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Managing Expectations: What can Raiders fans expect from the team’s 2019 draft picks?

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Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

Obviously, the Raiders currently have quite an arsenal of draft capital in order to address the holes on the team. However, the majority of fans tend to have bloated expectations for the players their team will select in the draft. This goes for players selected not just in early rounds of the draft, but for those taken later on as well. Before getting into the details of what teams can expect from the players added to the team, let’s take a quick look at the draft picks the Raiders currently hold, which are as follows:

  • Round 1, Pick 4
  • Round 1, Pick 24
  • Round 1, Pick 27
  • Round 2, Pick 35
  • Round 4, Pick 106
  • Round 5, Pick 140
  • Round 7, Pick 218
  • Round 7, Pick 235

Obviously that’s a lot of potential to draft impact players, with three first round picks. However, how much impact can first round picks truly be expected to have?

In order to take a very high level overview of this question, I took a sample of 31 years of draft data looking at the expected outcomes based solely on draft round. Obviously, it’s difficult to compare draft picks across positions and as the game has evolved over the decades, so I’ve used career AV as the tool for this.

AV has its strengths and weaknesses, but for a high level analysis simply attempting to understand what kind of players can be found in the various rounds of the draft, it’s a tool that can at least provide a decent level of high level guidance.

For readers unfamiliar with AV and how it is calculated, an explanation can be found by following this link. The short version is that AV is an imprecise tool, but it is effective in allowing for players careers to be grouped into buckets in order to determine the likely distribution of outcomes for players. So, without wasting too much time on the specifics, here are the results of more than three decades of draft data based on draft round.

Now, to breakdown what those three different AV buckets mean in terms representing actual on-field performance, here are some examples of players who fall into the various buckets for representative purposes.

  • Darren Woodson: 108
  • Tim Brown: 104
  • Matt Millen: 67
  • Nnamdi Asomugha: 62
  • Derek Carr: 46
  • Darren McFadden: 39
  • Gabe Jackson: 27
  • Rolando McClain: 26
  • Justin Fargas: 19
  • Menelik Watson: 11

It’s readily apparent looking at the chart that the expected outcomes between the first round and the second round are not hugely different, and that explains why teams such as the Seahawks routinely trade back into the top of the second. It was nearly a decade and a half ago that researchers showed that the first picks in the second round were where the most value in the draft could be found, and the rookie wage scale only works to further enforce this value spot in the draft.

Specifically, looking at a sampling of the salaries for players based on where they are drafted, the difference between financial obligations between the top of the first and the top of the second are stark. Add in that the financial guarantees at the top of the first are far, far greater than for either the late first of the first half of the second round, and the advantages of trading down show through even more.

Specifically, those contracts at the top of the first round are fully guaranteed, meaning that regardless of whether a player taken at 1.4 plays themselves into the Hall of Fame discussion like Jonathon Ogden, Philip Rivers or Charles Woodson, or whether they are a massive bust along the lines of Art Sclichter, Gaines Adams or Aaron Curry, that contract is fully guaranteed. For cap and cash purposes, that is a big commitment on a player who is a flip of a coin regarding development into an impact player.

Through this week I’ll be continuing this series by digging deeper into each of the draft picks the Raiders hold in order to gain a better understanding of what kind of expectations fans can realistically hold for the players they select in the draft this week.