The New England Patriots' obsession with second-round draft picks is a brilliant strategy

The New England Patriots shocked the NFL world by trading backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. While some were surprised that the Patriots only netted a second-round pick in the deal, the Patriots’ may actually prefer second-round picks over first-round picks because of the value between the two.

The second-round pick from the 49ers will be the Patriots’ 18th second-round pick in the ten drafts from 2009 through 2018. That is two more than any other team during the same period, and that does not include the Patriots’ own first-round picks which are often at the end of the round and are borderline second-round picks.

So, why are the Patriots obsessed with second-round picks? The reason is both simple and genius. If we look at the average career of a player drafted at each spot in the draft and compare that to the size of the contracts for those players, we see that the dropoff in talent from the first round to the second round is much less than the dropoff in the size of contracts. The difference between production and contract is even greater if we consider that second-round contracts are not fully guaranteed. In other words, there is simply more value in the second round and the Patriots can use the saved money to fill other needs.

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