With the draft coming up in the next few months, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that first round draft picks make way too much money. Critics claim that way too much money is being spent on players that haven't done anything in the league. To test this theory, I'll be looking into the salary cap numbers of the first ten draft picks of the past five years. The numbers I'll be using are "Cap Value" ones found on USA Today's website here. Up first is the #10 pick, because I want to build the excitement to the #1 pick.
I created a spreadsheet (which you can view here) which lists player, team, salary cap number and percentage of salary cap the player takes up. One note is that Mike Williams' 2007 number is actually the "dead money" the Lions had to absorb when they traded him. After going through the numbers, it looks like the #10 pick actually isn't that bad when it comes to how much salary cap they take up. The two highest numbers are Mike Williams' 5.23% in 2007 when he got traded for sucking and being lazy and overweight and Matt Leinart's 7.44% also in 2007. Trust me Matt Leinart when we get to the #1 pick in the draft, you're going to cry when you think about how much more you could have made. In the first year of their deals, the #10 pick will only take up between 1.5 and 2% of the salary cap which is very reasonable. There also wasn't one particular year in the deal where the number jumped up significally, say from year two to year three. In Dunta Robinson's case, his salary cap percent has been fairly steady in the 2.0 to 3.0% range. Does this mean that teams have been negotiating better with their picks? No, it just means that salary cap has gotten a whole lot bigger. From 2004 to 2008, it went from $80.5 million to $116 million for an increase of 44%. Ultimately, unless you have a bust that you need to get rid of after two years, a team's salary cap isn't going to live or die with the #10 pick .