered a contract but did not signed with Panthers

Gudbranson is a native of Ontario, playing for Kingston/Ontario Hockey League. Last year, he was selected as the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year. He was still attending Ecole Secondaire Milles-Iles where he was on a Grade 12 level. He also played with Canada’s World Junior Under-18 team the last two years. The Panthers offered him a contract in 2010, but Gudbranson did not like the financial terms and chose to return to junior hockey with Kingston. Florida management offered him a new contract in June, partially to retain his rights under NHL rules.

NFL – DT Gerald McCoy/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

2-25-1988

(22) 

6-4

295

4

7-31-2010

5y-$63 million, with $35 million in guaranteed money.

McCoy spent four years at Oklahoma, playing in 40 games and contributing 83 total tackles, with 14.5 sacks. He earned first-team All-America selection two times. Grabbed by the Buccaneers with the third choice of the first round, McCoy started 13 of 16 games, contributing 28 total tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

#4

MLB – SS/2B Christian Colon/Kansas City Royals

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

May 14, 1989

(21) 

6-1

190

3

6-25-10

Signing bonus of $2.75 million

Colon played college baseball for Cal State-Fullerton. His last season there (’10) he hit .358 with 17 HRs, 68 RBIs in 64 games. After he signed, he was sent to Wilmington/Class A where he played 60 games and hit .278 with 12 doubles, 3 HRs, 30 RBIs. Playing shortstop, he had 17 errors. He began the ’11 season at Northwest Arkansas/Class AA where through Sunday Colon had played in 68 games, hitting .257 with 253 at-bats and 65 hits.

NBA – F Wesley Johnson/Minnesota Timberwolves

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 Contract 

7-11-87

(23) 

6-7 

215

3 

2y-$3,726,600 in his rookie season, with $4,006,080 in his second year; club holds 3rd-year option.

Johnson began his college career at Iowa State, where he played two seasons before he transferred to Syracuse. In the ’09-10 season with the Orangemen, he was named the Big East Player of the Year and was a first-team All-America selection. Johnson declared for the draft and was grabbed by the Timberwolves. He hit for a career high 29 points against the Lakers. In 79 games, he averaged 26.2 minutes per game, with 9 points and 3 rebounds per game.

NHL – C Ryan Johansen/Columbus Blue Jackets

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

7-31-1992

(17) 

6-2 

192 

0

9-9-2010 

3y-$5.4 million with $2.7 million signing bonus and $900,000 per

Johansen is out of Vancouver and after being selected by the Blue Jackets he ended up in Portland/Western Hockey League he played in 71 games, with 25 goals and 69 points.

NFL – OT Trent Williams/Washington Redskins

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

7-19-1988

(21)

6-5

320

3

7-30-2010

6y-$60 million with $36.75 million in guaranteed dollars.

Williams spent three seasons at the University of Oklahoma. He became a starter as a true freshman in October ’06 against Missouri. Grabbed by the Redskins with the fourth choice, Williams played in 14 games, starting 13 at left tackle with Washington.

#5

MLB – LHP Drew Pomeranz/Cleveland Indians

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

11-22-1988

(21)

6-5

230

3

8-16-2010

$2.65 million signing bonus.

Pomeranz played three seasons at the University of Mississippi and in his junior season (’10) he went 9-2 with 2.24 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 139 batters. He started this season at Kinston/High Class A and in 13 starts through Sunday he was 2-2, with a 1.81 ERA, 81 strikeouts in 64.2 innings pitched.

NBA – C DeMarcus Cousins/Sacramento Kings

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 Contract 

8-13-1990

(19) 

6-11 

270 

1 

2y-$3,374,640 in rookie season, $3,627,720 in second season; club has exercised 3rd-year option for $3,880,080.

Cousins came out of Mobile, Alabama and after committing to UAB and then Memphis, he followed John Calipari to the University of Kentucky, where he averaged 15.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. In his rookie season with the Kings, Cousins played in 81 games, averaging 28.5 points per game. He hit for 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie first-team.

NHL – RW Nino Niederreiter/New York Islanders

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

9-8-1992

(17) 

6-2

205

0

9-21-2010

3y-$4,625,000, with a $1,925,000 signing bonus and $900,000 per year.

Niederreiter is a native of Switzerland and grew up playing junior hockey in Europe. When he was selected by the Islanders, he became the highest drafted Swiss player in NHL history. He spent the 2009-10 season with Portland/Western Hockey League and played in 65 games, leading the team with 36 goals and 60 points overall. He started the ’10-11 season with 9 early season games with the Islanders, scoring a goal and picking up an assist. He returned to Portland and in 55 games had 41 goals and 70 points in the regular season, adding 27 points in 21 games in the playoffs.

NFL – S Eric Berry/Kansas City Chiefs

Birthdate

(drafted age) 

 

HT 

 

WT 

Yrs. In

College 

 

Signed 

 Contract 

12-29-1988

(21)

6-0

211

3

8-1-2010

6y-$60 million with $34 million in guaranteed money.

Berry spent three seasons at the University of Tennessee, starting all 39 games that he played with the Volunteers. He had 245 total tackles, 14 interceptions and 3 sacks. When the Chiefs selected him with the fifth choice, Berry was immediately moved into the starting lineup and he stayed for all 17 games (including the playoffs.) He had 126 total tackles, 4 interceptions and 2 sacks. He also returned an INT for a TD against Tennessee. He was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team and earned a spot with the AFC team in the Pro Bowl, eventually starting the all-star game.

CONCLUSION – The battle between NFL owners and players on a rookie wage scale will be one of the most important aspects of a labor agreement. They want the impact of their top draft choices on the field, but at the lower prices paid by the NBA, NHL and MLB to their early choices. To make it happen, the owners will have to give up something major to the players, otherwise there’s no reason for the union to play along. If that money saved is not guaranteed to go to the veteran players, it has no chance of going down.


4 Responses to “Comparing Draft Pick $ … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 28, 2011  - el cid says:

    The answer seems so simple, at least to me. Set a hard cap floor with the rookie signing scale included. That way after the rookies get their pay and bonus’, the rest has to be spent on roster members. Veteran player get more even if it is the scraps (as in few millions) and rookies can prove themselves. Probably to simple but seems like it could work to everyone’s advantage, except for rookies and their agents.


  • June 28, 2011  - Justin says:

    Bob,

    Nice article. I am curious about the longevity of careers in the other leagues. It seems they would have more time to earn bigger $ but I can’t say for sure. Clearly, there are always examples of extremes on both ends but can we look back at some of the older picks and see how long they lasted?


  • June 28, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Great article Bob.

    On one hand, I like the idea of young players making their big money after 2-3 years when they have proved something.

    On the other hand, I’m concerned about top talent players being FAs after 2-3 years and trending to the big market teams to get those dollars. This could create an imbalace in competitiveness like baseball has even with some type of RFA status with compensation.

    Will be interesting to see what they come up with.


  • June 28, 2011  - Ernest says:

    Nice job Bob,

    I do wonder about the longevity of players in the NFL, some of these guys have amazing talents but will only play one or two seasons in the league. Perhaps they Should get a million or two up front as insurance. If they lower the rookie wage scale and give players more in the later years, some kid who goes out and blows his knee out in the his first training camp is left high and dry.

    Knowing you are not protected(no cash in the bank) could be a disincentive to perform. You might not get paid as much next year or you might get cut but at least you still have your legs.

    If you have 5 megs in the bank, you will have the ability to provide for your family even in the event of injury.

    If they gave all players this form of “insurance” players would be much more inclined to take less up front cash.

    Just some thoughts!




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