Evaluating football players is an inherently subjective undertaking, and never more so than when Tim Tebow is the one under the microscope. To some people, he’s a champion in the making; to others, he’s an albatross.
But NFL general managers and scouts don’t have the luxury of subjectivity. They have to set a value on every player in the league and every player who might enter it. And while they guard those valuations as trade secrets, there’s one time a year they can’t avoid sharing them, down to the percentage point: during the draft.
Personnel departments around the league use a version of this value chart to quantify the worth, in points, of each position in the draft – and thus of each player drafted at that position.
|In Pictures: The NFL's most overpaid players|
To acquire Tebow from the Denver Broncos, the New York Jets handed over their fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft and exchanged their sixth-round pick for the Broncos’ seventh-round pick. This year, the Jets hold the 16th pick in each round. According to the chart, their fourth-round pick is worth 70 points, and their sixth-round pick is worth 21 points. The Broncos’ seventh-rounder is worth 4.6 points.
Thus, the Jets gave up 86.4 points in total draft value to get Tebow. As Andy Benoit points out at The Fifth Down, that’s not much.
Assuming an even trade, that same 86.4 points would get them the eighth pick in the fourth round of a hypothetical draft. (In the real world, factors like supplemental picks awarded at the end of rounds have to be considered.) That’s the 104th pick overall.
Here are the players taken with the 104th pick of the last 10 drafts:
• 2011: Luke Stocker, tight end, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• 2010: Alterraun Verner, defensive back, by the Tennessee Titans
• 2009: Kaluka Maiava, linebacker, by the Cleveland Browns
• 2008: Beau Bell, linebacker, by the Cleveland Browns
• 2007: Jay Moore, defensive end/linebacker, by the San Francisco 49ers
• 2006: Cory Rodgers, wide receiver, drafted by the Green Bay Packers
• 2005: Travis Daniels, defensive back, drafted by the Miami Dolphins
• 2004: Isaac Sopoaga, defensive tackle, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers
• 2003: George Wrighster, tight end, drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars
• 2002: Alex Brown, defensive end, drafted by the Chicago Bears
Not exactly the most impressive group of talent ever assembled. Two of these players, Jay Moore and Cory Rodgers, were complete draft busts who never played a snap in the NFL. A third, Beau Bell, has a total of three career tackles.
There are a few solid starters in here. Alex Brown was Pro Bowl alternate with the Bears. Isaac Sopoaga has started all but two games since 2008 and is part of a great defensive front. Alterraun Verner had an extremely impressive rookie season in 2010.
But it’s fair to say none of them inspires the crazed adulation and sky-high expectations of a Tim Tebow. Then again, no one does.
Think of it this way: If you average out all the players on this list, what you come up with is a role player who made the roster for a few seasons and perhaps even achieved starter status for a season or two. That is the value the Jets were willing to ascribe to Tim Tebow. The other 31 teams think he’s worth a little less.
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