Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Money(foot)ball and the Seahawks

Yesterday, the Seattle Seahawks traded their first round draft choice in 2007 to the New England Patriots for wide receiver Deion Branch. The Seahawks Nation is all a twitter over the move -- some, like me, think it was a brilliant move to shore up our aging WR corps with an elite talent, while others think the asking price was far too steep. Here's what Hawks President and resident genius Tim Ruskell had to say yesterday:

(On draft choices given up for Branch…) “Worst kept secret, it’s a first-rounder. I’m big on draft picks, I always will be big on draft picks, but this is a known commodity. The first round can be a crap shoot from top to bottom. We did research back in Tampa, and when you analyze that over a 15 to 20 year period, 50 percent of the guys become players, 50 percent are bust, of the 50 percent that are players it works out to about 20, 25 percent are rank-and-file good players, 20, 25 percent actually live up to the expectations that you put on them by picking them in the first round. As opposed to that this is a known commodity, that we know fits our system, going to be a good player for us, going to fit with our guys, going to be good for our quarterback, who is in his prime and we want to give him as many tools as we can to help him, and that’s a good thing, and that’s a positive and it’s not going to be a period of development, he’s ready to go.”

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the decision to trade for Branch, this is encouraging news. Instead of arbitrarily deciding "yeah, Branch is worth a first rounder," the Hawks front office is evaluating research and making informed and calculated risks -- the sort of intelligent, sports-related decision making championed in Michael Lewis's fantastic book, "Moneyball." Essentially, Ruskell decided the 25% potential to get a star player next year was worth less than the 100% surety of getting an elite WR today. Again, you may disagree with the conclusion, but you can't argue with the approach.


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