“Drafting Brett Hundley was a waste”
I do find it kind of funny that Packers fans bemoan every draft when Ted Thompson picks someone who no one has ever heard of (I mean who the hell is Jordy Nelson?) but they seemed even more incensed when Thompson traded up to select UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who presumably everyone knew about. A multitude of arguments were raised 1) he’ll never play a down with Rodgers ahead of him 2) he’s a spread quarterback who will not translate to the NFL and 3) he won’t even make it onto the roster with Scott Tolzien far ahead of him as the Packers #2 quarterback. This is all quite possible but of course these people are also likely the ones who trashed (and rightly so) Thompson for not having an adequate backup plan when Rodgers broke his collarbone and the coaching staff was forced to trot out Seneca Wallace and a raw Scott Tolzien before finally being rescued by Matt Flynn.
Nevertheless, the fans do have a point; in a perfect world Brett Hundley never sees a meaningful snap in his entire career as a Green Bay Packer; hopefully Aaron Rodgers can maintain his productivity and durability as the NFL’s best quarterback for the next 4-5 years and in essence the draft pick will be a waste. The bigger question is just how much of a waste that would be.
First off, just how valuable is a 5th round draft pick on average? To determine this, I used Profootball Reference’s Career Approximate Value (CarAV) metric and looked at all drafted players from 2008-2012; just as a quick brief of CarAV, its a weighted average of a player’s approximate value with all the gritty details here.
As you can see there is logarithmic decay when it comes to CarAV compared to round; what this means is that 1st round picks are significantly more valuable than 2nd round picks and so forth. While this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, it does lend some credibility to the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, which also values picks logarithmically. The second point to consider is that at some point it doesn’t really matter what round a player is picked as it’s essentially a crap shoot. Sure sometimes a team will get lucky like with Tom Brady or Corey Linsley, but more times than not they get players that never see the field and is quickly out of the league. Another point that supports this is that players drafted in the first 4 rounds are almost never cut immediately while players in the 5-7th rounds are commonly cut in their rookie seasons meaning GMs are fully aware that they are rolling the dice. I would argue that there is serious value in the top 3 rounds with each round getting significantly less valuable, round 4 is the turning point and round 5-7 are essentially have the same low value.
With that being said, a player picked in the 5th round like Brett Hundley in the best case scenario (meaning he plays for a minimum of 3 years) would on average expect to produce between 4 (5th round average) to 3.43 (5-7th round average) CarAV. To flip this around, if Brett Hundley in fact doesn’t play a down for the Packers they will have lost 4 to 3.43 CarAV that they would have gotten if they had picked a player more likely to see the field. To put that into comparison players who were drafted by Ted Thompson who produced 3-4 CarAV include Pat Lee, Jerel Worthy, Derek Sherrod, David Clowney and Deshawn Wynn. To put this in a broader perspective, Aaron Rodgers leads the list with a 103 career AV while other “busts” like AJ Hawk (56), Brad Jones (18), Mike Neal (10), Nick Perry (8) still have produced more career AV than 4.
What does this all mean? Simply put, drafting Brett Hundley may in fact be a waste, but it’s a very very small waste. Try to remember how much impact Jerel Worthy or Pat Lee had on the field and that’s in essence what the Packers are missing out on by drafting Hundley. Now if the Packers were a bad team and absolutely needed every pick to produce as much possible or the Packers had selected Hundley higher then this pick would have been a poor decision but at the 5th round, it’s such a crap shoot that picking another player more likely to produce on the field likely wouldn’t have realistically resulted in a better team.
What is valuable about drafting Hundley is insurance and development. In the best case scenario, Rodgers stays healthy, Hundley develops into a tradable quarterback and the Packers see a return on their investment while reaping the benefits of a young and talented player on a dirt cheap contract. Somewhere in the middle is Hundley is forced into action by a Rodgers injury sometime during his rookie season and manages to “not lose the game” for the offense. In the worst case scenario, Hundley doesn’t make the roster and gets signed by another team and in reality the Packers are no worse than they were before. In any situation the Packers stand only to lose very little value compared to what they might have gotten from another player, but they get insurance at the game’s most important position. Would you trade Jerel Worthy or Pat Lee for the piece of mind that in the event that Rodgers is hurt you wouldn’t have to see Vince Young under center? I certainly would.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.