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May 1, 2012

Was It Worth It?


Will getting picked halfway through the 4th round
be "worth" Orson Charles bypassing his final
season as a Bulldog?  
Funny thing, the NFL Draft.  After he endured arguably the worst season ever by a Bulldog placekicker, Blair Walsh became the first Georgia specialist in more than 20 years to be selected prior to the 7th round.  And Orson Charles, who was considered a late 1st-round selection in some mock drafts just a few months ago, apparently slipped a bit when he wasn't chosen until the middle of the 4th round.

It makes me wonder if Charles had somehow knew prior to January 15th, or the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, he wouldn't be picked until the 116th selection, would the junior tight end still have jumped ship early for the pros?

Obviously, there's a rather significant difference in being selected in day two of the draft than the first -- a reality that Charles must now accept.

Selected 43rd overall in 2011, or the 11th pick of the second round, Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph was the first tight end chosen in last year's draft.  Rudolph signed a 4-year contract worth roughly $1 million per year.   In comparison, last year's 116th selection, or where Charles was picked on Friday, signed a 4-year contract worth approximately $620,000 per year. 

Besides the amount printed on the paycheck, how much playing time a rookie sees can be indicative of where one was drafted, as well.  The 32 first-round selections in 2011 averaged 13 games played (of 16) during last year's NFL regular season, where 20 of the 32 were considered starters for their respective pro teams.  In comparison, the 34 fourth-rounders averaged 10 games played, while merely FOUR were considered starters.  

Since 1989, when the first collegiate players were allowed by the league to forego their senior seasons (if not previously drafted -- more on that later), Georgia now has had 28 players declare early for the NFL Draft (not counting any supplemental picks).  With Charles bolting early, the Bulldogs have had at least one early entrant every year since 2001, except in 2008.

The following are Georgia's early draft entrants listed with the round they were chosen (their overall selection), and their annual salary (duration of initial contract)*

After being chosen 7th overall and
signing a whopping $3.05 million/
5-year contract in 1989, few second-
guessed Tim Worley's early departure.
1989: Tim Worley- 1st (7 overall), $610,000 (5y)
1989: Keith Henderson- 3rd (84 overall), No Salary Reported
1990: Rodney Hampton- 1st (24 overall), $587,500 (4y)
1993: Garrison Hearst- 1st (3 overall), $2.5 million (3y)
1993: Andre Hastings- 3rd (76 overall), $215,542 (3y)
1999: Champ Bailey- 1st (7 overall), $2.4 million (5y)
2001: Quincy Carter- 2nd (53 overall), $807,667 (3y)
2002: Charles Grant- 1st (25 overall), $1.55 million (5y)
2002: Randy McMichael- 4th (114 overall), $433,125 (4y)
2002: Terreal Bierria- 4th (120 overall), $397,000 (3y)
2003: Johnathan Sullivan- 1st (6 overall), $4.373 million (3y)
2003: Musa Smith- 3rd (77 overall), $626,320 (5y)
2003: Chris Clemons- NOT DRAFTED
2004: Sean Jones- 2nd (59 overall), $993,000 (5y)
2004: Robert Geathers- 4th (117 overall), $424,073 (3y)
2005: Thomas Davis- 1st (14 overall), $2.12 million (5y)
2005: Odell Thurman- 2nd (48 overall), $752,000 (5y)
2006: Leonard Pope- 3rd (72 overall), $561,667 (3y)
2007: Charles Johnson- 3rd (83 overall), $593,750 (4y)
2007: Danny Ware- NOT DRAFTED
2009: Matthew Stafford- 1st (1 overall), $15.033 million (6y)
2009: Knowshon Moreno- 1st (12 overall), $3.34 million (5y)
2009: Asher Allen- 3rd (86 overall), $619,000 (4y)
2010: Rennie Curran- 3rd (97 overall), $608,750 (4y)
2010: Reshad Jones- 5th (163 overall), $487,500 (4y)
2011: A.J. Green- 1st (4 overall), $4.922 million (4y)
2011: Justin Houston- 3rd (70 overall), $677,750 (4y)
2012: Orson Charles- 4th (116 overall)
* Annual Salary is determined as the average base salary plus any signing bonus per the length (years) of initial contract after being drafted.

Besides the fact the original annual salary of Rennie Curran, a 97th overall pick, was nearly as much as Tim Worley's, the 7th pick in 1989, I'm intrigued that all but only two of the bypassing Bulldogs were actually drafted.  For the rest of college football, of the nearly 1,100 early entrants from 1990 through 2012, more than one-third (37 percent) were NOT taken in the draft.

Also, as many of you are aware, under Coach Mark Richt, there has been the notion that the UGA football program is treated by most super-talented players as merely a stepping stone to the NFL.  In other words, if a Bulldog has the opportunity to leave UGA early for the NFL, he's more than likely a dog gone...  There may be some truth to this, considering that from 2002 to 2012 compared to 1990 to 2001, there was just a 28 percent increase in the average number of annual early entrants in all of college football from one period to the next (42.3 to 54.3).  However, at Georgia, 21 players have declared early under Richt compared to just five Bulldogs from 1990 to 2001, or an average annual increase of between FOUR and FIVE TIMES than before.       

Mainly, of Georgia's early entrants, more than one-third (10) seemingly made the wise decision (at least, at that point in time) to prematurely leave school, becoming 1st-round selections. However, seven others were chosen after the 3rd round or not selected at all, including Charles, evoking the question: was their choice to leave early a premature decision?    

2 comments:

edethomas said...

Patrick, good post as usual. Regarding Orson, I think his late run-in with the ACCPD and his decision not to run at the combine probably hurt him more than anything. I'm still not sold on his ability to block in the run game because of the number (and timing) of the holding penalties he got the last couple of years. He's a beast with the ball in the air and is a tough match-up for both LBs and safeties. OC will always be a DGD, but I have to wonder if he made the right call to come out early.

Patrick Garbin said...

edethomas,

Thanks for reading and your comment. I agree with everything you say, especially wondering if OC made the right call. Signing for around $600,000/year isn't too shabby, and something nearly all of us could only dream of, but I have to wonder if his leaving early, getting arrested, not running at the combine, or a combination, might have cost him as much as twice that amount.
--
Patrick